“Against Sun and Dust” at Villa Imperiale, Pesaro
There is a text, dated between 1572 and 1574, in which the literate Ludovico Agostini describes a day in August that he spent at Villa Imperiale, court of the Della Rovere Dukes. During the afternoon and evening, time passed between walks, conversations, music, and poetry.
In addition to providing an original source on the refined life of the Renaissance court, the Writer describes the spaces in a lucid and immersive way, with a style that could be compared to a ‘POV-point of view’ shot that rises slowly, reaching, at times, an aerial prospective: from the path that accesses the Villa to the palace with the cave, the water features and the gardens, up to the wood and the views that open up towards the Adriatic sea and the Apennines; it is a report by an insider who freely wanders and enjoys the spaces.
The project Against Sun and Dust intends to reactivate this Augustinian tour, virtually superimposing the stratifications of the Villa’s historical memory onto the contemporary perceptions of visitors. The title is a free re-interpretation of the incipit of the inscription located on the courtyard wall of the Roveresca wing – built in the 16th century by the artist and set designer Girolamo Genga. This inscription reveals the program of a villa-fortress, commissioned by the Duchess Leonora Gonzaga and dedicated to Duke Francesco Maria Della Rovere as a summer theater of otia en plein air , in compensation for the war, the sleepless nights, sun and dust; “Pro sole, pro pulvere,” in fact.
Artists and authors have been invited to conceive new artworks for the interior and exterior spaces – many of which are accessible to the public for the first time – allowing, through their perspective, the exploration of the lesser-known areas of this enigmatic and modern complex, and triggering reflections that open up to multiple contemporary languages: from visual arts to literature, from architecture to design and music. Along the access path and inside the interior spaces Against Sun and Dust presents new works by the artists Alessandro Di Pietro and Niccolò Gravina, an unpublished project by the architectural and urban planning studio Armature Globale, the installation-library of the publishing project Licit/Illicit Bookshop. At opening, on August 20th, the show included the performance Synapses – with the dancer Sara Catellani and the cellist Pietro Nappi, accompanied by Lucia Ferrati’s voice – conceived and directed by Rosetta Cucchi, director, pianist and artistic director of the Wexford Festival Opera of Ireland. At sunset, in the outdoor areas of the Villa, the tripartite show Electric Campfire took place, curated by Ruggero Pietromarchi – artistic director of the Terraforma festival – with the participation of Il Quadro di Troisi, Byetone and Dasha Rush, artists of the German raster label.The communication of the project is entrusted to the No Text Company studio in collaboration with Edoardo Totaro, whose contribution – in all its forms – strengthens the expressive potential that is inherent in the path. Against Sun and Dust intends to reveal the dense spatial and temporal stratigraphy of the Villa, intersecting the time periods that are less known, if compared to the consolidated Renaissance identity of the complex.
Built in the 1400s under the Sforza family, and enlarged in the 1500s under the Della Rovere family, Villa Imperiale became the property of the Medicis in the 1600s and later of the Albani family, who oversaw its restoration in the 1800s. In the dense wood surrounding the building traces of a World War II bombing recently emerged, and in 2017 a think tank was built, from which it is also possible to watch wild animals.
This architectural complex was conceived through apparent design contradictions by Girolamo Genga, a scenographer and architect who aimed at destabilize his audience. Villa Imperiale was his first and last building. It was never completed due to the sudden death of Francesco Maria della Rovere, and therefore never fully experienced as the original intentions of the Dukes.
The exhibition is accompanied by a publication in the form of a map that includes a bird’s eye view of Villa Imperiale – hand-drawn by the illustrator/tattoo artist Mino Luchena – and the textual contributions by the curators, together with those by Pippo Ciorra, architect and Senior Curator MAXXI Architettura of Rome, and Attilia Fattori Franchini, independent writer and curator based in London and Vienna. Within this context, the participation of the artists and authors through a selection of site-specific works and performances becomes more crucial and significant than ever, crossing the new enigmas and the open potentials that contemporary languages allow to trigger.
Alessandra Castelbarco Albani