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Building for some a legendary Quarter Of balconies, flower-baskets and quadrilles, Everyone making love and going shares Philip Larkin, For Sidney Bechet

The Plan His aim was to escape. He was overpowered by an infinite desire to leave that place. But beyond his desire, he had a plan. He wondered how he should do it, but most of all he wanted to know why his desire to leave was so strong that it caused him to live in a state of perpetual anxiety. He had no answer. But he had always dreamt of the open sea, that landscape free of angles or borders. Apart from his ponderings, he had all the things he needed for the escape: - Hundreds of meters of rope. - Sheets, curtains, towels and various fabrics - Assorted furniture of different styles and types of wood After much thinking the time had come to set forth. One by one he prepared and tested his escape gear: - A ladder - A line of cloth, knotted together. - An endless rope. His next destination would undoubtedly be a land of difficult access and impossible exit. A place where he could finally test his effective collection of hopes, where he could experience the jolt of the getaway once more.

And yet I have real daytimes and nighttimes with children and balconies and a good wife. Thus I have tied these other knots, yet I would rather not think of them when I speak to you of her. Not now. If she were a room to rent I would pay. If she were a life to save I would save. Maybe I am a man of many hearts. Anne Sexton

Nothing ever lasts forever I died In Santiago on 9/11/1973. And I woke up in Venice on 28/05/2013. This is the truth and nothing but the truth. Everything is so strange. I remember my last moment, I was scared, all these soldiers, that was the last thing I saw. I said your name and I died. And this morning I was here, in Venice, under this very balcony. I have been wondering how I got here, for 5 hours. Now I know, because it is raining. I am here because I dreamed about it one day. I dreamed I was in Venice and it was raining. I came here because I did not want to think about you anymore. It doesn’t work. When I opened my eyes, my mouth immediately answered, whispering your name. You are everywhere. People have long hair and beards like me. It is raining but it’s hot. I understand that I died 40 years ago. My knees know it. I do just like the long-hair kids, I go and take the Vaporetto. No planes in the sky. There were lots of them on my last day in Santiago. I am not scared anymore. I am not scared anymore. The Vaporetto arrives at Fondamenta Nuove station. Now the rain is tropical. Now I am running, like I ran on September 11th. Faster than the kids. There is a theater on my left, the door is open. Somebody says “welcome to rebuilding utopia.” I try to see who said that. Then I saw you, Libertad. I understood again that you would never be mine alone. The people who run with me from the Vaporetto are dead. Not one of them can run faster than a bullet. They all smell of death, like this city. It’s raining on Venice and I wish I was back in 1973.

The Diagnosis I have a chronic case of Balconism. 

Oh, Balcony! I love you! The longer the wait, the deeper the passion. To hell with all the neighbors! To hell with all the passengers that have filled up the boat! Balconism, porchism, backstoopism, mezzaninism. They don’t exist. All things that are only inside me. I open my arms and feel the cool breeze. An inner sensation. Balconism is a contagious disorder.

QUESTI FANTASMI stop stop stop I must talk to you Professor, Professor‌ you were right, you were right! Ghosts exist! Yes.

The Miracle of St. Harald Since May 27th at 8.07 sharp, on a balcony at the San Basilio vaporetto station, the late and much revered art curator Harald Szeemann has been appearing to two nine-year-old children, Anna Maria Corradi and Arno Puccioni, on their way to school. The two kids say they were called by name and asked by the apparition to stop for a few minutes. They reported the event to their parents, who were very skeptical until they actually witnessed the children stop under the balcony as if entranced from 8.07 until 8.11 AM. According to the account provided by the youngsters, Mr. Szeemann first acknowledges that he knows they are running to school, and will make sure they will not be late. Then the kids hear the sound of a cow, after which Harald Szeemann starts to talk to them. Other bystanders, it seems, can hear only the sound of the cow and the voice of Mr. Szeemann repeating the word “Generoso”.... But the children are able to decode Mr. Szeemann’s words. The apparition has sworn them to secrecy, but the children report that Mr. Szeemann has revealed to them the “4th secret of curatorial practice,” asking them not to divulge it until the Venice Biennale of 2023 when, according to his prophecy, a “different” curator will appointed to the job. Apparently Mr. Szeemann did not elaborate on what “different” might mean, and the children didn’t seem interested to know it either. The two children don’t seem to be affected too much by the vision of the Swiss curator, but according to their parents they are both rearranging the objects in their rooms with different criteria than in the past, reflecting what looks like an inner narrative only the kids are able to decipher. Since the story was made public, other youngsters are gathering under the balcony. The authorities do not consider the apparitions of Mr. Szeemann to be cause for any particular concern.

Mr. Ando’s story is: Johann Wolfgang von Goethe is surprised to see the 21st-century City of Venice from the balcony after his return from 1700s.

