In Sardinia, an exhibition puts archistar Stefano Boeri in dialogue with Maria Lai

Unprecedented operation at the Art Station in Ulassai, Sardinia, where works by archistar Stefano Boeri dialogue with those of Maria Lai.

Sii albero (Be a tree): this is the title of the exhibition that opens from June 20 to September 19, 2021 at the Art Station in Ulassai (Nuoro): it is an exhibition that, for the first time in Sardinia, traces the work and philosophy of archistar Stefano Boeri, and the peculiarity lies in the fact that this dialogue takes place with the works and poetics of Maria Lai. Focus of the exhibition is the link between man and nature, which is investigated in the exhibition Be a tree through an exhibition path that highlights the affinities and specificities of the production of the personalities of Boeri and Lai. Two related visions that, although in the originality of their expressive languages, let a new conception and representation of human living on earth shine through.

The exhibition is organized by the Stazione dell’Arte Foundation with the support of the Autonomous Region of Sardinia, the Municipality of Ulassai and the Foundation of Sardinia. Curated by Davide Mariani, director of the museum, Sii albero was created with the intention of integrating two disciplines,architecture andvisual art, by placing side by side two figures who have placed a new vision of community at the center of their production, architect Stefano Boeri and artist Maria Lai.

The Be a Tree project consists of three interrelated moments: the exhibition in the museum’s new project room, the installation created in the park, and the exhibition in the spaces of the former train shed. In the project room there is space for the very famous vertical forest, a building-symbol of Stefano Boeri’s work, which in the tiny “House of the Janas,” the new project room of the Art Station, arrives with a 1:50 scale model. Specifically, of the more than ten projects carried out in the world, the prototype of the first case is exhibited at the museum, built in Milan in the Porta Nuova area and formed by two towers 80 and 112 m high that accommodate, in the whole, 800 trees (a vegetation equivalent to that of 30.000 square meters of forest and undergrowth) and which has already won major awards, including the CTBUH Award as the best tall building in the world given to it by the Council for Tall Building and Urban Habitat of IIT Chicago (2015).The concept of the Bosco Verticale, that is, being “a house for trees that also houses humans and birds,” is also made explicit in the exhibition through a series of didactic apparatuses and videoscreens thatillustrate Boeri’s vision of a sustainable city in relation to the dual challenges of climate change and the progressive increase in world population. The disorientation resulting from observing a skyscraper inside a small dwelling, decontextualized from its frenetic place of origin, offers a reflection on the paradigmatic changes affecting contemporary society. The rediscovery of the local dimension and its values, cultural, social and environmental, prompted architect Boeri to assert that “in historic villages is our future.”

In the Art Station park, the cycle of life and nature is at the center of another dialogue between Maria Lai and Stefano Boeri, which unfolds between the sculpture Fiabe intrecciate. Homage to Gramsci (2007) and the temporary micro-architecture Radura degli abbracci (2017). Lai’s work, almost six meters high, is the result of the fusion of two narratives, The Mouse and the Mountain (1931) written by Gramsci for his children during his period of imprisonment, and the legend of the little girl and the celestial ribbon that inspired the artist for the famous group performance Legarsi alla montagna (1981). Both stories have in common a dramatic moment in which children, as Maria Lai recalls, are entrusted with the task of recomposing the past-present fracture, traceable to that between man and nature. Today, that same invitation is answered by Boeri with a prototype of public space, Radura degli abbracci, a declination of the Radura project (2016), which here consists of ninety-five fir wood cylinders five meters high and six centimeters in diameter, creating a place at once permeable and intimate, where visitors can enter to have an original experience of contact with nature, accompanied by the evocative melody of Piero Salvatori’s cello with the piece “Visions.”

Finally, the relationship between man and the environment is further explored in the spaces of the former train shed where, for the first time in a museum institution, the short film Trojanas, which won an award at the Venice Architecture Short Film Festival 2020, is screened. The film, directed by Stefano Santamato and produced by Paolo Soravia / The Blink Fish for Stefano Boeri Architetti, tells, from the point of view of the trees, the journey of the fir trees torn apart by the Vaia Storm of Friuli and “reborn” in the setting of Euripides’ The Trojan Women at the Greek theater in Syracuse, following them for more than 1,500 kilometers, in the alternation of landscapes, colors and sounds. It is a story of sacrifice and resurrection, which finds affinity in Maria Lai’s work with the narrative that the artist entrusts to the cycle of works “Be a tree,” created in the late 1990s, which give the exhibition its title.

The exhibition concludes with a selection of projects, sketches, photos, and drawings referring to Radura ’s various installations around the world, culminating in Radura della memoria, the last extraordinary example created in Genoa following the collapse of the Morandi Bridge in August 2018. The intervention consists of a circular wooden podium with a diameter of 50 m, within which forty-three different tree species are placed, in memory of the victims of the tragedy and whose variety recalls the typical biodiversity of the Mediterranean maquis.

In Sardinia, an exhibition puts archistar Stefano Boeri in dialogue with Maria Lai
In Sardinia, an exhibition puts archistar Stefano Boeri in dialogue with Maria Lai

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