Viafarini presents a monographic project by Riccardo Arena, Vavilon Project C – Solovki Islands, inaugurating a curatorial season that investigates the multiple relations between artistic practice and cultural research.
Riccardo Arena’s artistic work is a compendium of nomad and long-term research processes. Through the process of stratification and assembly of diverse materials, the artist build up narrative structures, conceived as a matrix for the development of visual imaginary.
After a cycle of works carried out in China and Argentina, Vavilon focuses on the Solovki Islands, an archipelago located in the Russian White Sea, at 160 km from the Northern Pole. Through history, Solovki Islands became a place of worship for the ancient nomadic populations, a realm for ascesis and mysticism, an orthodox sanctuary, and more recently site of the Gulags, Soviet forced labour camps. The Solovki Islands are at the same time witness of the utopias and the dystopias, battlefield of ideologic wars and a place for redemption.
Vavilon body of works reproduces the morfology of the Solovki Islands on an imaginative plan, casting light on their inner structure and thus creating a much more profound and authentic map, showing the psychogeographical forces that shaped the historical events which sedimentated in the Islands. Riccardo Arena calls into question the catalytic function that the Islands carried out in history. In particular Arena chooses the 35 labyrinths located in the Islands as formal and conceptual triggers for his visual and historical research. Riccardo Arena started off from Bulloni’s intuition that the Island is “in itself a labyrinth” and the geometrical synthesis of the journey towards redemption of a soul ready to overcome the limits of its human nature. The artist extends this analytical approach to other phases of the Solovki Islands such as the cloistered period, the transformation into gulag, as well as the Cosmist philosophical theories, stating that the pursuit of immortality pass through the cosmic escape from the labyrinth of mortality.
The inputs for the artistic investigation were a travel experience Arena had in 2013 on the Islands and the study of Marco Bulloni’s book about these territories, evolved in the following years into a study of the less renowned aspects of the russian culture. In particular the Russian Cosmism, that represents a common ground of the totalitaristic system and that characterized all the history of Russian cosmonauts history.
Riccardo Arena’s Vavilon Project is currently formalized into a full-lenght movie, presented in national preview on September 10th 2015 at the Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo on occasion of their current exhibition which constitutes the core of the exhibition at Viafarini.
The Presence of Vavilon | Project C – Solovki Islands at Viafarini is meant to share with the public the stimuli that fed the artistic project, fostering dialog between the contemporary scientific and artistic research fields.