Rafael’s School of Athens represents the revival, in the High Renaissance, of core values inherited from the classical era. Two founding fathers of political philosophy occupy center stage: Plato, pointing to the sky, and Aristotle, to the ground.
This visual representation presents the philosophers to whom we owe the concept of democracy. Raised by Socrates, expanded by Plato and Aristotle, the relation of individuals to their community has taken on various forms. From the democratic structure of the guilds of Florence in the Renaissance, democratization of knowledge brought about by Gutenberg’s press, the concept was also applied in religious art. In Gothic architecture, for instance, the experience of walking down a brightly-lit nave was meant to put faithfuls on equal footing in front of God.
Gropius revived the ideal of equality in a given space through his Bauhaus utopia of the 1920s: the use of light in this architectural space was meant to be comparable to the tainted-glass of the Saint Chapel. Following the example of William Morris Arts and Crafts movement of the late 19th century, Gropius also restaged the model of production the Florentine guilds. In traditionally hierarchical performance arts, musicians, actors and dancers have taken on the role of directors during improvisation practices.
From subject of artistic representation, democracy has trickled down to practices of artistic production, from authorship, to spectatorship. Join us this week in discussing the various shapes, forms, guises and disguises through which democracy has made it down history!
GRIM (Gruppo di Ricerca e Improvvisazione Musiclcale)