Francesca Grilli, Samuele Menin, Luca Resta e Maria Francesca Tassi
May 14 and 15, 2016
former Church of San Michele all’Arco, Bergamo, Italy

BABEL - on view on May 14th and 15th - is the contribution of Contemporary Locus to ArtDate 2016 - ‘The city of crossed destinies’, organised by The Blank from May 13th to May 15th.
Invited by ArtDate, curator Paola Tognon has asked artists Francesca Grilli, Samuele Menin, Luca Resta and Maria Francesca Tassi to freely interpret “The Castle of Crossed Destinies”, short novel by Italo Calvino.
Contemporary Locus has identified a hidden site in the city where to set the visual and narrative interweavings generated by the project. It is the former Church of San Michele dell’Arco which, while waiting to be restored, hosts an invaluable loan from the public library Angelo Mai.
The title of the exhibition - BABEL - is related to the exhibition venue, a site that presents itself to the visitor like a real ‘babel’ of books and manuscripts which add to the memory and the ancient decors of the church.
Published in 1969, the text by Calvino has often been described by the author as a “sort of crosswords made of characters rather than letters”. Protagonist of the work is the tarot collection Colleoni-Baglioni, created in 1451 by Bonifacio Bembo and Antonio Cicognara and counting among the best preserved in the world, conserved today between Bergamo and New York.
The four artists have worked independently according to their own individual interpretation, starting from various editions of the text - the Italian original version and the English and French translations - and observing the 26 tarots on display at the Accademia Carrara.

Francesca Grilli
BABEL, 4 mirrors' Arcanes, 2016
ph. Mario Albergati

Maria Francesca Tassi
BABEL, paper and gold, 2016
ph. Mario Albergati

Luca Resta
BABEL, Lista #1 book, sound installation, 2016
ph. Mario Albergati

Samuele Menin
BABEL, 2 calligrams printed on silk, 2016
ph. Mario Albergati

Francesca Grilli, acting simultaneously as artist and fortune-teller, starts from the desire to make gift to the tarot deck in Bergamo of the four missing Arcana. The piece, being the result of personal reading, is hidden in an installation made of reflective metals.
Samuele Menin, inspired like Grilli by this specific absence, related to the structure of the novel in order to imagine its calligram representation. The new Arcana by Menin, printed on silk, are born from the figurative juxtaposition of words in Calvino’s text.
Guided by his interest for collections and catalogues, through words Luca Resta creates a new order, different to the combinatory one imagined by Calvino. The new book, renewed in its value as object, container and symbol, reorganises and combines words by type and number, according to a syntactic scheme that inevitably interferes with their meaning.
Maria Francesca Tassi, artist who employs paper as privileged material, skin and soul of her practice, creates a new structure of the book by intersecting pages and words. The outcome is, in an original visual composition, a new narrative structure which becomes a third layer - after the tarots and the short novel - of divination and chance.

The project is realised in partnership with Biblioteca Civica Angelo Mai, Comune di Bergamo, Italia Nostra Bergamo and the Association of Friends of Biblioteca Angelo Mai.

former Church of San Michele all'Arco, Fresco, 2016
ph. Mario Albergati

Ex Chiesa San Michele all'Arco
The former Church of San Michele all’Arco, almost hidden by the building that today hosts the Biblioteca Angelo Mai on the north angle of Piazza Vecchia, takes his name on the one hand from the statue of the Archangel Michele visible on his facade and on the other from the what remains of a triumphal arch erected in the name of Nerone. According to a legend dating back to IX century, this was the site of the primitive church, one of the oldest in Bergamo. Nothing remains of the ancient building, probably built on the ruins of a roman temple dedicated to Neptune, according to the paleochristian use of turning pagan rituals sacred by appropriating them for the new ritual. In 1750 the church was restored in its present baroque forms, according to a project by Caniana. Today, no longer used for religious purposes, hosts the book deposit of the Biblioteca Angelo Mai.



former Church of San Michele all'Arco, inside, 2016
ph. Mario Albergati

former Church of San Michele all'Arco, inside, 2016
ph. Mario Albergati