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129. CLIMATE 04 - SEA LEVEL RISE

Art and science in support of Venice

Text by Andrea Lerda

A wall painting, 6 meters high and 100 meters long, to tell the risks of climate change and talk about the phenomenon of water rising in Venice. It's called Climate 04 Sea Level Rise and is a project between art and science of the visual artist Andreco, inaugurated on October 27th at Fondamenta Santa Lucia.

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Climate 04 Sea Level RIse, Venezia, 2017. Courtesy Andreco

In an article published in the Corriere della Sera on February 1, 1975, “Il vuoto di potere” (The power void), and then collected in his Scritti corsari, Pasolini writes: “In the early 1970s, thanks to air pollution and, in the country, pollution of water (the crystal-blue rivers and clear canals), the fireflies began to disappear. The phenomenon was lightning-quick and striking. After a few years, there were no more fireflies”(1).
Pasolini uses the disappearance of the fireflies as a metaphor to speak, rather than yell, of the radical transformation of a wicked society, of uncontrolled technical and economic progress, of unscrupulous capitalism, of the economic boom that in a short time destabilized the balance of a country that for many centuries had been a traditional agricultural society. A radical transformation that destroyed landscapes and cityscapes, caused pollution and ecological devastation, cultural and anthropological decadence, the upsurge of mass culture, the standardization of lifestyles, and the death of the fireflies, those delicate “blazes of innocence”(2) that represented the fragility of natural balance, marred by irrationality and the blindness of human cynicism.
After the lesson of Henry David Thoreau, who already in the mid-nineteenth century feels in the air that something irreparable is happening, that of Pasolini is certainly one of the main voices able to reap the legacy of recent American ecocriticism and to awaken in Italy a ecological sensitivity dormant.


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Climate 04 Sea Level RIse, Venezia, 2017. Courtesy Andreco


As well as for America, where the historical experience of Land Art has helped to stimulate the debate around ecological issues, even in Italy the years between the Sixties and Seventies have seen protagonists a whole series of experiences developed around the concept of less is more. In the Manifesto dell’Arte Povera (Manifesto of Arte Povera), published in Flash Art in 1967 by Germano Celant, the main theorist of the movement, he reveals the presence of a new attitude “directed at locating the real meaning of the emergent human sense of living. An identification of human-nature, which no longer has the theological, medieval sense of narrator-narratum, but a pragmatic intent of liberation, of non-addition of objects to our ideas of the world, as we see it today”.
In Turin, Mario Merz worked on the organic structures of the vegetal world, on the intersection of primary and natural forces with contemporary objects. In 1967, Pino Pascali proposes a material authentication and “behavioral sensism” with 2 metri cubi di terra (2 cubic meters of earth) and 1 metro cubo di terra (1 cubic meter of earth), a synecdoche of the natural world. Over all, Giuseppe Penone that gives form to the intimate, authentic, and sublime experience linking humans and nature while in Lombardy Giuliano Mauri reflects on the concept of environment and participation, dialoguing with the landscape by realizing site-specific works in nature and Ugo La Pietra analyzes the meaning of living in the city, invoking the need for a greater awareness to balance humans and nature. And last but not least Piero Gilardi, artist and political activist, creates his first “natural carpets” in 1965 and Joseph Beuys who chosed Italy to realize the battle in Difesa della natura.

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Andreco CLimate 04 Sea level rise venezia cnr ecology art climate change platform green6

Climate 04 Sea Level RIse, Venezia, 2017. Courtesy Andreco


This short and certainly incomplete overview is a pretext to reflect on what was the context within which were placed a series of seeds that with time have sprouted giving life to the important research of young artists today, who have been able to bring ahead of that line of research interested to environmental and ecological issues.
The most interesting, which was certainly able to understand this heritage is Andreco, an environmental engineer lent to art, who has been conducting research on the consequences of the anthropic impact within the natural context for several years.

Platform Green has already presented its work in the news number 85, in which it is possible to read some of its main projects and the way in which its artistic practice takes shape.
Here we want to give attention to the last work realized by the artist during the fourth stage of the itinerant project in progress CLIMATE.
The project started in Paris in November 2015 during the Cop 21, the UN conference about Climatic Changes, and subsequently continued in Bologna and Bari.
Climate consists in the realization of various site specific interventions, including installations in the urban space, mural paintings and talks which aim to create a connection between science and art, a dialogue that translates into works inspired by the latest scientific researches on the causes and the effects of climatic changes.
Andreco’s aim for this project is to underline the weaknesses of the territory where his interventions will take place. While in Bari the main theme was the accelerating desertification caused by the rising temperatures, in Venice the artist’s focus is the sea level rise.
The Climate 04-Sea Level Rise project chosed Venice as a symbol, the city being of one of the most exposed to this kind of risk and potentially destined to be submerged, according to the majority of present forecasts.
This step takes inspiration from some international researches led by IPPC, Delta Committee, WGBU and from articles published by the professor Rahmstorf and the researchers of the CNR-ISMAR about the effects of the sea rising in Venice lagoon.
The project includes three different interventions, specifically conceived and developed for the city of Venice: a big wall painting, an installation and a talk (who took place in October) which analysed the climate change under a scientific and artistic point of view.
The mural was be done along the shores of Canal Grande in Fondamenta Santa Lucia, and it represents an artistic translation of the studies about sea level rise and extreme waves, according to the scientific evidence and estimates provided by research centres involved in the project.
Another thought about the lagoon ecosystem is represented by the sice specific installation that host some autochthonous plants underlining the environmental benefits of coastal plants as well as their contribution both in the adaptation and mitigation of climatic changes and in protecting Venice.

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The project was born thanks to the profitable collaboration among various public and private subjects, such as m.a.c.lab-Ca’ Foscari, University IUAV of Venice, CNR-ISMAR, Studio La Città, One Contemporary Art, ASLC progetti per l’arte, Regione Veneto, Grandi Stazioni, De Castelli,Spring Color and Platform Green.

(1) Pier Paolo Pasolini, Il vuoto del potere, in “Corriere della Sera”, I° febbraio 1975, Milano.
(2) Georges Didi-Huberman, Come le lucciole. Una politica delle sopravvivenze, Bollati Boringhieri, p. 16.
(3) Germano Celant, Il manifesto dell’Arte Povera, da “Flash Art” n°5, del 1967; p.36

128. HERMAN DE VRIES

THE RETURN OF BEAUTY

Dutch artist Herman de Vries (1931) is a cardinal figure in twentieth-century European art whose importance is gradually garnering international attention. The exhibition at Cortesi Gallery in London, brings together a series of highly significant examples of his work, to retrace the key stages in his creative career.

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Installation view, “herman de vries. the return of beauty”, curated by Francesca Pola, Cortesi Gallery London, 19 September-18 November 2017. Courtesy: Cortesi Gallery Photo: Luke A. Walker


From the time of his early involvement in the international movement ZERO, in the late 1950s and early 1960s, de vries has always pursued the idea of simplicity and economy in his expressive, compositional, and working methods, in an attempt to recreate the basic mechanisms of life within the artistic process. Over the decades, his oeuvre has shown an extraordinarily rich penchant for invention and for experimentation with different materials and languages; art, science and philosophy are constantly interwoven and tied to the world around us. The aim of this exhibition is to convey this conceptual complexity, but also the sensory impact of de vries’ work, which is always a one-of-a-kind experience of extraordinary physical and mental intensity.
The show sets off with a number of works from his “random objectivation” series of the early 1970s: basic geometric configurations and white monochromes, influenced by Zen Buddhism and Taoism, and conceived as an antidote to the subjectivity and emotion of the previous Informel trends in Europe.

