24 Jan 2020 – 29 Jun 2020

Duel – Elena Mazzi. Routes

Curated by

Sergio Risaliti and Stefania Rispoli

Hours & Tickets Arrow

Where and when


24January 2020


29June 2020

Museo Novecento

For the seventh appointment of the Duel exhibition cycle, the museum proposes the exhibition Routes by Elena Mazzi (Reggio Emilia, 1984), an imaginary journey that from Sicily crosses Italy and leads to Iceland and then to China, suggesting different possible trajectories.

Exhibition Hours

Winter Hours

Monday – Sunday

11:00 am

8:00 pm


For the first time, the exhibition, curated by Sergio Risaliti and Stefania Rispoli, was born around the dialogue with three different works from the permanent collection: Contadini in strada / Man in front of the stove by Renato Guttuso (c. 1938), Il veliero by Mario Sironi (1929-31) and Bioplastic Life of Enrico Prampolini (1938), belonging to the Alberto Della Ragione Collection.

The exhibition is structured as an imaginary journey that from Sicily crosses Italy and leads to Iceland and then to China, suggesting different possible trajectories: an opportunity to immerse yourself in the artist’s poetics, focused on the relationship between man and environment in which he lives, as well as on the strategies in place to respond to the social and ecological emergencies of our time.

The two installations by Elena Mazzi exhibited in the great room share with Renato Guttuso‘s (Bagheria, 1911 – Rome, 1987) Peasants in the street / Man in front of the stove (1938 ca.) the interest in the Italian landscape built around the relationship of man with the earth, culture with farming.

Energy Atlas was born from a reflection on the theme of energy in the Piedmont area. In the history and current events of these places “environment, science, nutrition, anthropology, economics, art and politics intertwine” as the artist explains “and are wrapped around a grain of rice, a necessary source of energy for living organisms.”

Italy is the leading European producer of rice, its rice fields have become part of the collective imagination and popular culture through the mondine who led the first female workers’ struggles in the twentieth century. A choral story that seems to come back in the elements that make up the work: a video in Super 8, some screen prints and a series of bags containing different varieties of rice.

En route to the South is an installation created in collaboration with the artist Rosario Sorbello that arises from a semantic and conceptual juxtaposition between nomadic beekeeping and human migration. It consists of a series of frames for bees on whose waxy surface the maps of some European cities have been imprinted, where statistical data have revealed a rapid transformation of the internal economy thanks to the increase in migrant workforce. An audio completes the work in which reflections on beekeeping and nomadism, biodiversity and monoculture, land grabbing and migration are collected.

In dialogue with Il veliero (1929-31) by Mario Sironi (Sassari, 1885 – Milan, 1961), Elena Mazzi deploys two works in the small room that in an ambivalent way open a reflection on the impact of the economy and geopolitics on changes and on climate emergencies.

Snow Dragon is a tapestry made with natural fibers and recycled plastic and is also the name of one of the ice-breaking ships that China is planning to open the so-called Polar Silk Route in the Arctic, exploiting the melting of glaciers.

Da nord a est, da ovest a sud… is a billiard table designed for the free time of the workers of a well-known Italian footwear company, with which visitors to the exhibition can play. The game balls are engraved with the names of the countries where the company has relocated part of its production and sales. In Vita bioplastica (1938) by Enrico Prampolini (Modena, 1894 – Rome, 1956), belonging to the years of the so-called “cosmic idealism”, two figures float in the center of the canvas like organisms in metamorphosis.

An idea of ​​continuous transformation of matter and rebirth that is also present in the Becoming with and unbecoming with sculptures exhibited in the center of the chapel and created by Elena Mazzi specifically for the exhibition, starting with the cast of some cetacean vertebrae found on the beaches of ‘Iceland, where the artist went to her residence after an accident at sea that forced her to a period of sedentary lifestyle.
Where time and nature seem to have stopped in a prehistoric imagination, Mazzi seeks a synthesis with the landscape to heal his personal fractures. The work, commissioned by the Museum, focuses on the encounter between form and matter and was created between Veneto and Tuscany thanks to the collaboration with the artisans and manufacturing companies Giorgio Giuman, Leo-France S.r.l. and L’Oro degli Etruschi S.r.l. . The original vertebrae have been reproduced in metal (in this case silver) to recall the surgical prostheses that stabilize the bone structures. These interact with glass, a material that was originally liquid like water, which in its transparency and hardness also maintains its fragility. In the background appears the image of the artist from behind while wearing a whale vertebra, in an attempt to find a balance between man’s biorhythm and the surrounding world.

Elena Mazzi

After studying at the University of Siena and the IUAV in Venice, he spent a training period at the Royal Institute of Art (Konsthögskolan) in Stockholm. His works have been exhibited in solo and group exhibitions, including: Whitechapel gallery in London, BOZAR in Brussels, MAGA in Gallarate, GAMeC in Bergamo, MAMbo in Bologna, AlbumArte in Rome, Sonje Art Center in Seoul, Palazzo Ducale in Urbino , Palazzo Fortuny in Venice, Golinelli Foundation in Bologna, Pecci Center for Contemporary Art in Prato, 16th Rome Quadrennial, Turin GAM, 14th Istanbul Biennale, 17th BJCEM Mediterranean Biennale, Fittja Pavilion during the 14th Venice Architecture Biennale, COP17 in Durban, Italian Cultural Institute in New York, Brussels, Stockholm, Johannesburg and Cape Town, Bevilacqua La Masa Foundation in Venice. He has participated in various residency programs in Italy and abroad. She is the winner, among others, of the 7th edition of the Italian Council promoted by the Ministry of Cultural Heritage, of the XVII Ermanno Casoli Prize, STEP Beyond Prize, OnBoard Prize, VISIO Young Talent Acquisition prize, Eneganart prize, Illy scholarship for Unidee, Pistoletto Foundation, nctm and art, Sandretto Re Rebaudengo Foundation award, Lerici Foundation award, Movin’up.


Elena Mazzi

1984, Reggio Emilia

Curated by

Sergio Risaliti

Stefania Rispoli

Organization and Coordination

Francesca Neri


Elisa di Lupo

Press Office Comune di Firenze

Olivia Bongianni

Tabloid Soc. Coop.



Visual Identity

FRUSH design studio


Dania Menafra


Ph Credits

Leonardo Morfini