The Observer (The Illuminated Window)


YEAR: 1998



Collection of the artist


See No 135, 136


Colle di Val d’Elsa, Tuscany, Italy
Arte all’Arte 98, 12 Sep 1998 — 17 Nov 1998 (Organization: Associazione Arte Continua, San Gimignano)



A half-opened wooden gate can be seen in a low stone fence on one of the streets of San Gimignano. If one goes through it, then before the viewer will be a hill covered with grass, and to the left, situated close to the fence, is a low wooden shed nailed together out of old boards. Walking a narrow path made of stones up to it, one sees that this shed turns out to be a strange kind of observation point sheltered from the rain. Inside is a chair, and in front of the open window that has been sawed into the wall, there is a spyglass mounted on a secure base. If one sits down on the chair, assuming the position of the mysterious observer (who, in all probability, established his observation point here a long time ago and has been conducting lengthy observations), and looks into the eyepiece of the spyglass, then one will see a strange, even entirely extraordinary spectacle. In the circle of observation, there is a window vividly illuminated with a bright light from within. Through the window, you can see what is going on in the room. Right on the other side of the window is a table with food on it, a man and a woman standing at the table can be seen, and next to them, at the same table, are two angels with large white wings attached to their backs.

Apparently, this extraordinary scene attracted the attention of this unknown ‘voyeur,’ and we, along with this observer, are also able to witness this scene. There is a great deal that is strange and ‘accidental’ in this situation. We ‘accidentally’ found the half-opened old gate in the wall; ‘accidentally’ discovered the secret observation point and ‘accidentally,’ out of sheer curiosity, looked into it and at precisely that time when the master of the look-out point had slipped away somewhere; and of course, we accidentally witnessed that very scene which undoubtedly can only be seen very rarely.

An additional circumstance of this mysterious story is the fact that through the lens (which is firmly fixed in this one position) one can see only the window, whereas the actual house where this window exists is not so easy to find as a result of the great distance.


Three projects for San Gimignano and its neighboring city are proposed below. Why three? They all form a single cycle connected with three times. The project The Weakening Voice (The Column) represents a column virtually vanishing into the earth with an inscription on its upper surface; it corresponds to the Roman period of Italian history, a period of ‘voices of history’ that have already departed but which still resound. The project The Observer (The Illuminated Window) corresponds to the period of the xii-xiii centuries, times of the construction and settlement of San Gimignano, when angels, perhaps, visited our earth more often than today when such visitation is becoming extraordinarily rare. The third project, We are Free!, is associated for the author with the current situation of today.



1998Megan BartonComment