05. Laura Renna



Laura Renna, Vetta, 2014, shaped and stitched photo prints, golden thread, pins, fir wood, cm 157x60x60.
Courtesy the artist and Annarumma gallery.

If Eugenio Turri defines landscape as a "palimpsest of memories"*, Laura Renna's works have always been the representation of an intimate world, one immersed in memory, and the free expression of her most authentic and sincere emotions. The brilliant green of still-damp meadows, the slow growth of each blade of grass, the silent and microscopic flowering of multicoloured mould, are just some of the images captured and photographed by the artist's gaze.
The attempt to interact with nature, and not only nature, the wish to experiment with and to turn the spotlight on organic scenes are aspects that represent her past and present production. An attention to aesthetics, form, situations, and moments are all fundamental aspects, and the planning and working phases in the studio before each individual work is made are also of primary importance.


Laura Renna, Meconopsis grandis, 2014, photographic print mounted on dibond, wooden frame, 63x93x6 cm.
Courtesy the artist and Annarumma gallery.

In her show recently held at the Galleria Annarumma, Naples, Laura Renna exhibited a series of new works that go beyond the physical presence of natural elements.
The presence of nature is revealed through assemblages of photos of mountains on which the artist has intervened with digital colouration and from which she has cut out the heavy presence of the sky. This is nature imprisoned in a gilded cage, one that, from death, comes back to life as in a puppet theatre with wooden marionettes.
The works act on the space, softly insert themselves into it, and oversee it in the form of sculptures, installations, and photographs.


Left: Laura Renna, Anacamptis pyramidalis, 2014, photographic print mounted on dibond, wooden frame, 93x63x6 cm.

Right: Laura Renna, Queen Alexandra, 2014, photographic print mounted on dibond, wooden frame, 93x63x6 cm.
Courtesy the artist and Annarumma gallery.

Even though making use of observation from life, of everything beautiful that surrounds us, Laura Renna's story is aware of the impossibility of equalling the concept of beauty that it is possible to find only in the wildest nature. So, then, what is the sense of making art? Isn't humankind, in the guise of the artist, perhaps a miserable, impotent, and unknowing thing with respect to its mother who, for millennia, has given birth to her own children and allowed them to die ? Artists ask, and ask themselves too, questions that need a wide discussion. Questions that allow a sense of nostalgia to appear: "Something that, more than a feeling, is the strength that ensures the continuity that justifies the very existence of individuals".**


Laura Renna, Veduta nr.2, 2014, photographic print, brass-plated iron chain, wooden frame, cm 180x95x10, detail.
Courtesy the artist and Annarumma gallery.

*  Eugenio Turri, Il Paesaggio come teatro. Dal territorio vissuto al territorio rappresentato, Marsilio, 1998, p. 138
** Ibid, p. 56

04. De Rerum Natura



Mikala Dwyer, Hanging Garden, 2014, plastic, Giada plants, dirt, rope, environmental dimensions, courtesy Studio la Città. Photo: Michele Alberto Sereni

"We come from nature, we are nature, everything is nature". We might start from these words of the american artist Andre Woodward to express the intent of the exhibition De Rerum Natura, currently on show at Studio la Città in Verona.
Fifteen artists, national and international, offer their idea of nature and analize issues related to it, leading the viewer to reflect on the importance and the necessity for a new and constant debate on this issue.
From nature as an object for reflections, to nature as the main protagonist of the works, from the ecological issues to an analysis of our surroundings. These are the themes through which develops the exhibition. Earth, air, water and fire are the four natural elements well represented in the show.


Left: Studio Formafantasma, Botanica, 2011, Shellak, Bois Durci, Copal resin, Dammar resin, variable dimensions.
Right: Andre Woodward, Installation view, 2014, cement, Fucus benjamin, metal wire, variable dimensions, 
Courtesy Studio la Città and the artists. Photo: Michele Alberto Sereni.

