Changing the World with a Vase of Flowers

Italian Cultural Institute of Madrid-Italian Embassy in Spain

january – march 2010

Pier Luigi and Natalina Remotti Foundation-City of Camogli

september 2010 – march 2011

Mudac - Musée de design et d’arts appliqués contemporains, Lausanne

june - september 2011

Curated by
Roberto Costantino

Design and contemporary art consultants
Alessandro Biamonti, Francois Burkhardt, Giacinto Di Pietrantonio, Beppe Finessi, Chantal Prod'Hom

Changing the world with a vase of flowers. Interview with Roberto Costantino,  Artistic Director of the Travelling Exhibition. Courtesy Mudac-Museum of Design and Contemporary Applied Arts, Lausanne

The travelling exhibition of the 4th Biennial of Ceramics in Contemporary Art presents a collection of pots and vases produced by the design and prototyping workshop of Attese Edizioni, starting from the territory with an ancient tradition of ceramics, Albisola in Liguria (Italy), in collaboration with internationally acclaimed artists and designers.
Albisola is a town with an age-old tradition of pottery, known as a small European capital of ceramics thanks to the historic hospitality and fertile cooperation offered to artists who over the course of the 20th century have made the place famous all over the world, including Filippo Tommaso Marinetti, Nicolaj Diulgheroff, Bruno Munari, Arturo Martini, Lucio Fontana, Piero Manzoni, Guy Debord, Asger Jorn, Pinot Gallizio and Wifredo Lam.
The title of this travelling exhibition of the 4th Biennial of Ceramics in Contemporary Art, "Changing the world with a vase of flowers", acts as a guideline and opens up many creative possibilities, emphasizing “a destiny of art and design among the small things and great transformations that can also be caused by the beating wings of a butterfly”, as Roberto Costantino, artistic director of the event, writes in the catalogue.
The exceptional relationship between ceramics and the art avant-gardes of the 20th century is a part of the local cultural heritage, developed today by the design and prototyping workshop of the Biennial of Ceramics in Contemporary Art, en hancing the territory with the immaterial assets of design, contemporary art and digital crafts, through the combination of the traditional skills of craft workshops and the most advanced techniques of high-tech production.
The internationally renowned artists and designers invited to participate have reacted in an innovative, radical way, responding to the appeal with personal, original, technically ingenious interpretations that shift and subvert the meaning of the vase.
All the artists and designers involved have rethought the identity of the object and its potential artistic, conceptual and symbolic value, proposing unusual sculptural constructions that redefine and renew our relationship with its use, the very architecture of the vase and its relationship with space.
Paolo Deganello for example, in 35 x 35 x un fiore, transforms the vase into a bas-relief, Denis Santachiara, in Qualc’uno, embellishes the common pottery vase turning it upside down, whereas Marco Ferrreri, in Tre per Uno, designs vases that contain other vases and various references. Alexis Georgacopoulos, in Duetto, proposes minimal as well as ludic vases, with useful and bizarre beaks together with essential and bright tops. Hugo Meert, in Terrarist, allows small pottery figures armed with little hammers to destroy man’s work – the vase – by climbing it and breaking the edges, while Corrado Levi, in Flower, even proposes a project in which “the vase is hidden by the flower”. Other artists and designers such as Alessandro Biamonti (Moribana), Lorenzo Damiani (Digital Flowers), Pekka Harni (Planet B), Donata Paruccini (Pluvio) e Alberto Viola (Scarabia) stage and combine, in surprising and unpredictable ways, organic forms and futuristic artifice. Florence Doléac, instead, with the projects XLS and Lolo, shifts vases from the usual horizontal plane of tables to the vertical walls of the space that contains them. Adrien Rovero also reflects on the relationship between vases and their usual context of display, and with subtle humour designs the vase Borderline, with a clamp to position it anywhere, starting with the edges of tables. Andrea Branzi, on the other hand, with his Cocci, manipulates historical references, combining Greek morphological models in a disorienting way with imagery from the avant-gardes of the 20th century. Fernando and Humberto Campana, with the Tile Vase, appropriate the tradition of the ready-made through the recycling of simple tiles that are modified and joined with wicker to create unusual forms for vases. Alessandro Mendini, with the vases Tre sfere, made in precious materials like gold, bronze and black lustre, evokes soap bubbles that intersect and stand out in space like abnormal, fragile presences. Linde Burkhardt in Tre per due divides her vases into two halves – each part is like “the double” of the other – to generate free compositions in space, arranged by the user in temporary, changing compositions. Alberto Garutti urges the viewer to ask “What happens in rooms when the people have left?” and decorates the Giara, Idria and Tulipaniera of the age-old pottery tradition of Albisola with majolica and zinc silicate – the phosphorescent white colour can be seen only in the dark, when the museums are closed – to update these vases, like ghosts of the past. Martí Guixé treats the surface with the combinatory and innovative practice of compositional elements already successfully applied in his food design, using the outer walls of his Surfvase as surfaces to decorate with the flowers that climb between the handles and the hemp cords that wrap them. Simone Berti, with his spectacular monuments to vases of flowers, Pipe Dream, assembles terracotta tubes, sheets of aluminium and marble dust, producing a visionary world that reminds us of fantastic industrial archaeology.
Luca Vitone, in Eppur si muove, ponders minority cultures that are reluctant to absorb dominant models, and recovers the identity symbol of Rom communities – the wagon wheel – which is transfigured into a vase, undulated like a flag with the colours of the 19th-century anarchist movement. Michelangelo Pistoletto promotes the collective design of Vasi-Specchio del Terzo Paradiso– a multitude of vases that reflect in each other, losing their contours and taking on new, infinite forms that celebrate the migration of identities and the proliferation of differences. Paolo Ulian gives form to the Vaso Rosae by rolling up sheets of terracotta, miniaturizing the monumental minimalist sculptural tradition in a vase in the form of a rose, while Vedovamazzei, in Reset, sets the vase back to zero, perforating it in two points, on its diagonal axis, to then pierce it with a flower, like an arrow through a heart.

Cover of the April 2011 issue of “Inventario” dedicated to the vases of Attese Edizioni