Equorea – 3/12. Michele Guido
07.03.2023 – 05.04.2023
From March 7th to April 5th, 2023, BUILDINGBOX presents a selection of works from the project living coral garden project by the artist Michele Guido (Aradeo, 1976).
Dioscorides, a Greek botanist of the first century, decided that coral was a plant that turned to stone when touched. It was not until the eighteenth century that the true nature of the red coral belonging to the class of Anthozoa, called “animal flowers”, was discovered. These small, sac-shaped animals live in huge colonies and capture the calcium carbonate present in the water, using it to build a collective, ramified mineral skeleton. The iron oxide in the water is what gives them their color, which goes from oxblood to scarlet to pinkish red. Today, the mass global bleaching of coral is an increasingly widespread phenomenon, and in the past 50 years about 40 percent of red coral has disappeared due to global warming and the high concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere, which alters the pH of the oceans. To preserve their memory, in 2019 the PANTONE company created a “living coral” palette, registering a series of coral hues that we may never see again.
For the project Equorea (of seas, ice, clouds and other waters) presented in BUILDINGBOX, Guido presents a number of macro photographs – taken in 2019 at the Ascione laboratory in Torre del Greco in the province of Naples – that depict colorless pieces of coral, alternated with glass plates and adhesive films of the hue that originally belonged to that species, as registered by PANTONE.
The exhibition is the third appointment of Equorea (of seas, ice, clouds and other waters), a project curated by Giulia Bortoluzzi, which involves, from January 7h, 2023 to January 9th, 2024, twelve Italian contemporary artists invited to explore the topic of water in twelve monthly solo shows, scheduled in a sequence that follows the lunar calendar.
The title references Eugenio Montale’s poem Falsetto (1923), published in the collection Ossi di Seppia (1925). The poem revolves around a girl called Esterina, described as an ocean creature (“equorea creatura”), and frames the sea as a metaphor for life and the wonder of living without worrying about the future: “The power that tempers you is water, in water you find and renew yourself.” Montale’s work picks up on the way we habitually associate water with life, a notion echoed by Mircea Eliade in A History of Religious Ideas (1949), which describes it as the total of all “virtualities”, the matrix for all potential life, the foundation of the whole world. Water is at the origin of all cosmic manifestation, symbolizing the primordial substance from which all forms arise, and to which they return, by regression or cataclysm. Water lies at the beginning and end of every historical or cosmic cycle. It will always exist, and never be alone, because it is germinative, encompassing the virtualities of all forms in its own undivided unity. In cosmogony, mythology, ritual, and iconography, water performs the same function: it precedes all forms and sustains all of creation. A symbol of life, it gives universal becoming a cyclical structure.
Following the cyclical pattern of the astronomical tides (which occur when the Moon, Earth and Sun are in alignment), at each full moon in the year 2023, BUILDINGBOX will play host to the work of twelve Italian contemporary artists, who have been asked to explore the theme of water: Ludovico Bomben (Pordenone, 1982), Jaya Cozzani (Mumbai/Kanchipuram, 1982), Barbara De Ponti (Milano, 1975), Gaspare (Terlizzi, 1983), Michele Guido (Aradeo, 1976), Silvia Mariotti (Fano, 1980), Fabio Marullo (Catania, 1973), Elena Mazzi (Reggio Emilia, 1984), Ignazio Mortellaro (Palermo, 1978), Fabio Roncato (Rimini, 1982), Michele Spanghero (Gorizia, 1979), Virginia Zanetti (Fiesole, 1981).
The works presented in Equorea (of seas, ice, clouds and other waters) are site-specific (some are being exhibited for the first time, others are reworkings of previous pieces) and conceive of water as an emblem of all natural elements, and more generally as a form of life and creative potential. As a topic, water not only intrigues and inspires, but also elicits specific reflections on the future of our planet. Indeed, the life of all organisms on Earth depends on the presence of water and is shaped by its mutations: when it deteriorates, life becomes unsustainable.
There is as yet no proven scientific explanation of the origin of water on our planet. Whether generated by comets or meteorites crashing to earth, or volcanic eruptions in distant millennia, in the collective imagination it is associated with the mythological moment of creation, which contains the potential existence of all forms of life.