In the mid-1970s, de vries began to concentrate on natural materials, processes and phenomena, presenting them as primary physical realities of human existence: ever since, he has collected, arranged, singled out and displayed fragments of nature and culture, calling attention to both the oneness and the diversity of the world around us. The exhibition therefore includes works made from organic materials such as earth from various parts of the globe, leaves, flowers, and plant matter of various origin, stones, ash, wood, and charcoal. The hub from which de vries’ work springs is the biotope he has developed at his home base in Eschenau, Germany, and during his travels around the world. Earth, in particular, as a physical expression of different places, is also a symbolic element used by de vries; it becomes an echo of different cultures, and a natural pigment that reflects the basic, primary chromatic gradations of the world. Juxtaposed with these works made from natural elements are pieces in which language itself – both visual and conventional – serves as the key material of the work, constructed by singling out and repeating an individual semantic unit or word. The choice of these words is not purely random, but rather prompts reflection on our being-in-the-world: the terms that appear in these pieces, such as “endless”, “this”, “happy”, and above all ‘change’, are all keys to understanding the essence of de vries’ work, which is grounded in a fundamental dialectic between determinacy and indeterminacy, construction and destruction, compositional patterns and freedom of expression, though this conflict is always resolved in the crucial moment of the unique, never-to-be-repeated experience.

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Installation view, “herman de vries. the return of beauty”, curated by Francesca Pola, Cortesi Gallery London, 19 September-18 November 2017. Courtesy: Cortesi Gallery Photo: Luke A. Walker


Himself a biologist and natural scientist, de vries believes that nature’s processes and phenomena cannot be translated and explained in merely rational terms: all of his work moves towards a suspended, poetic transposition of the meaning of life, focusing on the complex relationships between nature and culture,and how these two components of our lives influence each other.
The work that lends its title to the show, The return of beauty (2003), is made up of a collection of human-made artefacts that, as unused fragments that have ceased to serve any function, once again become part of the natural process: it is an invitation to rediscover the “return of beauty” in their basic essence, as traces of life poised between nature and artifice.
One of the most engaging parts of the show is the installation rosa damascena. Realized on site, it is the compelling poetic and sensory impression created by the colour, but above all, the fragrance of dozens of small rose buds, arranged to form a circle at the centre of the exhibition; each visitor who walks around it comes away with a different personal experience of enormous mental and physical power. The multisensory nature of the show, in which the encounter with de vries’ work unfolds on more than one plane of perception (visual, olfactory and conceptual) points to the exceptional vitality of this artist’s work.

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Installation view, “herman de vries. the return of beauty”, curated by Francesca Pola, Cortesi Gallery London, 19 September-18 November 2017. Courtesy: Cortesi Gallery Photo: Luke A. Walker


HERMAN DE VRIES / The return of beauty
Curated by Francesca Pola
Cortesi Gallery, London
Until November 18, 2017

127. IN THE DEPTH OF IDENTITY

ON HUMAN IDENTITY

text by Andrea Lerda

It is very diffcult to define, but how many times have we been tempted into thinking about the concept of “identity”? How many circumstances have there been when the question of identity has imposed itself as the protagonist of such a thorny yet delicate debate?
“Identity” is certainly one of the most widely used terms in the elds of psychology, sociology, medicine, and anthropology, but also in the elds of politics, journalism, and television. We find it is the protagonist in the world of advertising, the press, fashion, and in the digital world too.

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Bepi Ghiotti
, Mio caro Richard, 2017, a walk dedicated to Richard Long, BW video HD, noises, 16:9, 03’49, courtesy the artist and Studio la Città - Verona


The word is always on the tip of our tongue when we speak of Europe, when we argue about gender differences, and each time we try to lay claim to one position rather than another. The need to deal with identity, one’s own and that of others, is born from the inevitable confrontation with otherness or, rather, with all the “othernesses” that differ from the authentic and primordial “substance”(1) that makes up each one of us. The result is a short circuit of meanings, interactions, divergent positions and interpretative possibilities that perhaps derive from the same questions that Paul Gauguin posed himself in 1897, with his memorable work Where Do We Come From? What Are We? Where Are We Going?

So the concept of identity goes hand in hand with the unknown and with the concept of otherness, from the comparison of which are generated ever new occasions for developing the “form” of such a “substance”. In classical philosophy the so-called law of identity excludes even the tiniest element of otherness from substance. Identity seems to belong to something evidently internal that must not be contaminated in any way by the outside. This position can be summed up by the formula A = A e A non-A, as outlined by Francesco Remotti(2). This is a point of view that evidently could not be definitive, given that it does not seem in any way possible to sustain the existence of two distinct and stagnant dimensions, one internal and the other external, immune from reciprocal interaction. It seems to have been Hegel, at the beginning of the 19th century, who reanalysed this position and reformulated it in a second axiom in which the two A’s, instead of excluding each other, accept interaction and exist thanks to a reciprocal attraction. The one melds with the other, according to the A and non-A formula (once again by F. R.), and so the internal entity and the external one are no longer immobile things but are substances in constant change, the boundaries of which seem to transform themselves into uctuating membranes to be passed through rather than walls that must be met: “Unity comes to an agreement with multiplicity: it cannot be separated from it” (3).

At this point the problem of identity seems to have been overcome, even cancelled, since the world and existence itself are in constant change and development; however, in this sense the debate seems to have flared up again over the course of the twentieth century. If, at the beginning of the century, for the German psychologist and psychoanalyst Erik Erikson (1902-1994) identity referred to something internal, situated in the deepest psychic structure of an individual, for the sociologist Philip Gleason identity, instead, was a construction, an artefact that was sparked off by the interaction between the individual and society and, therefore, “Something attributed from without that changes according to the circumstances”(4).

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in the depth of identity christian fogarolli studio la citt a cura di andrea lerda exhibition verona

Christian Fogarolli, Amoral, 2015; Remember, Repeat, Rework 6, (sx) (sx) Original photo of victim of amnesi (dx) Archive photo from Tropenmuseum, Amsterdam
2016, 38 x 33 cm each. Photo Michele Alberto Sereni, courtesy the artist and Studio la Città – Verona


In the present day, one in which globalisation, digital culture, and the great influence exerted by the world of images all have a central role, identity seems more a reflection of the outside world than an uncontaminated internal entity. The ontological concept of identity, that for which it maintains its own autonomy, independently from external events and the human will, seems to be questioned. By now it seems confirmed that identity, besides its biological and mental components, is a social and cultural product, and that a renewed interest in it is aroused during periods of crisis. Today’s cultural impoverishment, created by the increasingly intrusive presence of the internet galaxy, can be considered as a moment that has reached a critical point. The most recent society has, in this sense, a particularly strong role to play: today we are most often led to consider identity as a “place for gathering together”, a secure roof to take refuge under. Through its commercial, economic, and political puppets, together with the rhetoric of advertising and the mass media, contemporary society’s power presents itself as being able to generate identity and to lead to an increase of “himself”, “herself” or “us”. If people manage to follow these in a correct way, then very probably they will be able to gain a pass for entering their own existence. Furthermore, the possibilities the social media offer for bringing forth an identity that is different from the one that actually belongs to us (just think of the profiles offered on such platforms as Facebook and Instagram, to mention only the two most widespread) go hand in hand with this particular dynamic’s characteristics of inconsistency and vulnerability, just as with the curious opportunity for generating infinitely new and different versions of it. e new formula that describes contemporary identity, and that here I am proposing in a completely arbitrary manner, might be formulated like this: A + non-A ∞, in which the physical dimension (with the infinite particles that make it up) and the indefinable spiritual one are summed together and change according to the infinite external variables that constantly and ever more strongly arrive from today’s expanded society. On the other hand, we find ourselves in the face of what Zygmunt Bauman has described as “liquid modernity”(5), one characterised by an endless universal interactivity, within which we can trace and generate just as many liquid identities. They are, perhaps, without any apparent real meaning; perhaps they are so ethereal and hyperliquid as to make us believe that there no longer exists a genuine concept of identity. In fact this very paradox seems to be at the origin of a need to rediscover a more intimate and authentic comparison with the ontological and primordial part of identity with a capital “I”.

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in the depth of identity studio la citt tamara janes andrea lerda exhibition verona boccanera giorgia lucchi

In order: In the depth of identity, Christian Fogarolli, Bepi Ghiotti, Tamara Janes, Francisco Muñoz, curated by Andrea Lerda, photo Michele Alberto Sereni, courtesy Studio la Città – Verona; Tamara Janes, Poor Image, 2016, inkjet print framed (sx); Still Loading “Tamara Janes”
, 2016, smartphone screenshot, digital print on flag fabric, 1 x 45 m, copyright Tamara Janes, courtesy Boccanera Gallery,photo Michele Alberto Sereni.


