Sodom and Gommorrah

No one knows anything about Sodom and Gomorrah. The only evidence that Sodom and Gomorrah actually existed has been handed down to us by the Book of Genesis. Some think that they are submerged under the heavy waters of the Dead Sea, destroyed by a natural disaster as was Pompeii. In fact, according to geological studies, the area where they stood appears to be rich in sulphur, bitumen and oil (not yet found).

When it is said that Lot’s wife (Lot was the only inhabitant fearful of God and was therefore saved from Divine wrath) was transformed into a pillar of salt upon looking behind her as she was fleeing, one could understand her to have been struck by a scorching gust of sulphur and ashes, as with the petrified bodies of the ancient Pompeiians.

So as not to have to face the colossus of Archeology, I have decided to approach the subject by following a precise itinerary, imagining landscapes, portraits, environments and objects, and by following almost the same path that Italo Calvino took thirty years ago in his The Invisible Cities (1972, Einaudi) where, through Marco Polo’s eyes, he visited these seemingly believable cities. He wrote:

“All cities were invented; I have given each one a woman’s name: Procopia, Zenobia, Chloe, Hypatia, Zora, Phyllis, etc (…). The book was created one piece at a time, at intervals which were sometimes lengthy (…). I keep a file on objects, a file on animals, one on individuals, one on historical figures and another on mythological heroes. I have a file on the four seasons and one on the five senses; in one I collect pages related to the cities and landscapes of my life and in another, imaginary cities, outside of space and time.”

I have the habit of taking photographs of everything wherever I go: human and animal matter, objects, landscapes and architecture. Materials that I have accumulated and catalogued of things photographed in museums and on the street, on trips outside Europe and on brief afternoon outings.

Materials presented in this imaginary journey, the journey which launched me into the metaphor of these two forbidden and damned cities where people happily live in a total absence of morality, devoted to vice and lust, where every kind of sexual perversion is part of everyday life. In Sodom and Gomorrah, sexual perversion is considered a virtuosity. Virtuosity in which genetic crossbreeding from one generation to the next accumulates over time. Yet it did not cause shame; on the contrary, for the New Progeny it was the rule to show off with pride and irony an evermore unique body.

I have imagined these two cities as a kind of amusement park for visionaries, where my gaze is neither accusing nor benevolent, but simply amused and curious, open to taking in as much as possible. An enormous freak show designed with kitsch and geometrical rationality, like that of crib, where one can get lost, and scrutinize an intimate daily life as hybrid as it is metaphysical, and then find one’s path, perhaps to get lost again.

In short, I have wanted the people of Sodom and Gomorrah to be happy, creative and imaginative up to the very day of the apocalypse in which God omnipotent, vexed by their excessive exuberance, decided to spread forevermore his immense black veil.

I consider “Sodom and Gomorrah” to be an open-ended project, too stimulating and enjoyable to be concluded, and to which I will continue to add images. It is an always expanding project, like Sodom and Gomorrah would be if they had survived the Divine Wrath: an irrational expansion, chaotic, exuberant and spontaneous. Just like that of all modern cities.

Alessandro Bavari

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