CHRISTOS GIANNOPOULOS - ALFREDO “AMARS” GRELLI - MAR.GU - MARY M.
FULVIO MARTINI - ABRAMO “TEPES” MONTINI - LEONARDO PRENCIPE
MAYA QUATTROPANI - STEFANO SANSONI - DAVID THEOBALD
Vista panoramica della mostra
“When we speak of Nature it is wrong to forget that we are ourselves a part of Nature.” - Henri Matisse
OIKOS ecointegralist art exhibition
After a transient moment of good hope, we live an epoch of prevailing huge economical upsets that determine heavy social unfairness, anguish and injustices in all the world. So more and more war conflicts are on the raise, justified with hypocritical and fabricated reasons, which only purpose is the ravaging of the resources, mainly of the lands that were the cradle of civilisation. Many populations come under unspeakable sufferings and massacres, finding salvation only in the getaway.
In such a context of humanitarian emergency, speaking of ecology may seem of secondary importance, but it is the very altered equilibrium between human being and environment where we find the cause of all: to one side, powerful and wealthy elites sustain a system of luxurious abuse of resources where squander reach unprecedented peaks and volumes, which is followed as a model by a middle class that, just to be no less, becomes always more poor or gets into debts; to the other side, always more numerous down-and-out masses find themselves to survive with, among and of the waste for need, suffering the obvious consequences. Thus there are who is living near to the nuclear plant where he works and who travels into the urban chaos breathing smog for work; there is who believe to be lucky to live near an airport or a cell phone repeater; there is who eats junk food, who buys near to expiry date groceries at a loss, who goes to soup kitchens, who waits for the humanitarian aids thrown with the parachute, who lives in the garbage dumps sorting waste to survive. At last, there is who blame misfortune when becomes ill physically or spiritually, and then he allows to be recycled like scrap by the same system that made them sick, producing more profits.
We have been teach that living into the dirt causes illnesses, but in the name of profit the human beings seem to have forgotten this principle; or well, to not incur into penalties they have learnt how to hide and dissimulate their own waste, making them always more invisible, odourless, intangible and devious, up to transforming them in ultra thin nano-dusts; otherwise making them alluring, even pleasant.
The production of a residue is always inherently an anti-economic and anti-ecological act.
In every field always more new artificial substances are invented, as much valuable as polluting: solid, gaseous, biological, nuclear or electromagnetic. The contamination is so much ubiquitous, pervading and creeping that it does spare no one.
From a naturalistic point of view, the technological discoveries usually considered products most of the times are not so much different from garbage: both pollute for their artificial nature.
Even many of the materials and processes with which artworks are made cause pollution, therefore also all this exhibition, but we can accept the extenuation that everybody is son of his epoch and to speak of change it is necessary to start from where we find ourselves, using what we have and in a way that can be understood by contemporaneity; moreover it is useful to display the body of evidence as much as the weapon used to commit the crime.
In that sense Video Art, although it depends too on not so eco-friendly technologies, it could be considered an ecological evolution of classic visual arts, because it dematerializes the artwork reducing it just to its most important essence, that is the message that it transmits by means of its virtual image, its incorporeal ghost, thus relieving the environment from the weight of new material products / garbage.
In the sphere of environmentalism, I consider that more than the lack of information, it is more detrimental the misinformation, which is extremely sought by the corporations interested just in the profits generated by their huge businesses that they have tagged with an ecology false label. Sometimes also the artists are unknowingly part of that game, trusting the slogans that are passed off like mantras by mass media, hence I wanted to impress to the exhibition my personal opinion, carefully selecting the artworks in order to skim anything I consider an result of scams aimed to economical rather than ecological interests. A glaring example is the waste recycling: instead of limiting the upstream production of waste, to one side they force recycling and to the other side they incite a mass distribution based on the prepackaged of retail products (e.g.: few ham slices are often on sale along with an equivalent mass of plastic) and on planned obsolescence (products / waste are not designed to last long). Therefore I have omitted one of the newest paragraphs of contemporary artistic expressions: Recycle Art with just an end in itself. Also the theory of the supposed global warming caused by CO2, already inconsistent and vague in light of ampler independent studies, after the biased data scandal it had to change its name, becoming a more chancy climate change.
With the term ecointegralist I wanted to define a “fundamentalist” attitude strongly respectful of nature’s equilibriums. It is a hope for a change of mind on human lifestyles according to some of the precepts of ecosophy (philosophic ecology) related to the interaction between ourselves and the ecosystem, through a rapprochement with natural rhythms, circadian and seasonal cycles, a care for the fundamental principles of our existence, of out role and presence on the planet, that is the survival through our adaptation to environment and not vice versa.
