The artist, the winner of the 6th edition of the Italian Council, has created an intervention with a strong visual connotation that aims to investigate the imbalances in our relationship with nature, drawing inspiration from the archetypal image of the Flood, understood as the sum of all upheavals. Like a diviner, for over twenty years Cagol has been carrying out a long series of works and projects that, with a great visionary approach, have anticipated pandemics, influenzas and climatic emergencies. Through simple yet unexpected and symbolic gestures, Cagol stirs in the air flames from spray cans of hairspray and activates luminous signals for marine indicators of rescue – recurrent elements in his artistic practice – enacting a contemporary ritual, like a diviner, suspended between darkness and light, between myths of the past, uncertainties of the present and challenges of futures beyond time and space.
Using elements with a strong visual and emotional impact (aerosol hairspray, lighter, flares) – extrapolated from the context and invested with a new expressive value – the artist addresses a symbolic message to the public, with the intention of triggering reflections on the current moment, characterized by the apparent inability to maintain a balance between human beings and the environment. Accustomed to projecting his research into interventions that use public spaces to address collective themes, he has created the new performance in complete solitude in a crucial place in Verona, the architectural complex of Palazzo della Ragione, which concentrates the city centre’s major visual signs, the Torre dei Lamberti and the Scala della Ragione. In this action he found himself in the multiple roles of performer, director and cameramen at the control of a drone that flies over the city, making what happens on the pavement of the square sink into a total and silent apnoea.
This performance is part of the research that the artist is carrying out under the title „The Time of the Flood“ in a number of places – from the centre of Berlin to the Wadden Sea, to a volcanic caldera in Lazio – and started prophetically before what he defines as the „first great subversion of the Third Millennium“, opening the back cover of his latest book (published in March this year by Postmedia, with contributions from six intellectuals including curators, museum directors and sociologists) with a clear and heavy statement: „We are global warming. We are the pandemics. We are the flood.”
In his mission as an artist who wants to communicate to the world, in May last year, in the middle of the Italian lockdown, Stefano Cagol launched a „Signal to the future“, flooding the square of a deserted Italian town, Brixen in South Tyrol, with a deafening silence of red color.
It was that moment of transition from night to light. And the images of that solitary performance and of that square lit up by a single person went round the world, from the USA to Israel, from India to Australia, to Latin America, from Euronews and Fox to the Germanic ZDF and the American CNBC: almost 500 million viewers on 40 TV channels and on the web have seen the images of Cagol, who, like a shaman or an expiatory figure, seems to be trying to take upon himself to exorcise the sins of entire humanity.
Stefano Cagol (Trento, 1969) studied at the Brera Academy and Ryerson University in Toronto with a post-doctoral fellowship from the Government of Canada and is the recipient of the Italian Council (2019) of the Italian Ministry of Culture and awards such as the Visit of E.on Stiftung and the Terna for Contemporary Art. His artworks, often multi-form and multi-sited, reflect on (bio) political and ecological issues, from borders to viruses, climate, energy, and the human interferences on nature, moving in the fields of Conceptual Art, Environmental Art, Eco-Art and Land Art. He has participated in biennials such as the 55th Venice Biennale, Manifesta 11, 14th Curitiba Biennale, 2nd OFF Cairo Biennale, 1st Xinjiang Biennale, Barents Art Triennale 2013 and 1st Singapore Biennale. He has had solo exhibitions at museums such as the CCA Center for Contemporary Art in Tel Aviv (2021), MAGA in Gallarate (2019), Galleria Civica di Trento/Mart (2016), ZKM Karlsruhe (2012) and Museo di Arte Moderna e Contemporanea di Trento e Rovereto (2000). He realized large scale time-based installations at Manifesta 12 in Palermo in Magione square, on the main façade of the Royal Palace in Caserta and at the German Ministry of Environment in Berlin in the exhibition for the COP23, the UN climate change conference. He did lectures at Bauhaus University in Weimar and Goldsmiths University in London, among others and his artworks are part of important private and public collections, including MAGA, Mart Museum in Rovereto, Museion in Bolzano, Kunst Merano Arte, Nomas Foundation, Collezione UniCredit per l’arte, ZKM and the German Ministry for Environment.
About: The annual event Giornata del Contemporaneo (the day of contemporary art) dedicated to the art of our time and its audience, is promoted by AMACI – Association of Italian Contemporary Art Museums with the support of General Direction for Contemporary Creativity of the Ministry of Culture. For its 17th edition, held on Saturday, December 11th 2021, the 24 AMACI Museums and other realities will open their space to the public, in order to celebrate contemporary art. The initiative will have as fil rouge the theme of the performative, in reference not only to the experience of the performer’s corporeality on the stage, but especially to renegotiate a new presence with the audience through the sharing of space. The theme of the „performative“ has been identified for its ability to be a catalyst and activator of relationships and actions that can generate new forms of involvement of the public and increase the social impact of the museum’s community. The associated museums will design and will propose for the Giornata del Contemporaneo, in a coordinated way, activities around this theme.
Exhibition: Stefano Cagol. The Diviner. Giornata del Contemporaneo
Exhibition duration: December 11, 2021 – September 30, 2022
Stefano Cagol in interview with Les Nouveaux Riches
Address and contact:
Galleria d’Arte Moderna Achille Forti
Palazzo della Ragione
Cortile Mercato Vecchio 6, Verona