2050: the past that designs the future.

“Art is both indicative of an era and a herald of change”: this is how Jacques Attali described the exhibition, held at the Palazzo Reale in Milan in the spring, which saw 46 international artists create 50 works inspired by the French economist’s essay A brief history of the future. Curated by Pierre-Yves Desaive and Jennifer Beauloye, the show was the result of the collaboration between publishers Electa, the Municipality of Milano and Musées Royaux des Beaux-Arts de Belgique of Brussels.

At 2050 the public, led through the 5 waves described in Attali’s book, were able to see different depictions of the future, some more appealing than others, in the form of paintings, sculptures and installations: the starting point is 1980’s Los Angeles, where the invention of the microprocessor is the inspiration behind the works of Chris Burden, Edward Burtynsky et al., leading right through to the Computer Art of Charles Csuri and Masao Kohmura. The period of American dominance is followed by its fall, announced by the images depicting the tragedy of 9/11 (Wolfgang Staehle, Hiroshi Sugimoto), which shakes up the global geopolitical scenario, as represented in the works of Mark Napier, Alighiero Boetti, Mona Hatoum.

Now, the fate of the planet is in the hands of 12 nations, economically more advanced but unable to get to grips with the most critical issues: overconsumption (John Isaacs), overpopulation (Michael Wolf, Yang Yongliang), the over-exploitation of natural resources and pollution (Olga Kisseleva, Wilhelm Mundt). We therefore move on to the phase of the hyperempire (Andy Warhol, Mark Lombard) in which the sovereign power of states gives way to market forces and everything, from time (Gustavo Romano, Roman Opalka) to bionics (Stelarc, Hans Op de Beeck), becomes a commodity to trade.

When the tension generated from these imbalances become unsustainable, we are submerged by the wave that Attali describes as hyperconflict: Al Farrow, Gregory Green and other artists depict a world dominated by war and dictatorships where individual freedom will be just a memory. However, if humanity survives, the advent of hyperdemocracy is a possibility, a “positive society” shaped by altruism that is depicted in the works of Mark Titchner and Gonçalo Mabunda, and in the Little Sun project.

Another Electa exhibition, carried out with various associations, endorsed by UNESCO and curated by Francesco Rutelli and Paolo Matthiae, is Rising from destruction. Ebla, Nimrud, Palmyra, an exceptional 1:1 scale reconstruction of three symbolic monuments of antiquity: the Bull of Nimrud, the ceiling of the Temple of Bel in Palmyra and the State archive room of the Palace of Ebla. Located in the evocative setting of the Coliseum, the goal of the reproduction was to raise public awareness of the iconoclastic barbarity taking place in the Middle East, promoting the safeguarding of culture, expression of the identity of people and humanity itself.

 

D’Avenia explores Leopardi for the youth of today: L’arte di essere fragili

A passionate professor that manages to inspire the young, a reviewer that shakes up Leopardi’s cosmic pessimism, and an interpreter of his works in Italian theatres: Alessandro D’Avenia, author of L’arte di essere fragili (Mondadori), is all this and more. The anxieties of adolescence, graduating from high school and learning to have faith in oneself, through the art of ‘repairing life’: these are the underlying themes of the book, a new rereading of the thoughts of Leopardi which the author uses as the common denominator of the internal growth process.

Perhaps it was his empathetic connection with adolescents and his desire to teach them about life that led D’Avenia to transform his book into a free theatre tour that engages the reader in person.

Directed by Gabriele Vacis with lights and sound by Roberto Tarasco, the author adopts his day-to-day role of a lecturer who revisits Zibaldone, La Ginestra and L’Infinito to praise Leopardi’s courage in acknowledging the most nostalgic and vulnerable side to the human character as only by embracing this weakness can we see the beauty of immensity. The pupils of an open air class, on the stage and sitting in seats, listen, absorb, sometimes interact and are part of the show itself.

D’Avenia brings the reflections of the poet from Recanati into the present day and uses them to answer the questions of the young students; and it is their understanding of the infinite, summarised in a photo, that dominates the 10,000 photos taken during the Instagram competition #lartediessereinfinito.

The three stages of the tour in 2016 – at the Carcano theatre of Milan, at the Biondo in Palermo and at the Coliseum in Turin – sold out almost as soon as the tickets went on sale with over 3,000 spectators in attendance. A successful tour that will continue in 2017, visiting Verona, Bologna, Genoa, Bari, Naples, Reggio Emilia, Rome and other destinations.

To complete his unique communicative paradigm, the author also shot a short film in association with the Cric group and with the support of Mondadori, involving 150 readers in the shooting of the main scene.

 

MyEquilibria: when fitness meets design

Open Borders was the name of the 19th exhibition event presented by Interni at Fuorisalone 2016 and the XXI International Milan Triennale. The numerous installations were hosted by the University of Milan, the Brera Botanical Garden and, for the first time, Torre Velasca, where Audi City Lab is headquartered.

The theme of this edition was crossovers between different disciplines – photography, cinema, architecture, technology, the quest for sustainability – as the solution to urban and socio-environmental problems: a concept encapsulated by MyEquilibria, the futuristic gym with natural and elegant forms conceived by Vito Di Bari, described by the Financial Times as the new European guru of design and innovation.