Òikos, οἶκος: Greek «house, residence, family»
There is a certain culture portraying the environmentalist and ecological feeling as expression of a fanaticism; it is sarcastically nicknamed “ecotism”, with obvious assonance to egotism. They are partially right: ecology and respect for the environment really are egotism forms, or interest for one’s own safety: eco, from Greek òikos, means house, and our house is that sphere of finite extent called Earth. The one who make a mess of his own house is artless to say the least.
More and more people already have a high consciousness of the damages inflicted to the environment, and in their soul they passionately wish for a society respecting nature, but it seems that is not enough, in effect we assist to an always more frequent and insidious destruction and contamination of every aspect of the environment surrounding us. It is obvious that decisions are not made by citizenry. Technology advances at exponential pace, creating every day new side effects to which most of the people are not prepared or are not even aware: nano-particles, biotechnologies, etcetera. For the sake of immediate earnings, no one cares for the effect on the environment in the long term, and by now not even in the short term; in the best case, the expedients to contrast the health issues need decades to be assimilated by mass communications, so they become obsolete before they could ever be effective. To defend oneself, it is necessary to be well-informed and to understand the changes, and above all to catch the principle.
The artists can humbly offer to society their avant-garde perspicacity rising from their natural sensitivity and from the necessary observation skill, which sometimes eccentric and multifaceted spirit may lead to a wider vision of reality.
For that sake I have called artists having different languages, renowned or emerging, but all joined by a previous and disinterested personal engagement on environmental thematics, and that through their artworks have expressed themselves favouring the public denunciation of this set of problems.
Willing to win the resilience due to apathy and carelessness that prevent the action finalised to problem solving, this exhibition wants to sensitise everybody, favouring them to become conscious of realities too often omitted, concealed or marginalised into an elsewhere, and affirming that to preserve the environment where we live it is necessary also the resolute dissent combined to the free adoption of attitudes by the side of single individuals, and above all a change in the ethic of those who contribute to move those very socioeconomic gears that set the lifestyles of community.
We have the proofs that the sentiment of admiration and respect, even of anxious veneration for the splendour of natural environment has always been present in human culture since its dawning; that is revealed by the cave art of primitive people depicting an adventurous existence in which man was just a supporting actor in the ecosystem proscenium. It goes along mankind since millions years, enduring many anthropocentric declines, but always reviving in humanistic historic periods and through harmonious expressions: from Ancient Greece’s philosophy to the great landscape painters of the new American continent, from the phytotherapy of the Scuola Salernitana to the studies of Renaissance, from the lavishly decked tables painted by Flemish to the naturist movement. However in the last 150 years, the studying of nature has generated also the industrial revolution, which result has been a sudden and unprecedented squandering of resources; in the last 50 years a new ecologist wave rose necessarily, the principle is always the same, the damage is the one already lamented by ancient Greeks, the solution is identical; anyway everything is as much amplified exponentially as spread in a fractal way.
Environmentalism updates itself to the contemporary needs and to the new manifestations of the anthropic ravaging, thus expressing through new artistic and conceptual movements.
Actually the expression of many environmental artists is into a more propositional phase, suggesting solutions and lifestyles rather than denouncing the mess. That is perhaps still premature: many artists have the capability to see ahead, beyond their own epoch, turning out to be sometimes not clear enough because too much far-sighted; instead society is much more pragmatic, since people are normally inclined to live confronting with the problems of the moment, rather than pursue futuristic attitudes or to disperse between different utopian hypotheses.
Thus I have considered more essential to continue the reporting of real facts with an exhibition to denounce once again the large and small disasters inflicted to the environment by human lifestyles, so shameful to be withhold, so common to be by now omitted and understood, as if all was normal.
But we must keep in mind that environmental art is a quite ambiguous conceptual ensemble, particularly in one of its most important forms, Land Art, since it includes essentially two positions even antithetical: the ones who use the planet as a medium, changing it to their liking, and the ones who instead denounce this abuse. The modification of the planet is the entrance toward the concept of geoengineering, a neologism indicating that megalomaniac intent aimed to the alteration of Earth and its atmosphere, forcing them to follow anthropic needs or caprices. That will is iconically expressed by the gigantic artwork “Spiral Jetty” conceived in 1970 by Robert Smithson (1) that required the transfer of huge amounts of seashore land just for the sake of aesthetics. Other exemplar alterations of nature are the artworks and performances by Antti Laitinen recently exhibited at the 55th Biennial of Venice; as in the series “Forest Square” (2) featuring the manipulation of forest portions, which trees are reduced to small debris, subsequently evaluated, sorted by typology and then arranged within rectangles subdivided a la Mondrian. Another land artist is Christo, often criticised by environmentalists for his gigantic interventions on nature, that he covers with miles of coloured textiles, because they are disrespectful and endanger underlying flora and fauna. In his “wrappings” I personally see also the concept of shroud, the cloth used to wrap the corpses. In most cases environmental art of the manipulative kind has the characteristics of Pop Art: it deals more with aesthetics and frivolity than concept and engagement.