By proposing the art of four artists who in various ways show an interest in dealing with this theme, In the depth of identity highlights this inexhaustible need to measure ourselves against the topos of identity, by underlining its qualities of changeability, inconsistency, and precariousness.
Trough an art that makes use of various disciplines, Christian fogarolli analyses the subject of mental illness, and therefore of otherness, by leading us to think about the hidden and elusive side of psychiatric pathology (Amoral). The viewers are invited to mirror themselves within an occult world and to consider the human obsession of wanting to understand identities that do not conform to a model of normality. At the same time, in the photos of the series Remember, Repeat, Rework, he lingers on photos of patients suffering from memory loss, and he associates these with images of Indonesian sculptures the historical traces of which have been lost, as a possible parallel with contemporary society’s loss of identity.
Francisco Muñoz Perez, instead, undertakes a partly inverse process: by starting from some images found in Vogue magazine that photograph a chilly and standard beauty – as both a symptom and remnant of a decadent modernity – he undertakes critical thinking about the homologising power of the advertising market, together with that of the fashion and “beauty” industry in general, that is exerted on the collective imagination. By looking back to an aesthetic aspect of Mexican culture, the artist has decided to introduce an element of non conformity by reformulating the ideal of beauty, opening out its boundaries and encouraging the alteration of its rules (Piedras aparentes) or by covering various objects with a new plastic skin; in this way their new look alludes to utensils from a distant past (Jardin de cenizas). The art of Tamara Janes, instead, looks at the new potentialities offered by the tools of the digital era: through them our identity seems to have become a simple low-definition image, one that floats about in such huge archives as Google, Instagram, Pinterest, Tumblr and so on (Poor Image). The artist typed her own name on the Google Image research engine and, before this could effectively upload the photos corresponding to her name, she made a snapshot consisting of an infinite number of coloured rectangular cells (Still Loading “Tamara Janes”). Here is the last frontier of our identity. And so, Mio caro Richard, what do you want me to do today with this unstable terrain, a synonym for a society without certainties and reference points? is is the question that Bepi Ghiotti poses in his video. An introspective walk that aims at interrogating himself, his own being as an artist but, ultimately, that of human beings in general.

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in the depth of identity studio la citt francisco munoz andrea lerda exhibition verona

Francisco Muñoz Perez, Piedras aparentes Vol. III; Piedras aparentes / Xipe Tótec, 2016, carbon pigment print on cotton paper, 46,5 x 36,5 x 4 cm with frame; Ashes garden, 2016, malte, vasi, contenitori in plastica assemblati e dipinti con finitura effetto pietra, different dimensions, courtesy the artist and Studio la Città - Verona

IN THE DEPTH OF IDENTITY
Christian Fogarolli, Bepi Ghiotti, Tamara Janes, Francisco Muñoz
curated by Andrea Lerda
Studio la Città, Verona
Until November 18, 2017

1 Term used by Francesco Remotti in: L’ossessione identitaria, Editori Laterza, Bari 2010, p.26.
2 Ibid.
3 Ibid. p.28.
4 Gleason Philip 1983: Identifying Identity: A Semantic History, “Journal of American History”, LXIX, 4, p. 918.
5 Bauman Zygmunt, Intervista sull’identità, a cura di Benedetto Vecchi, Editori Laterza, Bari 2003, p. 87.

126. ECOVENTION EUROPE

Art to Transform Ecologies, 1957-2017

The Contemporary Art Department of the De Domijnen Museum in Sittard-Geleen makes the point about the European research on ecological issues. About forty artists to cover sixty years of art and ecology. Until January 7, 2018.

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We only need to go back to the 1950s to find several artists who began to highlight the importance of maintaining a healthy balance between plants, animals, people, and their environment. Eager to send out the message that our Earth’s resources would not last forever, they used ecoventions as a way of putting this problem in the spotlight. They developed multi-disciplinary projects – ranging from media, community art, landscape architecture, and technology – and worked together with various players in science, politics, or other areas. Now, 60 years later, the department of Contemporary Art at Museum De Domijnen will house a unique exhibition of ecoventions by European artists. As a joint creation by Roel Arkesteijn (the curator of De Domijnen) and Sue Spaid (the American guest curator), the exhibition showcases the various works of over 40 artists from sixtheen countries alongside some artwork from De Domijnen’s own collection. All artists and artworks in the exhibition have been chosen for the way they throw light on Europe’s environmental crisis or aim to solve a problem.

Jean Francois Paquay   Edible Environment   photo Bert Janssen

Vera Thaens   Roof Runoff Purifying System   photo Bert Janssen


2017 is the fifteenth anniversary of "Ecovention: Current Art to Transform Ecologies," the exhibition that first distinguished ecoventions (ecology + invention) from Earthworks, eco-art, and environmental art, held at the Contemporary Arts Center in Cincinnati, US. Already artworld parlance, "ecoventions" are increasingly exhibited and discussed as such among the coterie of artists, art historians, and curators committed to implementing "practical actions with ecological intent." "Ecovention Europe” however, roots this history in Europe, wresting it away from its historical associations with American land art by tying it instead to two landmark Stedelijk Museum exhibitions. In the following decade, Joseph Beuys performed river and wetland actions, herman de vries recorded bird and waterfall sounds, Nicolás García Uriburu "greened" canals and harbors, Hans de Vries replaced sidewalks with peat moss and counted species, Gruppo 9999 transformed vegetable gardens into living spaces, Ugo La Pietra documented Milanese orti, and Teresa Murak hand-dug Sculpture for the Earth. Meanwhile, US-based artists such as Jackie Brookner, Mel Chin, Agnes Denes, Hans Haacke, Harrison Studio, Ocean Earth, and Robert Smithson built their most enduring ecoventions on this continent.

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Despite such notable beginnings, it would take another three decades for this movement to gain steam, engendering the creative force for change that it is today. "Ecovention Europe" assembles over 120 works by 45 artists from 16 nations whose inventive practices have enriched our planet, forever changing public perception, all the while challenging ecologists, designers, and other scientists to think anew about how to address ecological problems, as well as how to resolve them. Temporary ecoventions by Czekalska + Golec, Ecole Mondiale, N55, Jean-François Paquay, Søren Dahlgaard, Vera Thaens, and Lois Weinberger are sited around Sittard. Since ecoventions are collective endeavors, artists routinely collaborate with politicians, scientists, urban planners, and landscape architects to implement their ideas, while recruiting stakeholders to act as stewards who will protect and maintain ecoventions after they leave.

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ECOVENTION EUROPE. ART TO TRANSFORM ECOLOGIES, 1957-2017
Museum De Domijnen, Department of Contemporary Art
Curated by Roel Arkesteijn and Sue Spaid

Until January 7, 2018

431art, Lara Almarcegui, Emanuela Ascari, Brandon Ballengée, Joseph Beuys, Brett Bloom, Jackie Brookner, Federica Di Carlo, Paul Chaney, Rebecca Chesney Czekalska + Golec, Søren Dahlgaard, Agnes Denes, Georg Dietzler, Ecole Mondiale les Fujak, Gruppo 9999, Harrison Studio, Kinga Kiełczyńska, AnneMarie Maes, Cecylia Malik, Daniela Di Maro, Teresa Murak, Nils Norman, N55
Ooze, Jean-François Paquay, Ugo La Pietra, Marjetica Potrč, Moirika Reker,, Debra Solomon, Robert Smithson, George Steinmann, Vera Thaens Touchstones, Nicolás García Uriburu, Koen Vanmechelen, Hans de Vries, Lois Weinberger


1_Ecovention was a term invented by Amy Lipton and Sue Spaid in 1999 to refer to an ecological art intervention in environmental degradation..

PROPOSTA #17 ANDREA D'AMORE

TEN STEPS FROM THE GENETIC EROSION

Saving humanity from extinction means to safeguard agricultural biodiversity. Condemning the privatization of production, and changing and exchanging crops, are acts of resistance, of survival.

