Curated by: Bruno Corà
Location: Museo Riso – Cappella dell’Incoronazione, Palermo [Italy]
Date: 27 January – 11 March 2018
On 26 January 2018, the Polo Museale d’Arte Moderna e Contemporanea of Palermo, in collaboration with Monacontemporary and Fondazione VOLUME!, unveiled the exhibition Veglia. The project occupies two venues with two site-specific installations: the first, Veglia, in Palazzo Belmonte Riso, and the second, Corpo Celeste (Celestial Body), in the Cappella dell’Incoronazione.
In the museum’s main room, a black body over five metres tall emerges from a pool of black oil. The sculpture appears as a sort of reclining sleeper, the sarcophagus of a hero returned to history, creating a play of references with the large diptych on the wall, Evaporazione Notturna (Nocturnal Evaporation). The surface of the panel covers volumes and forms like a shroud, concealing the remains of a battle. In the next rooms, a group of Erme and a series of Evaporazioni Volto (Face Evaporations) seem to participate in the wake. Completing the exhibition is the presence of the visitors, they too witnesses of the moment of passage.
In this space, matter loses its weight and is sacrificed on the altar of art. In a continual metamorphosis, it becomes an apparition that lasts the duration of the wake itself, the passage from night to dawn. In addition to the dilated time and ethereal physicality, another element associated with the dramaturgy of a funeral wake is silence – a silence that amplifies the quality of suspended time inside the space.
While the strong epic, heroic character of a wake is emphasized in the museum, its sacred and evocative quality comes to the fore in the Cappella dell’Incarnazione. The large reclining body has vanished and, in its place, as if fallen from a mysterious dimension, is the Corpo Celeste (Celestial Body). This work, a large black surface in the centre of the room, absorbs the surrounding light and becomes a sign of the absence of matter. On the sides are two Specchi Solari (Solar Mirrors), which like candlesticks, invite the viewer to light a candle. The dim light illuminating the central piece with reflected light inspires another moment of meditation.
These two works being exhibited in Palermo represent a continuation of Bassiri’s artistic journey, centred on the ceaseless dialogue between materials, places, times and spaces. Their encounter and fusion, as well as the blending of different cultures, creates a synthesis of the artist’s vision of the contemporary world.