Andrea Caretto e Raffaella Spagna expose for the first time in Italy the work Prove di rettificazione_Rami (2011). Four naturally sinuous and harmonic branches are rectified and made "other" by a violent gesture that provocatively simplifies and makes banal nature's slow and silent action. Eltjon Valle (Albanian artist born in Kuçovë) with the piece 400 kg oil Earth (2013) denunce the ecological disaster of his homeland, because of the uncontrolled and unsafe extraction of petroleum, while Andre Woodward puts together cement, an element that might seem constrictive, and plants which, in their unusual arrangement, manage all the same to live and grow.
Mikala Dwyer uses 60 Giada plants for the installation Hanging garden (2014) that becomes a kind of cosmic garden into which the viewer can enter, while Studio Formafantasma is present with the project Botanica. Willingly denying the dependance on petrol that characterizes the present day, the two Italian designers start from a personal interpretation and a particolar use of natural polymers to realize objects of design. The project underlines and leads us to reflect on scientific researches aimed at sustainable alternatives trhrough the use of biodegradable plastics.


Andrea Caretto I Raffaella Spagna, Prove di rettificazione_rami, 2011, wood (floated branches, sectioned and reassembled), 8,20 m; Essere Ciottolo, 2011, found objects, various material, variable dimensions. 
Courtesy Studio la Città and the artists. Photo: Michele Alberto Sereni.

Fotography is in the show with the beautiful Massimo Vitali's diptych Firiplaka Red Yellow (2011). The subject is the imposing presence of a rock that overlooks a strip of beach and sea. We are in Milos, an Island of volcanic origins on the Aegean Sea. The works bears fitness to Vitali's irresistibile relationship with his surroundings. There is no sense of satisfaction; there is only his gaze at the rocky mass. From the stone to the ice architectures that Lynn Davis photographs. Cleaned and essential presences, monumental figures that evoque that sensation of the "pleasurable horror" of which Edmund Burke wrote about with reference to the Sublime.
Until the work of the Swiss artist Esther Mathis. In 1 year of atmospheric exposure (2013) she "gathered together" for 365 days, air and all the substances present in it. Milan, Oleggio, Berlin, Winterthur and Zurich were the towns in which the project was consolidated.

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Drawing is the central language of Elisabeth Scherffig's work. It is a tool for recounting places, like the the stone quarries, with a detailed description that, in the history of art, has such models as Albrecht Durer. Laura Pugno propose in the exhibition the work Quel che Annibale non vide (2012) and the video Meccanismi di difesa (2013).
The clouds that float above and caress the landscape in the video are presences of which the mountain top is unaware. As the work's title explains, we are in front of a defense mechanism, legitimated by the fact that the passing of the clouds is superimposed, extraneous to its essence. In turn, the shadows are involuntary figures and, just as happens for every defense mechanism, are unknowingly produced.


Andre Woodward, Installation view, 2014. Courtesy Studio la Città and the artist. Photo: Michele Alberto Sereni.

In the show there are also the videos of Elisa Sighicelli (Dance-bound, 2007) and Emanuele Becheri (Time out of joint, 2008), while Luca Rento shows two videos part of the Ninfee series and made at the Bayeler foundation in Basel in 2004.
Three III is instead a work by Jacob Hashimoto that rethinks and re-present the structure of a tree. In the place of leale we find large luminous spere that seem to float in the air, in shart contrast to the heaviness of the underlying wooden structure. The viewer's eye is fascinated and intrigued by this unusual creation.


Laura Pugno, Meccanismi di difesa, 2013, video projection, 4'. 
Courtesy Studio la Città and the artist. Photo: Michele Alberto Sereni.


De Rerum Natura
Curated by Angela Madesani in collaboration with Andrea Lerda
Studio la Città, Verona
Until 15.09.14

Emanuele BECHERI, Andrea CARETTO I Raffaella SPAGNA, Lynn DAVIS, Mikala DWYER, Herbert HAMAK, Jacob HASHIMOTO, Esther MATHIS, Laura PUGNO, Luca RENTO, Elisabeth SCHERFFIG, Elisa SIGHICELLI, Studio FORMAFANTASMA, Eltjon VALLE; Massimo VITALI, Andre WOODWARD.

