DOMENICA

PABLO CHIEREGHIN, ALDO GIANNOTTI and MASSIMO VITALI

curated by Marcello Farabegoli

This is the third major site-specific show curated and produced by Marcello Farabegoli Projects on behalf of the Italian ambassador Giorgio Marrapodi for an exhibition cycle devoted to contemporary art at Palais Metternich, Vienna.
From 28 April to 30 June 2017.

Marcello Farabegoli, Massimo Vitali, Gianmaria Gava  · DOMENICA
Gallery of Palais Metternich, 32 drawings by Aldo Giannotti, Photo G. Gava

This is the third major site-specific show for an exhibition cycle devoted to
contemporary art that I have curated and produced on behalf of the Italian
ambassador Giorgio Marrapodi at Palais Metternich. This time I decided to
concentrate less on the history, architecture, or aesthetics of the palace and
rather on the embassy’s function of representing Italy in Austria. The special
focus is on Sunday, la domenica in Italy, as a day which is (still) a work-free
holiday in both countries, with all its rituals and distinct rhythm of life.

Marcello Farabegoli, Massimo Vitali, Gianmaria Gava  · DOMENICA
"Pitch Invasion" by Aldo Giannotti and Pablo Chiereghin, 2017, Ballroom of Palais Metternich

Going to the seaside and sunbathing on the beach continue to be among
the fixed rituals for Italians and are part of the typical image of ‘bella Italia’.
Massimo Vitali, born in Como in 1944, has been a globally celebrated
photo artist since the 1990s. A number of large-format Italian views from his
famous Beach Series are now on display at Palais Metternich. Due to their
ethereal or even surreal exquisiteness, Due Sorelle Motor Boat (2013) and
Bassa Trinità Blue Ball (2013) fit in very well with the elegant atmosphere of
the Garland Salon. On the other hand, Rosignano Night (1995), packed with
a crowd of people, and the somewhat unwieldy Livorno Calafuria (2002)
have been installed in the Battle Salon, named after a monumental painting
attributed to Nicola Mario Rossi that shows Vienna’s liberation from the Turks
in 1683.
Due Sorelle refers to the two large white cliffs rising up from the coast of
the Marche region, whose turquoise sea in the photograph is reflected
beautifully in one of the Garland Salon’s mirrored couch tables. A decorative ashtray in the form of a scallop placed on the small table magically merges with Vitali’s sparkling waters. A large painting by Luca Giordano installed in
its immediate vicinity depicts a scene from Torquato Tasso’s epic poem
‘Jerusalem Delivered’, which takes place on Armida’s magic island: the
amorous Rinaldo reclines dreamily in the arms of the witch while holding
up a mirror to her face. The scene in Vitali’s photograph gives an equally
enchanted and dreamy impression. The composition is so perfect that one
might suspect it has been orchestrated. Taking a closer look, one seems to
be able to feel the luxurious relaxation of the people dozing off in boats
softly rocked by the waves of the sea. A soft breeze likely makes the heat
more bearable, with the crystal-clear water inviting bathers to take a refreshing
swim. Spiaggia di Bassa Trinità is the name of a beach on La Maddalena,
a small island north-east of Sardinia. The photograph conveys most of all
a mood of merrymaking, which Vitali seems to symbolise in a small blue
beach ball. Whether this boisterous atmosphere spills over to the adjacent
painting from Luca Giordano’s workshop showing Ariadne left behind by
Theseus on the island of Naxos remains unresolved.
Rosignano Night, on the other hand, indeed seems to be a scenic continuation
of the above-mentioned large-format painting in the Battle Salon.
Having emerged victorious from their battle, the boyars of the Polish king
Jan Sobieski, mingling with the imperial troops, seem to have entered
Vitali’s magnificent photograph in order to throw a wild party. In fact, they
are present-day youngsters celebrating their ‘victory’ over the working week
near Livorno. In the distance, however, one can see the testimonials of a real
and cruel victory: industrialisation’s triumph over nature. The radiant
campaniles do not represent the cooling towers of a nuclear power plant
– Italy is fortunately a non-nuclear country – but instead those of the
Rosignano Solvay soda factory, which, until a few years ago, discharged
hundreds of tons of mercury into the sea, thus producing the famous, albeit
toxic Spiagge Bianche [white beaches] of Vada. Yet the young people seem
to be entirely unimpressed by this backdrop, which due to the device of
overexposure resembles Dante Alighieri’s Inferno, nor are they irritated
by the bleached sand, which was still highly contaminated at the time the
photograph was shot. The scene is also vaguely reminiscent of the crowded
compositions of Hieronymus Bosch, although the activities in which the
youngsters are engaged appear to be entirely harmless: they take walks,
talk, dance, drink, and kiss … Only a strong, seemingly alien light in the
foreground – assumedly produced by Vitali – forces its course through the
crowd unperturbedly, seeking to elucidate the secret of the colourful scene.
In the embassy’s entrance lobby, Vitali’s works San Vito lo Capo (2010) and
Torre Fiat (2007) are also on view.
When looked at superficially, Vitali’s photographs might pass as snapshots that anyone could have taken. However, the specific choice of the vantage
point on a three-metre-tall platform in the far distance, the great wealth
of details, and a more or less strong overexposure endow Vitali’s beaches
with a special melange of sober documentation and empathy. Oscillating
between landscape and portraiture, his photographs capture both the
existence of the individual and the vibrant life of crowds. As beautiful as
Vitali’s beaches may appear at first sight, they are just as much subtly critical
descriptions of the human condition in general and of the commercialisation
of leisure in particular.that anyone could have taken. However, the specific choice of the vantage
point on a three-metre-tall platform in the far distance, the great wealth
of details, and a more or less strong overexposure endow Vitali’s beaches
with a special melange of sober documentation and empathy. Oscillating
between landscape and portraiture, his photographs capture both the
existence of the individual and the vibrant life of crowds. As beautiful as
Vitali’s beaches may appear at first sight, they are just as much subtly critical
descriptions of the human condition in general and of the commercialisation
of leisure in particular.