On the contrary, art in defence of environment is necessarily alarmist, sometimes permeated by a brutal atmosphere of seriousness and pain that may be confused with pessimism, thus turning out irksome, while no behaviour is more pessimist than unwillingness to see the problems. The large sized installation “Construction Materials of the Spanish Pavilion” by Lara Almarcegui (3) gives a good picture of the brutality that can be reached by environmental art exposés, simply bringing to the eyes of the public some enormous and raw piles of debris coming from the demolition of industrial factories ruining the Venetian Lagoon. Then, in the trunks of the artwork “Kreupelhout” by Berlinde De Bruyckere (4), dedicated to the paintings of Saint Sebastian, we can see a sense of pain expressed by bandages and ligatures that make it to resemble a tortured human body. But there are also artists speaking of the relation with environment that use a more serene and sarcastic language, like Wim Delvoye, notorious firstly for the installation “Cloaca”, a terrible industrial machinery reproducing the working principles of the human digestive system that turns the inserted aliments into intestinal waste, who has conceived the series “Deft Cabinet”, representing showcases with blades for brush cutters made of Delftware; or Piero Gilardi with his Tappeto Natura “Dopo l’incendio”. Joseph Beuys (5), one of the most fundamental environmentalist artists, instead gives to his artworks a tone in balance between denunciation and attitude, with a sense of unbiased austerity but also of solemn serenity. The installation “La scorta” by Gianfranco Baruchello (6) can be interpreted as absolutely propositional and as a denunciation of the squandering, he simply combines two antagonist symbols: the bicycle as an ecology respecting symbol and the system power represented by the big deployment of forces defending it, to which we have unfortunately become accustomed. This artwork is also metaphorically symbolising the split between personal interests and longings juxtaposed to the interests for environment and society, of which we should feel to be part.
Let’s overcome the addiction, wake up, open the eyes, it is not all normal, indifference is a gamble.
Let’s lift the heavy curtain lowered to conceal wrongdoings and responsibilities.
(2) Antti Laitinen, “Forest Square III”, 2013 Photograph, c-print, Diasec®, 180 × 180 cm
(3) Lara Almarcegui, “Construction Materials of the Spanish Pavilion” (partial view), 2013 Large sculpture installation Concrete, bricks, wood, iron and glass
(4) Berlinde De Bruyckere, “Kreupelhout” (Cripplewood), 2012-2013 Large sculpture installation Wax, epoxy, iron, paint, wood, fabric, rope, gypsum, roofing
(5) Joseph Beuys, “Schlitten” (Sled), 1969 Wooden sled, felt, fabric straps, flashlight, fat, oil paint, string, ~ 35 × 90 × 35 cm Alfred and Marie Greisinger Collection Walker Art Center, T. B. Walker Acquisition Fund, 1992 Source:
(6) Gianfranco Baruchello, “La Scorta (Ecologia e potere)” (Security Guards - Ecology and power), 2012 Installation Seven bicycles with warning lights Photograph by Federico Pedrotti - Museion - Bozen/Bolzano Source:
Video artworks wall projection
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Catalogue OIKOS - Ecointegralist Art exhibition, Italian | English, 84 pages A4 (21 × 29.7 cm) in colours
OIKOS happens in the Genoese district of Cornigliano, characterised until recent times by a heavy indutrial contamination, now in slight improvement. Let's remember also the disaster of the Haven oil tanker, that sunk not far from this shore 23 years ago but which crude oil is still laying on the sea bottom compromising health. Not least, still open are the wounds caused to Genoa by the floods of 2011 and October 2014 that caused victims and economic disasters among citizens, because of the construction over development, shortsightedness, negligence and speculation with no care for the environment.
The exhibition is held in the sixteenth-century mansion Villa Spinola Narisano, hosted by Centro Civico Cornigliano sited at the 1st floor in Viale Narisano 14 - Genoa, Italy.
How to arrive: by plane: airoport Cristoforo Colombo of Genoa, proceed 1.5 km toward SS1 / Centro / Via Cornigliano by train: Genova Cornigliano FS stop, proceed to the right on Via Cornigliano by car: Autostrada dei Fiori A10 Savona - Ventimiglia, Genova Aeroporto exit by bus: Cornigliano 2/Rizzolio or 3/Pellizzari stops