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Galleria Raffaella Cortese hosts the second solo show of Cuban-born artist Ana Mendieta.
The exhibition at Raffaella Cortese focuses on works Mendieta created while in Rome, in particular on ink, watercolour and pencil drawings some of which were studies for sculptures. The exhibition also features the book of lithographs Duetto Pietre Foglie, also realized during her Roman residency, and a precious notebook from 1981 with some preparatory studies.
In a brief yet prolific career Mendieta experimented with various media, from performance to film, from photography to drawing and sculpture. Her artistic practice investigated the close relationship between Art and Nature, which Mendieta accomplished by merging her physical body or its imprint with the earth. In many performative films in fact, the body becomes the means by which the artist blends with Nature, in a kind of spiritual and visceral ritual that assumes a symbolic value of rebirth. As the artist repeatedly said, ‘culture is the memory of history’ and it is in this sense that the body is not just a witness, but also the vehicle of collective memory.

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Since her relationship with the artist Carl Andre, a Minimalist aesthetic and preoccupation with issues of scale, materials, presentation, and environment are the common items of the aritst. In this sense, It is very important to remember the influence of Andre’s work in Ana Mendieta’s practice and life. At the same time it is essential to keep in mind that if both artists used natural materials, Mendieta’s approach was very different and more ephemeral.
An artistic resarch in which organic materials, their shape and the intimate connection with the human body reveals a very close connection with nature, earth and culture.
Everybody remember the serie “volcano” made between 1978 and 1980, representing her body in dialogue with nature or the “earth body works” that were an inventive series of variations on her silhouette, created in media ranging from the elemental earth, fire, and water to natural materials such as grass, flowers, moss and snow.
An intimate dialogue that we can find in the serie of drawings presented at Galleria Raffaella Cortese, that confirm the interest and the attention of Ana Mendieta in emotional and sensual aspects of nature.

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For all images, Ana Mendieta, installation view of the exhibition at Galleria Raffaella Cortese, Milan, 2016.

Galleria Raffaella Cortese, Milan
Until 11 May 2016



A fascinating and evocative project, which confirms the very interesting research of one of the young italian artists.
Platform Green has visited the exhibition, which continues until the 12 of May at Prometeo Gallery in Milan.
Because of the importance and uniqueness of the texts that accompany the exhibition, we decided to publish the full vertion of these contents.

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Gabriella Ciancimino, Efendisiz Flow, 2016. Mixed media on canvas and on wall, total dimensions 770 x 390 cm. Canvas’ dimensions 290 x 245 cm and 300 x 290 cm. Courtesy Prometeo Gallery, Milan

Text by Daniela Bigi

“I wish I could’ve been a bird, so I could have flown back and forth between here and there to be with everyone”*. This was written around 1920 by a woman from the South of Italy who frequented the most radical political environments of New York. Gabriella Ciancimino, Sicilian, borrows these anonymous lines to introduce us into her Room of Sirocco.
Aristocratic eighteenth-century country houses in Sicily featured comfortable underground living environments, often decorated, that in summertime constituted the best refuge from the torrid heat brought in by the south-east winds. They were called “camere delle scirocco” – rooms of sirocco – and the temperature there was lower thanks to the fresh air currents generated by the flow of water, rendered possible by the Arab hydraulic system of the qanat. These rooms offered cooling relief and Ciancimino re-proposes them today as a metaphor of a condition of freedom. For some time, the artist has been investigating the dynamics of adaptation, interaction and self-organization of the migratory flows of human beings and of plants that she interprets as phenomena of modification of the landscape in virtue of their crossing territorial borders. The landscape she envisions is essentially a place for reflection, but also a place for safeguarding the historical memory and collective action.
Her work has taken place in different landscapes: Morocco, Sicily, Turkey and she tells about “those who come from far away” and arrive in the port cities that throughout the centuries have maintained their role of entrance gates for migratory flows. What fascinates her is the libertarian attitude of men, women and plants whose micro-stories, yesterday just like today, can be reconnected to the great history of resistance – historical for the ones, biological for the others. Two inputs in particular guide this new project: the concept of “social ecology” formulated by Murray Bookchin at the beginning of the 1970s and perfected in later decades through progressive developments, and the specific concept of “frenzy” that Giordano Bruno theorizes in his Heroic Frenzies. It is in these pages that Ciancimino meets the explanation of the concept of “heroic” love, of man’s love for nature, that more closely approaches her idea of “frenzied love”, the one that allows the liberty flowers to resist. Resistant flowers, the Liberty Flowers have for years been at the center of her artwork, both in terms of figurative concentration and symbolic reference. It is the flowers of the indigenous plants, the blossoms of weeds, that migrate, take root and thrive in foreign lands, far from their homeland, in conditions that are often inhospitable. They are the same flowers of the third landscape, harbingers of the need for freedom and of resistance.
A silk banner bearing the phrase “The Liberty Flowers love to resist, the Resistant Flowers resist for love” greets the audience at the entrance of the exhibition and supplies the key to interpreting the wall drawings, the canvasses, the drawings, the projection and the sculptures of La Stanza dello Scirocco. The artist conceived it as a synthesis of ecological, anthropological and libertarian thought and created it through a language that moves simultaneously on several levels, fruit, in turn, of the contamination between drawing, graffiti, graphic design, video and the architectural and decorative motifs that have soaked Sicilian visual culture from the Arab-Norman tradition up to Liberty – a style, the latter, that in its drawing inspiration from nature and from its interwoven structural elements, is embodied with almost the same valence as the slogan, it is chosen as the preferred angle from which to observe man.
The contaminations, the stratifications, the co-existences are found above all in the drawings The Flow of Flowers, where the overlapping of different graphic levels – obtained with pencils, watercolors, with textures deriving from ink on metal buttons as if they were seals on a sheet of paper – yield the wealth of signs and imagery of the many cultures that have more or less peacefully settled on Sicilian ground but also, and on other levels, in the artist’s biographical baggage.
But The Flow of Flowers cannot be retained a mere ensemble of drawings; we must read it as a historic landscape, built by putting together some of the most famous posters of the protests taking place between 1968 and the uprising in Egypt. The artist modifies the iconography of the closed fist present in most of the posters by rotating it in a gesture of offering of the adonis annua l., a red flower original of the Mediterranean area commonly known as “Red Morocco”, a dissident weed that man has fought for years, bringing it almost to extinction.
In the maps that we find drawn on the canvasses and on the wall drawings, the overlapping continues: they are maps of the Mediterranean populated with illustrations of synanthropic plants, the ones that live in close association with man, the same ones that Clément defines “vagabond” because they move with the wind, with the passage of humans and of animals, crossing geographical borders, growing in frontier lands, overtaking residual spaces. And the same thing takes place in the small sculptures of the Liberty Flowers, where the game of interlocks between the materials and the shapes connects yesterday’s rural landscape with today’s urban setting.
La Stanza dello Scirocco stems from a reflection on the feeling of nomadism and on the subsequent sense of nostalgia deriving from being inside and outside national boundary lines. A reflection on the meaning of frontier, that non-place adjacent to a limit that becomes an area of universal transition, fertile ground for new ecological relationships.
La Stanza dello Scirocco is an invitation to reflect on how the frontier can become a free-zone for an ecologically modified landscape, whose border lines are not divisions but rather segments of comparison.
The title of the exhibition underscores the desire to find a cool refuge in an environment inflamed by conflicts.

