Libro e documentario. In collaborazione con Alejandro Gomez De Tuddo
Alla ricerca della forma dimenticata. Un viaggio a ritroso verso il “Vesara”, forma primigenia, l’origine della figura.
The octogonal shape is a container that puts together every individual under equal circumstances, under no hierarchical power structures. Each one is able to find himself as a reflection of the other. The dialogue in opposition to the monologue: a reunion of people with their own ideas, cultures and ways of living. The political conception of the basilica is a school, the rotonda is a party, while the octagon corresponds to the assembly.
Each angle pointing out to a different direction in which each member will eventually go to contact the outer world, coming from a collective gathering towards an independent spread. Humble and proude as a principle of its reborn conformation.
The main question is to find out the sense of the shape, opposite to the reunificating circle or cosmic egg, the octagon represents the fact of living together with the different. Is the shape still alive and interacting in the different places through the journey?
The line that will be followed through the quest of the octagon will be the thread that embroiders different worlds under one shape. An ancient thread of war, still visible in our times, geometrically transformed into a vessel of diversity capable of living together within a new social form.
The whole trip is a way back to the origin trip. From Aachen (Pfalzkapelle) to Tibet.
Passing through Milan (San Lorenzo), Ravenna (San Vitale) is the border between the eastern and western roman world, Volterra (Battistero), Castel del Monte, Serbia, Macedonia, Athens (Tower of Winds), Costantinople (Saint Sofia), Jerusalem (Church of the Ascension), Armenia (van see) and Georgia.
In each region, a main story will put together past and present around the main structure therein. For example, Castel del Monte and Federico di Svevia, the melting pot of the Christian and the Arab world projected to present times as an alternative for a contemporary historical situation.
The polygonal martyrium was originally a tomb-type taken over from the sepulchral and memorial architecture of the Romans. Ideationally, however, it was considered to be essentially the same as the circular rotunda, for Gregory of Nyssa describes an octagonal plan as forming a “circle with angles” and Arculph refers to the octagonal church of the Ascension as a rotunda. At the same time, many of the early Christian theologinas, interested in the mystical significance of numbers, developed a special symbolism for the octagon in whos shape they saw a correspondance to the number of salvation through death and a beginning of a new life.
As certain early and venerated memorials which were originally mortuary types, like the rotunda, polygon, square and quatrefoil, were enlarged by additions into martyrium churches, the octagon in some cases was transformed into a cruciform church (for ex. Kal’at Sim’an). The presumption that these octagonal memorials of the Christian faith, which had so much inner meaning, were usually domical rests upon no specific evidence for any one building, but upon the general pattern of Christian thought, the persistent association of the symbolic dome with octagonal martyria, baptisteries and tombs, and the fact, which cannot be disregarded, that we do not know of any such early structures which were certainly not domical.
Jerusalem church of the Ascension. Built shortly before 378 A.D. by Poemenia, a devout Roman lady, the church was octagonal. After its partial destruction by the Persians in 614 A.D. this commemorative martyrium of Imboman on the Mount of the Olives was rebuilt by Modestus and according to Arculph, who made a plan of it were a circular rotunda, its roof had an oculus open to the sky.
Tell Hum. In Capernaum there was discovered an octagonal church dating from about the middle of the fourth century. It had an inner circle of columns with a diameter of 8.30 m. It has been suggested by Dalman that it was a memorial chapel of the Comes Joseph of Tiberius and hence stood in the same realation to the palace as a did Diocletian´s tomb at Spalato and the Domus Aurea of Antioch.
Jerusalem tomb of the Virgin. The octagonal memorial of the Virgin, constructed in the imperial tradition, was built around the middle of the fifth century and had an interior collonade of 9 m.. Since it was a sepulchral monument, it must have continued the Roman tradition and been covered with a dome, as it was in the islamic period.
Garzim, church of the Theokokos. Built by the Emperor Zeno about 484 A.D. this octagonal sanctuary had an interior span of 13 m.. It was a martyrium and place of pilgrimage not only because it possessed a relic of the rock of Calvary, but because the Virgin, after the Council of Ephesus, was honored in her quality of Theokokos with sancturies of martyrium type.
Kal’al Sim’an Baptistery. This baptistery was also a martyrium. Its octagon, set into a rectangular exterior, has a span of about 14.78 m..
The central type baptistery derived its shape, and hence its mortuary, cosmic and heavenly dome, from the Roman mausolea and not from the pagan baths. The ideational and structural relation between the polygonal baptistery and the polygonal martyrium, with its sepulchral origins and connotations, was much more than a matter of similarity of forms. During the early christian period, not only were burials frequently done in baptisteries, but baptisteries were also used as martyria. As a result, Christian thought, at an early date, evolved a complicated symbolism wherein purification by water was linked to death of the Old Adam, the martyrdom and resurrection of Christ and salvation by death.
The earliest baptisteries, however, were neither circular nor polygonal. Instead they were small rectangular chambers, usually with a small apse in which the font was placed. All evidence at present indicates that the central and domical baptistery, with its mortuary implications, took place in Italy, probably in the Lateran Baptistery and then in the fifth century began to spread to Ravenna, Syria and the East, but there is the probability that it was Constantinian baptistery of the Holy Sepulchre which initiated the domical form.
Tyre, Church of Theokokos. A scholion in the text of Gregory of Nazianzus compares his octagonal martyrium to an octagonal sanctuary at Alexandria (Martyrium of St. John the Baptist?) and the “Theokokos naos at Tyre”.
Nyssa Martyrium (379-394 A.D.) The martyrium which Gregory had built around 380 A.D. at Nyssa in Cappadocia consisted of a central apsydal octagon with four exedras, making it a cruciform structure like the martyrium of Antioch-Kaussie and the church of S. Simeon Stylites at Kal’at Sim’an.
Midjleyya. This octagon chappel, from the sixth century, was not open, the interior octagon was carried up in a clerestory an was roofed in wood”.
Zor’ ah (Ezra), Martyrium of S. George. From 515 A.D., has an interior span of 10.15m.
Mir’ayeh. The interior dimensions of this small octagonal chappel or martyrium, are conjectural because the interior supports were too deeply buried by debris to be seen.
E. Baldwin Smith, The Dome, a study in the history of ideas, Princeton Monographs in Art and Archaeology XXV, Princeton, New Jersey, Princeton University Press, 1971.
The Tower of Winds in Athens and the rosewind. During medieval times it was called Socrates’ tumbe, but it was really an horologion, built in the first century A.D. by Andronicos of Kyrrhos from Makedonia, Marble with 8m diameter. 12.8 m hight. Contains a water clock. The eight sides represent the 8 horizons of Athens. 8 winds with symbolic winged figures representing the winds: Kaikias (N.E.)
Hazel. Apeliotes (East) with fruit and wheat. Euros (South East) wearing a coat. Notos, Lips, Zephyros, Skiron, Boreas.