The Florence Biennale, which has come to its Xth edition with the theme ‘Art and the Polis’, conjoins the arts within the Fortezza da Basso, thus turning it into a citadel of creativity.
Conquered by contemporary artists, that ‘fortress’ virtually dialogues with EXPO 2015. The Florentine exhibition, in fact, aims at ‘nourishing the planet’ with art. Besides, while joining the celebrations for the 150th anniversary of the proclamation of Florence as temporary capital of Italy, the Florence Biennale claims the leading role of its hometown in the art world.
The Xth Florence Biennale unfolds into nine days with 423 exhibiting artists from 62 countries and five continents, each of whom competes for the ‘Lorenzo il Magnifico’ Awards in a range of art categories which, from this year, also includes Textile & Fiber Art, Ceramics, and Jewellery.
Encompassed in the collateral events programme is, amongst other, the exhibition ‘To Desdemona’, curated by Melanie Zefferino and featuring 28 portraits of
‘contemporary women’ by Franca Pisani – all on display in the foyer of the new court of justice in Florence in concomitance with the opening of its centre for gender-based violence victims.
A highlight of this edition is the presence of a young, Iranian-born woman artist who has been able to conjoin research, design and the will to save the memory of cultural heritage that ISIS has threatened by destroying archaeological remains at Mosul. She is Morehshin Allahyari, lecturer at the San Jose State University (California) since 2007. At the Xth Florence Biennale she is presenting a few pieces from her ‘Material Speculation: ISIS’ series. That project consists of a 3D modelling and 3D printing work (in progress), aimed at ‘reconstructing’ ancient statues and artefacts (of the Roman and Assyrian periods) that were destroyed by ISIS in 2015. Each 3D printed object of the series incorporates a flash drive and a memory card, which includes images, maps, pdf files, and videos of the artefacts and sites that were devastated. Morehshin Allahyari is being awarded with a Special Prize from
the President of the Florence Biennale.
Finally, three outstanding personalities are going to receive the ‘Lorenzo il Magnifico’ Lifetime Achievement Awards within the framework of the Xth Florence Biennale. The ‘Lorenzo il Magnifico’ Lifetime Achievement Award for photography and cinematographic art goes to Mario Carbone, master of Neo-realism. The ‘Lorenzo il Magnifico’ Lifetime Achievement Award for visual arts goes to the Tuscan painter and sculptor Giampaolo Talani. Finally, the ‘Lorenzo il Magnifico’ Lifetime Achievement Awards for visual and performing arts goes to the Argentinean woman artist Marta Minujín, pioneer of ephemeral art encompassing happenings and much more.
The myth of the ideal city inherited from classical antiquity revived in Laudatio florentinae urbis by Leonardo Bruni and the treatises by Leon Battista Alberti, who wrote his De Pictura in fifteenth-century Florence, where the Plato’s city of philosophers was gaining momentum. From then on the virtual dialogue between the arts has been reawakening through illuminating ‘tokens’ of the past, which are enrichment for the present.
In the city that ows its name to the ludi florales in honour of Flora, goddess of blooming, It is Michelangelo’s David that tightens art and the polis in a closer tie, thus giving breath of life to Giambologna’s Apennine Colossus in Pratolino and other “presences”, including Michelangelo Pistoletto’s Dietro-front sculpture at Porta Romana. In that perspective the polis should be interpreted not only as environment, but also as a microcosm with balanced interrelation between Man and Nature.
And, not least, as a privileged scene in which, every two years, the Fortezza da Basso becomes the ‘city of the artists, thus an ideal contemporary city where talents from across the world give lustre to Florence. Debuting artists, emerging artist, and established artist, all committed to experimenting forms, materials and techniques with increasingly raised awareness.
From the forthcoming edition the Florence Biennale will welcome textile & fiber artists, jewellery artists, and ceramic artists, who will play a major role on the scene of the International Biennial of Contemporary Art in Florence by bringing the past into the present through their work. Weaving, shaping, and embellishing: while bringing back to memory the dawn of civilisation, from Lascaux to Mycenae, those artist bear witness to the history of a civitas in which the ‘arts’ were powerful, and determined the destiny
of Florence – a community which, today as yesterday, is inspired by ideals of harmony and beauty.
After some reflection, now that Heidegger’s reverberation of Post-Modernism has vanished, we would like to go beyond the notion of Neo-avantgarde and avoid labels of any kind. Rather we would stand for a change inspired by the renovatio of Lorenzo il Magnifico, Michelangelo’s revolutionary canons, and Leonardo’s art, which absorbs and reinterprets reality by translating it into the ‘universo mondo’ that would be theorised, years later, by Giovan Battista Vico.