Michelangelo Pistoletto is the protagonist of the fifth edition of Intersezioni, the event which has become the contamination space between contemporary art and archaeology.
In the same way as happened in 2009 with Dennis Oppenheim's solo exhibition, this time the project titled Il DNA del Terzo Paradiso (The Third Paradise DNA) will include two expositions: one at the Scolacium Archaeological Site and the other at the MARCA Museum inCatanzaro. Both events are organized by Alberto Fiz, the Artistic Director of the MARCA Museum.
Alberto Fiz declares: "The well-articulated project on Pistoletto is centred on observations about the destiny of mankind and the urgent need for a sweeping change. Pistoletto regards art not just as aesthetics focused on itself, but rather as a chance to engender a responsible social transformation. This is clearly visible both in the classic Arte Povera works and in the installations for the Scolacium Park. The artist-poet does not choose demiurgic symbols any more, but creations which are strictly connected to the community."
The MARCA Museum displays some of the most significant works of Pistoletto's linguistic research. Among these there are the famous Venere degli stracci (Venus of Rags) and the mirror paintings. At the same time, the Scolacium Park, one of the most important archaeological sites in Southern Italy, hosts a large project through which the installations start a renewed dialogue with the territory.
Each work holds in itself its own history and memory in a spatio-temporal continuum which does not admit sudden divisions or fractures. As a matter of fact, DNA del Terzo Paradiso (The Third Paradise DNA) is not only the title of the two exhibitions, but also the work of art installed in the Roman Forum, that is the ancient square in Minervia Scolacium. The large installation in green and red cable tubes, with its extension
of more than 50 metres, seems to be the genetic transcription of the Third Paradise, one of the most renown Pistoletto's symbols, where the natural world coexists with the artificial and technological one creating a new harmony. The Third Paradise is the new symbol for Infinity, the only difference is this one has got three circles. As Pistoletto himself explains: "The central circle represents a pregnant womb produced by
the coupling of the two circles which constituted the old symbol. The Third Paradise is the prolific coupling between the first and the second Paradises." This feature is emphasized by Gianna Nannini's archaic and primordial sing which creates a "vocal sculpture" repeating the word mamma (mom) like a mantra. Pistoletto has worked with this Italian singer-song writer in many projects displayed at the National Centre for Contemporary Arts in Moscow.
The concept of retrieving the presence of memory is also common to the other installations expressly designed for the Scolacium Park like I temp(l)i cambiano - Terzo Paradiso (Times/Temples Change - The Third Paradise), a five metres high work placed inside the notorious Norman basilica of Santa Maria della Roccella, which is the most ancient and impressive monument in the Park. The peculiarity of the temple is that it is in recycled materials: washing machine drums become columns and fridge coils are used as base and tympanum. In the end, thanks to the artist's contribution, waste materials are turned into objects with a contaminated beauty.
The work, born from the co-operation with ECODOM (a consortium for electric appliances recycling), is a temple standing on a unsteady base and represents the precariousness of evolution. It is the product of the passage of time due to a society forced to change its habits, a reality in which recycling is a precious source of income. Alberto Fiz underlines: "In this work, the new temple becomes part of the ancient one and creates an unpredictable symbolic relationship between different forms of stratification." On the tympanum of the temple stands out the symbol of the Third Paradise which represents the regained harmony between consumption and recycling, technology, ethics and aesthetics. As Pistoletto comments "Nowadays the Progress is the conservation of the resources: Recycling is the new Myth."
Among the olive trees is placed Love Difference - Le sponde del Mediterraneo (Love Difference - Mediterranean Shores), another installation designed for this occasion. Its 68 large engraved stones depict the blue Mediterranean basin and the countries overlooking the sea. "The Mediterranean Sea", declares Pistoletto, "is an highly emblematic work like, the starting point for a planetary observation on differences,
the place where to begin to understand how to love the differences. Its meaning is enhanced by this magic and mysterious place where two seas -the Ionian and the Tyrrhenian- blend."
