Neither Nor: The Challenge to the Labyrinth is the title of the exhibition curated by Milovan Farronato and conceived for the Italy Pavilion at the 2019 International Art Exhibition. Opening to the public on 11 May, the exhibition will present new and historic works by the artists Enrico David (Ancona, 1966), Chiara Fumai (Rome, 1978 – Bari, 2017) and Liliana Moro (Milan, 1961). The project employs the metaphor of the labyrinth as a mise-en-scène of the non-linearity of life and the importance of doubt and intuition as fundamental tools of human knowledge.
Milovan Farronato tells us: “Venice is a labyrinth that for centuries has fascinated and inspired the imagination of countless creatives, including Jorge Luis Borges and Italo Calvino, considered the two leading contemporary “labyrinthologists” by the mathematician Pierre Rosenstiehl. Calvino described Venice, the unquestioned cartographic centre of the Renaissance, as a place where geographic maps had to be continually modified because the limits between land and water were constantly changing and where the spaces of the city were dominated by uncertainty and vulnerability. Neither Nor emerges from this unpredictable context: an exhibition of works that dialogue with one another and with the design of the exhibition itself. The result generates continually new itineraries and new interpretations, similar to branching mycelium.”
The subtitle of the exhibition alludes to the Challenge to the Labyrinth, the seminal essay by Italo Calvino from 1962 and inspiration for Neither Nor. Calvino’s text is a cultural work open to all possible languages. It accepts a co-responsibility for the construction of a world that, having lost its traditional points of reference, no longer seeks to be simply represented. To visualise the garbled forms of contemporary reality, Calvino developed the highly effective metaphor of the labyrinth: an apparently unstructured set of lines and movements that, in reality, are based on rigorous rules. By interpreting this line of thinking in artistic terms, Neither Nor – beginning with its disorienting title that employs the rhetorical figure of the anastrophe – actualises an artistic project that “challenges the labyrinth”. It attempts to comprehend Calvino’s lesson by staging a non-linear exhibition, difficult to reduce to a collection of clean and predictable trajectories. Visitors are presented with numerous itineraries and interpretations and the possibility to actively determine their own personal itinerary. The public is asked to confront the results of their choices and contemplate the notions of doubt and indeterminacy as unavoidable steps along the path toward knowledge.
“This project for the Italy Pavilion at the upcoming Art Biennale confirms the importance of Italian creativity within the international art scene – declared Alberto Bonisoli, Minister of Cultural Heritage and Activities. The exhibition unites the novel visions of its curator with the talent of the artists and the quality of their research. Italy is proud of its past and equally capable of interpreting the spirit of the times through experimentation and the promotion of today’s talented contemporary artists”.
“The work of the Directorate-General – affirmed the Director General and Commissioner of the Italy Pavilion Federica Galloni – focuses on valorising and promoting contemporary art and architecture, with an eye on events in Europe. Culture and creativity play a leading role in personal growth and contemporary art helps improve the quality of life for communities of citizens actively working with shared themes and values. This extraordinary work often anticipates revolutionary ideas and trends that are inevitably reflected in society.”
“The commitment to the curation of this year’s edition – the President of the Biennale di Venezia Paolo Baratta emphasised – is already reason for interest: the artists selected are truly worthy of our attention. The idea of the labyrinth, which can lead down many paths and introduce numerous interruptions as we search for a way out, is well matched to the idea of a Biennale that offers visitors a myriad of occasions, open doors and spaces of desire: fascinating and disorienting at the same time, the act of becoming lost takes on an entirely new meaning.”
The calendar of cultural events includes a cycle of talks with the artists Enrico David and Liliana Moro and the philosopher Marco Pasi. The film-maker Anna Franceschini has been commissioned to document the exhibition in the form of an experimental short film entitled Bustrofedico. Produced by In Between Art Film and Gluck50, the film will be presented in Venice at the end of the exhibition.