Title: Corpo Celeste
Curated by: Bruno Corà
Location: Tempio di San Martino a Petroro, Todi (PG) [Italy]
Date: 22 April – 13 May 2017
Corpo Celeste, curated by Bruno Corà, is an exhibition promoted by Fondazione VOLUME! with the support of the Municipality of Todi, E.T.A.B La Consolazione and the Associazione Todi per l’Arte. Presented in the Tempio di San Martino in Petroro di Todi, the exhibition represents a sort of prelude to the installation proposed in the same year at the Biennale of Venice, where the artist represented his home country of Iran.
The sacred themes are once again on display in the Tempio di San Martino in Petroro di Todi, closing this symbolic journey. The white stones of the Romanesque temple provide shelter for the celestial body, a black hole where darkness becomes a metaphysical presence, symbolizing the strength of the absence of matter. The only signs of light illuminating the artwork are candlesticks, Solar mirrors that complete the artwork, as in a theatre piece.
Bizhan Bassiri reinterprets certain of his sacred themes, which fall into place along a sort of symbolic path traced earlier and which, seen as a whole, create a rhythm to the installation while also offering a chance to discover more of the artist’s work. The starting points are two UNESCO sites, recognized as patrimony of humanity: the first, the Cathedral of Palermo, was chosen as the location for Meteorite, which was placed before it in October 2016, and the second was the ziggurat of Chogha Zanbil in the province of Kuzhestan, one of the most ancient ziggurats outside of Mesopotamia and scenario for the Noor in Contemporary Thought conference as well as for the project itself, which was inaugurated on 8 March 2017.
From Persia to Abadan, a city in southwestern Iran, Bizhan Bassiri’s journey brought him to the new museum of contemporary art, inaugurated with his installation Temple of Destiny twenty years after construction had begun. Next he returned to Italy with the exhibition Girone della Sorte (Circle of Fate), inaugurated at the Museo Nazionale Etrusco of Chiusi, where the close links with the museum displays reflected the action and concept of “fate”, understood by the artist as “the exact coincidence of chance”.
The symbolic journey concluded with the installation at the Tempio di San Martino in Petroro di Todi, where the white stones of the Romanesque temple provided an effective contrast to Corpo Celeste, a simple but oneiric black hole, centrepiece of the installation. The black hole became in effect a metaphysical presence communicating a quality of absence stronger than its material solidity, a black hole penetrated by only a few minimal reflections of light from the candlesticks, which reveal the body of the work like solar mirrors complementing them as scenic backdrop. Finally, Corpo Celeste’s powerful connection to the sacred is communicated through its serene dialogue with the remains of the fresco of St Martin of Tours, an ancient icon of the first non-martyr saint of the Catholic Church.