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In order from the top: Gabriella Ciancimino, La Stanza dello Scirocco, 2016. Installation view; The Flow of Flowers, 2016. Mixed media on paper, 100 x 70 cm; The Flow of Flowers, 2016. Mixed media on paper, 116 x 72 cm; Paesaggio di Scirocco, 2016. Bricks, 30 x 112 cm; La Stanza dello Scirocco, 2016. Installation view. For all images: courtesy Prometeo Gallery, Milan 

Text by Bartomeu Mari

In the South, the heat of summer can be described using as many nouns and adjectives as for the word “snow” in the North.
It is also said that Arab has lots of appellations for love.
Other languages and cultures have an abundance of terms for objects, events or aspects of our daily lives that the features of modernity, of industry, digital technologies, public debt or wars are progressively causing to disappear or to turn into something else before climate change submerges us all in water. Traditionally, the heat of summer in Southern Europe is a source of income for the economies in recession that find in tourism some seasonal relief. The inhabitants of Northern Europe usually come to the southern coastlines to enjoy the temperatures that the residents - native or adoptive - try to flee from.
La Stanza dello Scirocco is the title of the exhibition by Gabriella Ciancimino that treats the quantum leap with which history destroys and builds metaphors: it destroys those that no longer have meaning and builds new ones capable of gathering communities that form through interest or necessity.
As in all of Ciancimino’s artwork, the piece is not so much an outcome as a discipline; it is not an end but a ritual. Under the cape of scientific research, events that owe something to poetic subjectivity occur that the productive mind of capitalism should never abolish. What if it were possible to institute poetic productivity as a genre for building common sense? The raison d’etre of Ciancimino’s art, she tells us, has its roots in the interaction between aesthetic production and ecological awareness, starting with the premise that the human scenario be included in all that we call ecology.
In recent years, it seems that we humans exclude ourselves from the ecological issue when in reality we are the principal actors in the succession of imbalances that effect the skin of our planet. We humans live on the skin of our planet just like plants and most living beings.
Heat, living beings, and the skin of the planet are physical conditions that La Stanza dello Scirocco makes reference to.
In particular, Ciancimino recurs to two elements central to her work since the very beginning: people, also called “human beings”, and plants. We both belong to the kingdom of the living but the ability to move amidst the different landscapes differentiates us.
That is to say, plants disseminate seeds that travel freely at the mercy of winds, currents or drifts. Human beings, instead, must cross different kinds of borders and controls.
Ciancimino has built a powerful metaphor because it is unexpected: literal and real mobility do not coincide. The two are subordinate to the pressure of a poetics managed by fear and exclusion policies for the benefit of we do not really know who.
On summer nights, the Sirocco, the southern wind that brings with it several degrees centigrade, strikes the lands of southern Europe, Sicily above all, an interlace that, without ever ceasing to be an island, is actually a continent.
European colonists learned from their Arab predecessors - and they from their predecessors - how to build shelters that would harbor them from the mugginess and torment of high temperatures. Protecting ourselves from the heat is something that cannot translate into a global protection strategy. People, like temperatures, evolve freely, more or less at the mercy of currents, winds or of necessity.
Let us speak for a moment about the aesthetic extensions that Ciancimino produces in relation to building the new metaphors I was speaking about.
Nowadays, in a period where works of art are finite material entities, defined and differentiated, we feel the need to find the means to include intentions and desires into the identity of the art object. As if the means, the technique or the genre did not already identify the work. As if the art object was not an outcome but an additional step in a complex succession of negotiations.
Ciancimino’s works deserve that we stop a minute contemplating them...
La Stanza dello Scirocco originated with the exhibition “Nel Mezzo del Mezzo” in the city of Palermo in October 2015, which made reference to Sicily’s condition of double geographic center that places it in the middle of what was once the sea between lands, the Mediterranean.
In 2014 and for part of 2015, the Mediterranean was the scenario of strong migratory flows, illegal but real and largely surrounded by violent uncertainty. In Palermo, Ciancimino’s work was revealed through a large wall drawing that focused on the visualization of this improbable but actual relationship between plants moving freely and human beings who are not able to. Half way between interactive performance and the paintings of Mexican muralists, her work now leaves the status of site-specific, of temporary in situ monument, to travel, like plants and their seeds, in every imaginable direction.
Ciancimino has recovered the aesthetics of popular cultures that place the floral motif at the center of the decorative and the ritual. The floral motif, the curved line, appears with civilization in opposition to the straight line, to the angle and to geometry. Actually, we could try and write a universal history of art that unfolds through opposition between the floral motif - curved - and the geometric motif of straight lines. At the beginning of the 20th century, the battle between Art Nouveau and Art Deco is the most eloquent expression of this, and today finds an equal only in the battle between the organic forms that hyper-technological architecture opposes to the straight lines of the post-modern or minimalist school. But Ciancimino places her work on the level of the organic and of the handcrafted. In some way, in my opinion, it contrasts the machinist paradigm of industrialization and strikes the anonymous symbol of the libertarian claim, the one that unites the many that do not have an author, so that we may all become authors.