03. Rhome / A home for Rome



Courtesy: Rhome. Photo: Lorenzo Procaccini

RhOME a home for ROME: this is the name of the Italian project presented by the Roma Tre University (with the collaboration of the departments of Architecture, Economics and Engineering) who won the Solar Decathlon Europe* 2014 in July, in Versailles.


Courtesy: Rhome. Photo: Lorenzo Procaccini

RhOME is a home for all, affordable, simple, with contained dimensions but especially energy efficient. Passive systems, use of natural and renewable materials, reuse and recycling are the main guidelines of the project. Regeneration, relationship, rapidity, reduce and reuse are the key words. The prototype of Versailles represents the top floor of the complex proposed for the specific context of Rome. The project area is in fact the area between Via di Torre del Fiscale, Via Appia Nuova and Acquedotto Felice.

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The first component of innovation at the building scale is typology. The building structure is conceived in order to allow for the maximum flexibility, and in particular the possibility of housing to modify and grow up according to the family needs.
Using an innovative style and advanced building methods, we focus on new scenarios of environmental sustainability concepts to optimize local climatic and material resources. One of the major climate typical problems of Rome is represented by the summer heat, so we resort to a series of passive strategies such as: strategic morphing of the house; design of the building envelope; summer shading through loggias; thermal inertia guaranteed by locally available and natural thermal masses; natural ventilation through strategically located openings for cross ventilation. The structural system of the urban aggregate consists of a reinforced concrete first floor that supports further four floors and the covering of a lightweight wooden building, made with frame-wall technology (Platform Frame). The choice of this structural typology is motivated by an attention for sustainability, lightness and quickness of installation.

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* Solar Decathlon is an international competition organized by the U.S. Department of Energy in which universities from all over the world meet to design, build and operate a home energy self-sufficient, thanks to the use of solar energy, and equipped with all the technologies useful for maximizing efficiency.
The Solar Decathlon Europe (SDE) was created through an agreement signed between the Ministry of Housing of the Government of Spain and the United States Government, in October 2007, with the objective of organize a sustainable solar houses competition in Europe 

02. Studio Formafantasma



The Andrea Trimarchi and Simone Farresin duo has recently exhibited the De Natura Fossilium project  in Palazzo Clerici, Milan as part of Fuorisalone 2014.
Lava is at the heart of the work, a material that is not very common and due to this the two designers question themselves and have been led to think about the link between tradition, local culture, and the cultural and landscape heritage.

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Stromboli, Occhio di pernice basalt, lava rock, brass, 40x40x30 cm; Lipari, occhio di pernice basalt, lava ocks, brass, textile, 35x35x35 cm; Alicudi, mouth blown lava, lava rock, textile, 35x35x35 cm. Courtesy: Studio Formafantasma.

We are in Sicily, at the feet of Mount Etna. Here the volcanic rock, abundant and multifaceted, is the main element through which the natural environment takes on a form. For those living in the area it is a silent presence, one that fascinates and attracts the visitor's curious eye. The aim of the two designers, who reject locality as the only element of tourist attraction, is to bring to light the as yet unexplored potentialities of this material.

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1892, occhio di pernice basalt, textile, brass, (left); 1991, occhio di pernice, textile, brass, (right), 30x30x60 cm each. Courtesy: Studio Formafantasma.

The material is left intact and is the protagonist of their work; the irregular consistency of the rocks viscerally interacts with the basalt, Murano glass, and brass: vases, stools, coffee tables, mysterious boxes, a mirror, a clock made with three different kinds of lava sand, and even tapestries woven with lava fibre.

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Monti Silvestri, basalt, brass, electric component, lava sand, 35x35x5 cm each. Courtesy: Studio Formafantasma.