Marcello Farabegoli, Massimo Vitali, Gianmaria Gava  · DOMENICA
Aldo Giannotti

In order to elaborate on this critical aspect, I invited Pablo Chiereghin and
Aldo Giannotti, two young Italian artists who have been living in Vienna for
a considerable length of time, to create site-specific works for the show
and with their conceptual approach amplify the exhibition theme. The title
Domenica and the project as a whole have crystallised from a collaborative
effort between myself and the two artists.

Marcello Farabegoli, Massimo Vitali, Gianmaria Gava  · DOMENICA
"Pitch Invasion" by Aldo Giannotti and Pablo Chiereghin, Detail, 2017

Etymologically, the term ‘Sunday’ (Lat.: dies solis) refers to the day
consecrated to the sun god. In the course of Christianisation, in southern
European or Romance-language countries, the expression ‘day of the Lord’
(Lat.: dominica) came to prevail to commemorate Jesus Christ’s resurrection,
as reflected by the Italian word domenica. In other civilisations, different
days play a similar role, such as Saturday – Sabbath – in Judaism, referring to
God’s ‘holy day of rest’ after he had completed the creation of the world, or
Friday in Islam. In Europe, Sunday as a day off work looks back on a changeful
history torn between the diverging requirements of religion, politics, and
the economy. Article 24 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of
1948 reads, ‘Everyone has the right to rest and leisure, including reasonable
limitation of working hours and periodic holidays with pay.’ In Europe, the
right to Sunday as a work-free day is accordingly enshrined in law. Such
movements as the European Sunday Alliance fight for fair working hours
and for keeping Sundays work-free.
Although the idea of free or leisure time, i.e. a period of time during which
people can freely pursue their individual needs, was born in the modern
age, the concept of a time of leisure dates back to antiquity. The Greeks,
for example, differentiated between the terms scholé and a-scholia. Simply
put, scholé refers to the period the upper classes devoted to edification
and philosophical contemplation. What is remarkable is that the slaves were
granted a considerable number of days off work, which, could have been
used for attending Olympic games and various festivities. In Roman civilisation,
the term otium as opposed to the term negotium had a similar meaning.
Otium describes a period of withdrawal and reflection, of spending time
by oneself. Among others, Cicero, Vergil, Horace, Ovid, Seneca, and, later
on, Augustine praised the idea of otium. Here, too, the work-free time of
plebeians was, by contrast, organised according to the motto of ‘bread and
circuses’ and filled with distracting activities.It goes without saying that such
discourse differentiates between a passive laziness calling for criticism on
the one hand and intellectual or spiritual leisure on the other, as Francesco
Petrarca points out in his De remediis utriusque fortunae. Today it seems
that society increasingly identifies leisurely idleness as mere laziness. It has
almost become an obligation for people to use their free time for relaxation
in order to keep fit for work: leisure time harnessed for labour! Free time is
thus spent as leisure less and less and is instead filled with more and more
activity. Over the years, a veritable leisure and holiday industry developed,
with a cultural industry following in its wake: leisure was discovered as a new
branch of the economy.
The inability to surrender to leisure has something neurotic about it. Viktor
Frankl before all others claimed that a neurotic person attempts to escape
from the ‘great, whole life into work life’. Only leisure on Sundays exposes the
entire aimlessness and meaninglessness of our existence, which is drowned
in weekend activities. ‘Sunday neurotics’ seek to conceal life’s emptiness
behind parties, (record-obsessed) sports, and even art – as long as it thrills
their nerves and they can identify with fictitious heroes.