Come faccio a spiegare a mia moglie che quando sono affacciato al balcone, sto lavorando? Libera cit. da Conrad

The bad counsel of the senescent – after Goya. “A mixture of the grotesque and tragic is agreeable to the intellect, just as discords are agreeable to sophisticated ears.” “One can only forget about time by making use of it.” “All the imbeciles of the Bourgeoisie who interminably use the words: ‘immoral,’ ‘immorality,’ ‘morality in art’ and other such stupid expressions remind me of Louise Villedieu, a five-franc whore who once went with me to the Louvre. She had never been there before, and began to blush and cover her face with her hands, repeatedly plucking at my sleeve and asking me, as we stood before deathless statues and pictures, how such indecencies could be flaunted in public.” C. Baudelaire, My Heart Laid Bare

Stanno, affacciati come balconi, i mille occhi increduli muti i pesci, sorvegliano resti di gloria depositati sul fondo. ------They overlook like balconies, countless unbelieving eyes speechless fish survey remnants of glory deposited on the canalbed.

Letter to our girlfriend Venice. Sweetheart, 
I never meant to cause you any sorrow. I never meant to cause you any pain. I know you suffer and weep. 
Your feet of clay, soul of wood and shell of bricks are too frail.

There are days you surely regret being famous; seeing titans of iron intruding; hearing the uproar of murky idioms, seeing fortresses of clashing shapes expand around you. Macs and Cokes came in too, disrespectfully; the people of Art flooded, confusingly; huge layers of idiocy were put on top of you. 

Too much for an oldie. Too heavy for a skinny grandma.

I want to apologize to you for all the wounds. 
I… we would have never caused you any sorrow. We would have never caused you any pain. I wish we could tell you how sorry we are. I want us to apologize for all we did. But we did want to hurt you. 
That’s our nature. We always hurt. No matter what or whom. We have dyed your waters with grime; washed our engines, spewed garbage, poisoned you with nonsense. But no one seems to be worried. No one feels ashamed. I do, though. I hope you will understand. Hope you will forgive. I love you! Hope we all love you! Me and the others…

THE BANDAGED MAN On sunny days the neighbors noticed a man who often stood or sat for hours at a time, reading or just sipping a drink through a straw, on the balcony of a building that had fallen into relative disrepair and was nearly otherwise untenanted. The man was tall and always quite elegantly attired. Strangely enough no one had ever seen him at calle level, walking around, shopping or gaping at things like a tourist. Stranger still, the man’s face was completely covered in gauze bandages that left mere slits for the eyes, mouth and nose. Maybe he was a victim of bad plastic surgery. Or acid had been thrown in his face in some vendetta in a faraway country. Or maybe he had simply suffered a terrible injury, in an auto accident or something, leaving his face dreadfully scarred. Curious neighbors soon learned that the man placed orders for groceries and other necessities by phone (landline only), ordering that packages be left on the staircase outside his apartment door. Suppliers were paid on a monthly basis, in cash placed in an envelope he slid under the door when deliveries arrived. The man never opened the door. He was obviously determined to keep his identity a secret. Venice was not such a bad choice for his purposes. In the part of town where he was living there were actually very few Venetians or steady inhabitants. The curious neighbors were not so much neighbors as locals who worked in the area, in nearby restaurants or shops. At night they went home to sleep, in some other part of town. This might be why it took a long time for anyone to notice that during the wee hours of the morning the man would often toss bottles containing messages into the canal. The first person to notice the bottled messages was a gentleman named Armando Della Vittoria, who lived nearby and liked to fish from his balcony at night. The tides tended to bring up plenty of garbage, flotsam and jetsam near his building. He kept snagging plastic bottles with his hook. This only happened because for some strange reason the bottles had been wrapped in gauze, just like the face of the mysterious man. Armando thought that maybe there was a method to this madness. Maybe the man wanted the bottles to get snagged by fishermen. Maybe the man even knew that he was a potential bottle snagger. At first Armando wasn’t sure that the bottles were in any way connected with the bandaged stranger. But his intuition told him there was some link. From his balcony he did not have a direct view of the man’s window. But one night he saw the white trail of a bottle as it arched through the air over the canal and made a muffled splash on the trash-strewn surface of the water. Armando had simply put the fished-up bottles aside, not wanting to throw them back into the canal. Now he opened them and realized they contained messages. The first three seemed like governmental or financial documents, which a bit of web research revealed to be connected with various scandals among high functionaries of international economic organizations or large banking and brokerage firms. Other messages contained evidence of abuses of human rights, trade in weapons, government involvement in drug trafficking. It was hard to get to the bottom of any of the stories, but it was clear that the documents were not just pure fiction. And it was clear that more earth-shaking bad economic and political news might well be on the way if the papers found their way into the wrong (or right, depending on your viewpoint) hands. Armando felt as if he had been saddled with a grave responsibility. He also felt a little bit afraid. He hid the messages in a secret compartment behind his kitchen cabinets. When he threw the wrapped plastic bottles into the trash, he tried to make sure no one saw him doing it. He even removed the gauze and threw it away in a separate bag, stuffing it in a public trash bin. After all, it was more ecological to separate the plastic from other materials. As the days went by Armando fished more bottles out of the canal. He even started using different kinds of fishhooks, without bait, just to try to snag the bottles. The messages started to change in character. They were more like prophecies, proclamations, criticisms of the modern world. Armando knew he could not possibly have fished up the entire series. So there were gaps in the narrative, if it could be even called a narrative. Clues were missing. Some of the prophetic proclamations contained sections like this: “In the future there will be so many images that it will become impossible to ever be certain that other people have seen the same images you have seen. Or, to put it more precisely, it will be impossible to know if any other people have actually looked at the same images you have looked at. People will learn how to ‘speedread’ images, capturing quick retinal impressions without actually focusing on the pictures, sorting and cataloguing in complete prosthetic symbiosis with their technological devices. The quantity will make it impossible to actually look at anything for more than a split second. When people have learned how to adapt to this visual blizzard, they will forget how to contemplate images and museums will no longer contain paintings.” “In the future there will only be one song. Gangnam Style is just the beginning. When there is only one major record company left on earth, and only one major operating system, the number of currently available popular songs will be gradually reduced. Just as the way people look at images will change, developing into an intense process of rapid multiprocessing, so the way people listen to music will change. Music will continue to fulfill some deep physiological need, but its other aspects will be gradually leached away by a different kind of entertainment. Art music will not die. But pop

