IN the beginning was the image By Peter Greenaway

In the Beginning was the Image. A multi-screen projection for the Italian Pavilion of the Venice Biennale 2015.

In the Old Testament is says “In the beginning was the Word”. That has to be wrong because God asked Adam (Genesis) to name everything. How could

Adam have named everything if there was nothing to name? The Old Testament should have said, “In the beginning was the Image”.

To celebrate that fact, let us make a “Beginning of Images”. Let us announce that “In the Beginning was the Image”. And since Italy is a prime maker of images for three thousand years, let us collect a great encyclopedia of images from Italian painting. Thousands and thousands of them, tens of thousands of them, hundreds of thousands of them - there are easily that many. Italian painting has made a mighty thesaurus of images. Let us assemble them in quantities and categories.

Nipples, blood, hands, books, eyes, smiles, flowers, clouds, lances, orbs, fruit, mandolins, red dresses, trees, ears, keys, tables, Apollo, wings, ruffs, mouths, vines, horses, moons, testicles, the shore, pens, diamonds, furs, Venus, navels, pointing fingers, chairs, lobsters, ropes, water, sheep, nails, eggs, shadows, hats, dragons, pumpkins, swords, diseases, steam, roses, melons, spires, Medusa, vases, garments, buttocks, swans, furniture, pillows, colours, postcards, music, feathers, rams, mirrors, fig-leaves, birds, apples, wheels, saddles, the colour blue, trousers, Narcissus, dice, Maltese crosses, St John, buckets, circles, Hera, cherries, knees, Garibaldi, teeth, knives, Spring, armour, pearls, Leda, balls, newspapers, haloes, St Thomas, ducks, bows, snakes, Napoleon, beards, closets, ermine, harlequins, tabards, dogs, pitchers, Romans, straws, eels, necklaces, skulls, babies, the number six, clubs, moustaches, pomegranates, Florence, pillars, fat men, veils, Pisa, hair …..

Let us assemble these images and compare them, their similarities and differences, to understand  what they are, how they are represented, how they have been been perceived, seen and presented. How they have been represented over time, each representation building on the reputation of its predecessor, and referring back and referring forward to help us make a full and yet even more fuller understanding for our visual experience, memory and imagination of them.

And what better way to do that than to assemble them via today’s contemporary visual information systems – on film - in a great exuberant flow of apparently unlimited abundance.

See CODICE ITALIA- the catalogue for the Italian Pavilion Biennale Arte 2015 Edited by Vincenzo Trione. Published by Bompiani. Italian and English Version.

Italian Pavilion Venice: may, 9 2015 - November, 22 2015 Venice 10.00-18.00, closed on Mondays



Peter Greenaway


Daphne Rosenthal


Change Performing Arts