Equorea – 7/12. Virginia Zanetti
04.07.2023 – 28.07.2023
From July 4th to July 28th 2023, BUILDINGBOX presents the artwork δύτης / Tuffatore by the artist Virginia Zanetti (Fiesole, 1981).
In all cultures, water is the source and origin of human life. Not only is it essential to man for its purely practical functions, it is also central to cults and mythologies that connect the sacred to the profane. Not only that, in a symbolic sense, water reveals its dualistic nature by being associated with both life and death. It is this ambivalence, and its ability to ideally unite two irreconcilable worlds, that inspires Virginia Zanetti’s work δύτης /Tuffatore [Diver] – produced on the occasion of the project Equorea (of seas, ice, clouds and other waters) presented inside BUILDINGBOX. The installation is an explicit reference to the fresco on the cover of the Tomb of the Diver, an artefact of funerary art from Magna Graecia, found in a necropolis near Paestum. In this rare example of Greek painting, water represents the symbolic element that connects the earthly world to the world beyond.
Zanetti’s work conceptually evokes the possibility of connecting these two worlds: built in glass and set inside the space, its shape and size is that of a platform for Olympic divers. Because it is made of such a fragile material, it is deprived of its function of momentum – as opposed to the resilient and elastic material that they are normally made from – and taken out of context, the diving board becomes an activator of symbolic meanings, both light and profound, ironic and dramatic at the same time. The title δύτης/Tuffatore [Diver] is engraved in Greek on the diving board (in the Greek pronunciation it is an almost onomatopoeic word, “diùtees” sounds first like the dry impact of the dive and then the long wake of coolness on diving underwater). It evokes a potential human presence, inviting the viewers to imagine themselves standing on the platform before diving, and metaphorically identify with performing an action that could change their destiny. In fact, the diving board conjures up the illusion of flying for a few brief seconds before falling, and that freedom of choice between movement towards the abysses of depth and the heights.
The exhibition is the seventh 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.