music will be reduced to a bare minimum of songs, heard absolutely everywhere in the world. This will happen gradually. From just 10 songs per month, it will narrow to just 10 songs per season, and then progressively to just 1 song per season. Songs will be consumed like burgers. You need them to live, but for the purpose of survival one burger or another will do. You change the recipe now and then to break up the monotony. But after a while you don’t even do that. You just consume the standard fare. You have other things on your mind. You have no time for that. You have no time.” “In the future everything will be mummified. People are already becoming walking mummies to try to conserve some semblance of youth. They will begin to mummify their objects and homes, their cities and gardens, in an attempt to protect all that surrounds them from inevitable decay, to delay the effects of time and wear, to disguise themselves from the increasingly constant presence of prying eyes and surveillance. Bandages will be a status symbol. If you hate something intensely enough you tend to grow to resemble it, and hatred of a veiled and beturbaned enemy will lead westerners to adopt their own form of swaddled mystery and aggressive invisibility. Bodies and other organic materials, including foods, will be progressively wrapped to the point of becoming their wrappers, genetically modified to grow on plants already in a wrapped state. Restriction of movement and hbondage will become the norm of comfort, a last dash, or more like a sack race, in pursuit of an enveloping embrace that never lasts long enough, never reaches a peak of true satisfaction.” One day as he was sticking phrases in Google to try to track down the secret of the documents and messages, Armando ran into an image that had, in fact, been imprinted on his retina in the past, though without leaving much of a conscious memory. The picture was of a man called Julian Assange… and the website told a story of an attempt to use the Internet to blow whistles on many important scandalous government secrets. Something clicked, and the clicking got louder when he noticed that the bandaged stranger had begun to mummify his balcony, neatly wrapping its parts in gauze. That same night, consumed by curiosity, using his fishing pole with the skill of a great fly caster, he launched a message of his own in a swaddled plastic bottle, up onto the balcony of the mysterious man. The rest, as they seldom say, will be history.

1 Carlos Garaicoa 2 Jota Castro 3 Christoph Radl 4 Oxana Maleeva 8 Gabriele Di Matteo 5 Francesco Bonami 10 Tadao Ando 9 Francesco Dal Co 6 Barnaba Fornasetti and Valeria Manzi 11 Marc V. Kalinka 7 Steve Piccolo

Director Armando della Vittoria

Editorial Staff Mattia Barbieri, Gabriele Di Matteo, Francesco Fossati, Giovanna Francesconi, Piero Gatto, Martín Giménez, Debora Hirsch, Frederic Liver, Y Liver, Francesco Locatelli, Monica Mazzone, Steve Piccolo, Luca Pozzi, Franco Silvestro, vedovamazzei

This issue of E Il Topo has been produced for the Balconism project in Venice, curated by Oxana Maleeva for Art Apart. In collaboration with The Palaces of the Russian Museum Fund, St. Petersburg (director: Anna Tsvetkova). With the support of Vnesheconombank – Bank for Development and Foreign Economic Affairs and Millennium Wealth Management Ltd. Special thanks to: Marina Dmitrieva, Allan Cooper and Jolita Sachs Concept: Steve Piccolo and Oxana Maleeva. Sound design: Gak Sato - Artistic support: Marc V. Kalinka Special vocal guest: Carmine Panico Photographs Venice: Steve Piccolo. Elsewhere: Armando Della Vittoria Download the free Balconism App for iPhone and iPad at the App Store

Publisher Piero Cavellini Edizioni Nuovi Strumenti & EdiTorre del Greco via Cesare Guerini 22, 25135 Brescia +39 030 780200 -

E IL TOPO magazine - Piazza Irnerio 13, 20146 Milan, Italy

E il topo 14  

Issue 14 of E IL TOPO Magazine has been released in Venice the 28th of May 2013. It contains contributions by: Tadao Ando, Francesco Bonami,...