FABIO MAURI: The Western or Wailing Wall | 1993

27 gennaio – 23 febbraio 2020

On the occasion of the celebrations for Holocaust Remembrance Day 2020, from January 27 to February 23, the Palazzo Vecchio Museum is hosting, in the Sala dei Gigli, the installation Il Muro Occidentale o del Pianto by Fabio Mauri, a Museo Novecento OFF project conceived and curated by the artistic director of the Museo Novecento, Sergio Risaliti. Fabio Mauri (Rome 1926 – 2009), protagonist of the cycle Solo at the Museo Novecento (from January 24 to April 30, 2020) and one of the leading artists of the neo-avant-garde during the second half of the twentieth century, in his own creative parable, conducted a lengthy exploration of the paths of ideologies and theme of memory, examining the role of “evil” in the history of humanity.

“If there were no pain”, said Mauri, language would have ceased to exist long ago”.

The installationIl Muro Occidentale o del Pianto is a four-meter wall, made of a pile of suitcases and trunks stacked in an orderly fashion, varying in size and materials (wood, leather, canvas). It was presented for the first time by Mauri in 1993 at the 45th Venice Biennale. It was installed again later in 2011 at the MAXXI in Rome and again in Venice at the 2013 Biennale. It has a strong impact, recalling the themes of exile, forced exodus, migration, and rendering the varied nature and complexity of it all.

“There are works like Guernica by Picasso or the Angelus Novus by Klee”, Sergio Risaliti states, “that more than any other artistic expression, speak of terror and violence, the extermination of the innocent and the banal nature of evil, the monsters of Reason. To these I would add Il Muro Occidentale o del Pianto by Fabio Mauri, who associates the tragedy of war and the Holocaust with the exodus and eradication. The suitcases, erected like a wall, become the monument to the memory and pain of all the victims of the power and ideologies that oppose human rights and human dignity”.

“The ‘Muro Occidentale o del Pianto (the Western or Wailing Wall)’ as the remnant of the wall of Solomon’s Temple is called in Jerusalem, is rebuilt here with suitcases”, reads the text by Mauri that accompanies the installation from its first exhibition and which is therefore part of the work. “It is an attempt to represent that necessary wall of the ideal or intellectual faith, among all that baggage in transit, forced to leave the country, or carry with them an incinerated identity. It is a construction of dissimilar provenances that stands on its own, with no support other than its obvious complexity. The soft, the hard, the cardboard, the leather are, in this wall, stones and people, one single self-supporting collage. In Auschwitz too, one of the most impressive documents was built on a pile of suitcases. Each one, in the name and address written on it, brings with it the certainty of return”.

While on the one hand, the wall is even and regular like a real wall, on the other, it is disconnected with a varying volumes, recalling, according to the artist, “the modern composition of transmigrations”, that, Dictated by numerous causes, appearing excessively enigmatic to then be immediately composed and deciphered”.

“In the nooks and crannies of the ‘Western or Wailing Wall’, the Jews tuck little pieces of paper with prayers related to the soul, affections, bodies, how to live life on earth”, concluded Mauri in the text accompanying the installation. “I simulated them in a single roll of canvas. A sort of art prayer. The Wall is the place, say the Jews, where God definitely listens: it is therefore a valued place. A plant also grows there, a sign of the continuation of a mixed existence that even the mute square stones or empty and inert suitcases cannot hinder”.