Paola Pivi at Palazzo Strozzi

Words by Donatella Taranto
December 3, 2015

Celebrated Italian contemporary artist Paola Pivi will be invading Palazzo Strozzi from 11 December 2015 to 28 February 2016, with a monumental installation entitled Untitled (Project for Etchigo-Tsumari). The installation consists in an extremely colourful inflatable staircase over 20 metres tall that sets out to exasperate the contrast between classic and contemporary in the palazzo’s Renaissance courtyard.

As in some kind of paradoxical take on “Magical Realism”, Paola Pivi’s work endeavours to alter our ordinary perception of reality. Upside-down aeroplanes, zebras captured in Alpine scenery, multicoloured bears or donkeys sailing a boat: the artist’s stock-in-trade consists of objects, animals and people that lose their original significance thanks to a change in their context, scale or situation, and end up leading us into a bizarre and outlandish world.

The staircase in the Palazzo Strozzi Courtyard is an object devoid of all practical function; outsize, unstable, temporary and out of context, it becomes the tool for an ascension which is no longer physical but metaphorical, dragging both the audience’s gaze and their emotions aloft. The whole palazzo becomes part of Paola Pivi’s transitory installation. Like an evocative and kaleidoscopic element of division, the monumental inflatable staircase clashes with the controlled and symmetrical perspective of the palazzo’s Renaissance architecture and with the measured and bland colours of the courtyard’s grey pietra serena stone and cream plaster. Paola Pivi delivers an emotional shock, producing a surreal event that breaks with the accepted conventions of space to generate new and unexpected meanings.

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