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Saving humanity from extinction means to safeguard agricultural biodiversity. Condemning the privatization of production, and changing and exchanging crops, are acts of resistance, of survival. Dieci passi dall’erosione genetica is Andrea d’Amore’s deep-rooted itinerant project, namesake of the solo exhibition recently hosted within the spaces of Villa Romana, Florence. Showcasing but a part of the research developed over the past three years, all works find a common thread in the dynamics underlying nutrition.“His sculptural oeuvre is the outcome of a process involving the exchange between natural bodies that feed” explains Angelika Stepken. The objects are a synthesis of relationships and connections, presence, listening and collaboration. Food becomes the measure of all things, last-standing boundary between beauty and need. Food is both end and starting point. We jumpstarted our creative brain in order to find ways to feed ourselves.
Culture is born out of satiety. Freedom is the result of not having to spend most of the day hunting for food. Freedom leads the way to sterile cultural speculation or to culture as a means of transcendence.

Representation is but a mere gateway for the opening of spiritual paths. The idea is the cell from which reality stems, experience of an ever-evolving god on a quest for self-knowledge. The idea itself of a superior, almighty and perfect entity is bound to produce domination. The logic of debt enslaves us by severing the very community ties that bring us together, thus pitting us against each other and effacing the image of the Mother Goddess.

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Andrea dAmore artista dieci passi antropocene ecologia uomo natura etica platform green4

Andrea d'Amore, Villa Romana, Diecipassi dall'erosione genetica. ph. Ela Bialkowska, OKNOstudio


From the destruction of this vital archetype comes the creation of two sub archetypes oppositely connected by fear: greed and ostentation. These feelings fuel the masses and as they gasp for economic certainty, they also become the main – yet often oblivious – driving force of power. Such concepts are analyzed in “compost idee”, a thought-sculpture created within the Dieci passi dall’erosione genetica project in collaboration with a number of important scholars (anthropologist Zachary T. Androus, art critic Giorgio D’Orazio, economy Andrea Calzolari, genetics Salvatore Ceccarelli) that contributed to the operation with texts that can be described as non-argumentative, pro-active and decisive takes on numerous subjects: the strength of ideas, agricultural mixtures, replacing hoarding anxieties with relationships based on real exchange. These papers represent a first approach towards constructing a community of thought. The “compost idee” was not conceived to be archived. Given the urgency of its topics, the concepts must be immediately transmitted before they liquefy and join with the soil (the human soil) as a compost, organic and vital fertilizer for ideas. This screen print was made with 100% natural ink of acacia and madder while the paper consists of 80% elephant dung and 20% paddy rice. The idea of producing this peculiar paper was introduced by a manufacturing company based in Sri-Lanka: by purchasing materials directly from the farmers they encourage them to see the elephant as a sustainable economic resource, which therefore also makes them more lenient towards the animal during its crop-raids.

The safekeeping of the Turchesca potato and its involvement in the production of a special craft beer become part of a greater whole, a non-allegorical means of salvation and opportunity to slowly walk down a path defined by agriculture’s growing seasons. This operation is meant to raise awareness of the urgent issues concerning genetic erosion and patents on living beings that could lead us to a life of total slavery or, even worse, extinction. From Tommaso Evangelista’s introduction to the project: With Dieci passi dall’erosione genetica Andrea d‘Amore‘s work/action brings forth a lucid and complex reflection on the loss of our natural genetic diversity and the underlying state of agricultural policies as observed through art‘s selective filter. This attempt to resist the dematerialization of local farming traditions becomes in itself a living breathing form, a philosophy of action, condemnation and synthesis. The Artist‘s undertaking shines a new light on a rare species, revitalized in its meaning through an analytical process, and its ability to breed new resources, economic developments but above all community. In other words, its power in jumpstarting a number of relational and social dynamics.

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Andrea d'Amore, Villa Romana, Diecipassi dall'erosione genetica. ph. Ela Bialkowska, OKNOstudio

125. PART 2 / GIANNI PETTENA

NATURAL ARCHITECTURES

Platform Green dedicates the second part of the news number125 to the exhibition program of the Kunst Merano Arte. After the American artist Helen Mirra, it's time to the the work of Gianni Pettena, Italian artist born in Bolzano in 1940.

the text is by Christiane Rekade

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Gianni Pettena, Paessaggi della memoria (Otranto), 1987. Installation view. Photo Ivo Corrá. Courtesy Fondazione Museion


On his deathbed, Giovanni Segantini (1858 – 1899) is said to have said “Voglio vedere le mie montagne!” (I want to see my mountains!). For Segantini, born in Arco (Trentino), which at that time still belonged to the Austro-Hungarian monarchy, and stateless throughout his life, the mountains were both homeland and subject of his painting.
Also for Gianni Pettena, the South Tyrolean mountain landscape is fundamental as regards his artistic work, his perception and his understanding of architecture. Even though the Bolzano native has not lived in South Tyrol since his youth, he carries the landscape with him: like the mountain silhouettes made from transparent Plexiglas that can be comfortably transported in a suitcase designed especially for the purpose, as Paesaggi della memoria (1987) – “landscapes of memory”, that can be installed anywhere. In this work originally developed for an exhibition in Otranto (Apulia) (1), Pettena brings elements of his remembered mountain landscape and the Mediterranean surroundings of the exhibition location together: “Voglio vedere le mie montagne” – lying sprawled out in Mediterranean sand, the artist can behold the mountain range from the other end of Italy – or from any place in the world.

With Natural Architectures, Kunst Meran devotes an exhibition to Gianni Pettena that investigates in particular his relation to his native landscape and the in uence it has on his artistic output. A selection of works and installations from the 1970s, as well as more recent developed works, show in which ways the South Tyrolean landscape and in particular its mountains shape his perception and thinking and how they time and again appear in different ways in his works.

Gianni Pettena’s work is multi-faceted and extensive. In his art practice he fathoms the boundaries between architecture, design and art, and dissolves them. He works as an artist but is equally active as a theoretician, curator and professor. Pettena is a co-founder – alongside Archizoom, Superstudio and Ufo in Italy and Hans Hollein and Walter Pichler in Austria – one of the most important representatives of “Architettura radicale”, a movement that began to rethink architecture between ca. 1960 and 1970. They provided new avant-garde and utopian concepts to contrapose the widespread functionalist and rationalist understanding of architecture, their formal language based rather on contemporary art, music, pop culture and urban life rather than on previous architectonic parameters. This resulted in happenings, collages, and interventions in public space as architectural investigations. Pettena, unlike most of the other ‘radical architects’, chose art as his primary means of expression. But architecture is always part, not only of his artworks, but also of his theoretical and curatorial work.

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Gianni Pettena, Human Wall, 2012/2017, Installation view. Photo Ivo Corrá. Courtesy the artist.


After studying in Florence, Gianni Pettena went in 1971 to Minneapolis as artist-in-residence at the College of Art and Design (USA). The following year he taught as a guest lecturer at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City (USA). This time in the United States, particularly in Salt Lake City, the experience of landscape, but also the examination of Land Art, and his friendships with artists like Robert Smithson, Gordon Matta-Clark and others were signi cant in the development of Pettena’s work. In 1973, Pettena returned to Italy, where he was appointed as a professor at the university in Florence.
Alongside numerous guest professorships at different universities in Italy and abroad, he taught contemporary architecture in Florence until 2008.

In the USA Gianni Pettena produced, among other works, the photo series About non-conscious architecture (1972-73), which re ects his conviction – following the philosophy of Native Americans – that all architecture is already to be found in nature. The series comprises a collection of black and white photographs, which Pettena made during his travels. They show valleys, rocks, mountains and deserts, but also the geometric form of a copper mine and roads running into the wilderness:“unconscious” architectures; the forms of which developed from the exigencies of nature and which describe Pettena’s engagement with natural materials and forms and his search for alternatives to the architecture of a modern capitalist reality. Formal parallels to the mountain landscapes of South Tyrol are especially to be found in the photos of rocks and mountains.