Yet differences are the subject of another installation in the Scolacium Park: Accarezzare gli alberi (Stroking the Trees), which shows four copies of the ancient bronze statue Arringatore. The statue arm stretched forward in the act of touching the trees creates an osmotic relationship with nature. The bronze images of the Etrusco were first displayed in 1976. Their red, yellow, white and black colours are the symbolic representation of the different human races. The observation on classics is the leitmotiv of Intersezioni and the work which broadens the most this reflection is the installation in three pieces especially designed to be placed in the Roman Theatre. On this occasion, the central piece is Il Gigante (The Giant, 1981-83), a 6 metres high and 15 tons weight work produced by the superimposition of different elements which create an elaboration and accumulation of fragments of the sculpture tradition. Next to this work in which the
classic elements are shown through a new and unpredictable imaginary, the artist places two works of the same period: Doppia Figura (Double Figure) and La Caduta (The Fall). In the former, an horizontal image is overwhelmed by a vertical one, while in the latter the figure seems to accept its own decapitation. It is a clear anticipation of the changeovers that would mark the Eighties and led to the fall of the Berlin wall in 1989. The event was described by Pistoletto that same year through a large photographic work.
Scolacium project is enriched by another highly significant artwork: C’è Dio? Sì ci sono! (Does God Exist?
Yes, I do) which recalls the action carried out in 1978: L’arte assume la religione (Art Assumes Religion), where the aim was "extending to people the ability to exercise autonomous thinking."
In the work displayed at the Scolacium Park, the writing is engraved in the Segno Arte (Art Sign), that is an element formed by the interaction of two triangles which ideally inscribe a human body with splayed arms and legs.
Thanks to the synergy between the Scolacium Park and the MARCA Museum, the Segno Arte with its many applications (as door, four-poster bed or sink) is one of the elements on which the Museum exhibition focuses the most. At the MARCA Museum, the transcendent theme as well plays a prominent role with the presence of Luogo di raccoglimento e preghiera (Place of Meditation and Prayer), that is a space divided
into five sections four of which refer to religious symbols (Judaism, Christianity, Hinduism and Islam), while the fifth section is devoted to laity and agnosticism. At the centre of the room is placed Metro cubo d’infinito (Cubic Metre of Infinity), a work created by Pistoletto in 1966 which represents a cube consisting of six mirrors with inward-facing reflecting surfaces. In this way, space is extended endlessly in a multiplied and multi-directional perspective and yet hedged in a cubic metre.
Nevertheless, Infinity can't be ascribed to any religion. It rather makes reference to the transcendent aspect of human creativity and therefore to art. Once more, Pistoletto's oeuvre requires individual responsibility on the basis of what the artist defined as "omni-theism".
The wide involvement of art in the society is a vision conveyed also through Mar Mediterraneo - Love Difference (Mediterranean Sea - Love Difference), a work strictly connected to Love Difference - Le sponde del Mediterraneo (Love Difference - Mediterranean Shores) displayed at Scolacium, as well as through Woollen - La mela reintegrata (Woollen - The Reinstated Apple), which is perfectly consistent with the Terzo Paradiso (Third Paradise). This work of art in steel wool (2007) is the symbol of the reunion of nature and artifice. In the tradition the apple bite represents the separation of mankind from nature, while in this case the two apparently different universes are re-united. The use of wool as creative material is also symbolic. This natural and sustainable element indicates the way animals strip to clothe man with
advantages for both parts.
In the area of the MARCA Museum devoted to ancient art, the visitors will appreciate an interesting contamination with one of Pistoletto's most renown works: Venere degli stracci (Venus of the Rags, 1967- 68). In this creation, a copy of Venus with the Apple (beginning of the 19th Century) by the neoclassic sculptor Bertel Thorvaldsen is placed on its back and faces a pile of rags. This work is especially representative of the Arte Povera path and causes an extremely estranging reaction as it interrelates two forms which are poles apart. Nevertheless, as it happens with Midas, the Venus absorbs the rags and they become part of her nature. We could paradoxically say that the rags are recycled by the Venus according to a mechanism which makes this work perfectly in tune with I temp(l)i cambiano (Times/Temples Change)
placed in Scolacium. As Pistoletto explains: "The recycling goddess comes into the recycling temple".
