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sette stagioni dello spirito: Gian Maria Tosatti

Four years ago I reached Naples from New York with the aim of carrying out research into what lies between the extreme limits of good and evil in man’s soul. That same week, Andrea Viliani also turned up in town, having just been nominated director of the Madre Museum. We met up straight away, and he asked me stage part of my project in the museum. That wasn’t possible for me, given the need to use abandoned buildings around the city, but I told him that I was thinking about opening up my depleted studio to the public once it was all over, in order to show the effort made in that private, I might say intimate space, and one which was the very heart of the project. So I said that perhaps the studio could be brought into the museum. And so it was, in physical terms. In the first room of the exhibition, there is actually the entire floor of the studio, and the diary alongside it, which represents the mental dimension of the studio. And that’s really what the Madre exhibition is: it is not a summary, not the story of a great project which took place in the city involving 25,000 people, but a reverse shot. The final chance to peek behind the scenes, to peer into the control room.

I discovered something extraordinary about Naples, i.e. that the city lives in a kind of perpetual present. It’s a city in which the passages of various civilizations are layered without ever actually following on from one another. Naples has remained a Greek city. Culturally it has never been colonized, not even by the Romans. But the Romans, like the Spanish, the French and the Italians, left everything that they brought there. Nothing has ever been lost. Naples has embraced everything and has never let anything go. This is also reflected in the time dimension. For the first two years, I clearly remember never hearing talk of the current government, but constantly, in the middle of the street, I would hear people debating certain choices of the Anjou, the Aragons or the Bourbons. And it’s no secret that in Naples, it really is enough to turn a corner, to glance down an alley to find oneself unable to say whether one really is in the present or if one has accidentally stumbled into the middle of the 17th century. This was something that had been anticipated to me by Eugenio Viola, the curator of the project, and who lent me several key books on the city. But then I gained first-hand experience of it. I believe Naples is the most extraordinary city in the Western world for an artist. And I believe it’s potential in this sense is boundless. Technically, it’s a new Berlin yet with an incredibly more profound culture, and a place where it’s always springtime. I believe that it will shortly become the heart of a migratory flow of artists on an international level.

There is an absurd pretence of originality on behalf of artists. We’ve been talking about the same things since the age of cave-painting. Thinking that you’re original is a bit stupid and a bit pretentious. Indeed, up until about fifty years ago, artists wrote manifestos to share their research in order to gather together around a set of ideas and compare works. Now everyone thinks they can shine like a lone star without understanding that the only way to grow is by comparison. And so it’s enough for me to be aware of belonging to an ancient tradition made up of great masters – from Michelangelo to Mondrian – who however far away, left their mark on every single gesture that I make. And this is why my show at the Madre starts off with three versions of Joseph Beuys’s “We Are the Revolution.”

 

at Madre

Until 20 March 2017
Gian Maria Tosatti was born in Rome in 1980. He lives and works in New York. The artist undertakes an artistic research beteween architecture and visual arts which inspired all subsequent works resulting in site specific installations.

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