Costa Concordia, a Temporary Exhibition in the Museum-World

By Poderes |

Is Costa Concordia an encyclopedia? A museum? A theme park? A monument? A mirror made out of mirrors? An emblem? A worldwide portrait of Dorian Gray? The catastrophe suggests different possibilities for action attending to either its material accumulation or to its symbolic value.

Viagra Warburg (reprise)

All these venues
Sunk complexes
Viagra Warburg
Te lo mereces
Meanwhile, every season
In certain occasions
El brillo es bonito

And you don’t know what is this for
Under that tiny little mince white light
The slime is alive, vibrant nori-like snacks
That’s rad although meaningless so far

All these venues
Sunk complexes
Viagra Warburg
Te lo mereces
Meanwhile, every season
In certain occasions
El brillo es bonito

Poderes - Costa Concordia_02

This is a text on sunken ships, treasures and accidents. About pirates? No, it is not a text on men isolated in the sea, nor amputations, nor talking parrots and the English Caribbean, French Caribbean, Spanish Caribbean…it is a text on Costa Concordia, yeah. Apparently, the name “Costa Concordia” promoted the desire for continuing with harmony, unity and peace among European nations. But, somehow the “Concordia” implies a certain misfortune. The Concorde, for instance, was discontinued after its catastrophic —and literal— fall in the year 2000. The concord is never posited, but pends on a given order. Every pact, harmony or linguistic agreement results prefigured in advance. As the ancient pirate song says:

Master and Commander
mission and commision
in order to get access
you must ask for their permission

Costa Concordia is the first Concordia’s class cruise ship, with its brothers and sisters Costa Serena, Costa Pacifica, Costa Favolosa, Costa Fascinosa y Carnival Splendor. Costa Concordia started its service in July 2006 and it was the biggest cruise ship ever built in Italy, weighing 114.000 tons. The day of its launching the champagne bottle thrown by Eva Herzigova didn’t break up, and the lack of that inaugural accident prefigured Concordia’s subsequent disaster. As we know, the cruise ship crashed near Gliglio island (Italy) in 2012, producing a human catastrophe —thirty-two people were dead. Concordia’s inability to accomplish its inaugural catastrophe activated not only this unfortunate body count, but an eerie institutional potential.
As we are about to see, it is precisely its absence of functional operability what posits the Costa Concordia as a collection. Its accumulation results configured in the very moment of its sinking. The vessel fractures and submerges and at the same time it starts to generate its own museal stratigraphy. If the scrutiny of its itinerary is catastrophic —those hapless deaths, the absurd negligences, the material losses, etc— its condition is anasthropic,1 supposes a reorganization of its content, therefore that of its meaning.

Costa Concordia parbuckling spectral view (Image: Wikimedia)

Costa Concordia parbuckling spectral view (Image: Wikimedia)

In the surface, the Costa Concordia lingers as a new geographical accident. Its ambiguity produces a docile gaze: too orographic to be merely a rock, too infested by ecosystems to be simply metal scrap. Its superficial time is dense, deep, geologic…nonetheless, underneath the surface this vessel digests and defines different velocities of cultural sedimentation. Some Gerrit Rietveld chairs endure bolted to the ship’s floor at 80° of inclination, below 20-meter depth; the paintings of Katsushika Hokusai dilute and expand through teared suites. Nearby, some fragmented Zsolnay pottery start to incorporate new rock nuggets that still does not appear in the nautical charts…this drift of objects is configured as an accumulation that in fact is subtracted to Costa Crociere cruise line, Concordia’s owner and that of its artworks. From its initial art fund of 4.000 original artworks and about 50.000 copies that the company shares among its 14 cruise ships, we have a new accumulation which there, in Giglio’s sea bottom acquires its sense by virtue of a new submerged topology. If we think on the exploitation of Costa Concordia as an anastrophe, its mutant and shifting condition are some of its most striking features. The intervention of a variety of ecosystems within the vessel’s structure lead to imagine its content not that much a re-construction as a re-generation. Attending to all of those traits, the ship is reposited as an entelechy; some sort of a monad that we understand only through its representations.