During the time in Minneapolis and Salt Lake City, many works were produced that functioned as actions, performances or as interventions in public space and in the landscape: such as Paper / Midwestern Ocean (1971), a precursor to the installation that Gianni Pettena has conceived for Kunst Meran: for Paper / Midwestern Ocean he had strips of paper put up in the room at the College of Arts and Design in Minneapolis in which he was supposed to hold a lecture. The students had to then cut their way with scissors through the ‘paper forest’ into the centre of the room, where Pettena held his lecture. In Merano, Paper (2017) takes up the architectural particularities of the Kunsthaus, emphasizing the vertical orientation of the entrance hall and turning our awareness towards the apparently invisible aspects of the architecture, makes the soft and delicate movements of the architecture visible: the movements of the air currents, the heat waves, and the visitors who move through the rooms. In a similarly ne way the installation Breathing Wall (1999) directs the attention to the presence of the architecture. What happens when our walls start to breathe? When the architecture frees itself from its immovable structures and the (hi)stories behind the plastered surface become visible?

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Gianni Pettena. Breathing Wall. Photo Ivo Corrá. Courtesy the artist


A further work in the exhibition that has its origin in the time of Pettena’s stay in Salt Lake City is Human Wall (2012/2017): in 1972 Gianni Pettena, with the help of friends and students, completely covered the house of a professor friend with a layer of clay. The white, typically American suburban terraced house became a dark grey oversize clay sculpture. In Clayhouse (1972) the architecture is divested of its function and becomes pure form. With Human Wall (2012/2017) this action is transferred to the exhibition space: the fresh clay, applied by hand, dries slowly and the human traces – handprints, clearly visible in the wet clay, slowly disappear in the texture of the drying clay. With a simple gesture, Pettena addresses the contradiction – or interaction – of the obviously human-made architecture and nature – the changing, living material of clay.

Nature, which outlasts human-made architecture and erases it, is a repeating theme in Pettena’s work. Similarly to how the human traces fade out in Human Wall, in the drawing series Secoli e Millenni (2014), human-built architecture disappears with time into nature: the series came into being after an intensive examination of his home town of Bolzano (2). The city’s victory monument erected in 1919/20 as a provocative symbol for Fascism still today is the object of political debate. For Gianni Pettena, the monument is part of his mental landscape. As a child, he was in uenced just by its formal appearance within the city architecture, later came the consciousness of its historical meaning and its problematic nature. Pettena’s trust in the potency of nature and his conviction that nature will outlast our cities and buildings and the con icts bound up with them shows itself in the succession of drawings in which the controversial monument slowly crumbles and – together with every human construction – nally gets completely lost in the landscape.

With Paesaggi della memoria, Gianni Pettena makes ‘his’ mountains mobile – in their suitcase, they lie ready to be viewed at different places and in different contexts. With Atta Unsar (1973) Pettena places yet another childhood memory into a room, setting it free from his head, as it were: the words of “Our Father” in old High German, which he was forced to learn by rote as a child – and still today can perfectly recall, runs across the walls in black type (the adult Pettena had to ask his former teacher how to correctly write it in old High German). He allows the visitors to read it anew, to regard it in a new context. It is an attempt to create distance to this involuntary memory – with moderate success, since “I still remember everything”, says Pettena. It seems that the words, like the forms and structures of the mountains, always travel in Pettena’s suitcase of memory.

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Gianni Pettena. Secoli e Millenni, 2014. (Detail) Courtesy Fondazione Museion. Prestito della Fondazione Cassa di Risparmio di Bolzano.


(1) Il ritorno dell’arte, Castello Aragonese, Otranto, June/July 1987.

(2) In discussion with the curator Pierre Bal-Blanc, who in 2014 as guest curator in the Museion in Bolzano, organized the exhibition Soleil Politique – The museum between light and shadow.

125. PART 1 / HELEN MIRRA

WALKING, WEAVING

The Kunst Merano Arte hosts, until September 24, 2017, two interesting exhibitions on the theme of nature, as a place which is dense of energies and symbiotic connections with man.
Platform Green dedicates two different news to the respective exhibition paths: the first, on the artistic practice ot the American artist Helen Mirra, the second about Gianni Pettena's work, italian artist born in Bolzano in 1940.

the text of the news is by Christiane Rekade, curator of the two exhibitions

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Helen Mirra, 12 July Lana – Vigiljoch, 2017. Courtesy the artist


Helen Mirra’s art practice is based in walking, primarily in the mountains. Her works are generated from making these walks – her perceptive experiences in the landscape, and the activity of her body. They develop in parallel. Not only is moving, walking, fundamental to Mirra’s work,
but the places where the walks happen are essential elements. Kunst Meran invited Helen Mirra to spend a month in Merano
– to walk and weave here. This exhibition brings together works that narrate this period and earlier excursions nearby in Cortina and Emilia Romagna, and also from northern California,
where she now resides.
Even a part of Mirra’s journey to Merano nds its way into the exhibition: on June 16, she opened a solo show at the gallery Andriesse Eyck in Amsterdam. The next day she travelled – sometimes by foot, sometimes by train – towards Merano.
Whether she walked or took the train was decided every day anew with the toss of a coin. With this activity Helen Mirra refers explicitly to the project Variable Works (1970) by the American conceptual artist Douglas Huebler (1924-1997). Between December 25 and 31, beginning near Strasbourg (F) Huebler hitchhiked, either in the direction of Turin or in the direction of Düsseldorf, depending on the toss of a coin. The documentation was then shown at Galerie Sperone (Turin) and Galerie Konrad Fischer (Dusseldorf).

To adopt a system or a structure, within which she carries out her activity, is typical of Mirra’s work. They are however structures that not only embrace chance but leave space for accident and detours. In her typical understatedness, the transitional journey has been documented only in a description of intentions, as a kind of manual, with a single visual reference from the middle of the route: a postcard from the Abbey of Hildegard von Bingen in the Rhine Valley –whose mirroring pair of distinctly geometric towers point up, together, to the sky. Yet the complete, unspeci ed route takes shape freely in our imagination – images of paths develop, unexpected pauses and aberrations. Helen Mirra creates a ne connection between the two exhibition sites, which eludes the customary measurements of times and distances and shows a new way of mapping the way. 

The work Walking Commas, 3 October, Cortina (2013) has a related premise, lightly documenting a day in the Dolomites. The work is comprised of seven black and white photographs, combined with brief, notational texts. Each photograph shows a hand holding a stone, and the ground below – each time Mirra’s hand with a different stone, on a changing path. The notes obviously refer to something experienced near the place and time that the picture was taken (“pair of young goats, one rubbing its horn on my knees”). The Walking Commas describe the short interruptions to walking, moments of pause and of precise perception. They divide up the distance travelled into small units, measuring the route – less in time or the linear dimension, more in situations, moments and corporeal experiences. 

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Helen Mirra, Walking Commas, 3 October, Cortina, 2013. Installation view, Photo Ivo Corrá. Courtesy the artist.


Field Index, Emilia Romagna (2011) is only text – also written during pauses interrupting the walking. In this case it is record of six days in early May. Again, direct yet evocative, describing speci c moments experienced during the walks. Typed onto index cards installed on the wall in a row, the words in turn form a slight image, an abstraction of a way.

Close to San Francisco, in Northern California, where Helen Mirra moved last summer, a group of small tapestry weavings came into being. The titles describe a loop-walk repeated daily (1-21 May, Overlook - Green Gulch - Redwood Creek - Heather Cutoff – Overlook), the key impressions of a month (Muir Beach, December, vows & rains), or events and thoughts (Late May early June, Trisha Brown Stanley Brouwn), which Mirra commemorates (in this case two fellow pedestrian artists who died around this time). The color schemes, the rhythm of the patterns and the structure render the respective moods in both a sensitive and intensive way. They are equally in uenced by the weather and determined by chance. They are simultaneously like and unlike landscape paintings and severely minimalist folkloric sculptures, that are precise despite being reduced – intimate portraits of an environment and a moment.