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In order: Gabriella Ciancimino, The Flow of Flowers, 2016. Mixed media on paper, 178 x 200 cm; La Stanza dello Scirocco, 2016. Installation view. Courtesy Prometeo Gallery, Milan

Curated by Daniela Bigi
Prometeo Gallery, Milan
Until 12 of May 2016



It is not necessary to have a physical place to present an exhibition. Asi nasa masa is a virtual space that offers online temporary exhibitions. Artistic experiences which are conceived and specifically designed for the web and conveyed by it.
We are delighted to propose the last virtual exhibition dedicated to the work of Federica di Carlo. The artist presents I see I see, a project about light and time, which are phisical conditions determinig different experiences in every viewer.

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Chiara Ciolfi, in conversation with the artist 


I See, I See#2, is an installation born during your recent residence in BoCS, near Cosenza. Has it been a fruitful experience for you as an artist, besides the work you have produced?
The residence program in BoCS was born thanks to Alberto Dambruoso’s will (artistic director of The Critical Tuesdays) together with municipal administration in Cosenza. Their objective is creating a connection between successful artists and young ones in opne dialogue with the city.
I think residency programs are like bridges, a sort of zone sospese above which is possible staccarsi from daily life per immergersi in one’s own dimension and observe from a privileged point what is all around. Usually, residency programs push you to individual work, but this time there has been something different that brought us to live in a collective dimension: the constant sharing of our work, but also sleeping, eating, free time due to transparency and proximity of all boxes allineati alongside the river.
That’s what created a very strong exchange between us. It has been an artistic and umana experience that made me think about times when artists met in the bar without any appointment - even though ina different way.

Federica, you have been working with light as a physical phenomenon, from here come your interest in lens, so that in your previous exhibition “Irradiazioni” with Fiorella Rizzo at Beaarte Gallery a lens installation was on show. How have you been working to develop this theme?
In my work the relationship with light is not only related to its physical nature or study of physics laws (that is necessary to built my installation), but above all derives from its metaphisic value, as a visual metaphor for something else.
The installation “I see I see”, showed in my last exhibition, is a work inspired to Galileo Galilei’s telescope as a discovery of new visions. Lens are deprived of their primary function - enlarging reality- to become vehicle for light and be crossed by a flash of light (coming from an old projector) so that they can reveal the invisible as colours refraction.
Lens become means, such as prisms or crystals can be. They allow me to investigate light in connection with themes like border, vision, knowledge, life.

Here we had the problem to make believable online the experience of looking at an artwork that was born to strongly interact with “real” world. Light, grade, air movement, everything contributes to modify the vision through the lens, how have you worked to reinterpret it for the web?
The installation “I See I See#2” made in Cosenza faces the interaction with the public through a filter (the lens) inserted between people and landscape, in relationship with the light. 183 lens set as a beehive on the edge of the bridge and on show 24h allowed to observe landscape in different ways because - depending on day hours. The vision was always different. In the morning the observer (sun was behind his back) could only see himself as in a mirror while in the afternoon (at sunset) he could look at city landscape reversed. I set up the artwork for a full day on a pedestrian bridge on Crati river (dividing the old city from the new one) just to produce considerations about border concept, limit and crossing between us and the world.
I’m explaining this because rethinking my work for the web is not so far from three key words: vision, filter, border. These are the same words that a web user has to deal with as he uses different medias: his eyes (vision), a computer (filter) and Internet (border). Starting from this point, I chose to produce an interactive video where lenses are directly activated by web public, showing changing light above the sea.

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The title - I see I see - reminds me about “Snow White”, with her mirror, but also “Alice in Wonderland”, forced to an altered scale vision on the fantastic world in which she happens to live. Is there a story for this title?
The title plays with double meaning of the verb “to see” in English: both I see” and “I understand”.It is related to a Schopenhauer’s concept that can be found everywhere in my work. It’s about moving attention from outside to the inside and vice versa.It can be told in a sentence: everyone considers his own range of vision as the limit of the whole world.

