Project Description



Seven veils of seven different colors characterize this section with a series of public performances and documentation of sites of industrial pollution and degradation. The veils, with their multilayered set of meanings and histories, are the haze that block our vision but not our understanding of the reality partially hidden behind them. They dance in the wind to disguise and deceive the gaze of those who are easily distracted.

Seven Veils is one of ten sections of Lanfranco Aceti’s installation titled Preferring Sinking to Surrender which was conceived by the artist for the Italian Pavilion, Resilient Communities, curated by Alessandro Melis for the Venice Architecture Biennale, 2021. The ten sections are: Tools for Catching Clouds; Preferring Sinking to Surrender, Part I; Preferring Sinking to Surrender, Part II; Sacred Waters; Le SchiavoneOrthósSeven Veils; Signs; Rehearsaland The Ending of the End. These sections, singularly and collectively, create a complex narrative that responds to this year’s theme How Will We Live Together? set by Hashim Sarkis, curator of the 17th Venice Architecture Biennale.  

The works of art — realized as a series of performances, installations, sculptures, video, and painting contributions — are part of the installation at the Italian Pavilion from May 21, 2021, to November 21, 2021, the opening and closing dates of the Venice Architecture Biennale.

The veil is at the center of this particular section as a materially simple element and a multifaceted mirror of complexities and inherited histories. It is used to hide and at the same time to reveal a reality of suffering too strong for the naked eye. It covers and uncovers, focuses and distracts, untangles and muddles.

Seven of seven different colors placed in seven different places to signpost loci of pollution, corruption, and environmental destruction. The veils denude the shiny encrustations of excuses, justifications, pretenses, and dissimulations. They point at the ontology of what is and make no arguments or excuses, but let what is visible be there.

Pity is a squadering of feeling, a parasite harmful to moral health, “it cannot possibly be our duty to increase the evil in the world.” If one does good merely out of pity, it is really oneself one really does good to, and not the other. Pity does not depend upon maxims but upon affects; it is pathological [pathologisch]. The suffering of others infects us, pity is an infection [Ansteckung]. [1]

It is our duty to increase the suffering in order to increase the knowledge of the evil that causes the suffering. It is fundamental to exercise pity as a passionate and irrational understanding in order to empathize, know, and reject the causes of sufferance for the others and us.

[…] if another person suffers and I let myself (through my imagination) also become infected [anstecken lasse] by his pain, which I still cannot remedy, then two people suffer, although the evil (in nature) affects only the one. But it cannot possibly be a duty to increase the evils of the world or, therefore to do good from pity [Mitleid]. [2]

The incapacity of pitying the world, its multiplicity of life forms, the abysmal incapacity of pitying life in its infinite multiform structures and therefore empathizing with them is at the basis of this passionless and rational approach to the world of nature. An approach based on dispassionate economic that we will come to recognize as a holocaust and regret forever.

The pitying veil, a veil that is mercifully placed upon the dead, is here place upon the land because the passions and suffering aroused by the empathy and the sense of loss are too unbearable to see and to behold. The pathological essence of pitying becomes a specious argument both in Immanuel Kant and Friedrich Nietzsche when pitying is also the pathological emotion that makes us bond and know the others’ suffering. Escaping suffering and evil has delivered us in the hands of a world of heartless rationalist and liberalists in which the autonomous will is also the road to segregation and separation from all that is communal, from a common destiny, and from a common Magna Mater.

[1] Friedrich Nietzsche, The Will to Power, trans. Walter Kaufmann and R. J. Hol- lingdale (New York, 1967), 199, Section 368.

[2] Immanuel Kant, The Metaphysical Principles of Virtue, trans. James Ellington (Indianapolis/New York, 1964), Section 34.