To the group of Northern California weavings are added two new weavings made in Merano. Northern California and South Tyrol are connected in a dialogue as two places in which the artist has walked. With the concentrated experiences of the works, Helen Mirra shares the geographical locations and landscapes in which she moves.

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Helen Mirra, Standard Incomparable. Installation view, Photo Ivo Corrá. Courtesy the artist.


Alongside Mirra’s own works, Kunst Meran is showing Standard Incomparable, a project that the artist recently organized and is now extended for Kunst Meran: in 2016 she sent out an international appeal, in which she asked people of any age or experience level to make a particular weaving. A few simple parameters were speci ed for the production: the weaving should be made of undyed yarn from the weaver’s locale.
Its length should be equal to the length of the weaver’s arm. Each piece should have seven stripes that in turn re ect the width of the hand of the weaver. Works from fteen different countries were sent in: although each piece had been crafted according to this criteria, the individual weavings differ in structure, colour, skill and scale. Each piece has its general and distinct characteristics, is both “standard” and “incomparable”. The collection was initially shown in 2016 at the Armory Center for the Arts in Pasadena (California). The appeal of 2016 was translated into many different languages though not into Italian, and the collection had no pieces from Italy. Kunst Meran sent the appeal out once more in Italian. Contributions came from across Italy – from Meran and Ultental to Sardinia and Sicily. As in the first round every weaver produced two pieces each: one went in the collection, the other was given to another participant as an exchanged gift.

Standard Incomparable incisively shows how much personality, peculiarity and variability is possible in a given, constantly recurring system and how much an object is affected by its place of origin, as shown in the array of site- speci c vegetable and animal bers, from the world over. Above all, here as in all of Helen Mirra’s practice, there is a delicate re ection on the net of time and space.

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Helen Mirra, Muir Beach, December, vows & rains, 2016 (sx); Late May early June, Trisha Brown Stanley Brouwn (dx), 2017. Courtesy the artist.

PROPOSAL #16 FILIPPO LEONARDI

FLORA PLASTICA

text by Miriam La Rosa

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Filippo Leonardi, Più nessuna danza, 2009, 9 carnivorous plants (nepenthes), 9 arnie with its honeycombs, white metal feet, installation view atPAV, Torino, 2009.


If we told you that the terrestrial biomass is composed of 99.7% by plants (1), would it sound surprising? We often seem to forget that the role of human beings is rather marginal within the existence of the ecosystem, whereas nature plays a crucial part in the life of the Earth. Even further, whilst humankind is not able to survive on its own, if someday humanity would vanish the planet would certainly endure, and other forms of life would thrive in its place. Such a consideration has been pivotal for the development of Filippo Leonardi’s artistic journey. His practice unfolds in what he refers to as ‘cycles,’ series of works, which address diverse facets of the same concept: looking at the world from a non-exclusively anthropocentric view, acknowledging the distinctive perspective of (non-human) nature, i.e. animals and plants.

Nature is not a novel topic in art; it has been treated as both subject and object of investigation since time immemorial. Think of the images depicted inside pre-historic caves, or the European cabinets of curiosity – from which the modern museum originated. Consider Renaissance and impressionistic paintings, aboriginal art, mainstream contemporary installations and the art on the Internet. Recall the political discourses developed by land art, ecology, performance or feminism. The representation of nature has always been relevant. Although we are not going to provide an in-depth analysis of so many art historical periods, we cannot escape but to mention the rising attention that is being given to the relationship between men and the environment. You will have noted, for instance, Lois Weinberger’s contribution to Documenta 14, or Michel Blazy’s installation at the 57th Venice Biennale. The former reflects on the notions of the ‘ruderal’ and ‘wild’ and the capability of vegetation to grow and spread independently, and indeed despite, the presence or absence of human society – as if in warning: ‘Plants do not need us! They are able to exist, no matter what.’ Following a similar path, Blazy’s Collection de Chaussures, (2015-2017) – a series of used shoes filled with living plants – brings light to the correlation between the natural and the artificial, life and death, essential elements and branded products. You will surely remember Pierre Huyghe’s (Untitled) Human Mask (2014): a monkey playing the character of a waitress, endlessly repeating human-like movements, trapped in a dystopian scenery.

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View of the exhibition Flora plastica, Five Years, London 2017


These are just a few, amongst many examples in the variety of contemporary works, which incorporate the realm of plants and animals in their making. The impact of the latter on the language of contemporary art and, in turn, on the way we look at society, is contextualised by curator Filipa Ramos as she writes:

"Through different approaches, which expand the classical tradition of the artistic representation of animals and launch into another level of engagement with non-human species, contemporary artistic modes of relating to animals contribute a renewed empathy, attention and awareness towards other species. Functioning beyond conventional uses, testing and inventing new methodologies, they also promote more malleable uses of verbal language, as animal connected modes of being in the world invite us to envisage another mode of living, to conceive life beyond the systems of private ownership, labour and profit" (2).

With this in mind, and in a moment where environmental issues and policies are at the forefront of the global political agenda – not always with positive intentions (3) – the work of Leonardi sits on a very hot spot. The way he approaches notions related to the environment goes beyond a dogmatic judgement, culminating in observations that can be seen as holding a political value. We refer to the act of borrowing and emphasising scientific theories and research areas that question the superiority of men over other species, such as plant neurobiology. This is an innovative science, which affirms that plants are smart, sentient beings, capable of evolving by taking advantage of the most favourable conditions, including the behaviour of animals. One of the best skills of plants is, in fact, problem solving. As Stefano Mancuso, director of the International Laboratory of Plant Neurobiology, Florence, claimed, ‘each choice a plant makes is based on this type of calculation: what is the smallest quantity of resources that will serve to solve the problem?’(4). According to his study, plants do not simply react to threats or opportunities, but even decide how far to do so. Where humans have five basic senses, plants have at least twenty, which they use to monitor the most disparate environmental conditions, as well as to communicate amongst each other.
This book was a great source of information for Leonardi who, for over ten years, has explored the structural mechanisms of flora and fauna by means of environmental installations, films and photographic works.

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Filippo Leonardi, Untitled #4, 2015, Collector, lagenaria cucurbitacee, courtesy the artist


