Sic Transit Gloria Mundi


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By Dirk van Weelden, 2020

For the exhibition ‘Onvoltooid Tegenwoordige Tijd’ at the Centraal Museum (1990), Johan Wagenaar made a video animation in which he chose as theme the overlapping of history and the present. He filmed the ruins of the neoclassical Building for Arts and Sciences on Mariaplaats in Utrecht, which was destroyed by fire in 1988, leaving nothing but the front facade.

The destruction revealed the foundations of the Mariakerk, an eleventh-century church that once occupied the site. In the image of that enclosed space of ruins, he let golden carp swim around, a symbol of the disappearance of temporariness and eternity into each other.

On the audiotape you hear the traffic on Mariaplaats in 1990, the voices, the buses the footsteps. Sic Transit Gloria Mundi — ‘Thus passes worldly glory’ — reads the title, but you could also see it as a small act of resistance against decaying and forgetting.
@ Centraal Museum Utrecht (1990)
@ Utrechts Conservatorium (permanent installation since 1993)

Current state of the neoclassical Building for Arts and Sciences, destroyed by fire in 1988, on Mariaplaats.

> Sic Trancit Gloria Mundi, Cilly Jansen, 1990 (in Dutch)

> Sic transit, Willem Ellenbroek, Volkskrant newspaper, 1990 (in Dutch)

Sic Transit Gloria Mundi, 1990, video, 28 min.

©Johan Wagenaar