A fiery love is on show at PostmastersROMA. At times poignant, always cryptic but, at the same time, straightforward, it is a kind of love that – always on the edge – is on the verge of plunging into destruction (and self-destruction). A love tinged with magenta, a colour that does not exist in nature’s colour spectrum, but is the most distinctly human, artificial and anti-natural colour, similar to the colour of a fuchsia. A cosmic love, staged by Federica Di Carlo, in the exhibition Volevo il Sole (I Wanted the Sun), is an immersive, synaesthetic space – theatrical by nature – between the Earth and the Sun; or, perhaps, it would be better to say between mankind and the essential far-away star that gives Earth life.
Always balanced between art and science (and what is astronomy if not one of the best fusions between these two existential cornerstones), the artist – winner of the tenth edition of the Italian Council – followed the ITER experiment in the field for 18 months, the futuristic nuclear fusion project aimed at ‘recreating’ an artificial Sun on Earth. Di Carlo was the only artist who was allowed to enter the reactor in this incredible experiment, hence the profound meaning of this exhibition.
An exhibition strongly founded, it would seem, on complex and obscure mathematical-physical concepts, experiments far removed from everyday life, elements that we are often accustomed to perceiving through their bewildering and weird effects, widening our eyes in amazement and keeping us with open mouths trying to imagine – but failing – concepts so specific that they are difficult to grasp with our minds. This represents all that is not in the exhibition, all that exists in the exhibition but is not seen, leaving room for the perception of something much more important and definitely more related to our existence, something that has to do with human nature in relation to Nature itself. The perception of oneself in relation to the world (and the universe). The relationship between Earth and Sun in a romantic, and therefore human, interpretation. This humanity prefers being to knowing, without lapsing into trivial and easy classic postmodernism to remain, on the contrary, anchored to the reality of facts and the irredeemability of thought.
Di Carlo’s exhibition is developed in three acts and, essentially, in four overlapping elements, embracing four out of our five senses. The first is a dialogue, in three acts, between mankind and the sun with phrases from the small libretto we find written on the gallery walls. These create a cross-reference with all the other elements in the exhibition but, above all, with the photographs. These are chromatically distorted by the magenta light that floods them, the interiors of the ITER project reactor and details of various statues of Urania and Apollo, found in a number of European museums, holding a celestial body in their hands, in a perceptual relationship with Warburgian memory.
We find the sphere in the hands of the deities, so perfect and full of philosophical implications that go beyond Greco-Roman mythology, in the two sculptures that relate to each other at the far end of the gallery, remaining totally unchanged. What changes, in fact, is mainly the hands: on one, the sphere has disappeared and the hand, as if burnt and melted, is open and weightless – the hand of the scientist who, unlike those of the gods, comes to terms with his humanity; on the other, the hand, appearing almost angry and vulgar, grips the sphere – the hand of contemporary man who with his earthly power ‘wants the Sun’.
Finally, at the end of the exhibition, which coincides with its beginning, we find the last act of this plot which, when we pass through it the first time upon entering the exhibition, fascinated and intrigued us. Passing through it again at the end acquires strength and drama, proving to be a sort of total synthesis of everything we have outlined above and to inherently possess a profound meaning that has not been fully clarified. An ancient globe slowly spinning, hanging from the ceiling, the sonic hybrid of some verses of the song Il Mondo (The World) by Jimmy Fontana echoing throughout the exhibition hall, together with the melody Magnetic Field Sun, the sound recorded by the European Space Agency (ESA), produced by the meeting of the Earth’s sound waves and those of the Sun; the sonic hybrid of the loving relationship between Earth and Sun which merges culture and technology into an integrated whole. There are rods at the end on which holy wooden sticks can be lit, with just one caveat, that of acquiring and retaining the same rotation as the sphere/world.
A multifaceted and complex work-space, therefore, characterised by blind spots and contingent relations which, as Giuliana Benassi writes when speaking about the globe, as has been mentioned, encapsulates the meaning of the entire exhibition: “Once again, the relationship between the Sun and the Earth is consummated in an encounter, a clash, an inescapable relationship where each of us can project ourselves, in that precarious balance of giving and receiving, holding on to the question: “Why do you always want more than what you already have?”.
Federica Di Carlo. Volevo il Sole / I Wanted the Sun, PostmastersROMA, Roma, 13.01 – 03.03.2023
The exhibition is accompanied by Giuliana Benassi‘s critical essay that you can read here
images: (Cover 1):Federica Di Carlo, «Volevo il Sole», PostmastersRoma, installation view, 2023, ph: Giuliano Del Gatto (2) Federica Di Carlo, «Volevo il Sole», PostmastersRoma, installation view, 2023, ph: Giuliano Del Gatto (3) Federica di Carlo, «Volevo il Sole», 2022 chalk, magenta pigment, ph: Giuliano Del Gatto (4) Federica Di Carlo, «Volevo il Sole #2», 2022 (5) Federica Di Carlo, «Volevo il Sole Jan», 2023, ph: Giuliano Del Gatto (6) Federica Di Carlo, «Volevo il Sole», PostmastersRoma, installation view, 2023, ph: Giuliano Del Gatto (7) Federica di Carlo, «Bruciare», Sculpture in charcoal and synthetic plaster, (scientist’s hand), 2022, ph: Giuliano Del Gatto