A negative space was commissioned for “The Primavera Project,” in which artists were asked to musically respond to Sandro Botticelli’s and Charline von Heyl’s original Primavera paintings. When comparing Botticelli’s work from the late 1400s to von Heyl’s painted in 2020, the first thing I noticed was that von Heyl’s is a reclaimed inversion of Botticelli’s, the lifelike human and angelic figures from Botticelli’s now appearing like erased smudges within a dark background, highlighting the way many marginalized identities have been erased from history. Within these cutout figures, there is room to insert ourselves or others forgotten into the shadowed bodies of Venus, The Three Graces, and Cupid. By reversing figure and ground, we reveal a negative space’s hidden meaning and recognize the unseen.
Many thanks to Matt Haimovitz for commissioning this piece.
Performed by Matt Haimovitz
(from Primavera II: The Rabbits)