In his artistic practice, Gian Maria Tosatti (Rome, 1980) perceives the city as a double, an analogy of the spirit, in which the human being’s inner forms are divided into a concrete composition. While relating to urban space as already experienced in other cities – Rome (Devotions, 2005-2011); New York (I’ve Already Been Here, 2011-ongoing) – in Naples the artist for the first time had the unique opportunity to use the whole city as a potential space of intervention. In the ideation and creation of the striking project Sette Stagioni dello Spirito (“Seven Seasons of the Spirit”), from 2013 to 2016, Tosatti retraced the course of The Interior Castle (1577), the book in which St. Teresa of Avila divides the human soul into seven chambers, and transfigured them into so many monumental environmental installations, ordered like the progressive chapters of a book that interlaces literary and philosophical sources, historical and theological references, figures, thoughts and stories. It is a work with a narrative and theoretical matrix and in progressive formation, aimed at redefining the relations between art and community – between the artwork and the social and anthropological fabric – and conceived as a single great visual and performative novel that, by exploring the city and the community dimension of civil living, connects the absolute of the ethical element with our historical present and the conflicts and lacerations that characterize it. In this way, the artist’s seven site-specific interventions/chapters have enabled the reopening and gradual recovery of certain historical buildings and monuments, abandoned or neglected in Naples, which have been radically transformed by the artist in the last three years. These places have become radiating points for works that, from the human sphere, have expanded into the urban one, often reviving whole neighborhoods. Each of these “stations” has been given a title and a connotation, which from the deepest evil strives towards absolute good:
1_The Plague (Church of SS. Cosma and Damiano ai Banchi Nuovi) addressed the issue of unawareness as the most serious disease of the spirit;
2_ Summer (former Municipal Registry in Piazza Dante) focused on the principle of inertia as the main cause of dissolution;
3_ Lucifer (former General Warehouses of the Port of Naples) explored the complexity of the concept of error;
4_ Homecoming (former Military Hospital) concentrated on the theme of salvation;
5_ The Fundamentals of Light (former Convent of Santa Maria della Fede) investigated the concept of searching for the truth;
6_ Miracle (former factory in the Forcella district) instituted a true practice of goodness;
7_ Earth of the Last Heaven (Church of the Santissima Trinità delle Monache, Via Santa Lucia al Monte, at the corner with Via Pasquale Scura, on view until January 7th, 2017) suggested a possible suggestion on humanity’s ultimate destiny.
The exhibition devoted to the project Seven Seasons of the Spirit – housed in two areas of the Madre museum, the Project room on the ground floor and eight second-floor galleries – is the first solo show devoted to the artist in an Italian public museum. It seeks not just to restore the memory of this experience, by embodying it in a unified prospect, but to give it a further dimension: to reconstruct its process behind the scenes, so enabling the public to revisit it in its overall layout while recounting its inner dimension.
Two elements, exhibited in the Project room on the ground floor, serve as a prologue to the whole story:
– The floor of the artist’s studio, extracted and abstracted from its context, appears as a mental space, a place of evocations that take their final form in the works exhibited on the second floor.
– The artist’s diary is rendered as the shroud of a thought in the phase of its formation.
To complete these two elements, a film shown in the adjacent video room relates the impressive process of realization of the project, providing a perfect reverse shot, presented as an additional diary of images that draws the visitor into a story now told for the first time in its entirety.
After the prologue in Project room on the ground floor, the exhibition continues in eight rooms on the second floor, focusing on a likewise twofold register, textual and visual and proceeding by excerption and abstraction, through a sequence of “mental rooms,” related to the seven chapters of the original project, in addition to a first introductory room. These galleries become so many metaphorical embodiments of the artist’s studio in the course of the years spent by him in Naples, each occupied with the study materials (project drawings, preliminary sketches, documents and remains) as well as a selection of the project works, displayed through the superimposed decisions and changes. This account, full of annotations and erasures, coincides with that “symphony for the city and its people,” with which the artist himself has referred to his work. In this way, for the first time, the visitor can diachronically traverse the whole cycle of Seven Seasons of the Spirit, sharing a different view of it, necessarily selective, as it is one dictated by memory, and at the same time new, induced by the presentation of this experience in the museum context.
The original project Seven Seasons of the Spirit, in its territorial articulations, was promoted and organized by Fondazione Morra with the support of Galleria Lia Rumma. In collaboration with the Campania Region, Naples City Council, Municipality 2, Vicariate of Culture of the Curia of Naples, Superintendency for the Architectural Heritage and Landscape for Naples and Province, Academy of Fine Arts in Naples, Order of Engineers of the Province of Naples, Naples Port Authority, the Università Suor Orsola Benincasa and under the Matronage of the Donnaregina Foundation for Contemporary Arts.
Gian Maria Tosatti (Rome, 1980), lives and works in Naples and New York. His projects and works are long-term investigations of themes related to the concept of identity, both politically and spiritually. His principal works belong to the cycles Devotions (2005-11), Fundamentals (2011–in progress) and Considerations (2009–in progress). The artist –winner of the Premio Terna (2008), Premio Fondazione Ettore Fico (2016) and shortlisted for the Premio Furla (2014) – exhibited in numerous institutions, including Centro Wilfredo Lam (L’Avana, 2015); Hessel Museum/CCS BARD (New York, 2014); Casa Testori (Milan, 2014); American Academy in Rome (Rome, 2013); Museo Villa Croce (Genoa, 2012); Tenuta dello Scompiglio (Lucca, 2012); Lower Manhattan Cultural Council (New York, 2011); Chelsea Art Museum (New York, 2009); Palazzo delle Esposizioni (Rome, 2008). His works are included in the permanent collections of the MAAM (Rome) and Castel Sant’Elmo (Naples), as winner in 2014 of the Un’Opera per il Castello prize promoted by MIBACT.