Imagine the Land - Tocca la Terra
MACRO Asilo, Museum of Contemporary Art Rome, Italy
22 October - 31 November, 2019
From light pink marble dust, manganese purple deposits in soil, yellow ochre to red clay – to the deepest brown topsoil – the presence of pedological time was conveyed through colour, texture and rhythm, hovering between materiality and abstract void. Scores of delicately pinched clay pots arrayed like stars and planets across an infinite universe completed the effect of encountering another world. Yet Tocca la Terra’s material simplicity was very much of our real, everyday life –simultaneously considering the scale of the human within the cosmos.
Imagine the Land Project collaborators Karma Barnes
and Ekarasa Doblanovich were invited by curator
Giorgio de Finis to exhibit their installation Tocca La
Terra as part of the MACRO Asilo (“Hospitable
Museum”) Project. Tocca la Terra (Touch the Earth)
was created in collaboration with viewers at the
MACRO Museum of Contemporary Art Rome, Italy.
Tocca la Terra was composed from Italian local soils,
hand-gathered by Barnes and Doblanovic from the
regional landscapes of Rome and Tuscany. These
soils were ground by the artists into fine pigments
and transformed into a 18m long art installation, filling
one of the MACRO exhibition halls.
During the exhibition, visitors were invited to create
small clay vessels and cover them with soil pigments.
Next, they performed a slow, barefoot walk into the
artwork along a soil pathway, to place their vessel
within the installation. Thus, notionsof the body as
agent of performative, affective experience lead to
immersion in a poetics of materiality, transcendence
and shared ontologies of creative community.
As drawn by Barnes and Doblanovic, the large-scale composition grew methodically from one single earth-toned strip to encompass many multi- coloured stripes set within an almost white elliptical centre. Concentric borders of earthy tonalities gave a central focus to breathtaking effect.
After ten days, the labour of many was destroyed to underscore impermanence and the vulnerability of Nature. By highlighting human interconnection with the natural world through tactile, sensory and conceptual experience, Tocca la Terra reminded participants that their relationship to something as simple as soil literally grounds and centres their lives.
Macro Asilo Project opened on 30 September 2018 and ends 31 December 2019, exhibiting the work of over 300 international artists, writers and performers during its 15-month program.
Macro Asilo Project curator Giorgio de Finis, who is also an anthropologist, artist and writer, has explored a less traditional, experimental model for attracting museum-goers to Macro Asilo Project. His curatorial vision has opened up the entire museum, “into a fully-fledged ‘living organism’ at once friendly and relational,” to urge a spirit of interactive cooperation amongst people, skills and disciplines and to encourage participation on the part of the city and the public.
Imagine the Land Project is also an ambassador for The Terzo Paradiso/ Rebirth-Day Project led by renowned Italian artist Michelangelo Pistoletto and his Cittadellarte Fondazione. Additionally, whilst in Rome Imagine the Land Project, as Ambassadors of The Third Paradise, sat on a panel at the MACRO for defining and implementing concrete actions in line with the UN’s 2030 Agenda for sustainable development. The panel was open to organizations operating on the basis of their vocation to create responsible, direct action.
The aesthetics of soil had the power to move viewers beyond earthly materiality: “I felt a great sensation of connection with Nature, with art’s power to transcend the artificial space of the museum, and an immersion in beauty’s subtle body.”