Notes to DO, DO, DO
what we expect from the artwork and what artwork strongly refuses to give us
NOI AMIAMO L’OPERA E L’OPERA NON CI AMA
WE LOVE ARTWORK AND ARTWORK DOES NOT LOVE US
NOI VOGLIAMO L’OPERA E L’OPERA NON CI VUOLE
WE WANT ARTWORK AND ARTWORK DOES NOT WANT US
NOI INTERPRETIAMO L’OPERA E L’OPERA NON CI INTERPRETA
WE INTERPRET ARTWORK AND ARTWORK DOES NOT INTERPRET US
NOI DIAMO IL SANGUE ALL’OPERA E L’OPERA FA IL COMODO SUO
WE GIVE OUR BLOOD TO ARTWORK AND ARTWORK JUST LOOKS OUT FOR ITSELF
NOI PARTECIPIAMO ALL’OPERA E L’OPERA CI ESCLUDE DAL SUO SIGNIFICATO
WE TAKE PART IN ARTWORK AND ARTWORK EXCLUDES US FROM ITS MEANING
NOI RINCORRIAMO L’OPERA E L’OPERA CI LASCIA LA POLVERE
WE RUN AFTER ARTWORK AND ARTWORK LEAVES US DUST
NOI PERCEPIAMO L’OPERA E L’OPERA NON SENTE NIENTE
WE FEEL ARTWORK AND ARTWORK FEELS NOTHING
NOI SOSPIRIAMO PER L’OPERA E L’OPERA SE NE SBATTE DI NOI
WE SIGH FOR ARTWORK AND ARTWORK COULDN’T CARE LESS
NOI MORIAMO PER L’OPERA E L’OPERA VIVE IN ETERNO
WE DIE FOR ARTWORK AND ARTWORK LIVES FOREVER
NOI CONSOLIAMO L’OPERA E L’OPERA CI DISPREZZA
WE CONSOLE ARTWORK AND ARTWORK DESPISES US
NOI SOFFRIAMO PER L’OPERA E L’OPERA RIDE DI NOI
WE SUFFER FOR ARTWORK AND ARTWORK LAUGHS AT US
NOI IMPLORIAMO L’OPERA E L’OPERA NON NE VUOLE SAPERE
WE IMPLORE ARTWORK AND ARTWORK DOESN’T WANT TO KNOW
Do, Do, Do
(George Gershwin / Ira Gershwin)
I remember it quite,
‘Twas a wonderful night.
Oh, how I’d adore it
If you would encore it  .
Do, do, do 
What you’ve done, done, done
Do, do, do
What I do, do, do
Let’s try again,
Fly  again to heaven.
It’s A, B, C,
I love you and you love me  .
I know, know, know
What a beau, beau, beau
Should do, Baby;
So don’t, don’t, don’t
Say it won’t, won’t, won’t
Come true  , baby,
My heart begins to hum,
So do, do, do
What you’ve done, done, done
Sweets we’ve tasted before
Cannot stand an encore.
You know that a miss
Who always gives a kiss
Would soon become a bore.
I can’t see that at all,
True love never should pall  .
 Bliss that artwork reserves for us consists in the fulfillment of the senses, which had previously been excited by the promise of beauty. Although the promise of beauty is intuitive, and equates to a suspect, devoid of concrete evidence about a generic-specific object, it is not formulated in a day and is far from innate: it takes many years of training and exercise, all within a cultural system, before that promise meets our desire. The model remains Heaven: a pre-historical stage of our evolution, and in fact almost pre-human in that it is very close to the divine. At that stage, we were motionless and smiling, immersed in the absolute and endless fixity of our kiss with the object, ourselves in turn made object by that kiss.
 The kiss between us and artwork is not without adjectives. These are the adjectives that describe our reaction; in this case: wonder, amazement. But in front of the work other reactions are possible, such as charm, terror, shyness. The very fact that there is a reaction on our part, and therefore an adjective that qualifies the kiss between us and artwork, means that we are out of Heaven, and therefore that kiss is a mere repetition of a myth: it is the metaphor of a reality that we have never witnessed. If this were not the case, if we removed the adjective, if the kiss was simply a kiss that was identical to itself, we would fall back in the object-object relationship with artwork, that is, in an equivalence relationship in which we can no longer speak neither of function nor of language. In this case, artwork would be exactly us.
 Our return to adolescence, a time in life characterized by enthusiasm and a lack of prevention and resistance to the objects of our desire, is a tribute to the power of artwork, indeed: to its omnipotence. The power of artwork is such as to always overcome the measure of our skepticism or of all those distances that, over the years, we have possibly interposed between us and artwork. Have we seen and re-seen it to the point of boredom? Have we studied it in every way? Does desire, already fulfilled many times, no longer seem so ardent? Yet, here, unexpectedly, we face artwork once again, and it knows how to put our harmless weapons out of use, strong enough to push us back to our most tender youth.