Starting from a warm and fluid element, Formafanstasma reformulates the viscous consistency of lava in design objects that cast an eye over Concretist aesthetics.  The past - porphyry at times, at others micro-crystal or vitreous - becomes the present, and the iconographical references to the two divinities who, according to Greek mythology, were linked to Mount Etna, are wedded to the microscopic views of the lava's geological strata.
It is interesting to wonder what George Bauer would have written about the innovative use of this mineral almost five centuries after his De Natura Fossilium.


Atena, basalt, fiber, cotton, 120x190 cm; Efesto, basalt, fiber, cotton, 120x190 cm, detail. Courtesy: Studio Formafantasma.

01. Giuseppe Penone

the tree

Platform green opens its path with a focus on one of the most emblematic symbols of the bond between man and nature: the tree.
The man's fate is closely related to that of the trees and for centuries they was object of veneration by civilizations all around the world. Source of much of their mythology comes from the figure of the Cosmic tree: the supreme father of a universal structure that combines the natural and the supernatural. In modern times Its physical presence and Its role as a vital guide are put in serious danger from a devastating culture, unable to taste the slowness o the movements and of the intimate bond that unite us inevitably to their fate.

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Giuseppe Penone, MAMbo - Museo d'Arte Moderna di Bologna (September 25 - December 8, 2008), view of the exhibtition. Photos: Matteo Monti

The presence of the tree within the artistic practice of Giuseppe Penone (Garessio, 1947) is a constant. Since the beginning the artist's intent is to "rediscover the forest of the tree enclosed within the material, the wood"*.
The tree is a constantly evolving creature, with a fluid character, on which the intervention of the artist, therefore of the man, has Its effect. It owns a biological memory that leads him to remember what he suffers and then to adapt. This process is evident in one of the most significant works of Giuseppe Penone: Continuerà a Crescere tranne che in quel punto (1968), in which the artist express in a clear way the consequence of the human action on the nature.

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Since 1969 Giuseppe Penone performs the works called Alberi (Trees). The artist employs beams of different lengths and the wood carving brings to light the tree and Its branches. From the wood like an object back to the trunk, the tree, the natural element and the repetition of the gesture Penone highlights the intent of this process: the regeneration of the forest. Accellerating the natural process of growth the artist leads us to reflect on the fragility of the nature and the necessity to respect Its times.

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Above: Giuseppe Penone, Repeating the forest, 1969-1997, installation view of the exhibition Giuseppe Penone. The vains of stone at Kunstmuseum Bonn. 
Photo: Kunstmuseum Bonn / Reni Hansen.

Left: Giuseppe Penone, 11-Meter tree, 1969-1989, spruce wood, 2 elements 203 1Ž4 x 17 3Ž4 x 14 3Ž4 in. each.
Castello di Rivoli Museo d'Arte Contemporanea, 1996
Courtesy Castello di Rivoli Museo d'Arte Contemporanea, Rivoli - Torino

Right: Giuseppe Penone, 5-Meter tree, 1969-1970, spruce wood, 194 1Ž2 x 7 3Ž4 x 4 in. Collection: Margherita Stein. Property: Fondazione CRT Progetto Arte Moderna e Contemporanea, 2001. Permanent loan: Castello di Rivoli Museo d’Arte Contemporanea, Rivoli - Torino, GAM – Galleria Civica d’Arte Moderna e Contemporanea, Torino.
Courtesy Castello di Rivoli Museo d'Arte Contemporanea, Rivoli - Torino


“I feel the forest breathing and hear the slow, inexorable growt of the wood; I match my breathing to that of the green world around me; I feel the flow of the tree around my hand placed against the trunk; the altered sense of time makes what is solid, liquid and what is liquid, solid.
The hand sinks into the tree trunk which, owing to its rapid growth and the plasticità of its matter is the ideal liquid element for shaping”. **

*   Giuseppe Penone, Sculture di linfa, Electa, 2007, p.17
** Giuseppe Penone, Hopefulmonster, 1997, p.19