Ceramics glazed, 338 ceramic tiles glazed, coloured light bulbs, chenille, cotton, wood and metal stand, slide projector, slide show loop
Installation view at Dimora Artica, Milan, 2019.
The myth of a utopian place where peace and harmony reigns, and in which humanity lives in complete symbiosis with nature and the cosmos, is present in many cultures, religions, mythological systems and beliefs, as well as being developed in the literary field, especially from the nineteenth century, by authors such as Goethe, Thoreau, Nietzsche, Flaubert, Dostoevsky.
Eden, Paradise, Golden Age, Arcadia and Elysian Fields are different names of the same archetype of the collective imagination, usually described as a fantastic place lost due to an apocalyptic event, a tragedy, a natural catastrophe, a divine curse, or a behaviour that attracts dark and diabolical forces.
Richard Heinberg's "Memories and Visions of Paradise, Exploring the Universal Myth of a Lost Golden Age" (1995), explores different myths about the lost paradise from a historical and anthropological point of view, interpreting them as the elaboration of memories of a real place, settled in the collective memory. In these visions there are references to a pastoral dimension in which man is in harmony with the cosmos, an equilibrium that according to John Zerzan (1999, "Against Civilization, Reading and Reflections") gradually cracked with the advent of civilization, a factor so pervasive as to produce states of alienation and inadequacy, which lead to pathologies and neuroses. According to Zerzan and the Anarcho-Primitivist thought, the loss of contact with the primitive, nomadic and savage aspect of contemporary man corresponds to the loss of self-sufficiency and the freedom of man himself originally reached in his profound relationship with nature. Contemporary man becomes dependent and closed in a system of production and consumption where capitalism is so rooted in our existence that it does not allow alternatives but the end of the world. According to Mark Fisher (2009, "Capitalism Realism: Is there no Alternative?") the dystopic cinematographic visions that bring man back to a primordial state after a natural disaster or an event of mass destruction are evidences of the lack of true alternatives: the collective unconscious reveals the inevitability of the system of forces that become part of reality.
Developed around these reflections and on the social and anthropological role that the myths of Arcadia play in the contemporary world, Taixunia aims to describe a place built on the idea of escapism and rediscovery of a world where man finds contact with his own "humanity" linked to the relationship with nature. Giusy Pirrotta re-elaborates forms taken from folklore and popular beliefs, in particular by observing rituals that enhance the approach to the primitive and wild dimension of man, in order to narrate a new story in which to imagine an alternative to contemporary society. The name of this new utopia derives from the Chinese word "taixu", which means great emptiness, supreme emptiness from which everything is born and everything returns, a concept that emerges in various philosophical and religious paths that Zhang Zai (1020 - 1077), neo Chinese philosopher Confucian of the Song dynasty, associated first with Qi, the vital force, contradicting the Buddhist and Daoist definition of Taixu as an absolute void that cannot contain anything within it, but defining it as a catalyst and transformation element if associated with vital life.
Taixunia is therefore a place, a final destination that can be reached only with the help of particular instruments, deciphering an unknown language and performing rituals that will be discovered along the way, defined by the artist during the development of the project. The space of Dimora Artica is transformed by Giusy Pirrotta in the first chapter of this story in which three characters are presented about to leave for Taixunia to rediscover the original essence of existence.
The principal work of the exhibition is a large map representing Taixunia through mountains and waterways, a map painted on more than two hundred white ceramic tiles placed on the floor. In addition to recalling the typical Portuguese decorations called azulejos, the work reinterprets the Shan Shui Chinese pictorial tradition, in which the landscape is represented in an idealised and unrealistic way, combining the colors according to a diagram that expresses the forces and balances of nature and the sensations experimented by the artist in the wild nature.
Sculptures made of glazed ceramic and other materials present the three protagonists of this journey: heads and masks painted in different colors, in continuity with the landscape, with eyes that light up with colored lights. The gaze of the explorers projects the place they desire to the outside, in the form of light, a place that corresponds to their deepest interiority, both origin and destiny.
One of these projections becomes a sequence of images, in the form of slides taken from the collection of engravings "Voyage Pittoresque Ou description des Royaumes De Naples et De Sicilie", an account of the explorations made by the French artist Jean Honorè Fragonrad in the period between the eighteenth century and the nineteenth century, a time of renewed interest in antiquity and in formative Grand Tours among ruins and bucolic landscapes.
The link between the desired paradise and the memory of the original place is suggested by Giusy Pirrotta also in an autobiographical key, choosing among the engravings those that refer to the "Calabrie", a name with which once it was defined the current Calabria, among which appears also her hometown. The affective dimension of memories that form the personal and collective unconscious thus becomes the key to deciphering myths and symbolic images, emerging from the interior life, and forming our vision of the world.