A Portrait of Italia: portraits of a forgotten wor...

A Portrait of Italia: portraits of a forgotten world between past and present

The programme of projects promoted by the artistic-cultural association Zona Blu, founded in 2020 and defined as a ‘fluid perimeter’, i.e. a syncretic workshop and cultural incubator, continues. It is a free and multiform space, an open atelier, a place of birth and rebirth of ideas and creative identities. The first solo show by Chiara Scodeller, entitled ‘A Portrait of Italia’, represents the second appointment of the semester-long exhibition called ‘Iperblu’, an offshoot to discover the different qualities of the practices of emerging artists who are protagonists in different media and languages. Previously, with the exhibition of the TRDE collective, curated by Nicola Tineo and entitled “L’amore vive nel ricordo” (Love Lives in Memory), an immersive site-specific installation was presented, in complete synergy with the space and theme proposed by the exhibition. TRDE is a collective whose name stands for ‘The Rainbow Doesn’t Exist’. With this exhibition, the collective has created an environment rich in memories and emotional ties.

Chiara Scodeller, “Universal”, 2022, short film, color, sound, duration, 9’35, courtesy of the artist,

According to founder Nicola Tineo, making social art means for an artist to empathically connect with the historical reality he or she is experiencing. With this vision, Zona Blu’s exhibition programme continues with the second appointment dedicated, in this case, to a solo show. The exhibition is curated by Francesca De Chiara and Francesca Rossi Minelli, members of the Zona Blu curatorial team. It was articulated in the space in a skilful and precise manner. The works are arranged like pieces that lead the viewer towards the final work: the short film ‘Universal’, set in the factory where the artist’s father works, the feed mill in San Vito al Tagliamento, near Pordenone. By creating a dark exhibition space, the immersive narration of the reality of northern Italy and factory spaces expands the description of the cold and apparently detached working-class reality. This reality is examined with distance and an archaeological gaze. The sounds of the video are jarring, the human presence is minimal and our gaze observes the gigantic machinery, inducing us to create a purely contemplative and nostalgic relationship, with an observation of artefacts that reveal a harsh and arid industrial past, complex and all-encompassing in the labour narrative of northern Italy, which must be preserved.

Chiara Scodeller, “Portis”, 2022, photographic negatives, variable dimensions, courtesy of the artist

Anticipating the final narrative, a series of photographic negatives placed at the entrance introduces the viewer to the temporal and spatial leap he/she is about to take. The work ‘Italy’, composed of backlit colour slides, plays the same role. The arrangement of the works is fitting and is reminiscent of the curatorial description carried out for the project, arranged like the tiles of the two main works. The subterranean plane of “Hyperspace” invites us to go deep inside, like the karst rocks of Carnia, places portrayed and explored by the artist in these photographs. This theme gives rise to the reflection brought forward in the presentation of Zona Blu’s previous project for this semester’s exhibition: what does social art mean today? After the Kassel documenta of 2021, which was considered a watershed with respect to the conception of art for the community, we could say that this expression is back in vogue. In relation to the documenta, multiple expressions were coined, including the debated ‘Artivism’ by Vincenzo Trione. However, it has to be considered whether top artists can call themselves activists or whether their work actually has a social impact. Is it necessary for art to have a condition of utility?

Chiara Scodeller, “EV5”, 2023, fine art photographic print, semi-gloss baryta hannemhule, 70 x 125 cm, courtesy of the artist

The depth of it lies in the way it tells the cultural context of the artist and his/her ability to take the outside in through his/her gaze. In this case, the reflection is not so much on artivism, but on the consideration of art making as a reflection of a cultural context. The claim to change it does not lie in the creation of an exhibition, but it is the karstic making of art that makes its cultural value. In the case of Chiara Scodeller, the artist’s experience is present and alive within the work, her gaze, if apparently hidden, is a reading of the present and the past that is also social and cultural. Her artistic practice is in the penumbra of her experience, comparable to the dark space of the exhibition. The Associazione Zona Blu A.p.s seeks to create a network of experimental collaborations aimed at the social context it inhabits. Other examples that define this reality are the opening of the Edicola Magenta space and the association’s desire to open up to new collaborations, expanding a network that includes publishing, design and contemporary art. Towards the end of the summer, the Situ Festival, a social impact residency that develops in the small towns of Sicily and attempts a dialogue between contemporary art and historical/religious sites. This idea of being part of the social network, of promoting artists who are empathetic to contemporaneity, is the general line promoted by the association and is exemplified in the proposed projects.

Giulia Elisa Bianchi


Chiara Scodeller. A Portrait of Italia
curated by Francesca De Chiara e Francesca Rossi Minelli Team curatoriale di Zona Blu
16 – 25/02/2024
via Carlo Torre 43, Milano


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