Oro (‘Gold’), brings us back in time, into the history of Western culture, to the sources of modern knowledge. What has re-emerged is the complex milieu of the system of esoteric and alchemical thought.
The title of the exhibition expresses the hope for a new era of plenty: just as the alchemists believed in a sequence of four historical ages, the Golden, Silver, Bronze and Iron Ages – that would repeat themselves cyclically – Oro declares the organic cyclicity and an imminent transition from the contemporary Iron Age to a new Golden Age. A profound transformation, symbolized by the figure of a falcon flying inside the library of the Benedictine monastery of San Giovanni in Parma, where the video was shot. If the library is par excellence the place for the transfer of knowledge between generations and for exchange between cultures, the library of San Giovanni combines, in its frescoes, historical, symbolic and sapiential elements drawn from the biblical and classical tradition and from the alchemical and cabbalistic one. Against the backdrop of these contents, in an atmosphere of enigmatic suspense, a falcon is released and allowed to circle, free but also constrained, between the frescoed walls. While the falcon flies, a voice recites Ovid’s story of King Midas in the silbo gomero, an ancient and now almost extinct whistled language used only on the island of La Gomera, in the Canaries. The silbo, regarded as a noble tongue by the alchemists, is a sort of phonetic transliteration inspired by birdsong; i.e., according to legend, the mythical universal language that preceded the construction of the Tower of Babel and the diversification of tongues. It is said that when God told Adam to give the things he had created suitable names, ones that would be able to define their innermost characteristics perfectly, he “spoke” in the language of birds. In other words he used perfect phonetics to condense the whole being of every created thing in a “word”.’ At the end of the story the falcon alights and devours a piece of meat, going back to satisfy its instincts as a bird of prey. The project includes a series of sculptures in bronze, iron and silver, related to the imagery of the falcon: thirty-three hawk feathers cast in bronze and treated with iron, and two pairs of wings, made of bronze and silver. Their location on the floor alludes to the feathers lost during moulting, but the metals utilized refer to the three alchemical Ages of Silver, Bronze and Iron.
In the space of the gallery, on the upper floor, is displayed a series of self-portraits. They are Polaroid pictures taken with a camera capable of capturing a person’s magnetic field.
The project envisages the presence, with a high emotional impact, of a falcon: the proximity with the living and free animal will bring a sense of energy into the rarefied space of the exhibition, but also one of subjection, of disquiet, of great instability.