Marco Lavagetto at Jorn’s House

Marco Lavagetto

The grass of Jorn’s house, the rocks of Prince Juva, the sculptors of Zuma Rock

Asger Jorn’s house is located on the hills of Albissola Marina. It has been uninhabited for many years and the weeds have proliferated undisturbed throughout the extensive vertical garden among stairs hidden by pergolas that alternate with passageways paved by mosaics put together with shards of multicoloured tiles.
Long clumps of grass grow everywhere, cropping up profusely from the huge marsh-basin, and grow undisturbed close to the sculptures made with stalactites, blocks of pink quartz, bits of obsidian, shells and cemetery capitals. These concrete collages, almost like a collection of minerals on display, remind me of my childhood, when I collected stalagmites and limestone rocks and dreamed of becoming a geologist. Various sculptures in ceramics with roughly hewn shapes — shapes that seem to be part of a corrupted and random naturalism, primordial matter on the confines of the formless shaped by divine hands — coexist in harmony with the rocks and the shards of fired pieces inserted in the walls, almost as if they wanted to be hidden from sight…
Certain rocks resemble men’s heads, like those that Prince Antonin Juritzky, also known as Juva, collected in the French region of Levallois at the end of the ’40s: the presumed archaeologist prince was convinced that certain anthropomorphic rocks that he found were the end result of manipulations by lost prehistoric artists. This perception of the human face that mysteriously rises from a rock is the same that the just as anonymous sculptors had to have who reshaped the wall of Zuma Rock, the famous rock formation in Nigeria, near Abuja. The hidden face that appears to those who gaze upon it needs no explanation, it’s an obvious and ancestral example of land art. Jorn interpreted ornamental architecture going beyond the pure and simple decoration, as if the artist were a random and non-invasive intermediary. The world that surrounds him does not seem to undergo obvious changes: Jorn’s ceramic works emerge with chaotic shapes far from the product that goes into details and Jorn’s forms have no shape or perhaps are the shape of the formless...
Jorn’s uninhabited house is a real museum of abandonment, and could be included among those “neglected architectures” that are completed through degradation and oblivion. There are places built to live in that become even more beautiful when no one lives there any more. Certain houses, certain factories and certain hospitals hide their beauty until the human presence deserts them, until they are remodelled discretely but inexorably by dust and silence. The formal defence of the ruins that reverberated from the works of Piranesi and of Monsu Desiderio, is part of an aesthetic taste that incorporates and accepts entropy as an inevitable wonder. Restoration attempts to cancel the signs of time, but in this way alters the natural course of time, annuls the beauty of the decomposed molecules of a fresco, and hopes to re-establish an order that by now has been lost forever. My personal desire is that Asger Jorn’s house will not be defiled by a purely cosmetic renovation that interrupts its natural degradation: I hope it remains as I saw it, increasingly embraced by vegetation, the real owner of Jorn’s old house.

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