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"HISTORY OF THE NIGHT AND DESTINY OF THE COMETS"
OLD QUESTIONS
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21th September 2022 | Guest Writer: Margherita Nussio
Guest writer Margherita Nussio introduces the Italian Pavilion at this year's Venice Biennale, "Storia della Notte e Destino delle Comete" ( or History of the Night and Destiny of the Comets) by Gian Maria Tosatti, a reflection on the post-second World War Economic Boom phenomenon in Italy and its ties to today's society.
The 4th of September was a humid, hot and sunny day at the end of Summer in Venice, I was standing in a queue to enter the Padiglione Italia (or Italian Pavilion) at the Arsenale. It was the last Padiglione of the day after a 5.30 am start to travel to Venice and the day spent at Giardini.

A view of the Arsenale from the docks in Venice, Italy. Photo credits: Margherita Nussio

I was looking around and the view was breathtaking: the canals, the sea, the old Arsenale and someone in the distance was rehearsing for a concert sponsored by Campari that was organised for later that day for the Festa del Cinema (Venice Film Festival).
I am an ex-pat, I have been living in London for almost 4 years now and I couldn’t stop thinking about how beautiful Italy is and how many things I am missing by living in London but, at the same time, how many contradictions there are in such a beautiful and unique country.

Gian Maria Tosatti, "Storia della Notte e Destino delle Comete", Italian Pavilion at the Venice Biennale Arte 2022, curated by Eugenio Viola, Commissioner of the Italian Pavilion Onofrio Cutaia. Photo: Courtesy DGCC – MiC.


The Padiglione Italia is a huge space, and - for the first time- one artist had the challenging role to use it all and be the only one exhibiting there. Gian Maria Tosatti, along with the curator Eugenio Viola, filled the huge space with History of the Night and Destiny of the Comets, a work divided into two parts.

Walking into the Pavilion, the visitor comes across something that is totally unexpected. Gian Maria Tosatti recreated a factory floor, purchasing disused pieces of machinery across Italy. The voice of Gino Paoli [1] is broadcasted from a tiny radio and it creates the perfect atmosphere for the visitor to be transported back to the post-second World War period. The guests are guided in religious silence across different rooms, including a traditional 1970s Italian home and a room filled with sewing machines. Both rooms don’t have any sign of human presence, both are just filled with appliances and dust almost to recreate the former glory of the Italian Economic Boom and the Italian craftsmanship.

Gian Maria Tosatti, "Storia della Notte e Destino delle Comete", Italian Pavilion at the Venice Biennale Arte 2022, curated by Eugenio Viola, Commissioner of the Italian Pavilion Onofrio Cutaia. Photo: Courtesy DGCC – MiC.

The second part was probably my favourite. The visitor is guided in an enormous space that is in almost total darkness. After a couple of seconds of confusion, the eyes adjust to the new situation and are mesmerised in a space where nature, human presence and machinery are in synchronicity.
The inspiration for the last space of the Pavilion, “Destiny of the Comets” comes from Pier Paolo Pasolini's “I would give the whole of Montedison for a firefly”.[2] Montedison is a symbol of capitalism, of exploration of nature that led to the disappearance of fireflies. The visitor stands on a jetty surrounded by water, in the distance lights roam causing reflections on the water, which come directly from the outside. This creates an interesting and poetic sense of continuity between the outside and inside, almost like the visitor is in full conjunction with Venice, the past of Italy, and the future of humanity.

Gian Maria Tosatti, "Storia della Notte e Destino delle Comete", Italian Pavilion at the Venice Biennale Arte 2022, curated by Eugenio Viola, Commissioner of the Italian Pavilion Onofrio Cutaia. Photo: Courtesy DGCC – MiC.

The Italian Pavilion and the 59th Venice Biennale remain open until November 27th 2022. Click here for more information about your visit!

References:
[1] Gino Paoli (b. 1934) is an Italian singer-songwriter, who has written a wide selection of pieces regarded as classics in Italian music.
[2] Article "Gian Maria Tosatti at the Venice Biennale, by Artvisor, published 24th May 2022. Last checked 19th September 2022.
About the Writer
Margherita Nussio was born and raised in Udine, a small town in the northeast of Italy, where the proximity of Austria and Slovenia creates an interesting middle-European mix.

She studied Art History at La Sapienza University of Rome and life brought her to London, to undertake a Master's degree at SOAS, University of London, in Contemporary Art of Asia and Africa. She is curious, passionate and always wandering around, trying to discover new things about London and the world.

@margheran

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