Fabrizio Plessi marries Brixia: an unprecedented immersive path designed for the Capital of Culture 2023

From June 9, 2023, to January 7, 2024, Fabrizio Plessi arrives in Brescia with the unprecedented project Plessi marries Brixia: an immersive journey with installations, video projections, and monumental digital environments designed for the Archaeological Park of Roman Brescia and the Museum of Santa Giulia.

Fabrizio Plessi comes to Brescia and presents from June 9, 2023 to January 7, 2024 the unprecedented project Plessi marries Brixia, celebrating a marriage with the city and its inhabitants, delivering to the public a message of responsibility and awareness of Brescia’s historical, archaeological and iconographic heritage. It is an immersive journey consisting of installations, video projections and monumental digital environments, specially designed for the Archaeological Park of Roman Brescia and the Museum of Santa Giulia. It is a journey intended to highlight the city’s vestiges and heritage, reinterpreting them through Plessi’s characteristic technological and multimedia alphabet, that is, with light, sound and moving images, and is completed with an exhibition of original drawings, plates and project sketches.

The initiative, curated by Ilaria Bignotti and promoted by the City of Brescia and Fondazione Brescia Musei, is the new chapter in the format Archaeological Stages, inaugurated with the monographs on Francesco Vezzoli (2021) and Emilio Isgrò (2022), and is part of the calendar of events of Bergamo Brescia Italian Capital of Culture 2023.

Coinciding with Plessi sposa Brixia, Fondazione Brescia Musei is also inaugurating the Unesco Corridor, a walk of nearly a kilometer through 1,700 years of history, which connects in a single pedestrian path, open freely and for free to the public, the Capitolium area to the monumental complex of Santa Giulia, today accessible only separately. The Unesco Corridor will ensure, for the first time ever, that all visitors can remain immersed, visually and physically, in the historical monumental architecture, from the Roman age, told through the new layout of the Roman Section, marked by the most modern standards of accessibility and multimedia art installations, and then traveling into the early Middle Ages and the Renaissance, without any interference between the present city and the aura of these ancient places. The project is promoted by the Municipality of Brescia and the Brescia Musei Foundation, with the collaboration and support of the Brescia Chamber of Commerce and the CAB Foundation, in agreement with the Soprintendenza Archeologia Belle Arti e Paesaggio for the Provinces of Bergamo and Brescia and with the support of the Lombardy Region: it is presented on the occasion of the celebration for the tenth anniversary of the inscription of the monumental complex of Santa Giulia and the Capitolium archaeological park in the UNESCO World Heritage List, within the serial site I Longobardi in Italia. Places of Power (568-774 AD).

"With Plessi marries Brixia the extraordinary experience of Fondazione Brescia Musei in the contamination between archaeology and contemporary art continues. With Fabrizio Plessi we also bring to fruition the grand UNESCO Corridor project: the contemporary and digital and immersive counterpoints of Fabrizio Plessi make the very sense of the valorization of archaeology," said Stefano Karadjov, director Fondazione Brescia Musei. “Imagining new functions, consistent with ancient space, in which the aesthetics of our present can short-circuit with that of 2,000 years ago, which in turn was, at the time, as contemporary as it could be. In this contradiction lies the strength of Palcoscenici Archeologici which, after Vezzoli and Isgrò, proposes another great Italian artist in Brescia, on the special occasion of the Italian Capital of Culture.”

The exhibition theme that Fabrizio Plessi has highlighted combines the values of beauty, preservation and tradition with those of enhancement and recognition of the place, its identity and its absolute value. Inspired by Brescia’s archaeological and monumental remains, Plessi saw in this heritage a reservoir of iconographies from which to intervene with his language, to create a multimedia transformation of them into golden casts, black backdrops, eddies of light, sounds and movements.

The itinerary, which embraces several rooms of the Roman Brescia museum complex, opens in the Sculpture Hall of the Capitoline Temple, which houses Capita aurea, three large multimedia works, where bronze heads of Roman emperors slowly dissolve, ending up as liquid gold on the ground. A sort of contemporary vanitas, in which the precious metal becomes a metaphor for time passing, earthly glory passing away, and power dissolving.

Continuing on, in the apse of St. Saviour’s Church, one encounters the large wedding ring, the fulcrum and narrative core of the entire project, which also ideally embraces the columns of the Capitoline Temple and symbolically espouses the Museum, its goods and values. The work is the conductor of a profound message of fidelity, respect, and love for the past, the source and wellspring of artistic research, but it also becomes an allegory of the cyclical nature of time and transformation and, as such, a positive symbol of rebirth after the pandemic period.

The Domus dell’Ortaglia hosts Underwater treasure, a work inspired by Brescia’s mosaic heritage. For the occasion, Plessi selected some ancient mosaics, creating a work in which graphic motifs are transformed into tides of golden waves that stand out against black backgrounds.

Colonne colanti is the title of the installation that works on the fragments of columns found within the museum itinerary of Roman Brescia. The column, a symbol of power and monumentality and a supporting element of architecture, becomes liquid in Plessi’s work, slowly melting until it disappears into a golden pool: it is an invitation to meditate on vainglory and power, but also to remember the great beauty and constructions of humanity and not to let them be destroyed.

Impressed by theiconography of the crucified Santa Giulia, which was once part of the church’s trousseau, Plessi focused on her figure and especially the carved drapery. With Floating Santa Giulia, the artist has digitally reproduced the figure of the saint and, by making the movements of her dress fluid through technologies, makes us reflect on the violence of history and the communicative power of this sculpture.

Plessi marries Brixia ends in the Sala dell’Affresco of the Santa Giulia Museum, where sketches, notes, drawings and projects, accompanied by thoughts on the meaning of the exhibition and the installations, that Fabrizio Plessi made in more than two years of work for the Brescia project are on display. An opportunity to observe how the artist processes the ideas of his works, what cognitive and imaginative processes are behind an art installation, tracing the reflections and dreams of a contemporary author towards his origins and our history.

Accompanying the project is a catalog published by Skira, edited by Ilaria Bignotti, with writings by Luca Massimo Barbero and Ilaria Bignotti.

Image: Fabrizio Plessi, Plessi marries Brixia (2022-2023; digital image)

Fabrizio Plessi marries Brixia: an unprecedented immersive path designed for the Capital of Culture 2023
Fabrizio Plessi marries Brixia: an unprecedented immersive path designed for the Capital of Culture 2023