You have explored many different languages in your work. Starting from drawing, you ‘ve used video, photograph, now you’re taking possession of the space. Why did you accept to show your work online? Do you think this could be a challenge or a limit in your way?
Challenging oneself with something new always generates something else. The virtual world is becoming more and more “real”, maybe even bossy and using it to retake vision into the real world was a good paradox. I’m retaking you to look at the sea.

All of your works are very caring about public, often they also get it engaged - for example Jump or Mind the Limes performance for last Bologna Art Fair edition, what do you think about enjoying art online?
I think about Google Art project for example (through which 150 collections in 40 countries were put online, giving everyone the possibility to enjoy artworks in interactive way), an innovative and useful idea for students or for people who cannot afford to visit museums in East or West. Anyway, this cannot replace the experience of watching an artwork alive. I think it’s a first attempt, a way to be developed but still immature...

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For all images: Federica di Carlo, I see I see, I see I see #2, courtesy the artist.
This news was published in the context of spontaneous reports that come to Platform Green. For more information about the sending process of your project or work, please, go to the "Contacts" or “About” area.



by Elisabetta Villani

It ended just one week ago at Man in Nuoro the first solo show in Italy of the French artist Michel Blazy, curated by Lorenzo Giusti.
The event has officially opened an annual program dedicated to the reflection on the ecological thinking. The second stage of this project will present the exhibition "Arrivederci" of the Italian artist Ettore Favini, curated by Chiara Vecchiarelli.

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Michel Blazy, Mur qui pèle bleu, 2016, water, agar-agar, food coloring blue, courtesy: Art Concept, Paris

With a dialogue between recent works and new productions, the exhibition Living Room has investigated several aspects of Blazy’s poetry, who for 25 years worked using organic materials, integrating them with object that are part of the everyday commercial sphere.
The exhibition was conceived like a site specific intervention for the little space at the ground floor of the Man Museum; the stage of a theatre in continuous transformation, in which the artist has left to the living, vegetable and organic matter, the main role of the entire “performative act”.
An animated space within which the visitors were able to move and interact with familiar objects, seemingly static but silently dinamics, becoming themselves witnesses and actors of the incessant cycle of the living.

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In order: Michel Blazy, Pull Over Time, 2016, aquarium, clothes, sports shoes, old electronic devices, plants, water, courtesy: Art Concept, Paris; Living room, MAN Museum, 26 February - 10 April 2016. Installation view; Pull Over Time, 2016, detail, courtesy: Art Concept, Paris

As very often it happens in Blazy’s pieces, the work, which is in contact with the variable conditions of temperature, light and humidity, is at the center ot the life representation, in connection with the time, according to an unlimited renewal process, among new births, germinations, decompositions and repeated deaths. Therefore, within the macro-ecosystem (the museum/world), Blazy represents the micro-ecosystems: works where man is protagonist like nature like a metaphor of the terrestrial condition.
A thought well summarized in the work Acquario (Acquarium), a real contemporary vivarium, within which the artist has put in dialogue indipendent works, already showed in other projects.
Here, old sweaters and pants, old sports shoes and digital cameras have been planted and watered, becoming the nurturing groung for different plant species, finding new life in this new staging. A process that is the expression of a relationship system that holds together things and man, according to a holistic view of reality. We are talking about unique experiences, that will never repeat in the same way.

So the Mur qui pèle, that Michel Blazy has made in blue, specifically for the Man Museum (this work is part of the murals serie “that lose their skin”, already made in other colors), has followed a unique crumbling process due to the particular internal movements of matter, related to the specific place. In the starting phase the installation and his painting was uniform, the wall did not have a lot of cracks; later, during the final phase of the exhibition, the beauty of the installation was closely linked with the crumbling level that was reached. The new plantation of small native plant species, that were collected near the Ortobene Mount in Nuoro, dwelt the old Mac laptop of the Man Director, strengthening the dialogue established between nature and culture, especially the technological culture. The work reflects on time, properly understood as duration of the work’s life, in connection to the ephimeral time of fashion, the physical time of inert matter which constitutes the objects and the natural time of plant growth.

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In order: Michel Blazy, Avocat, 1997-2016, avocado, pot, courtesy: Art Concept, Paris; Sans titre, 2016, computer, soil and plants of Nuoro, courtesy: the artist and MAN Museum

The reflection on the trasformation of the work in relation to space and time variations is further proposed in the piece Pierre qui sèche, a stone made of wallpaper glue and food coloring that depending on the climate conditions inside the Museum, could have been dissolved. The piece in fact was split, changing its original colour.
For Michel Blazy, it is very important to do not dissociate the process from the outcome. His attention is not simply directed to the final object because it is also very important the creation story of each piece which in turn triggers a further evolutive and reflective process.
All the artist’s poetry could be resumed with the piece Avocat, the more conceptual work of the entire exhibition and perhaps the more radical of all his artistic career until now. It’ is a ready made, a static object that was born from a unique crative action. The artist in fact initially overthrew the pot and the plant in an effort to force its development in a horizontal and unusual direction.

