Senza titolo (La fine del mondo) / Untitled (The End of the World), 2017

The works of Giorgio Andreotta Calò range from large-scale environmental installations to imperceptible modifications of architecture, transforming fragments of buildings or entire landscapes through natural forces or elements, especially water and fire, which are charged with an archaic, primal symbolism. One of the themes found throughout Andreotta Calò’ s artistic practice is the lagoon landscape of Venice, his hometown. Water, in all its forms and functions, is a recurrent motif in this artist’ s vocabulary: seen as both a source of nourishment and a destructive force, in Andreotta Calò’s installations, it often becomes a reflective, opaque, viscous material, or a dark and solid pool, a substance with mysterious, mutable properties.

Andreotta Calò’ s project for the Italian Pavilion, Senza titolo (La fine del mondo), consists of a vast installation that divides the monumental space horizontally into two levels, creating two separate complementary and contrasting worlds. Viewers enter the work from the lower level, a forest of scaffolding that holds up a wooden platform and evokes the architecture of a five-aisled church; clinging to some of these pipes is a series of white bronze sculptures resembling large seashells (Pinna nobilis) that convey the feeling of a deep, dark aquatic realm. At the opposite end, a stairway leads visitors to the upper level of the installation, where a huge expanse of water covers the entire platform they have just passed under.

The ceiling of the pavilion, reflected and inverted in this pool, creates a dizzying, disorienting vision that the visitor becomes a part of and which is reflected in turn by a large mirror placed on the far wall. The surface of the water seems to amplify the scale and volume of the pavilion, turning its architecture upside down and generating a mirage-like effect: an image that is crystal-clear and vivid, yet wavering. The twinning of the reflected space, like the layout of the installation on two levels, suggests a meditation on the symbolism of the double. This is a recurring theme in other works by the artist, but also points to certain concepts explored by Ernesto de Martino in La fine del mondo, a book in which Andreotta Calò sees many overlaps with his own work. In La fine del mondo, the anthropologist describes the ancient Roman myth of the mundus Cereris, according to which a deep pit near Rome served as a door between the underworld and the upper sphere of the earth and heavens. Three times a year, in a ceremony called mundus patet, this threshold was opened and the kingdom of the living was connected to that of the dead.

 

Giorgio Andreotta Calò, Senza titolo (La fine del mondo), 2017 / Untitled (The End of the World), 2017
Giorgio Andreotta Calò, Senza titolo (La fine del mondo), 2017 / Untitled (The End of the World), 2017
Installation view at Italian Pavilion 57th International Art Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia
Photo: Nuvola Ravera
Pinna Nobilis (O), 2017
white bronze, 47 x 18 x 15 cm
installation view Italian Pavillion Venice Biennial 2017
photo: Kirsten de Graaf
Giorgio Andreotta Calò, Senza titolo (La fine del mondo), 2017 / Untitled (The End of the World), 2017
Giorgio Andreotta Calò, Senza titolo (La fine del mondo), 2017 / Untitled (The End of the World), 2017
Installation view at Italian Pavilion 57th International Art Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia
Photo: Roberto Marossi