Marcello Farabegoli, Massimo Vitali, Gianmaria Gava  · DOMENICA
Garland Salon of Palais Metternich, Photo G. Gava

For the exhibition, Aldo Giannotti has created as many as thirty-two new
drawings. Tackling the theme partly associatively, partly scientifically, he has
found imaginative puns and succinct sayings in order to inflect the theme
of Sunday from many possible perspectives. He makes use of the special
qualities offered by the medium of drawing, which delivers detached and
yet intimate visual results. Giannotti is interested in both the sacred and
profane aspects of Sunday. Emblematically illustrating the ‘aggregate states’
of both phases in Sunday – Rest of the Week, he reflects upon the dichotomy
between work and leisure. For people, free time creates a physical space in
its own right within the continuum of time. This space is marked by a distinct,
mostly decelerated rhythm and has its own rules and rituals that enable
people to perceive reality differently and more intensely. With his drawings,
Giannotti also responds to the exceptional site of the exhibition and uses
Sunday as a pretext to direct attention to certain historical and political
events. Last but not least, he has picked out the opening speech as a theme
in an ironising drawing called The Marathon.
Aldo Giannotti is a sensitive, keen, and critical observer who commits his ideas to A4 sheets of paper with a black-ink rollerball pen. He is generally
interested in the correlation between people and their surroundings or
social space, between symbolic or physical space and socially sculpted
dynamics. His combinations of words and reduced images resemble
aphorisms. They frequently hit a critical mark, with the artist occasionally
putting a finger – or his pen – on wounds, yet without intending to increase
the pain. In fact, quite the opposite is true: with a great deal of humour and
irony, he uncovers the contradictions of social norms and behaviours, the
paradoxes of conformism and of the distribution of power, thus opening up
new perspectives for reflection. Often his drawings fully come into their own
through performances, installations, and the like that make use of all kinds
of media. His installation Strisce Blu (2012–17) [Blue Lines] can be seen in
the embassy’s courtyard: parking spaces have been delineated with blue
surface markings, which in Italy indicate that a parking fee has to be paid on
workdays. Different from a similar installation shown at the Italian Cultural
Institute in Vienna in 2012, the present version, due to the exhibition’s title,
remains tied to an eternal Sunday, as if caught in a kind of time loop. In
Italy, parking within the zones marked in blue is free of charge on Sundays,
so that the apparent aporetic administrative offence is not without humour
annulled by the artist.
In the Music Room, visitors can experience Giannotti’s work Personal
Spotlight (2017): the spectator himself steps into the dazzling limelight of
what may be a floodlit stadium in order to be celebrated as the hero of the
moment, Sunday’s darling, a famous star.
The most explicit realisation of such drawn instructions is the installation-based
intervention Pitch Invasion (2017) in the embassy’s Large Ballroom, which
Aldo Giannotti conceived jointly with Pablo Chiereghin and to which I will
come back to shortly. In addition to this, a ’performative activation’ was also
conceived by Giannotti, together with Philippe Riera/SUPERAMAS, for the
opening night.

