In the Iliad, the death of the Troyan hero Hector is preluded by his freightened father´s comparison between the approaching Achilles and Sirius, already then commonly named Orion´s Dog, or simply, Dog Star:
The careful eyes of Priam first beheld.
Not half so dreadful rises to the sight,
Through the thick gloom of some tempestuous night,
Orion's dog (the year when autumn weighs),
And o'er the feebler stars exerts his rays;
Terrific glory! for his burning breath
Taints the red air with fevers, plagues, and death.
– Homer, Iliad, XXII 26–31
The heat of the midsummer days was feared by the ancient cultures around the Mediterranean.
Its occurrence coincided with the rising of Canicula (Little Dog), as the Romans called it in late July.
Not only withering the harvest and flaring the tempers, but also stirring the dogs´continuous barking ever since then they are called dies caniculares, dog days.
And Sirius, the brightest star in the sky, scorching at the chest of the celestial canine, was attributed malicious traits, heating up the terrestrial to the point a latent madness aroused.
Things start to be somehow different then before. Just enough to get nervous, suspicious.
Distorted, grotesquely altered and out of proportion, problems mount up.
An erratic apathy that might any moment be acted out.
Due to the axial precession of the earth, the heliacal rising of Sirius defers behind every year.
When Vergil was working on the Aeneid during the last decade of his life – the chronicles of the Trojan Aenaes,
progenitor of the Romans – the rising of Sirius had already shifted to August 1, and today it´s not to be seen before late in August, when it starts to appear at dawn. Dante called upon Vergil 1300 years later to show him around and witness the world he found himself in, the inferno, a hell populated by those who fell for the seven sins.
Today they walk side by side at the Costa del Sol, strolling through a purgatory of wire, foil, and fertilizer.
Dog days are now a continous state, an everlasting condition. As if in a confinement built by rays of light, lives are lived under the sign of misery, Fata Morganas chased in the heat.
It can be fun, though, going out only to get tanned and wasted, dreaming about a place under the sun, palm trees, melting ice cream on a chaise lounge, while living inside air-conditioned offices, apartments and SUVs 24/7. Dog days are delegated – have your apprentices in the sun, sweating.
Exhibiting Artists: Christiane Blattmann, Pruitt & Early, Anahita Razmi, Andreas Siekmann, Simon Speiser.
Invited by: Daniel Herleth and Bärbel Trautwein.
Croy Nielsen, July 11 - August 1