|17 – 22 April
Biblioteca Pinacoteca Accademia Ambrosiana
Entrance from Piazza San Sepolcro, Milano
The city of Milan historically has two hearts, two sites that have contributed equally to establish its unique identity. The first, the ancient Celtic forest, was re-evoked in Piazza San Fedele during the 2011 Saloni, with the event “The Arbour”.
The second heart, dating back to the Romans, will receive its homage at the 2012 Saloni with “skybook” (librocielo), a multimedia installation designed, like the first, by Attilio Stocchi and dedicated to the origins of Milan.
The vibrant center of all Roman cities was the forum, at the intersection of the cardo and decuman, the commercial, administrative and judiciary heart of the city. In 1609, in the area of Milan’s ancient forum, between Piazza Santo Sepolcro and Piazza Pio XI, Cardinal Federico Borromeo built the Ambrosiana with the aim of conserving the ancient past and “protecting the pictorial and literary vestiges of the Classical world”.
“skybook” is an homage to Roman Milan, to the Mediolanum that was the capital of the Empire from 286 to 402 AD but above all to the literary paternity/patrimony that has come down to us from antiquity. Why not, therefore, “illuminate and give voice” to the extraordinary quantity of texts conserved in the Ambrosiana that have contributed so much to our evolution and knowledge?
Books illustrate the origins of the distinctive conformation of the city of Milan – the Ambrosiana hosts, among other things, the first planimetric representation of Milan (in a codex by Galvano Fiamma) and the famous sketch by Leonardo da Vinci of the concentric city.
How did people inhabit the domus of Roman Milan? Is there a hearth at the center of the home today? Dialogues, reflections on living in a real place from the past yet one that also fills our collective imagination.
The structure of the “dialogue between books” is informed by the concept of the domus: the load-bearing structure of the Roman city and its society, a representation of it, almost. Domus as in urban “microcosm”: an empty space right in the centre – an atrium here, a square there – within a built environment pulsating with purpose. Seen from this angle, the Roman home, split into fragments and its constituent parts reassembled, is a powerful metaphor for a reflection on inhabiting and living a space: the fauces: protection; the alae with the statues of hands, household gods and penates: prayer; the atrium with the hearth below and the sky above: warmth and universum; the triclinium: hospitality. A multitude of declensions, therefore: domus as both a windowless bunker and a temple, a tent beneath the sky and a tavern; domus as convivium, inside which we can “all inhabit” the world.
These are the themes of the great library tomes and of the more modern works. From Aulus Gellius’s Attic Nights to Nietzsche’s Aurora; from Martial’s Epigrams to Savinio’s Tragedy of Childhood; from Pliny’s Natural History to Kafka’s Zürau Aphorisms; from Seneca’s Dialogues to Jung’s Memories, Dreams, Reflections.
“skybook” is an event that unfolds inside and around the Ambrosiana, a unique journey of light and sound whose fulcra are the Sala Federiciana and the Cortile degli Spiriti Magni, where visitors will be able to see and hear “books dialoguing with one another”.
The entrance court on Piazza San Sepolcro – the original entrance of the library’s first nucleus – marks the start of the journey, with the statue of Federico Borromeo acting as host.
During the journey, visitors will enter a new and visionary world, witnessing imaginary dialogues between talking books. Swaths of light, like guiding voices, will help them understand the relationships between the ancient volumes.
Project by Attilio Stocchi
with Laura Trovalusci
with the collaboration of Laura Crespi and Enrico Prato
Audio and lighting: Volume srl
Display installation: Way spa