Marcello Farabegoli, Massimo Vitali, Gianmaria Gava  · DOMENICA
Garland Salon of Palais Metternich, Photo G. Gava

Starting out from social and political dynamics, Pablo Chiereghin similarly
likes working in site-specific contexts. His artistic practice falls on fertile
ground where entropies and discrepancies are caused by behavioural
patterns and social rules. With his actions, performances, and interventions,
he reinterprets elements and processes encountered in reality. In this exhibition,
he illustrates subtle differences between Austria and Italy. Making use of
cultural ready-mades and clichés, he explores and subverts the way in which
Sundays and leisure time are experienced and ‘consumed’.
Pablo Chiereghin comes from Adria, a small town near Venice located a
short distance from the coast, although it bears the name of an entire sea. That a strong bond exists between the artist and the sea might be concluded
from the laconic inscription on the banner Chiereghin has mounted on the
embassy’s balcony: Mir fehlt das Meer (2013) [I Miss the Sea]. Yet the work
was originally conceived for KÖR’s project Kunstgastgeber Gemeindebau
[Council Housing Hosting Art], and its title is identical to the very first
response Chiereghin received from a Kurdish woman from Turkey, a resident
of a tenement block. Mir fehlt das Meer is thus a personal reminiscence
shared by two migrants, whose words now seem to have been put into the
mouth, so to speak, of Italy’s embassy building in Austria.
In the embassy’s staircase, a tapestry made of wool and silk from the seventeenth
century has been temporarily covered by the work Pentecoste-Lignano
(2017), which measures approximately three by four metres: it is based on a
journalistic photograph by Massimo Turco (2014) documenting the aftermaths
of the tumultuous nights lived through by adolescents from Austria
and Germany at Whitsun in Lignano. This work can be perceived as an ironic
commentary on Vitali’s photographs and as their thematic and aesthetic
complement. Similarly, it also echoes a subtle criticism of the bias one may
or may not have against a particular nation.
Throughout the evening of the opening, the travel information for Italy
issued by Austria’s Federal Ministry for Europe, Integration, and Foreign
Affairs (BMEIA) was being read out to our Austrian guests every twenty
minutes in the Great Vestibule on the piano nobile. This performance,
emulating official acts, was meant to synthetically reflect the idea one nation
has formed of another. In the immediate vicinity of this performance and
other installations, Pablo Chiereghin has put up bilingual signs in Italian and
German. Functioning as interventions, they provide elucidating explanations
and pieces of information: ‘Due to burocratic reasons, the exhibition
Domenica/Sunday [...] will be opened on Thursday, 27 April’. Or: ‘Due to the
high attendance, plastic plates, cutlery, and cups will be used at the buffet’.
Or: ‘In order to protect the most valuable pieces of furniture in the embassy’s
rooms from wear and tear, they have been covered with nylon sheeting’.
Or: ‘The installation The Ambassador’s Rooms by Pablo Chiereghin is
temporarily closed and can only be viewed by appointment’.
In the Green Salon, visitors can expect an inflatable children’s pool that has
been filled with water and which is accompanied by the following instructions:
‘Lucky fountain. Toss a coin, make a wish, and don’t tell anybody’.
This work is of course an allusion to the Fontana di Trevi in Rome and
simultaneously also an allegory of everyday smartness: it is part of a series in
which the artist employs his art as a survival strategy, keeping the ‘revenue’ in
the form of the coins tossed by the visitors.
Finally, a video by the artist is projected onto a screen in front of the fireplace in the Battle Salon. It shows empty parking grounds of supermarkets on
Sundays shot with a fixed camera. The formal architectural images taken on
the only day on which work and consumption come to a standstill in such
environments give a dismal impression and are in contrast to Vitali’s large
photographs installed in the same room.

Marcello Farabegoli, Massimo Vitali, Gianmaria Gava  · DOMENICA
Massimo Vitali, "Due Sorelle Motor Boat", 2013, Courtesy Galerie Ernst Hilger