The team coordinated by the designer created an ideal structure for physical exercise in the metropolis – but one that can also adapt to the most disparate of contexts, from the beach to university campuses – that is located meekly among the greenery of the Brera Botanical Garden. The main body of the work, the Leopard Tree, 7 metres tall and equipped with 9 satellite islands, can host up to 30 people working out at the same time; it is also possible to consult the MyEquilibria app for workout suggestions.

The idea for the initiative stems from the going preference for outdoor fitness combined with bodyweight training, a form of exercise which only uses the individual’s own weight as resistance, no free weights. The Metalco Group used innovative concrete and metal materials when developing MyEquilibria.

Meanwhile, the Court of Honour of the University of Milan hosted, among other things, the Pick Your Climate project devised by Carlo Ratti Associati in partnership with Transsolar, which has the ambitious goal of inverting climate change in cities at zero energy cost using special photonic membranes that reflect solar radiation.

Finally, there was also Untaggable Future, a brainstorming session on 4 “untaggable” issues: People, Cities, Energy and Light. These topics were discussed by a series of special guests including tribal designer Marcelo Burlon, Paola Antonelli, Director of R&D at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, architects Daniel Libeskind and Stefano Boeri, and director Massimo Coppola.

 

Myth and Nature: from the exhibition to the city

For its importance and the additional initiatives it inspired, one of the most prominent exhibitions produced and organised by Electa in 2015 was the Mito e Natura. Dalla Grecia a Pompei (Myth and Nature. From Greece to Pompeii) exhibition. Produced to coincide with Expo 2015 and held at Palazzo Reale in Milan from 31 July 2015 to 10 January 2016, through 180 Greek, Magna Graecian and Roman works of art the exhibition examined an unfamiliar aspect of the Classical world: its representation of nature in its various guises.

The exhibition project was promoted by the Municipality of Milan together with the Universities of Milan and Salerno, the Archaeology Museum of Naples and the special governmental body for Pompeii, Ercolano and Stabia and was included in Expo in Città, the series of cultural initiatives that took place in Milan during the six months of Expo 2015.

The exhibition, curated by Gemma Sena Chiesa and Angela Pontrandolfo and produced by Francesco Venezia, was complemented with other initiatives in order to bring its content to a wider audience.

The content of the exhibition was described online by the Mito e Natura blog, a web communications project entirely developed by archaeology PhD students from Milan University under the guidance of Federica Giacobello: using a genuine online storytelling approach, the exhibited works were discussed following the stages of the exhibition process, from their site to their location in Palazzo Reale, and their history and relevance examined in depth in order to acquaint the general public with them.

Between September and December the University of Milan, in association with the Municipality and Electa, organised a programme of 13 events entitled “Mito e Natura. Il Fuorimostra”, which took a close look at some of the individual works of particular artistic and historical value at the exhibition, and involved reflections and discussions on themes suggested by the exhibition, conferences and science conventions. The meetings, free and open to all, were held in various locations in the city, from the Napoleonic Hall in Palazzo Greppi to the Natural History Museum, the Poldi Pezzoli Museum and the conference hall of Palazzo Reale.

The topic of the opening event of “Mito e Natura. Il Fuorimostra” was another complementary initiative, the Viridarium project by the Orticola di Lombardia Association. This garden created in the rear courtyard of Palazzo Reale by architects Marco Bay and Filippo Pizzoni and inspired by the spectacular House of the Golden Bracelet fresco of Pompeii on display at the exhibition, enchanted visitors with all the atmosphere, colours and fragrances of a 1st century A.D. Roman garden.

 

St-Art: young talent on show

The St-Art event is a cultural project organised by Mondadori Retail in association with Milo Goj’s Art Relation; it was developed with the aim of presenting and promoting emerging artists of under 40 years of age, putting them in contact with a diverse public through live performances and temporary exhibitions.

At the Mondadori Megastore in Piazza Duomo in Milan, on a monthly basis from 8 September 2015 to March 2016, seven up-and-coming artists took turns to appear in a performance during which they completed one of their works – a painting, installation or digital work – in the presence of the public. Every performance was inspired by a specific theme, from music to fashion, reading to travel.

At the end of the performance, at the megastore events space, the artist’s personal exhibition was opened, which lasted for a month; an art expert and the artists themselves presented the exhibitions and interacted with the public, who were able to get better acquainted with their work and purchase it.

The project was endorsed by artist Marco Lodola, active in the field of sculpture for years with pop-style light installations who, for the Mondadori Megastore in Piazza Duomo, created Eden, a neon installation on the front of the store that depicts a luminous dancer, symbol of femininity and the uncontaminated Garden of Eden, holding a red apple whose colour symbolises life and passion.

The following artists participated in the project: Marco Abisso (theme: music), Alban Met Hasani (theme: reading), Stefany Savino (theme: children), Kalina Danailova (theme: Christmas), Jang Sung An (theme: the winter), Lucia Guadalupe Guillen (theme: fashion) and Giovanni Manzoni Piazzalunga (theme: travel).