Bos Taurus
A photography project by Arsenio Pandolfo

Opening May 26th 7:00 – 9:00 pm
Exhibition runs from May 26th to June 30th

Court Tree Collective in collaboration with BACAS is proud to present Bos Taurus: works by Arsenio Pandolfo. The exhibition, the accompanying publication and text are curated by Pietro Costa, founding director of BACASThis is the first event presented by BACAS, a foundation dedicated to interdisciplinary and multicultural gatherings throughout Southern Italian peninsula. BACAS – Borghi Antichi Cultura Arti Scienze will launch later this year and begin operations in 2017.

Bos Taurus…(scorrere verso il basso per l’italiano…)

If our earliest known works of art — our cave paintings and petroglyphs — offer evidence, if the names we have bestowed upon the star shapes we have found in our skies have supported that evidence, if the images and symbols that have carried through generation after generation of our storytelling and art-making have continued this argument, we, as humans, have had a deep, symbiotic connection with bulls for as long as we have been telling stories.  Since the beginning of our time here, on this earth, bulls have been part and parcel of our stories, our history.

There they are:  bulls, on the walls of caves, running alongside our ancestors, depicted in hunting parties, being celebrated for the food and warmth they provided us as nomadic tribes. And then later, in domestication events, as we morphed from hunter-gatherers to agrarians and built dwellings and cities, our relationships with bulls deepening along the way.

There they are:  bulls in our earliest stories we told and saw in our skies as the mythic Bull of the Heavens of the Ancient Sumerian Epic of Gilgamesh from 2150 b.c.; as Taurus, one of our most prominent stellar constellations identified first in the Bronze Age; as the Cretan bull that gave birth to the Minotaur;   as Nandi, the bull, worshipped as the vehicle of the Hindu God Shiva. Bulls are there, always, representing strength, fertility, stubbornness, godliness.

And, there they are:  bulls in African, Asian, Western stories, from Dionysus to the fabled Gaelic water bulls, from the infant Christ-warming breath of the bull in the manger to the duende bulls of flamenco and Federico Garcia Lorca and of course, to the iconic bulls of Hemingway. Bulls are there at center stage, part of our story, or off to the side watching over it.

Most recently, the discovery of what might possibly be Francis Bacon’s final work has made headlines.

Bacon’s canvas depicts a bull, half in shadow and half in light, either receding or emerging, suggesting the ambiguity of death as either an end, as a beginning, or both. Bacon’s work suggests that we are not finished wrestling with the image and possibility of being transformed by the bull.

Is our connection to the bull about identifying with his power? Is it our desire to morph, to escape, to dominate, to transcend? We run beside them, we run after them, we run from them. Our gods come disguised as them, morph into them, we fight them and conquer them in our hunting parties and in the bullfight’s great ceremonial dance of sadness, gore, and beauty.

In Bos Taurus, the photographer Arsenio Pandolfo chokes the light out of space in order to give his images striking, dramatic power. Taken in a stable with a single source of light from a solitary window, Pandolfo’s photographs leave us with only traces of what the naked eye would see in the same context, drawing our focus into the mysterious nature of our relationship with the subject, with the bull.

Pandolfo’s images strike a minimalist tonality that transcends the image and morphs our interpretation of what we are seeing into a visual experience of what reality becomes when it becomes mythology.

Having seized this opportunity, by chance, after coming across two unnamed bulls, tied next to each other in a friend’s stall, Pandolfo captured them in the still, silent dark, and then went on to name them, Achilles and Hector, thus perpetuating the mythological connection first captured on those ancient cave walls millennia ago.

– Pietro Costa (with edits by Denver Butson) May 2016

Bos Taurus