Aldo Giannotti and Pablo Chiereghin’s large-scale installation Pitch Invasion,
the key work of the exhibition, in a way reflects the nature of the entire
exhibition. Over the course of my research into a suitable football pitch
for the embassy’s interiors, Hubert Scheibl gave me the idea of using real
grass, based on his solo exhibition in 2013 at the Museum der Moderne in
Salzburg. For this, real lawn that can not only be touched but also smelled
has been laid out in the Large Ballroom. Especially on Sundays or during
leisure time, people love spending time outdoors in nature, strolling across
meadows alone or in the company of their families and friends. The white
lines suggest that the present lawn is actually a football pitch. In the case of
Italy, the connection between football and Sunday is obvious. In this context,
I would like to return to Viktor Frankl, who recognises a clear symptom of the
above-mentioned Sunday neurotic in someone who considers the success
of a particular football club the most important thing on earth. Pier Paolo
Pasolini, in a positive sense, even referred to football as the last ritual
manifestation of present-day sacredness …
However, as Pitch Invasion only depicts part of a football pitch, the meaning
of the installation goes far beyond that of the mere image of a playing field.
It is a special field, an abstract space the artists see as a metaphor for human
activities. Here, team spirit and competition, love and hate, patriotism and
nationalism, faith and fanaticism, the monies and interests of the leisure
industry, and many other social, historical, and political aspects also play a role.
Yet the main point of this installation is that in reality a pitch invasion (crowds
storming the playing field) is an illegal act that can be severely punished by
law, in particular by Italian law. Then again, a pitch invasion can take the form
of a solemn ritual: players and audiences of different nationalities uniting
in the playing area on common ground as if they were going on a Sunday
pilgrimage. The artists invite us to engage in such a subversive ‘collision’ and
at the same time force us to bring ourselves into play.

Marcello Farabegoli, Massimo Vitali, Gianmaria Gava  · DOMENICA
Battle Salon of Palais Metternich, Photo G. Gava

(Marcello Farabegoli)

Marcello Farabegoli, Massimo Vitali, Gianmaria Gava  · DOMENICA
Massimo Vitali, "Livorno Calafuria", 2002, Courtesy Galerie Ernst Hilger

Marcello Farabegoli, Massimo Vitali, Gianmaria Gava  · DOMENICA
Garland Salon of Palais Metternich, Photo G. Gava
Marcello Farabegoli, Massimo Vitali, Gianmaria Gava  · DOMENICA
Massimo Vitali, "Bassa Trinita blue Ball", 2013, Courtesy Galerie Ernst Hilger
Marcello Farabegoli, Massimo Vitali, Gianmaria Gava  · DOMENICA
Battle Salon of Palais Metternich, Photo G. Gava
Marcello Farabegoli, Massimo Vitali, Gianmaria Gava  · DOMENICA
Massimo Vitali, "Rosignano Night", 1995, Courtesy Galerie Ernst Hilger
Marcello Farabegoli, Massimo Vitali, Gianmaria Gava  · DOMENICA
"Pentecoste-Lignano" by Pablo Chiereghin using a Photo by Massimo Turco, 2017, Photo G. Gava
Marcello Farabegoli, Massimo Vitali, Gianmaria Gava  · DOMENICA
Signs by Pablo Chiereghin, 2017, Photo G. Gava
Marcello Farabegoli, Massimo Vitali, Gianmaria Gava  · DOMENICA
Signs by Pablo Chiereghin, 2017, Photo G. Gava
Marcello Farabegoli, Massimo Vitali, Gianmaria Gava  · DOMENICA
Signs by Pablo Chiereghin, 2017, Photo G. Gava
Marcello Farabegoli, Massimo Vitali, Gianmaria Gava  · DOMENICA
Signs by Pablo Chiereghin, 2017, Photo G. Gava
Marcello Farabegoli, Massimo Vitali, Gianmaria Gava  · DOMENICA
Signs by Pablo Chiereghin, 2017, Photo G. Gava
Marcello Farabegoli, Massimo Vitali, Gianmaria Gava  · DOMENICA
"Sonntag" by Pablo Chiereghin, 2017, Photo G. Gava
Marcello Farabegoli, Massimo Vitali, Gianmaria Gava  · DOMENICA
"Personal Spotlight" by Aldo Giannotti, 2017, Photo G. Gava
Marcello Farabegoli, Massimo Vitali, Gianmaria Gava  · DOMENICA
"Mir fehlt das Meer" by Pablo Chiereghin, 2013, Photo G. Gava
Marcello Farabegoli, Massimo Vitali, Gianmaria Gava  · DOMENICA
"Strisce Blue" by Aldo Giannotti, 2012 and 2017, Photo G. Gava
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