The Light of the Arts at Dreamers Day
Sunday 8 October 2017 – Milano Teatro dal Verme
Robert Schumann said: “To send the light into the darkness of people’s hearts is the duty of the artist”.
This is exactly what the works of Anna Chromy do.
They touch our soul, go to our heart and lighten it, generating an awakening of our conscience.
This is in fact the mission of the Conscience Institute, co-founded by Anna Chromy: To spread the message of a new conscience to the world.
Presentation of Anna Chromy’s Cloak of Conscience project at Dreamers Day 8. 10. 2017
“I Have a Dream” was a public speech delivered by Martin Luther King during the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom on August 28, 1963, accompanied by the unforgettable voice of Mahalia Jackson.
Anyone who remembers this period full of hope and joy can evaluate how far the situation has degenerated today. President Trump had seriously planned to expel over 800.000 “Dreamers”, immigrant youth who have spent all their life in the United States, destroying the life they have built for themselves, and this is just one example of thousands.
I have studied the list of the Speakers of this Dreamers Day 2017 and discovered that they have all one thing in common: they are working to fulfill the dream of a better life for others. Their acts are guided by their ethical and moral conscience.
What all these wonderful initiatives lack is a common Symbol for their actions. This is where my “Cloak of Conscience” comes in. Since its first creation in my painting “to be or not to be” in 1980, and then in the first sculpted Cloak in 1995, this Symbol for an Ethical and Moral Renewal has gone on a fantastic journey.
In 1998, the Archbishop of Salzburg decided that he wanted a Cloak as a modern Pieta in front of his Cathedral, a choice validated by the analysis of Professor David Punter from Boston University in his book “The Literature of Pity”. In it, David Punter compares the images of Pity created by Michelangelo, Van Gogh and others to the Cloak of Conscience.
He writes: “In Anna Chromy’s startling pietas, a series which has grown in size and range over the years since 1980, there is a filtering out, a redaction, a rejection of all that may be inessential to the image of pity. Anna Chromy responds to a new sense between humanity and the abhuman: deeply passionate, it nonetheless resists any simple location, even as its avatars occupy an increasing number of public spaces around Europe”.
Punter continues: ”The most striking thing about the Cloak is that there is no face, no faciality, no expression. An extraordinary representation of a paradox whereby the emotion of pity, which might be most dependent on the reading of the face, as is evident in Michelangelo and so many others, has been transmuted into something which can be read through a specific droop of the body, through a physical expression of patience, of suffering, of waiting”.
To summarize the long analysis of David Punter it can be said, that for him the Cloak is the image of Pity corresponding best to our modern times. “It represents a kind of hope which can move us to our own Pity, where other, more precise representations, especially ones tied to a particular religious cultural repertoire, have ceased to do so”.
The next Cloak was installed in 2000 in front of the Estates Theatre in Prague where Mozart directed himself in 1787 the world premiere of his Don Giovanni. Here the Cloak represents the Commendatore, the “Guest of Stone”. When the hand of stone of the Commander clenches the fist of Don Giovanni, to the accords in ré minor used in the Requiem, he knows that his illusion of an eternal life of demoniac pleasures is over.
It took until this year that an opera director had the courage to integrate the image of the large Cloak in marble in a new production. This happened at the Festival d’Aix-en-Provence 2017, a coproduction with the Opéra de la Lorraine at Nancy. The Cloak appears in this staging “as the instrument of a mysterious supernatural justice on earth, an ambiguous way of being at the same time an image of severity, compassion, and dismay” wrote one critic.
I will stop here with these examples how the message of the Cloak as Symbol for the Moral and Ethical Renewal has been adopted to the genius loci of each place of installation. Many other Cloaks in different sizes and materials have been installed since, all searchable on Google Maps, and our intention is to expand the network in order to give as many people as possible a chance to get in direct touch with the conscience message.
The next two Cloaks will be installed before the end of 2017 in two very symbolic locations:
The Entrance Hall of the National Museum of China on Tiananmen square in Beijing, with a yearly visitor attendance of 8 million, and the Hadassah Medical Center in Jerusalem, the largest medical facility in Israel, treating one million patients per year.
To support the Conscience project we have created the Chromy Award, a distinction for personalities with an exemplary conscience. The yearly Laureates are selected by the Directors of the Conscience Institute from proposals of the public received by mail.
To show other practical areas covered by the conscience message, I have created a series of large oil paintings regularly shown in museum exhibitions. They cover such subjects as the vanishing biodiversity, the destruction of our environment, and many others. We have opened Pandora ’s Box and let escape love and faith. Only Hope is left, hope that humanity will hear the voice of conscience in time for its salvation.
Not much time is left. The Atomic Clock shows two minutes to twelve. The unthinkable of a nuclear war, of artificial intelligence desponding with human life, and an accelerating climate change making our planet unfit for us humans, are now in the daily news. I dream that my Cloak can awaken the conscience of the rich and mighty, in order to stop their silly games and give us honest citizens a chance to lead a life in harmony, full of love and joy.