Hence, what we can keep from Costa Concordia? What endures after this temporal montage? It was the notion of conservation what made possible the configuration of Modern era; the ability to decide what goes and what remains. What will be and what it was. This decision had to do less with sacred qualities and more with a sociological, historical coefficient, to the extent that nowadays we preserve restaurants, concentration camps and theme parks.

Keep Calm and
Vada Bordo Cazzo

[expletive]’s sake!!!
There are no “pleases”!
Schettino! Go!
Do you realize it’s dark out here and we can’t see anything?
It’s dark so you want to go home?
You say, ‘There seem to be?’
Where are you guys?
Now it’s not…
We can no longer get on board now, the ship has sunk completely.
I didn’t abandon any ship… because the ship turned on its side quickly and we were catapulted into the water.
We’re here. We’re here.
The conversation ends.

Museums has been trapped —or perhaps expelled— toward the concept of expanded field. A fluid territory where the definitions and relations between elements are not so much clear, and that is defined by velocities and accelerations. A field where meaning happens in a dilative act of reading with gnarled logic. A significance that is elastic, as bubble gum among two mouths. Moreover, it could be argued that the museum is not a physical space where objects are stored for the sake of its redundant worshipping, but a place from which the real, the sensible, the immediate is configured. A place that stem waves that distort our space-time. Maybe the correlation museum-collection has been dematerialized and what remains are the museum’s walls. Its essence is not to be something in particular, but to be everything; its will is to be World.

Poderes - Costa Concordia_01
Which would be the agent for this new museum that, although we cannot sense nor smell, surround us? The accident museography could be the multiple telematics that forms it, the amount of all the images that were produced from the accident onwards. However, these forms are not entirely visible. The police and forensic archives are a concealed presence that over-imposes onto the touristic images that proliferate Internet, over the pictures that some plein-air painters have been making, on top of the first public images of Concordia’s ruined interior. The images of this ship share different contexts and meanings, hence cooperating with a catastrophic museography that expands through different realities. This protracts a torrent of images that continues even below sea surface, indifferent to jurisdictions and authorships. The meaning is incarnated within fragments that either sunk or float, or rather that remained stacked in the mouth of someone else.

Captain Schettino

A scuba diver in the bottom of the concord
Within a drug, the pieces of a future museum
I dive within synthesis
I’m moving next to a drowned Mondriaan
More that red, blue and yellow, es morado.
I’m diving within a compressed Europe
Berluscopic dream

I’m moving far beyond, passing through the scrapyard
Everyone sings Volare (Nel blu dipinto di blu)
Among slot machines and Formula One
Blue, White, y Red
Neons and tinsel
“Something’s about to happen”

The feeling of the unreal
“I felt like Rambo in the Titanic”
Like Hokusai finding Nemo
The XVII Century,
the XI Century,
the XX Century,
the XXI Century,
the XXIII Century
until be placed here
without nautical charts
the effect is fading
the decompression
emerging is imminent

Concordia ends, bajada en pendiente.
some last echoes of my immersion
from bow to stern, through the wonders of my concentration
Un saludo
Through the crack will be how we enter

1. Here we imagine anastrophe as the inversión of catastrophe…or the transposition of the elements that configure its meaning.

We have been reading and talking about W.J.T. Mitchell, Pier Vittorio Aureli, Rosalind Krauss, Rem Koolhaas and the like.


–“We can’t sell our souls, but you can buy our spirits.”
Poderes is Santiago Pinyol & Javier Fresneda & Jose Díaz. Poderes’s existence is mainly based upon three main functions:
1) Maintenance of the web archive
This research platform is continuously distracted by the study of absent media images and their iconographic effects.
2) Development of quite normal meetings among professionals from spiritual, magical and scientific fields.
3) Collaborations with cultural workers and cultural beggars in order to produce ‘work-specific’ installations.