GIULIA CENCI (CORTONA, 1988) IS THE NEW PROTAGONIST OF DUEL WITH THE SOLO SHOW IRON HEEL, A DIALECTIC DUEL BETWEEN THE YOUNG TUSCAN ARTIST AND ARTURO MARTINI’S MASTERPIECE FROM THE PERMANENT COLLECTION OF THE MUSEO NOVECENTO.
Duel is a dialectical duel between international artists and the works of the permanent collection of the Museo Novecento. The protagonist of this season is Giulia Cenci (Cortona, 1988), the finalist at the Maxxi Bvlgari Prize 2020. In the solo show IRON HEEL, the young artist has chosen to start a dialogue with the bronze sculpture Leone di Monterosso – Chimera by Arturo Martini.
The exhibition is the modern interpretation of a fantastic image from classical mythology. The Chimera is a terrifying being, born from the Greeks’ mind and then adopted by the Etruscans and Romans, who handed down the myth of the creature with a lion face, a goat body, and a snake tail, killed by the hero Bellerophon. After the presentation three years ago, in the Sala Leone X of Palazzo Vecchio, of the famous Chimera of Arezzo, found in the 16th century, and then moved to Florence by Cosimo I de’ Medici, the monster returns to make itself alive under the modern forms invented by Arturo Martini. Giulia Cenci starts her dialogue with these terrible and apotropaic elements, creating threatening machines, resurrecting myths, chthonic personifications, and anxieties of the deep.
After a meticulous consideration of the architecture and history of the Ex Leopoldine, the venue of the museum, Giulia Cenci created a series of site-specific works, invading space with ‘monstrous’ creatures born from the ruins of industrial and agricultural machinery. The artist creates a sort of ‘landscape-anatomy’ that unfolds along a complex assembly line, a three-dimensional assemblage of forms and tools abandoned and out of order. These works are metamorphic constructions in which mechanical parts evoke or mix with details anatomical, as in a sort of chimera or Frankenstein’s creature. Two huge mechanical arms, composed of fragments of agricultural parts and cars, redefine the space, forcing the visitor to an obligatory path.
The installation reminds some natural conformations and large skeletons of extinct species, a sort of primordial beings or beings that come from a biological elsewhere, generated by crossbreeding and hybridizations between nature and technology. The work also reveals a strong critique of the recent post-industrial past, with its baggage of violence and destructive charge, evoked by Wystan Hugh Auden‘s verses: “Dark was that day when Diesel / conceived his grim engine that / begot you, vile invention, / more vicious, more criminal / than the camera even, / metallic monstrosity, / bale and bane of our Culture, / chief woe of our Commonweal.”
Giulia Cenci attacks the industrial progress and the technological superpower with a criticism that expresses itself through a reverse mechanism: showing the ruins of civilization industrial, the finds of mechanized agriculture and the corpses of a failed civilization, the artist, as a new demiurge, reassembles the pieces collected in this disaster, to restore life with them to disturbing figures, in whose forms and appearance all the failure of modern society is revealed.
Curated by Eva Francioli and Sergio Risaliti
28th April – 22nd August 2021