Here, then, the key to understand the point of view of the artist: no form of fragility or weakness of the nature is contemplated. This nature, despite the attempt of conditioning by man, still finds a way to keep growing; it becomes an “entity” against which the man has no power and domain.
Underlying the approach of Michel Blazy we recognize the deep ecology fundamentals (Deep ecology by Arne Naess); a point of view that denies the anthropocentric view of the world, the vanity of man's superiority over all, enhancing a reconciliation between the living parties to the biocentric perspective of equal value and importance.

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In order: Michel Blazy, Barbacaen, 2010, chocolate cream, eggs, coconut flour, milk powder of wood eaten by mouses, courtesy: Art Concept, Paris; Living room, MAN Museum, 26 February - 10 April 2016. Installation view


Cultivating art, culture and sustainability

by Raffaele Quattrone

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Ciò che è vivo - culture tour, 2015, Alberto Grosoli, San Damaso (MO), courtesy Regione Lombardia

In recent decades, many intellectuals have referred to the states of matter (solid, liquid, gas) to describe the development of our social existence. If humans sought to deploy Modernity to construct a stable and lasting world, the Polish sociologist Zygmunt Bauman has argued that in the second half of the 1900s what emerged was a liquid society based on the idea of liquidity, the defining characteristic of financial and economic systems (the so-called liquidity of currency). The state, family, work, community: everything “melts” and becomes elusive, like trying to grasp a liquid with your hands. Anything that stands the test of time is passed over in favor of things that are “disposable”, the defining characteristic of industrially produced goods. For the French philosopher Yves Michaud, in recent years we have even entered a gaseous state with the triumph of aesthetics and the cult of beauty at the expense of ethics and commitment, characteristics of social life in a solid “state.”
In the face of this widespread dematerialization, deterritorialization and virtualization of social life, Emanuela Ascari, like many artists, is driven to “go back to the land” or, rather, get “down to earth” in order to restore the social, cultural and political fabric of life that has drifted far – too far – from reality. In his famous lecture “The question of technique” (this was in the early 1950s), the philosopher Martin Heidegger argued that we had come to view the land as a “fund” to be exploited in keeping with the laws of mechanized industry, that land had lost the original meaning it had back “when cultivate still meant to care for and look after.” Indeed, cultivating the land requires care, commitment, physical strength, patience, waiting, inventiveness ... And it is in this sense that farmers cultivate the land in an anti- capitalist logic, expressing subversive ideas, resistance and opposition.

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Ciò che è vivo - culture tour, artist book, detail. Macro, Rome 2015

Since 1970, the UN has celebrated “Earth Day” on April 22 to commemorate April 22, 1970, the date millions of Americans mobilized in a huge demonstration to defend the planet in response to an appeal launched by US Senator Gaylord Nelson, who was worried about pollution, the extinction of plant and animal species, the precariousness of ecosystems, the depletion of non-renewable resources, etc. A dry planet, a dying environment, cannot go on generating life for long; we are therefore called on to rethink our habits and farming methods, especially in view of the future of the planet we bequeath to our children, our grandchildren and those still to come. To adopt a logic of responsibility and respect for this thing that represents a common good to safeguard and pass on, healthy and thriving, to future generations. One vivid example of these “responsible methods” is biodynamic farming, an approach based on the world view of the philosopher and esotericist Rudolf Steiner. As Steiner reminded us, “life can only grow in a living environment.”
And so Emanuela Ascari created her wooden phrase “that which is alive needs that which is alive” and set off on a journey across Italy with the aim, as she herself describes, of encountering organic and biodynamic farmers and ecovillages, of installing the phrase on their land for the duration of her stay, a day and night or at most two days, before heading out once again for the next destination. Thirty stopovers, thirty meetings and opportunities for reflection. Leading her eventually to the MACRO in Rome, where she created chromatographs of the soil samples she had collected during her trip. Chromatographs are images on paper that express the mineral and biological qualities of that specific piece of land at that specific moment in time. This technique is used in biodynamic farming to evaluate the quality of the land on the basis of the aesthetic qualities of the images being observed and analyzed, specifically the harmony of the forms and the range of colors.

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Ciò che è vivo - culture tour, dettaglio cromatografia. Dislocata, Vignola, 2016

The journey, narrated in blog form on and, took the form of a book showcasing photos of the installations created at each of the thirty stopovers, texts written by some of the farmers who hosted the artist and a conversation/interview with Gianfranco Baruchello and Carla Subrizi. The book was printed entirely on paper made of hemp, a plant that can be used to produce environmentally-friendly paper, textiles, fuels, plastics, oils and other building materials such as bricks, not to mention food and therapeutic products.
Emanuela Ascari’s expedition represents a tool for social transformation: by completing the journey, the traveler proceeds along a pathway of understanding and research that goes beyond stereotypes and myths. The voyage is repeated departure, the qualitative regeneration of life; it is catharsis. John Steinbeck said that “people don’t take trips – trips take people.” I believe this is true for Emanuela Ascari as it is for all of us who have not taken this journey through biodynamic agriculture. When we return home secure in our beliefs and satisfied with our habits, an art exhibition remains no more than an art exhibition. If, however, it plants in us some doubt, some seed that invites us to rethink what we are and what we do, it is no longer just an art exhibition. Emanuela Ascari’s project surely has this potential. Now it is up to us to turn this potential into opportunity.

