Passagenwerke per Mnemosyne

Monica Centanni


In the panels of Aby Warburg’s Mnemosyne Atlas the choice of images, the composing strategy of each plate, the arrangement of the work as a whole are momentous issues. As the exhibition 'Mnemosyne ritrovata' highlighted, the composition of the Atlas is conceived as a wide story divided into different phases, with interlaced thematic and chronological threads, telling the connections between the topical interest of works of art and their relationship with models: the Atlas represents, by way of images, the mechanics of the classical tradition in a geographic area that has its centre in the Mediterranean basin, and spanning in terms of chronology from the proto-history of Mediterranean civilization to contemporary age. The comparison between the various releases of the Bilderatlas – especially between the last version that Warburg left at his death, documented by pictures taken in 1929, and the 'Daedalus version' reconstructed in 1993 – reveals the importance, in the montage of every single panel, of the spacing between images, that corresponds to a kind of punctuation of the whole story: in each plate, on those very spaces – Denkraum, space for the thought – images contend for their role and room for survival. In the game of the Atlas, the theatre of Memory is on stage.


Warburg; Mnemosyne; Images; Memory.

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