nostoi | vόστοι
Curator: Agata Polizzi
The collaboration between the Fondazione and the Regional Archaeological Museum Antonio Salinas in Palermo has brought forth the Nostoi project, allowing the exchange of works from the institutions’ collections: the work by Mario Merz “Pittore in Africa” (1984) is displayed in Palermo, while the statue “Compagno di Ulisse” (117 – 138 d.C.) is showcased Turin.
In classical literature, νόστος means estrangement and return, a movement through space and time, and in the Exodus is a metaphor of the search for freedom, of utopia, but it is also awareness of the reality, in which the journey simply indicates a desire for a better universe. And if, therefore, everything in history is circular, then movement circumscribes that segment in which everything can happen, exactly as happens in nature in which “the eternal return” establishes a very close link between time and things. Every single individuality melts into the eternal; it is an interconnected episode with the others, a step towards a common goal, a choral progress.
The remote dialogue between Mario Merz’s Pittore in Africa, a work recently installed in the new agora of the Palermitan Archaeological Museum and the Ulysses’ companion from the Salinas collections – albeit with very distant but equally powerful and lyrical languages – reveals a narration that goes beyond the formal limit to manifest itself as a pure representation of an idea.
The genesis of the Mario Merz’s work dates back to the 1980s when, participating in a historic edition of the Venice Biennale, the artist questioned the total lack of African artists at the event. The phrase “esisterà pure un pittore in Africa” (“there must surely be a painter in Africa”) becomes a pulsating question that, then as today, extends to the lack of understanding between two shores that are both very close and very distant at the same time.
The classical sculpture of a shipwreck victim strongly questions the social and political present in which we are immersed and the ultimate sense of responsibility that we are called to bring into play.
In the dialogue between the vastness of the past and the vital energy of the present, the possibility of saying new things, of showing different visions, the possibility of a revolution of meaning is thus generated, in which few uncertain or primitive, essential, eroded or evocative, but above all unpredictable elements become the memory of an infinite journey in which the origin or the destination no longer count, but only the intention.
Roman copy of Hadrian period (ad 117 – 138) of a Hellenistic subject datable to the 2nd century bc and attributable to three sculptors from Rhodes: Hagesandros, Athenadoros and Polydoros.
from Tivoli, Hadrian’s villa
Museo Archeologico Regionale “Antonino Salinas” – Palermo
Provenance: Astuto collection
The young figure is part of a sculptural group representing the mythical episode of Scylla – the gigantic sea monster with a female bust, tail of a fish and canine protomes – that attacks the ship of Ulysses, as described in the 12th book of the Odyssey.
The young man is depicted naked, in the act of wriggling from the powerful grip of one of the appendages of the monster that bites him on his right side. His features illustrate his pain with absolute realism, showing him with half-open lips and wide eyes. The fragment underwent careful restoration work in 1999 – 2000.