Since 2008, an important reference for his artistic development was the context of Parco Arte Vivente (PAV), Turin. Conceived by Italian artist Piero Gilardi – a figure of the Arte Povera movement and the socio-relational art of the 1970s – PAV functions as an experimental contemporary art centre with an open-air exhibition site and an interactive museum, used as a laboratory and a meeting point between art and nature, biotechnology and ecology, artist and audience. There, Leonardi took part in group exhibitions and solo projects, which fostered his research into the intelligence and gaze of animals and plants. A major cycle deriving from this experience is Colombaia: a work in progress initiated in 2010 and devised to grow in 21 steps (one for each Italian region), to foster communication between different places using homing pigeons. Colombaia consists of three elements: sculptures tackling the juxtaposition of the opposite concepts of ‘hospitality’ and ‘repulsion’; the photographic series Colombofili e Colombaie – a visual acknowledgment of the field of pigeon-breeding in Italy; and video works entitled Volounico, filming made by means of a small camera attached onto the breast of homing pigeons. The camera records the path from selected locations of the peninsula to the main dovecote. The final goal of the project is to develop an aerial map of different Italian cities, utilising the non-conventional perspective of the animal, rather than the man.
An analogous intention lays behind the work Prefillossera (2017): a 13-minute film showing the vantage point of a centenary tortoise, which wanders inside Tenuta delle Terre Nere, la Vigna di Don Peppino (Don Peppino's vineyard), Randazzo. This vineyard is over 130 years old, located on the slopes of Mount Etna, and survived the phylloxera infestation in Sicily (1879-1880). Phyllossera is a type of insect that, in the 19th century, attacked most of vineyards in the world, destroying them. Only a very small amount of land resisted the invasion – either because it was in the nearby water sources or due to the sandy composition of their soil. In Prefillossera, unlike the viewpoint of the pigeon (from above), the perspective that the artist captures is from below: an even stronger angle which emphasises the small stature of the animal and its slow pace. However, the tortoise is also a metaphor for longevity and, together with the vineyards, remind us of the short life-span of humans in comparison to that of some animals and plants, which can instead outlast over 100 years: hence carrying a greater legacy and contributing to a longer history. For the exhibition at Five Years, the artist furthermore decided to complement and enhance the display with a performative action. Acting as a sommelier, which is his second occupation in life, Leonardi activates the work by serving the visitors an extremely rare exemplar of pre-phylloxera wine, coming from la Vigna di Don Peppino. The accuracy of information and honesty of sources is something very dear to Leonardi, whose entire production stands out for its painstaking attention in drawing truthful details from reality, and presenting them to the public in the most reliable manner.
Yet, the recourse to performative elements is not a new aspect in Leonardi’s work. Another example of this engagement was the exhibition La Visione dell’Onnivoro (The Omnivore’s Vision), which took place at BOCS, Catania, in 2016. Protagonist of the show was the eponymous cycle of works involving both alive and dead animals, whose remains were either hung on walls or offered as food to the audience – whereas a group of chickens was left free to move on a dedicated area of the space. In this circumstance, the performative was not only linked to the presence of live animals but to the fact that meat was provided by a professional butcher, putting his knowledge and skills at the service of the public.
Fully focused on the world of plants and their relationship with human objects are then the cycles Senza Ragione (Without Reason) and Flora Plastica (Plastic Flora): the latter being a prosecution of the research elaborated through the former. Developed between 2007 and 2009, Senza Ragione underlines the vital process of plants and their adaptability to a diversity of situations. An immediate reference here is the philosophy of the Third Landscape, elaborated by garden designer, botanist and entomologist Gilles Clément – which recalls the work of other contemporary artists, including Weinberger himself:
Included in this category are left behind (délaissé) urban or rural sites, transitional spaces, neglected land (friches), swamps, moors, peat bogs, but also roadsides, shores, railroad embankments, etc. To these unattended areas can be added space set aside, reserves in themselves: inaccessible places, mountain summits, non-cultivatable areas, deserts; institutional reserves: national parks, regional parks, nature reserves. Compared to the territories submitted to the control and exploitation by man, the Third Landscape forms a privileged area of receptivity to biological diversity. Cities, farms and forestry holdings, sites devoted to industry, tourism, human activity, areas of control and decision permit diversity and, at times, totally exclude it. (5)

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In order: Filippo Leonardi, La fiducia restituita, 2016; mixed media; Nel posto giusto al momento giusto, 2016; Deer horn, cucurbitacea tan cheese; Chi è utile a chi 2016, mixed media, views of the exhibition "La visione dell’onnivoro", BOCS, Catania 2016

In other words, for Clément, the Third Landscape is that site where nature is left alone and unrestricted to propagate in its full potential. On the contrary, sculptures from Senza Ragione see plants reacting to unusual environments, which derive from the imposing presence of human culture. This is the case of Rosa (2011), where the desert plant Selaginella Lepidophylla (Rose of Jericho) is inserted within the hostile, man-made habitat of a hairdresser’s dryer hood and forced to perform its well-known practice of self-preservation: opening or closing itself up because of the availability or lack of water. The cycle Flora Plastica (2016) encompasses an evolution of this idea in that it stresses the tendency of some plants to assume a sort of eternal fixity, which visually contrasts with the plasticity characterising them during life. More specifically, the artist uses a tuber from the pumpkin family (i.e. Cucurbitaceae Lagenaria), which he grafts inside objects such as a candelabrum, an old motorcycle manifold or a fishtail. The latter evokes the animal world as much as the human (mis)use of it. Other arrangements include natural elements like a cord, a wooden table or a rusty grid: associations that point out the ornamental quality of the plant, alongside its aptitude of taking a metamorphic shape. It is these unpredictable juxtapositions – which are formal and ethical at the same time – that the oeuvre of Leonardi centres on.
‘We belong to the ground. It is our power and we must stay close to it, or maybe we will get lost’ wrote once (6) aboriginal artist Narritjin Maymuru. Filippo Leonardi seems to heed this warning very well. By overturning the vantage point of different species, his work provokes us to re-think the twisted, often controversial (and yet inescapable!) relationship, which links the humankind to nature.

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Filippo Leonardi, Serendipità, Etna, Catania 2016


(1) Source: Stefano Mancuso and Alessandra Viola. 2015. Brilliant Green: the Surprising History and Science of Plant Intelligence. Translated by Joan Benham with a foreword of Michael Pollan (Island Press).
(2) Filipa Ramos. 2016. ‘Art across Species and Beings’ in Filipa Ramos (ed.) ‘Animals’. 2015. Documents of Contemporary Art. Edited by Iwona Blaziwick (London and Cambridge: Whitechapel Gallery and The MIT Press), 12-21.
(3) Think of the progressive disappearance of rainforests and cloud forest in countries such as Brazil, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Papua New Guinea, to mention but a few.
(4) Stefano Mancuso and Alessandra Viola. 2015. Brilliant Green: the Surprising History and Science of Plant Intelligence. Translated by Joan Benham with a foreword of Michael Pollan (Island Press).
(5) Source: http://www.gillesclement.com/art-454-tit-The-Third-Landscape. Accessed August 17, 2017.
(6) There is no precise date for this quote. It was written in a letter that artist Hamish Fulton received in 1984. Source: Michael Auping. 1987. ‘A Nomad among Builders’ in Jeffrey Kastner (ed.) ‘Nature’. 2012. Documents of Contemporary Art. Edited by Iwona Blaziwick (London and Cambridge: Whitechapel Gallery and The MIT Press), 36-37.

124. FLOWERS AND DOCUMENTS

An exhibition in two episodes at the ArgeKunst in Bolzano

Flowers and Documents - Arrangement I and II is the last exhibition project in two chapters, just finished at ArgeKunst in Bolzano, curated by Emanuele Guidi.

Argekunst bolzano platform greenmostra Arrangement fiori composizioni emanuele guidi Martina Della Valle Kapwani Kiwanga Haris Epaminonda Ettore Sottsass Jr Natalie Czech Oliver Laric Bruno Munari Milena Bonilla and Luisa Ungar6

Martina della Valle in collaboration with Rie Ono, One flower one leaf #3. Cutted flowers, pots, variable sizes 2017. ©ar/ge kunst, Photo Luca Guadagnini, 2017


As consecutive seasons, the two chapters Arrangement I and Arrangement II have collected and compared positions of artists whose interest in floral compositions opens up explorations in different and parallel research fields. 
Starting from this traditional painting time, and entering into dialogue with the landscape of South Tyrol with its lush and rooted floriculture industry, the exhibition has presented practices that focus and critically contrast with the concepts of decoration, ornamentation, ephemeral and marginal.
Bouquet and Ikebana was presented as devices that allow the viewer to move on the edge of historical events and an "extreme present" to address issues such as decolonization, legality, cultural identity and placemaking.

Argekunst bolzano platform greenmostra Arrangement fiori composizioni emanuele guidi Martina Della Valle Kapwani Kiwanga Haris Epaminonda Ettore Sottsass Jr Natalie Czech Oliver Laric Bruno Munari Milena Bonilla and Luisa Ungar5

Argekunst bolzano platform greenmostra Arrangement fiori composizioni emanuele guidi Martina Della Valle Kapwani Kiwanga Haris Epaminonda Ettore Sottsass Jr Natalie Czech Oliver Laric Bruno Munari Milena Bonilla and Luisa Ungar8

Argekunst bolzano platform greenmostra Arrangement fiori composizioni emanuele guidi Martina Della Valle Kapwani Kiwanga Haris Epaminonda Ettore Sottsass Jr Natalie Czech Oliver Laric Bruno Munari Milena Bonilla and Luisa Ungar4

In order: Kapwani Kiwanga, Flowers for Africa, 2014 – in progres; Milena Bonilla e Luisa Ungar, Ladies, Parrots and Narcotics, cutted flowers and flower pot, lecture-performance. ©ar/ge kunst, Foto Luca Guadagnini, 2017; Exhibition view - ©ar/ge kunst, Photo Luca Guadagnini, 2017


On the occasion of Arrangement II, that we visited just before the closing date, Martina Della Valle presented One flore, one Leaf # 3, a work in progress that starts from the Ikebana study to address the analysis of the residual areas of the landscape and of human intervention on the urban vegetation. A work that reflects on the concepts of time and void and the ability in Ikebana art (as in the language of photography) to exalt details, which are considered “minor", through a process of decontestualization.
Kapwani Kiwanga, on the other hand, start from floral compositions that decor the ceremonies celebrating independence, with the aim to deal with the decolonization stories of African countries, and Haris Epaminonda presents # 21B / H using these words:

In the exhibition is also present the work of Ettore Sottsass Jr, who from 1972 to 1979 withdrew from his work as a studio designer to travel to desert areas around the world in search of a more radical relationship between object, architecture and Landscape that generated architecture and temporal and ephemeral perforation gestures.
Then, Natalie Czech analyzing Victorian practice of using floral arrangements as a clandestine form of communication between lovers, Oliver Laric, Bruno Munari, Milena Bonilla and Luisa Ungar, and the project Serra III.

