At streetcorners, before housefronts and shopfronts, in proximity to particular doorways, particular stretches of cobblestone, particular entrances to the catacombs, particular cafés and cabarets, he experiences an uncanny thickening and layering of phenomena, an effect of superimposition, in which remembered events or habitations show through the present time and place, which have suddenly become transparent, just as in film an image may bleed through one or more simultaneously perceptible, interarticulated images in multiple exposure. It is a dreamlike effect, with the moving imagery characteristically yielding, in the flâneur’s case, a “felt knowledge” that is not yet conceptual
Reality as Juxtaposed Foodprints.
The term palimpsest refers to ancient manuscripts or scrolls that were used a second or third time, rewriting, for one reason or another, on what was previously written. Etymologically, it comes from the Ancient Greek παλίμψηστον, a root that refers to the action of “scraping”, “washing” or “erasing”, to add a new layer of meaning. In that sense, the territory, as André Corvoz pointed out, thinking about cartography and the way in which geographical demarcations cross the landscape, is also a palimpsest.
The places that we travel are marked by our footprints and those that passed before us; worn traces that serve as a foundation for new ones, each one involving distant stories that, together, make up a complex and infinite network. The notion of palimpsest has been central to Said Dokins’ work.
The idea of overlapping inscriptions, as a montage of heterogeneous fragments that respond to different regimes of truth-authority, genealogies, and chronologies, has allowed the artist to put in tension the conceptions of history, memory, and death from different levels: from the dismantling of official accounts to individual experience and the potential of the act-object as a trigger of memory.
The experiences and the relationships of subjects with objects and their environment constitute the main axes in the investigations of this artist. For him, action as an ephemeral inscription has the power to activate memory and symbolically re-signify the spaces it occupies. Despite its evanescence, its mark remains as an act of resistance to the politics of oblivion.
New layers of meaning
Palimpsests exhibit arose from the collaboration between Dokins and Biokip Atelier, a contemporary art lab located in Milan, where the artist devoted himself to exploring new aesthetic solutions, using different materials and techniques, to express his persistent inquiries about the construction processes of memory through inscription, resignification of the symbolic and the relationship of the subjects with public space.
Thus, he developed a series of calligraphic works in laser cut wood, to form pieces where words and phrases in relief are juxtaposed, playing with chromatic contrasts, and unexpected shapes and volumes.
Likewise, he created some audiovisual installations, among which his collaboration with Lospino, a specialist in augmented reality technologies, stood out. They developed a video mapping installation, in order to animate some of Dokins’ pieces, in an exercise of trans-textuality, referring to Genette’s notion, that joint semantic, aesthetic, technological, and disciplinary categories.
“Writing is a gesture, an act that generates meaning, at the same time it’s a way of interpreting existence. The performative dimension of writing creates meaning the moment it happens, but, like all actions, it is evanescent, impossible to capture, we only have the inscription, the trace that it leaves behind, to try to decipher it.”
Milano: City of Art and Design
April 2019 was an intense month for the city of Milan. Before the expected Design Week arrived, the city welcomed thousands of visitors to enjoy the world of contemporary art al Milan Art Week. Palimpsests took place on the official exhibition circuit during these two Milan’s major cultural events, within the Bloop Festival Showroom, located in Tortona District, a neighborhood well-known for its independent art galleries, design, and fashion studios, where Said Dokins calligraphy shared billboards with large exhibitions such as Tadao Ando, Carlos Amorales or Sheela Gowda, among others in the bulging cultural calendar of the city.
In addition to the group of unique paintings, wood reliefs, and audiovisual installations created in collaboration with Biokip Atelier, the show included as well, a limited edition of calligraphic pieces laser cut on wood, never seen before.