 The request for an encore, after the first kiss with artwork, places this kiss in a theatrical context, made up of roles and lines already written to pronounce. Being rooted in the cultural and symbolic tradition, the aesthetic experience, like the love one, is never individual, however subjective, in a linguistic sense, and personal, in a moral sense. Indeed, this experience has the effect of transforming the individual into a subject, introducing him / her into a linguistic system, and of influencing his / her behavior and judgment, that is, making him / her a person. The theater in which the kiss with artwork is placed is not to be considered limited to the museum or, in general, to the real context in which direct experience with it takes place. That theater overcomes the temporal and spatial situation of the fruition / enjoyment in progress, in two directions: (i) on the one hand, the theatrical scheme is internal to any work of art, like an odor that impregnates it, and that in reality is the legacy of centuries of representation and curtains, from which the twentieth century tries to escape, especially with the theory of Specific Objects; (ii) on the other, this theater takes on the broader dimensions of the thought of artwork, of its imagination in the absence of its body; that is, it is a projective theater, exactly like the mental erotic and romantic theater of lovers separated from destiny. An image of this theater of the artwork / love is what Rilke offer us in the IV Elegy, where the poet declares the firm desire not to stop being in front of the scene, in front of the curtain, even if the actors have left: For they’re very clear / with us, we that don’t know our feeling’s shape, / but only that which forms it from outside. / Who’s not sat tense before his own heart’s curtain? / Up it would go: the scenery was parting. (…) / Here! I’m already waiting. / Even if the lights go out, even if I’m told / ‘There’s nothing more,’—even if greyish draughts / of emptiness come drifting from the stage, — / even if of all my silent forebears none / sits by me any longer, not a woman, / not even the boy with the brown squinting eyes: / I’ll still remain. For one can always watch. [R. M. Rilke, The Duino Elegies, The Fourth Elegy, 17-36, 1915, translated by by J.B. Leishman and Stephen Spender]
 ‘Doing’ is the secret of artwork, simply because ‘doing’ is the very name of artwork. ‘Work’ is ‘doing’, and ‘doing’ is all we ask artwork to do. Despite the contemplative relationship that has always been established with artwork, many things happen in that contemplation, and there is a constant movement and getting busy. Getting busy: why, or in what direction? It is not important, or it is not established, it is not sayable, it is not explainable, it is not even tolerable that we talk about it, we are too busy doing, doing, doing. We are in the heart of artwork: its inexplicability is the reason for doing and doing is the reason for inexplicability. Indeed, artwork is the only place where ‘doing’ needs no explanation. The ‘doing’ is freed in its exceptional nature and purity. What artwork does to us and what we do to artwork has no purpose within artwork and the space that separates us from it. Only outside this relationship, for example in the museum, this extraordinarily aimless ‘doing’ is channeled into political, ideal, moral and economic productivity. Schwitters ‘senselessness’ is this ‘doing’ without conclusion or conclusiveness. And in this it differs from the Dadaist non-sense: Schwitters works to de-pontentiate the usefulness of things, his revolution consists in the elimination of goals; it does not consist in cultivating contradiction, in making culturally established meanings decay. The scandal that arouses Ursonate derives from the fact that it is placed on this side of words, before every word is possible and possibly finite and meant. The same happens in the merz sculptures, where the ‘doing’ does not reach any kind of limit, any kind of conclusiveness. Merz sculptures are careful to be, not be-been.
 Try-Sigh-Fly: this should be an aesthetic program to experiment and improve our contact with artwork. We need optimism and goodwill in convincing ourselves that everything will work, everything will be fine, the fiction of enjoyment will become reality of enjoyment, and the road of art will be a feast of joy and painless meanings… But even the prediction of anguish does not affect the joy of artwork. Artwork must not be condemned to a meaning or a function, certainly not; but it will still be able to transform pain into a cut-out and manageable object; a transportable, repairable, glue-able melancholy; something that can be re-harmonized with other objects of life, perhaps dissolved in the joy of a particular way of stammering, certainly yes. At least, that’s what Schwitters teaches us. Imagine the young Kurt asking the Art to go in rhythm with his convulsions. Then, Kurt as an old man, still epileptic, pleading for objects to obey the rule of indulging in meaninglessness. Try-Sigh-Fly! Try-Sigh-Fly! Try-Sigh-Fly! Maybe a magic formula to induce hypnosis in the objects …
 The dream of a symmetrical relationship with artwork is only a dream. Artwork always hides something that does not correspond to our intentions. We try to be available and understandable, while on the other side there is only detachment and only illusory transparency. And those nice museum employees who go out of their way to make us feel comfortable with artwork, and combine our romantic date with artwork, make us feel even worse, like unwanted lovers pushed by grasping procurers. Lights are right, the atmosphere is refined, the mood is marked by an intimate complicity, the caption is well written, it explains everything we need to know… Yet something is wrong, artwork doesn’t look at us, it doesn’t want us, it does not even perceive our presence. We pass and go back and forth. Let’s stand still for a while. Soon, maybe now, artwork should notice us, and take us in its logic, then our whole existence would be touched and disrupted. Please, do it. But the fact is that artwork always appears ultra-cured in every single inch. And we, we are incurably unbalanced by our terrible weight.
 What could it mean for artwork to become true? Entering the order of things of existence, that is, accepting the risk of not-being-anymore. Artwork does not like not-to-be-anymore, since it hates all time limits. If it is really necessary to add an adverb to the verb ‘to be’, then artwork prefers other solutions better than the sudden disappearance, for example: almost-not-to-be-although-to-be, not-to-be-yet-completely, to-be-in-any-case, to-be-daily-forever, to-be-suddenly, to-be-point-by-point, to-be-hidden-from-time-but-visible, to-be-still-while-end-of-time … These are all solutions that carefully avoid the possibility of dying. Even in the event of death, artwork dies forever. It dies continuously forever. So it is clear that no contract of truth is possible between artwork and us. The love we dedicate to artwork will have to renounce the claim to truth. We will have to be content with loving artwork on this side of truth, while artwork is on the other side of truth. And we can never fully trust artwork. Because we will never know what exactly is on the other side of the truth. Is it a problem for us to love artwork when artwork is non-true? Is it a problem to love artwork if artwork does without the truth? Should we continue to love artwork while we have to deal with an unjust truth that demands everything from us and nothing from artwork?
 Amen and so be it!