La stanza dei mutamenti (the room of changes)
While inspecting Palazzo Tiepolo-Passi, and in particular the room where my installation would be exhibited—or rather, the series of small and large-sized installations comprising my project—I quickly realized that I’d have to interact with the existing objects.
I started imaging what I would do if I’d been invited by the former owners of this place to redesign their room’s interior furnishings, especially the decorative pieces.
I was immediately struck with the idea of substitution, i.e. reinterpreting something that already exists with something else to be reinvented. Hence, the idea of redoing things by freely using different kinds of materials, such as glass or other materials.
This gave me the opportunity to carry out a conceptual project on the idea of a physical place and how the same place can change identity, through simple substitutions. In this case, the change is “soft” and unfolds while respecting the choice that, over the years, the former owners had made based on their own sense of taste.
Reinterpreting objects is almost like bringing about a sort of rebirth, giving a second life to something with an apparently similar identity but in reality profoundly different.
In fact, the history of art as a whole has developed over the centuries based on reinterpreting the past, and, through visual movements--sometimes even radical ones--taken on new forms. But these are always intimately linked to what came before, even when the previous form was questioned or renounced.
Reaction to the past determines new forms in the present.
The room that was assigned to me is normally used as a living room. I transformed it into a dining room. I substituted the sofas with a crystal-glass and stainless steel table measuring 4m x 1m, located at the center of this space (see photo).
Around the walls of this room, there are a couple of small tables, a secretary and a sideboard.
Each of these elements houses some objects: ceramic vases, bottles, bowls, and a few bell jars. I took some pictures in order to document each of these pieces with the related objects. The smaller pictures in black and white—a reminder of the original objects—are part of the installation and hang on the walls above, just beside the new installations.
SMALL TABLE 1:
I substituted two Chinese vases and decorative branches with hollow, crystal-white blown-glass vases and transparent glass branches, interconnected by a red neon lamp, as if these different elements contributed to their mutual rebirth.
SIDEBOARD - containing several small, porcelain sculptures:
Once the secretary entirely removed, it was replaced by a sculpture made of milk glass, the title of which is “Portrait of a past memory on golden rectangle”, recalling an idea of time and light in ideal proportions. The face of the sculpture is tilted to one side, like someone caught in a meditative stupor before going to sleep or experiencing an illumination.
SMALL TABLE 2:
I substituted several engraved crystal bottles with bottles made of milk glass with black caps, placed on a horizontal “thin layer of sphere” made of solid, black glass, whose shiny surface reflects these objects like a mirror.
Transparency initially broken by the arabesque-like engravings is now filled with the forcefulness of satin white, highlighting the absoluteness of form.
I substituted the clock and bell jar containing it with Mao’s Little Red Book protected by another bell jar, larger than the first.
Here, the clock representing the passing of time is replaced by the work entitled “All that remains”. Mao’s Little Red Book under the bell jar is nothing more than the frozen memory of time past. To the side, there are two glass bowls containing coarse salt, a way of preserving that which remains.
SMALL TABLE 3:
Two small bowls containing painted eggs were removed and substituted with a bowl made of blue glass brimming with distilled water, resting on a flat, gilded, oval-shaped form, with beveled profile and sharpened edges, and a white egg looming overhead. The egg—a symbol of life in many cultures—is the sign of resurrection for Christianity. Gold is synonymous with light—divine light—in the world of art. Blue is the color of water and spirituality, deemed responsible for initiating life.
This lamp was replaced by an installation called “Illuminating staircase”.
The staircase is a symbol par excellence that represents the connection between the earth and the heavens, the living and the dead, communication between life on this earth and the divine. It’s all about accessing the heavens.
Whether for a layman or a religious person, the staircase represents the passage from one state of awareness to another, the connection with a superior being. It symbolizes the growing process of Man, the progressive ascent towards self-awareness. Steps along the way act as the intermediate levels for reaching a higher truth. My staircase makes fun of itself, for what it actually represents is a staircase that “enlightens” and, at the same time, reaffirms its own powerful, evocative value.
The sofas were replaced by a sculpture-table whose title is “Subtractive addition” located at the center of the room.
The table symbolically reunites several aspects of living according to reassuring and propitiating rituals. During the Roman times, parallels were often drawn to affirm the connection between the micro and macro cosmos (see the Cena Trimalchionis of Petronius). Yet it is also a “place” that reminds us of somewhere else, perhaps less evident values, though fraught with subtle meanings. My table is a potential battlefield, where opposing or conflicting positions are pitted against each other, heralding the negotiations of many an armistice never defined. This table reiterates bilateral values that do not constitute an answer to the truth but rather raise issues that question the very boundaries of the imaginary, a red line that, at the same time, divides and unites, as with past and present Diasporas. This is a metaphor for dialogue, announced but never really achieved. A deserted plan—sad, discouraging and barren—with nothing to serve. It is also a portrayal of things, as if on stage, where anything can happen and everything is reduced to nothing.