SIX MEMOS FOR THE NEXT BHUBANESWAR
Updated: Feb 12, 2019
“My confidence in the future of literature consists in the knowledge that there are things that only literature can give us, by means specific to it.” – Italo Calvino, Six Memos for the Next Millenium
In his final work, a collection of essays titled “Six Memos for the Next Millenium,” author Italo Calvino speculates optimistically on the future of literature and the values that might inform it for the 21st century. His text lays out prospects for the “expressive, cognitive, and imaginative possibilities” of literature in a series of six themes, each expressing a quality Calvino considers both ‘specific’ to literature and close to his heart. Those themes are Lightness, Quickness, Exactitude, Visibility, Multiplicity, and Consistency (the last of which remained unfinished).
While specific to literature, Calvino’s text is full ofconcepts and observations that expand beyond the literary. His chapter on Visibility weaves several threads connecting the literary to the visual, showing how written and visual practices inform each other. The format of the collection itself also holds potential as a model for future speculation about a given field, as evidenced by the numerous exhibitions, essays and art projects Six Memos has inspired since its publication.
The Bhubaneswar Art Trail is speculative, forward-looking, and optimistic. From its inception it has been guided by a belief in art’s capacity to weave together threads of a community and serve as an engine of dialogue and change. As I navigated the Trail, its works began to converse and cross-pollinate; connecting themes emerged – themes that seem promising as qualities or capacities for art-making that could be further explored in the Temple City. Given that, like Calvino’s final work, BAT is ultimately an experiment in looking forward into the city’s future and art’s role within it, Six Memos offers a helpful structure for navigating its key artistic themes.
The upcoming series of posts will explore six areas of resonance among the Trail’s artworks. Framed as artistic ‘actions,’ each theme holds potential for further investigation in as Bhubaneswar looks forward toward the future role of art in its community.