A Cat Has Seven Lives

Winner video of the BazzanoPoesia Prize 2010

The video is available in Italian, English and German

The starting point for the video was a series of digital photomontages composed of several elements: old and new photographs, scanned materials like ropes, perspex engravings, film, leafs. With various digital animation techniques these “prime materials” have been processed into a dynamical sequence of images and sounds, in which the seven lives of the cat follow each other in a temporal line. Introduced by the sounds of bells or drums, each life presents a new dimension: an inner experience of time juxtaposed against the external course of things, one of the artist’s favourite subjects.

The seventh life is the longest part of the movie and is entitled: “Looking for the Hermit and Not Finding Him”, a very common theme in classic Chinese poetry, usually describing a spirit-journey. In the imaginary landscape in Maria Korporal’s video, the female figure, walking on and off stage, could be the artist in her never ending search for the sublime, but it could also represent the hermit gathering, too busy to pay us any mind.

The video closes with the famous lines by Taoist poet Chia Tao (779-843):

Under a pine I asked his pupil
Who said: “Master’s gone gathering balm
Only somewhere about the mountain:
The cloud’s so thick that I don’t know where.”

As Arthur Cooper writes in his edition Li Po and Tu Fu, in these kind of poems the hermit gives his “teaching without words” by letting the poet wait and not even meet him. His lesson may be compared with that of Ludwig Wittgenstein’s statement in Philosophical Investigations: “Don’t think: look!”.

title: A Cat has 7 Lives
medium: Digital animation with sound
length: 7’32”
year: 2008
images, animation and sound: © Maria Korporal
poem: Chia Tao (779-843)

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