Naturally, the MARCA Museum could not miss the mirror paintings and a series of recent Autoritratti (Self-portraits) which are the final stage of the observation on the identity developed since 1961. "The artist's self-portrait", adds Pistoletto, "turns into the world's self-portrait. A painting is art, but also space and time."
In the end, we are dealing with an excursus of more than forty years on some of the most fundamental issues of Pistoletto's research through which the artist catches deep changes in society.
The exhibition is completed by an extensive catalogue in Italian and English (published by Electa), which also includes the installations at the Scolacium Park and at the MARCA Museum. Along with the essay of the curator Alberto Fiz, the volume offers the interview to Pistoletto by Chiara Bertola, an intervention by Paolo Naldini on the Cittadellarte Foundation and a presentation of the Scolacium Park and the new
archaeological finds by Maria Grazia Aisa.
Michelangelo Pistoletto was born in Biella in 1933. He starts to exhibit his art in 1955 and in 1960 his first solo exhibition opens at the Galleria Galatea in Turin. The artist's pictorial production of early times is characterized by a research on self-portrait. In the two-year period between 1961 and 1962, he begins the series Quadri specchianti (Mirror Paintings), which include the observer directly in the oeuvre. The works make reference to time real dimension and open a new perspective reversing the Renaissance view enclosed by the 20th Century vanguards. Thanks to these works, Pistoletto achieves soon international acknowledgement and success and in the Sixties he opens solo exhibitions in eminent galleries and museums in Europe and in the Unites States. Quadri specchianti (Mirror Paintings) would become the basis of his future artistic production and theoretical observation..
Between 1965 and 1966, the artist creates a group of works titled Oggetti in meno (Minus Objects), which are considered fundamental for the birth of Arte Povera, the movement inspired by Pistoletto and in which he had a leading role. As from 1967, he exceeds classic exhibition centres and starts actions which represent the early phase of the creative co-operation Pistoletto would develop in the following decades. The collaborations allow the contact between artists coming from different disciplines and increasingly wider sectors of the society. In 1975 -1976 the master carries out Le Stanze (The Rooms), a cycle of twelve consecutive exhibitions at the Galleria Stein in Turin. This would be the first display of a series of complex works completed within the space of a year and titled “continenti di tempo” (Time Continents). To name
but a few: Anno Bianco (White Year, 1989) and Tartaruga Felice (Happy Turtle, 1992). In 1978 he attends an exhibition at the Galleria Persano in Turin where he presents two significant directions of his future artistic research and production: Divisione e moltiplicazione dello specchio (Division and Multiplication of the Mirror) and L’arte assume la religione (Art Assumes Religion). At the beginning of the Eighties, Pistoletto creates sculptures in rigid polyurethane and reproduce them in marble on the occasion of his solo exhibition of 1984 at the Forte di Belvedere in Florence. From 1985 to 1989 at the Galleria Pieroni in Rome, the artist displays a series of "dark" volumes called Arte dello squallore (Art of Squalor). During the Nineties, Pistoletto actively interrelates art with different spheres of the social structure through Progetto Arte (Art Project) and the creation of the foundation Cittadellarte-Fondazione Pistoletto and the Università delle Idee (Ideas University) both
based in Biella. The aim was to inspire and start a sustainable transformation of society. In 2003 he is awarded with the Career Golden Lion at the Venice Biennale. A year later, in 2004, Turin University bestow on him the honoris causa for Political Science. On that occasion, the artist foretells the most recent phase of his research, called Terzo Paradiso (Third Paradise). In 2007, he is awarded in Jerusalem with the Wolf Foundation Prize in Arts for "his constantly creative career as an artist, educator and activist whose untiring brightness gave rise to premonitory forms of art which contribute to a new comprehension of the world". In 2008 Pistoletto and Cittadellarte win the prize Premio Speciale Città di Sasso Marconi for the innovation of languages.
During Fall 2010, a large retrospective of his works is organized at the Contemporary Art Museum in Philadelphia and would subsequently be displayed at the MAXXI Museum in Rome. Pistoletto was recently appointed as artistic director of the second edition of Bourdeaux Urban Art Biennale, Evento2011.