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Ciò che è vivo-culture tour, 2015, Podere Santa Croce, Argelato (BO)

*The trip was supported by the Baruchello Foundation, in collaboration with: Associazione La zappa sui piedi, Associazione per la Promozione del Territorio Tipicadelfia di Adelfia, PAV - Parco d’Arte Vivente in Torino, and co-produced by the farmers that hosted the artist.
The wooden phrase has been produced for GAP - Global Art Programme, 2013, a project that was promoted by FARE and Artegiovane, Milan, with the support of Regione Lombardia and Fondazione Cariplo. The wooden phrase is property of Regione Lombardia.
The works was produced on the occasion of the Artists in Residence Programme 2015 at MACRO, Rome
The text has been written for the catalogue of the exhibition curated by Raffaele Quattrone and Wunderkammer Cultural Association, at Dislocata, Vignola.



We are used to put it into the coffee, or to use it to prepare a cake, but the sugar can be used in many different ways, and not just in the kitchen.

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Saccharum, courtesy Ella Bulley

Ella Bulley believes the value of the handmade over the machine made is something to be celebrated. In the future the provenance and processing of a material will be just as important as the final product itself.
Through an appreciation of craft and traditional production techniques Ella explored the potential of sugarcane, a material she believes is no longer appreciated as it once was, as a potential craft material.
Saccharum (sugarcane) is a perennial grass growing abundantly across the globe and is the main source of sucrose. Refined sucrose, also known as sugar was historically introduced to the west as an expensive commodity that influenced socio-cultural movements. However, over time sugar has become under-appreciated and devalued and is now regarded simply as a cheap commodity.
Through her work she aims to elevate sugarcane by transforming it from a humble crop into a crafted artifact. With the emphasis firmly on the handmade and the artisan craftsman, she also hopes to challenge our perceptions surrounding this forgotten material and propose future alternative uses for natural resources that are currently in abundance yet under appreciated.
Starting from this interesting research was born the Saccharum project, a fascinating serie of design artifacts that highlight the plastic quality of sugar. Bowls, vases, several types of dishes, all elements which are characterized by a unique and porous materiality, with colors ranging from white to light gray.
Perfect to accommodate sweet foods, fruits, flowers, these handmade objects constitute only the preview of what may be the alternative use of this fascinating natural material.

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Extreme Sugar, courtesy Ella Bulley



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Giuseppe Penone, Anatomia 6, 1994, private collection. Photo @ Mart, photo-archive and mediateca/Carlo Baroni

“What to me is most important in art is to forget the matter. The sculptor, summarizing all the impressions that he received, must communicate everything that moved his sensitivity, in order that, looking at his work, everyone can understand the emotion that the artist has felt when he observed the nature.”
Using these words, Medardo Rosso reveals the importance to reestablish the “impression"of the missing part, looking at what the artist revealed and transfered from a subject.
“In nature there are no limits, then we can not find limits in an art work”. In this way you could get the atmosphere surrounding the shape, the color that represents its soul, the perspective that makes possible its collocation”.
Giuseppe Penone’s work seems to recall the atmosphere that was described by Medardo Rosso, who places the gesture at the center of the sculptural practice, which is understood as the act of giving and to make visible what is hidden to our eyes.

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Giuseppe Penone, Trattenere 6 anni di crescita (continuerà a crescere tranne che in quel punto), 2004-2010, private collection, detail; Sigillo, 2012, Courtesy Gagosian Gallery. Photo @ Mart, photo-archive and mediateca/Carlo Baroni

After the exhibition presented at the Galleria Civica d’arte contemporanea in Trento in 1998, the Mart Museum in Rovereto dedicates a great solo show to the work of one of the most sensitive, poetics and fascinating artistic figures on the International scene.
The artist’s language confirms once again to be pure poetry, sinking its roots in nature, which is understood in the primordial sense of the term, therefore, source, origin.
It is not necessary to celebrate again his work, because its importance and its force are absolutely clear.
To pass through the space that hosts his work, on the top floor of the Mart Museum, means to immerse yourself in an atmosphere which is full of emotion: the feeling of an ancestral, religious and intimately connected relationship with the natural elements, that have always been the leitmotif of the artistic research and life of Giuseppe Penone.
The space, which has rediscovered ancient forms (which was concealed for long time), now interacts with the works in a refined dialogue with the museum’s architecture.

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In order: Giuseppe Penone, Avvolgere la terra - corteccia, 2014, private collection and Avvolgere la terra - Rising Earth, 2014, private collection; exhibition view, 2016; Corteccia, 1983, private collection; Corteccia, 1986, private collection. Photo @ Mart, photo-archive and mediateca/Carlo Baroni

The exhibition, more than a retrospective, is a specific project that revolves around the sculptural practice by Giuseppe Penone, an artist who transform the gesture in sculpture; it can be the act of picking up a handful of soil, to give shape to the breath, to dig a trunk in order to bring back to light the tree and its branches, to video-recover himself during performances as Soffio di Foglie (1979) or again, to unravel and to smooth the skin of the mountain (Pelle del monte).
Also in this occasion the artist resorts to using materials like the vegetable matter, the marble, the bronze, the air and the terracotta, presenting new works never showed before, like Corteccia, made in 1986. We can not find the wood element, so important in Penone’s practice, which is howerver evoked in the huge Spazio di luce, 2008, staged in the atrium of the Mart Museum.
Giuseppe Penone teaches us to reclaim the ancestral relationship that humans have with nature, because, as he himself says "man is nature"; the artist invites us to rediscover the simplicity of the basic gestures, to listen through the natural processes that surround us, to understand the Earth from which we come from. His work is the lifeblood and his words are the direct message that nature itself has decided to get us.

