Lexically speaking, “alien” is what belongs to others, a ‘foreign entity’ incompatible with a determined form of existence.
But what exactly defines an alien? Is there actually something – an essence – to which it belongs and makes it perceived so by us? Or is the absence of an essence – the a of the latin a-lienus, the absence of any kind of bounds which constitutes the deep meaning of “alien”? How can we define, then, “alien? Which are the arcana that hide themselves behind this “other” and distant word – is there a performative dimension that estranges us, averts us from the word itself, after having pronounced it – a sort of “undertow” of the word? “Alien” is to be found where we would have never expected to.
There are two poles, two semantic worlds, in which “alien” lives and moves – or even two semantic limits in which we want to search for this concept. On the one hand, the alien discovered and felt as “close”: recognising the diverse and in the diverse a “oneself”, a same form of breath, of life; even a same structure that we know to be present in ourselves and for this reason nears the alien to us, allowing us to appreciate its diversity and richness. It is what can be defined as the “dialect of the alien”, the dialogue between two words that, while communicating with one another, re-cognise themselves. Colours, shapes and objects originally far and distant from one another – i.e. alien to one another – become able to synthetize, harmonize and finally unify themselves in the “miracle” of the artistic creation. The alienating distance is finally overcome and resolved, with the image producing harmony-unity. It is the encounter of man with nature – which he discovers to be a mimesis of; and of nature itself with man, with the former starting to live and swell in the sometimes-hostile human space. And lastly, the meeting of man with the “errant man” – the migrant – who wanders since he has not found his space in the world yet and a place he may call “home”.
The other semantic world is inhabited by the alien xenos, the stranger: the alienness as an unsolvable and never synthesisable negative dialect. Or, even better, the alienness as an existential condition: to be stranger and incompatible to the world, whatever this “world” might be – biologic world, human world, world of meanings, world of images. There is no “redemption” or overcoming of this distance. The two worlds are not able to approach themselves and dia-logue with one another. There is no possibility, then, of artistic redemption: the work of art itself communicates this conflict, re-produces it and re-generates it when presenting it to the viewer. The colours and the shapes do not harmonize between themselves, to such an extent that it is possible to aurally sense this dis-harmony.
There are infinite possible variations on the theme “alien” that run between these two semantic poles, for infinite are the meanings that can be artistically produced; and for infinite can be the viewers’ interpretations based on their perceptions and emotions. It will be the viewers, then, who will find their alien by “living” and “enjoying” the images”. It is their task, their challenge to find and, whenever they consider it harmonically possible, to solve the dissonant “alien” tensions. It is their decision to find the “stranger alien” where someone else might instead find the “close alien”