Arts at the Italian Palace

Padiglione Italia Expo Milano 2015

Selected artworks from the Italian Pavilion

Arts at the Palace
The courtyard of Palazzo Italia and the the exhibition were adorned by some remarkable artworks, selected on the basis of their relevance to the themes of Expo 2015 (Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life) and their iconic meaning within the Italian identities' exhibition. 
Impossible Dialogue
Upon entering the courtyard, visitors would come across the bold juxtaposition of two women: Carpo and Jennifer – female figures separated by two thousand years of history. On the one side Carpo, the Classic canon of ideal beauty and perfection; and on the opposite side Jennifer, its contemporary desecration. Carpo is a life-size sculpture crafted from the finest Carrara marble in the first century AD (unkown author), the piece was loaned out to the Italian Pavilion by the Galleria degli Uffizi in Florence. It portrays one of the Horai, female deities associated with the fertility of the soil. According to Greek mythology, these daughters of Zeus and Themis guarded the seasons, protecting and nourishing the fruits of the earth to ensure a plentiful harvest. Near the proud and solemn figure of Carpo visitors could admire the naked body of Jennifer, especially sculpted for the Italian Pavilion by contemporary artist Vanessa Beecroft. Jennifer represents the humiliated body of a woman, confined between marbleblocks, violated and crucified. The impossible dialogue between Carpo and Jennifer represents a daring and intriguing juxtaposition which invites visitors to think over the status of women both in present and past times. 
Hora - Carpo
Hora-Carpo, Carrara marble, first century A.D. (unknown author) with mid 16th century integrations, height 1,51 m. Florence – Galleria degli Uffizi – inv. 1914, n. 136. For more than four centuries the statue of Hora has embellished the eastern corridor of the Uffizi Gallery, standing out, among the army of marbles that decorate the Vasarian complex, for the refinement of its modelling that portrays with surprising realism the impalpable robe worn by the young woman. These “thin garments” were what most struck Giorgio Vasari when, in 1568, he saw the statue displayed in one of the rooms of Palazzo Pitti, interpreting it as a portrayal of Pomona, the Roman goddess of fruits. The grapes, pears, pomegranates and walnuts that almost spill from the folds of the cloak the woman holds in her lap, left no doubt about the character of this fascinating female personage, who must have been linked to the fertility of the earth and the generative force of nature.
Jennifer Statuario
Jennifer Statuario, Vanessa Beecroft, 2015, 4x6x5m. On display will be one sculpture and four marble blocks covered in blue wax. The sculpture derives from a real-life impression of the artist’s sister, which the artist worked on in Sicily in 2007. The sculpture is in double life size scale and in white marble (Sivec and golden Calacatta). Jennifer’s body is installed head down, on a column, tied with cords and wedged between four large blocks of marble. The blocks are placed as they are in the deposit after leaving the quarry, covered in blue wax and not shaped. The figure is executed in the classic figurative style. The original breasts, hands and feet have been replaced by elements in semitransparent veined white onyx, closer to the original model and idea of the artist, an operation similar to that of the collage created shortly before this exhibition. The position of the sculpture (head down), its compression between four blocks of marble and the inserts of white onyx destabilize the idea of classic style and are closer to the concept of “membre fantome” which the artist explores in her photographs of performances and drawings from 1993 to the present. The fragmentation of the body as a synonym of the loss of the individual, in the case of Beecroft, a woman.
Table support (trapezophoros) with two gryphos tearing apart a dear - unknown author,  325-300 BC, marble, 95 cm high, 148 cm long. This fourth-century BC piece on display in the foyer of the Italian Palace's Auditorium was highly appreciated for its symbolic value.The Table Support was returned to Italy by the Carabinieri’s special investigation squad, the Comando Tutela Patrimonio Culturale after being stoled by dealers linked to the illegal excavations carried out at Ascoli Satriano (near Foggia) in the 1970s. The sculpture is hosted in Ascoli Satriano at Museo Civico - Diocesano. 
A dialogue in the dark among the stalls of the Vucciria
The spacious area of the exhibition devoted to a“Dialogue in the dark” invited visitors to envisage the world from a different perspective: that of a visually impaired person. Accompanied by outstanding guides from the Milan Institute for the Blind, visitors would lose their bearings while activating sensory capacities enabling them to perceive the typical stimuli associated with Vucciria - the main market of Palermo - “in an alternative way”. At the end of the itinerary, visitors would regain their sight to discover Renato Guttuso’s striking masterpiece La Vucciria, on loan to the Italian Pavilion from Palermo University
La Vucciria 
La Vucciria - R. Guttuso - 1974 - cm 300 x 300, Oil on canvas, 300 × 300 cm - Palermo, Palazzo Steri. The Vucciria, one of the most ancient and famous of the Palermo markets, always had a strong fascination for Renato Guttuso who passed through it on the way to school and often stopped there to taste the poor but extraordinary “street food”, which in Sicily has amazing tradition and variety. The sound universe of the market, represented by the cries of the sellers, but also by the murmur of the buyers, together with the visual emotions, highlighted by the colour of the goods displayed and the stimulating odours of the meat and fish but also of the street food being continually prepared, vividly struck the imagination of Renato Guttuso: “I remember the Vucciria from when I was a boy and came from Bagheria to study in Palermo. I went down the steps of via Roma into Piazza Caracciolo and came out in piazza San Domenico. This blast of popular culture, the sounds, the lights and voices were enough to put my mind into a different register. Without knowing it, perhaps without wanting it, those wicker baskets full of fruit and great semicircles of fish laid out on the marble tops of the fishmongers stamped themselves on my eyes.” La Vucciria, on loan to the Italian Pavilion from Palermo University is hosted at Palazzo Steri.

Pasticella chî saiddi!
Rrobba bbella!
(Pasta con le sarde! Roba bella!)

Nel primo richiamo non si nomina il prodotto, ma si menziona un’apprezzata pietanza caratterizzata proprio dalla presenza del finocchietto (la “pasta con le sarde”).

Ci vonnu l’agghi pû vicinu!
(Ci vogliono gli agli per il vicino!)

L’abbanniata dell’aglio evoca invece le ben note virtù profilattiche del vegetale, qui volte ironicamente a scongiurare eventuali azioni moleste operate dai vicini di casa.

Venditore di finocchietto selvatico e aglio alla Vucciria
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