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Giuseppe Penone, Il vuoto del vaso, 2005, Collezione Privata; Gesti vegetali, 1983-84, private collection and Gesti vegetali, 1983, Courtesy Marian Goodman Gallery. Photo @ Mart, photo-archive and mediateca/Carlo Baroni

“To make a sculpture, the sculto must settle down on the ground, letting himself slip down slowly, softly and little by little. Then, stretched out, he can concentrate his attention and the forces upon his body which, pressed against the earth, allows him to see and feel earthy things; then he can stretch out his arms to delight fully in the coolness of the ground and achieve the degree of calm requie to produce the sculpture. His immobilità at this point becomes the most evident and active condition; every movement, every thought, every desire for movement is superfluous and undesiderable in the state of calm and of slow sinking without tiring convulsions and words and artificial movements which would only succeed in jarring one from the condition happily arrived at. The sculto penetrates...and the line of the horizon comes nearer to him. When, finally, he feels lite rally light-headed, the cold of the earth cuts him in half and enables him to see quite clearly and precisely the point which divides the part of his body which belongs to the emptiness of the sky and the part which belongs to the fullness of the earth. This is when sculpture comes into being.” (Giuseppe Penone)

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In order: Giuseppe Penone, Spine d'acacia - contatto, giugno 2006, 2006 and Soffio di foglie, 1979, private collection; Spazio di luce, 2008, private collection; Corteccia, 1983, private collection; Trappola di luce, 1998, private collection. Photo @ Mart, photo-archive and mediateca/Carlo Baroni

Curated by Gianfranco Maraniello
MART – Museum of modern and contemporary art in Trento and Rovereto
Until 26 June 2016



When you walk into a forest populated by old trees, more high than the ordinary, which preclude the view of the sky with their thick intertwined branches, the stately shadows of the trunks, the quietness of the place, are you not impressed by their presence as if you were whatching at a divinity? (Lucio Anneo Seneca)

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The human relationship with Nature is an approach to the Infinite, to the immensity that horrifies and attracts us at the same time. In the Critique of Judgement, Immanuel Kant explains the relationship with the hostile nature through the concept of the Sublime, which is intended as the feeling that arises in ourselves from something adverse and that the human being, in his finiteness, cannot control but to whom he feels strongly attracted and galvanized at the same time. Since the soul is at one time seduced and repulsed by nature, the pleasure of the Sublime is defined as a “negative pleasure”.

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Nowadays we consider the wood as an uninhabited, barely outlined place. An unexplored space to be afraid of with its vegetation left to an uncontrolled growth. The wood has, in fact, a rich symbolic value: it is generally considered as the place of the non-culture and magic. A mysterious inhabited by witches, fairies and animals of all kinds
There is no fairy tale that does not include a journey into the wood. It is generally a journey that covers every stopover as the expression of the most hidden anguishes that the human being has to overcome.
In this series of photographs we are drawn into the interior of forest places. At first glance they might appear as a reworking, a quote from German Romanticism, particularly the paintings of Caspar David Friedrich, where the pure vision of nature puts in contrast its infinity and the finiteness of the human spectator. Beyond metaphysical matters, the research in Woodland finds its punctum in the problem of estrangement as far as vision is concerned, that gets dispersed in something difficult to understand (becoming impossibility, when related to the photographic medium, of representing and documenting a reality).
The series of images, far beyond purposes of geographical research or being a collection of glimpses of forests in their various differentiations, investigates what exists beyond its representation.
The sequence of photos doesn’t offer shelter to the spectator (who is invited to be observed rather than to observe) but it projects him in a timeless place, in some sort of comparison pushed beyond far recesses. We might feel that we have been invited to enter this world as in an endless journey, and in doing so we should leave behind all our devices for coping with the modern world.

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The forest seems to put a barrier to the understanding of its identity. The paradox consists in the fact that, although every corner in the earth has been minutely recorded thanks to satellite photographs, the primary landscape of modernity keeps hiding its real nature. The photographic recording is asked to bridge this gap, but soon we realize that the effort is implied in the production itself of these gaps that one tries to overcome. In other terms, it might seem to wish a joyful awakening of a primordial unity, and therefore we are conscious of the passage into the emptiness of unawareness.
We are face-to-face to a primordial dialogue where the human being tries to regain the ground noise of the birthplaces of civilisation. Everything ceases precisely where the footsteps on the grass, the paths in the fog, the trees covered with snow, have the omnipresent pitfall of the unknown and the dark as background, in a vision that doesn’t end: a dead view that has become the ghost of an eternal vision.

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For all images: Woodland, 2012-2015, courtesy the artist and Little Birds Gallery

I went to the woods because I wished to live wisely, to face only the essential facts of life and to see if I was able to learn what she had to teach me, and not to learn, at the end of my life, that I have not lived.
(Henry David Thoreau, from: L’attimo fuggente)



To perceive the right nature of the landscape becomes every day more difficult.
But what is therefore the landscape? Perhaps what is in front of our eyes or maybe what we are conventionally used to observe?

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With the project Landscape Painting, Julius von Bismarck physically intervenes within portions of landscape "deleting them" in the true sense of the word.
Natural environments that lend themselves, in a tacit way, to the aesthetical, conceptual and formal experiments of the German artist.
Primarily concerned with the intersection between nature and culture, often with quite strange and beautiful results, that investigate science, phenomenology, art history and mythology are von Bismarck’s fertile terrain. Julius von Bismarck engages the tradition of landscape painting by, quite literally, painting the landscape.

