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The well-documented flooding of the Eternal City is Hazewinkel’s point of departure for this photographic work. Domus Sub / Merge represents his first hands-on engagement with photographic archives and highlights the conceptual turning of his subject toward history (or more specifically) minor histories.
Eight archival images of the swollen Tiber river and the flooded monuments of Rome are paired with contemporary images of the ephemeral architectures created by those that live in the full face of vulnerability along the river’s banks.
The earliest recording of the Tiber’s inundation comes down to us from Livy - dated 414 BCE. Since then, recording of the regular flooding has assumed different form. Literary and poetic references, formal musical compositions and vernacular ditties, paintings, etchings, stone markers indicating the height the water reached at various locations throughout the city, and more recently hydrological tables. Each mode of recording carries with it a different a type of information.
Domus Sub / Merge began during Hazewinkel’s 2006 Australia Council for the Arts studio residency in Rome. During that period two significant events occurred in Hazewinkel’s practice. 1- he was introduced to the collections of the British School at Rome Photographic Archive and 2- his interest in the mingled relationships between history and contemporaneity was launched.
Initially overwhelmed by the energetic material intensity of the city, Hazewinkel began his residency by turning his back on the stacked stones and monuments of the city. He began by taking long walks along the riverbank and it was his experiences along the sometimes paved, sometimes reeded banks that revealed to him a different aspect of the Eternal City’s pulse – it’s minor histories.
In the essay Lucciole, A. Gardner discusses Domus Sub/Merge in relation to the work of Pier Paolo Pasolini and Georges Didi-Huberman, for whom minor histories often evade capture within the dominant understanding of the past and rigid architectures of knowledge. Gardner identifies correlations between Hazewinkel, Pasolini and Didi-Huberman’s expression of minor histories and their importance in recording the past. He suggests that these flickering irruptions of the past within the present (which Pasolini called Lucciole – or fireflies) ‘….can be considered forces of resistance, opening up new perceptions of history, and tearing new holes in teleologies that drag from the Antique to the Renaissance and thence to the neoliberal present where everything, including time and historical knowledge itself, has chiefly become a commodity.’
The archival material used in Domus Sub / Merge is drawn from the Ashby, Bulwer and Mackey Collections at BSR Photographic Archive. The partnered contemporary images were photographed by Hazewinkel as his relationship with the city deepened during the years that he remained in Rome. They depict seasonally ephemeral dwellings (sometimes annually rebuilt and reoccupied) located close to the site depicted in each of the archival images.
In her essay FCO-MEL unspooling S. Manna writes ‘…In the city of Rome, memory is recorded stone by stone, layer by layer, but the continuous force of the Tiber undermines this authority, engraving signs of time into the city’s heart by the dates of the many floods. This well recorded history of Rome’s liquid destruction challenges the built representation of power, the stone architectures of the Eternal City. Andrew searches in the perpetual natural elements of water and light for a supporting framework for the comprehension of this dichotomous reality.’
Domus Sub/Merge developed as a part of Hazewinkel’s broader Acqua Alta project (2006-2010), which comprised photographs, videos, watercolours and sculptural installations. Configured into site-specific arrangement they were presented at a series of exhibitions at various locations in Rome and Melbourne. Four essays were commissioned for the project publication; Domus Sub / Merge is discussed in each of them.