It's always night, or we wouldn't need light_41° 89` 77 N, 12° 47` 79 (Galileo Galilei), 2015

Basel 2016
Sfeir-Semler Gallery
Mixed Media
Wood, stainless steel
Artwork size
120.0 x 130.0 x 8.0 (cm)
47.2 x 51.2 x 3.1 (inch)
Galileo Galilei, 1564 – 1642  Rome, 41°89`77N, 12°47`79E, Wednesday, the 22nd of June, the 173rd day in the year 1633, 7:00 p.m. The full moon resided in the constellation Sagittarius. Jupiter had already hidden his countenance behind the hills, and in a few minutes Venus would follow him. Draco’s head lay in the zenith above the holy city, visible through the oculus of the Pantheon. Diagonally across the street, in front of the steps of the church Santa Maria sopra Minerva, an old man in a hair shirt dismounted a mule, shortly thereafter to kneel down and reveal what he believes and recant what he has seen. I, Galileo Galilei, have forsworn, sworn and promised… on my knees. Against better judgment. In the face of evidence. Contrary to the experiments. And so she, the sun, has punished me. So, too, the stars have determined, and Jupiter has judged me, taking my sight, so that I could never betray him again. A just punishment for the betrayal. How could I denigrate the truth? No one knows, as well as I. Before me no man saw, what I saw. I was the first, who pointed the lenses upward toward the heavens, unlike all the small minds, who merely held them straight ahead, gazing at the nearest hill. I opened the door. Never before did anyone gaze at all the suns, this twinkling, the innumerable stars, a vastness that took my breath away. They were always there, yet it was given to me to be the first human to behold them, back then 30 years ago. A sea of stars. Was it not I, who revolutionized seeing? Who explained to people that the play of light and shadow on the moon is no different than here on earth? That the moon has mountains and valleys and seas? That there is no man in the moon? Yes, it was I, who first saw that Copernicus was right, and that we are the ones that rotate. If the four Medici, the small moons, revolve around Jupiter, then the Earth cannot be the only center of celestial rotations. I saw it. The sun lies at the center of all large planetary orbits. Did God not give man the ability to reason, an intellect and eyes so that he may use of them? The experiment - the teacher of all things - showed me everything: that the essence of nature can be described mathematically, that the book of nature is written in the language of mathematics. Empiricism led to knowledge. And, no, theology is not superior to all sciences, for it is not a science, since it cannot be proven. Only proof can support theory. So elegant was my “Dialogo”, so ingenious was the argumentative dance, that in the end there could be no doubt. It was not I who proved, but rather common sense following the arguments. I answered the questions in terms of the Inquisition, back then 1633. Yet the next day, when I had to slip on the hair shirt – I, the great Galileo, like a heretic - in order to appear before the seven cardinals, what choice did I have besides renunciation, besides the disavowal of my knowledge as collateral for my life? But the real punishment is not the lifelong house arrest. The punishment is the darkness. Now I no longer see anything, an eternal night without stars. What I deserve.