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Landscape Painting shows in fact painted landscapes, a desert scene with cacti and rocks and a jungle scenario. The artist traveled to two locations in Mexico, where he selected an appropriate segment of land and organized a team of local helpers.
He paid these helpers to first paint the landscape white and then to overpaint the landscape again in its original colors with acrylic paint. These painters reconstructed the colors of their local surroundings from memory.
An action at the limit of provocation, that raises ethical reflections (as well as aesthetic considerations) that have been addressed in the past several times, on the occasion of the huge Land Art environmental intervetions.
The process becomes fodder for a poetic documentary-style video and the resulting “painting” the subject of a large-scale digital photograph. This action was repeated in the jungle, in collaboration with Maya painters, and makes up the other half of the video projection.

The landscape, the role of human action on it, the interaction between man and nature are recurring themes in the artistical practice of Julius Von Bismarck. As we can see in other works made in the past, the artist has already analized these arguments, using an approach that call into question ethics, semiotics and cognitive science.
We can remember the film Den Himmel muss man sich wegdenken, 2014, Forest Apparatus, 2013; Kunst (2012-2015) and Punishment (2011-2012).

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All images: Julius Von Bismarck, Landscape Painting, 2015. Courtesy the artist and Alexander Levy Gallery (Berlin)


Beyond the post-military landscape

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HarpurHill Derbyshire, 2012. On the site is a disused quarry, known locally as The Blue Lagoon. During WWII it was used to test explosive ordnance and possible dumping, post-war. The water in the quarry has been analysed by the local council and found to have a ph of 11, due to years of neglect and abuse. The identity of the owner of the site cannot be made public, due to legal reasons; therefore the site remains in a state of limbo.

The Project Cleansweep, by the artist Dara McGrath, takes its name from a Ministry of Defence (MoD) report issued in 2011 identifying sites in the UK where tens of thousands of tonnes of mustard gas, phosgene and other lethal chemicals were, since World War 1, made, processed, stored, burned and dumped in England, Wales and Scotland. To this day such sites remain problematic even when they have been returned to civilian usage.
The MoD released details of Operation Cleansweep in 2011 to provide "reassurance" that residual contamination at UK sites did not pose a risk to human health or the environment. In all 14 sites were identified in this report, and I began my research by interrogating these sites. My research subsequently uncovered a further 56 sites in the UK and beyond where chemical and biological weapons were once manufactured, stored, and tested. These sites are now almost all returned to civilian use, and are now within the landscape as local bathing spots, public parks, pathways, deer sanctuaries, industrial estates and petro-chemical factories.

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In order:
Grangemouth Falkirk, 2012. During WWII the airfield was used in the storage of bulk mustard gas. According to former crew stationed there, secret experiments involving the spraying of mustard gas took place. Today the site is occupied by INEOS. A giant petro-chemical complex that supplies most of the petrol for Ireland and the UK;
Woodside Flintshire, 2014. Located on a back road near the Rhydymwyn Valley Chemical Works. It was used as a spill over storage site to store bulk chemical weapons. The storage at Woodside was in 31 partially buried 55 ton tanks and 1-250 ton tanks. The site also became experimental as it was built as a model for other bases to be built around the country. These Forward Filling Bases would receive and store chemicals and were ready to weaponize it in quick response to any chemical attack on the UK. Today the field is used for the rearing of grouse.

The photographs look beyond the romanticised and nostalgic representations of military activity, and point to why art practice is a valid and productive tool for studying post-military activities and the evolving spaces of the post-military sublime landscape.
Dara McGrath’s aim is to connect with these military spaces by considering their banality within the contemporary landscape. By looking at how these once dark military spaces have been returned to benign civilian use, she try to examine the loaded nature of the landscapes the public generally views as unthreatening and often as bucolic. In her opinion however, these places are loaded with a baleful, tumulus-like appearance, resembling a tumour barely concealed under the surface of the landscape. They are post militarized environments and infrastructure, and a reminder still of what was a sustained military land grab in the 20th century, when over 371,000 hectares of the British landmass was reserved and appropriated for military use.
Their partial sub-surface invisibility and cult-like detachment could undoubtedly be considered parallel to civil society and, in fact, parallel to life itself. Dara McGrath’s approach is to consider these historical events in a way that describes a “current problem facing our present existence” as chemical and biological weapons remain a clear and present danger in the world today.

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In order:
Beaufort Dyke, 2014
Located between in narrow sea channel between Northern Ireland and Scotland. The dyke is the world’s largest marine munitions dump. It is estimated that there are approx 1 million tonnes of munitions dumped there including 14,500 tonnes of phosgene shells
Stornoway Isle Of Lewis, 2013
Located half a mile off-shore on the Isle of Lewis in the Outer Hebridies. Operation Cauldron was a series of biological weapons tests (UK Biological Weapons Program 57) involving the spraying of pneumonic plague bacilli on a series of floating pontoons in September 1952
During the trials 3,492 guinea pigs and 83 monkeys were used in this manner. Humans as well as other animals ended up being exposed in these trials. On the last day of Cauldron, a fishing vessel, the Carella, strayed into the path of a trial using the plague. The trawler was tailed by two naval vessels for 21 days, waiting for any distress call causing concern about a possible plague outbreak around its homeport in northwest England. When none came, almost all records of the incident were burnt. The crew of the Carella were unaware of the incident until approached by a BBC documentary crew more than fifty years later.
*All images, courtesy Dara McGrath

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