Argekunst bolzano platform greenmostra Arrangement fiori composizioni emanuele guidi Martina Della Valle Kapwani Kiwanga Haris Epaminonda Ettore Sottsass Jr Natalie Czech Oliver Laric Bruno Munari Milena Bonilla and Luisa Ungar1

Argekunst bolzano platform greenmostra Arrangement fiori composizioni emanuele guidi Martina Della Valle Kapwani Kiwanga Haris Epaminonda Ettore Sottsass Jr Natalie Czech Oliver Laric Bruno Munari Milena Bonilla and Luisa Ungar7

In order: Paul Thuile, selection of the show Serra III, curated by Paul Thuile at Gärtnerei Schullian Floricultura, installation view. ©ar/ge kunst, Photo Luca Guadagnini, 2017;

123. VIVA ARTE VIVA

Trans-pavilions and a chapter entirely dedicated to the Earth

"Art is alive and we must also consider art for itself, for what it does in our daily lives."

biennale 2017 venezia padiglione terra anna halprin platform green natura ecologia ambiente christine mace1

Anna Halptin, Planetary Dance, 1981-2017, performance filmed by John and Marguerite Veltri, video, color, sound, 4’19’’. Courtesy: La Biennale di Venezia


It is from these words of the director and curator Christine Macel, that the last edition of the Venice Biennale moves. What appears to be obvious, by visiting the exhibition in the Arsenal spaces, is that art is not a simple aesthetic propaganda instrument or an economic product which is thought for rich collectors, rather a medium that still has the power to convey wide-ranging messages that can communicate with the public.

Without art, you can not reinvent the world, you can not imagine the world of tomorrow. The role of artists is also to transform reality through art...Art is a way to reconcile with oneself. It allows you to experience reality in a global way: there is thought, there is physical experience, there is the emotion...And the emotion gives you a thought, creating a loop. Art destabilizes and you have to approach it by considering your own emotions, what you feel before it, and then developing a rational comparison” (C.M.)

biennale 2017 venezia padiglione terra anna halprin platform green natura ecologia ambiente christine macel

biennale 2017 venezia padiglione terra platform green natura ecologia ambiente christine mace2

In order: Anna Halptin, Planetary Dance, 1981-2017, performance filmed by John and Marguerite Veltri, video, color, sound, 4’19’’; Antoni Miralda, Joan Rabascall, Dorothée Selz, Edible Performance, 2017
, Performance, edible installation. Courtesy La Biennale di Venezia


With the experience gained at the Center Pompidou in Paris, Christine Macel focuses on the "pedagogical" role of art and the interaction with viewers, offering artists and works designed to reach a wide audience.
The artistic path is divided into nine "Trans-pavilions" that follow in the evocative spaces of the Arsenal: the Pavilion of Artists and Books, that of Joy and Fear; The Pavilion of Common Space, Traditions, Shaman; The Dionysian Pavilion, the Colors Pavillon and the Pavilion of Time and Infinity.
But what is most intrigued is the Pavilion of the Earth, to which Platform Green devotes particular attention.

The Pavilion of the Earth brings together utopias, real facts and dreams around the environment, the planet and the animal world. A wide and fascinating collection that offers the search for more and less famous artists whose research is shared by a fil rouge that emerges in a strong and clear way: from the utopias of the community to the ecological and esoteric resonances of the seventies, from the current reflections on the relations of the environment with the strategies of the capitalist world, passing through individual fiction, while highlighting both a certain melancholy and a deep joy.

biennale arte 2017 venezia padiglione terra charles atlas platform green natura ecologia ambiente christine macel slide biennale arte 2017 venezia padiglione terra charles atlas platform green natura ecologia ambiente christine macel slidebis biennale arte 2017 venezia padiglione terra nicolas garcia uriburu platform green natura ecologia ambiente christine macel slide biennale arte 2017 venezia padiglione terra thu van tran platform green natura ecologia ambiente christine macel slide

In order: Charles Atlas, The Tyranny of Consciousness, 2017, five-channel video installation, color, audio: helm and Lady Bunny, 23’44’’; Nicolás García Uriburu, Various works, 1968-1973, Mixed materials; Thu Van Tran, Untitled, 2017, mixed materials. 57th International Art Exhibition - La Biennale di Venezia, Viva Arte Viva (Installation view). Courtesy: La Biennale di Venezia


Marcos Avila Forero presents the video Atrato (2014), whose title is born from the homonymous Columbus River: originally one of the commercial and migration routes before becoming before becoming the mainstay of the armed conflict in those lands.
The artist interacts with the communities living along this river in the struggle for the survival of their traditions, filming "ritual actions" by men and women who are "playing the water". A gesture of rebellion, aimed at recovering the bond with the lost roots.

biennale 2017 venezia padiglione terra Marcos Avila Forero  platform green natura ecologia ambiente christine mace4

biennale 2017 venezia padiglione terra Julian Charrire  platform green natura ecologia ambiente christine mace3

biennale 2017 venezia padiglione terra Shimabuku  platform green natura ecologia ambiente christine mace8

In order: Marcos Avila Forero, Atrato, 2014, HD video, color, sound, 13’52’’; Julian Charriere, Future Fossil Spaces, 2017, salt from Salar de Uyuni, lithium-brine in acrylic containers, dimensions variable; SHIMABUKU, Various works, 2007-2016 , mixed materials. 57th International Art Exhibition - La Biennale di Venezia, Viva Arte Viva. Courtesy: La Biennale di Venezia


Julian Charrière proposes a reflection on the so-called "era of anthropocene" with a striking installation that proposes an analysis of a theme such as lithium processing, also called "white gold.
Japanese Shimabuku shows The Snow Monkeys of Texas - Do Snow Monkeys Remember Mountains? (2016). In the video, the encounter of a group of monkeys with a snowdrift in an arid landscape is the epiphany of an incomprehensible presence that is curious because out of context. 
The “monkeys of the snow” moved from Japan to Texas in 1972, have developed an adaptation, but what has been their memory?
Then there are the historical research of Maria Lai, Nicolas Garcia Uriburu, Bonnie Ora Sherk, Anna Halprin, Oho Group, Antoni Miralda, with Joan Rabascall, Dorothée Selz, Jaume Cifra and other amazing artists.

biennale 2017 venezia padiglione terra michel blazy platform green natura ecologia ambiente christine mace6

biennale 2017 venezia padiglione terra michel blazy platform green natura ecologia ambiente christine mace7

biennale 2017 venezia padiglione terraMaria Lai  platform green natura ecologia ambiente christine mace5

In order: Michael Blazy, Collection de Chaussures, 2015-2017 shoes, plants, soil, water, mixed media, 375 x 510 x 80 cm; Acqua Alta, 2017, color photocopies from Instagram, dribbled water, 50 x 150 x 150 cm; Maria Lai, Legare collegare, Un filo di Maria Lai Real. Tonino Casula, 1981; 57th International Art Exhibition - La Biennale di Venezia, Viva Arte Viva. Courtesy: La Biennale di Venezia