Il palazzo di Atlante
Il palazzo di Atlante is a project for an environmental scale intervention, designed for the Ufficio Geologico building located at largo Santa Susanna, Rome. The place is currently abandoned, and was designed between 1873 and 1879 by the engineer Raffaele Canevari: this space is the starting point for a research that Tosatti documents in the attached file donated to MoRE, through a project and several diary entries corresponding to the different stages of the design process. It is possible to consider this artwork within a path that includes several works the artist dedicated to abandoned spaces - in particular we can mention Tetralogia della polvere (Novara, Casa Bossi, 2012) and also the recent cycle realized in Naples, Sette Stagioni dello Spirito (2013 - 2016) -: this ambitious work is considered by Gian Maria Tosatti as an arrival point he can face only after a series of experience, where he "started building rooms, larger or smaller, then dedicating myself to buildings and then finally building larger and larger artworks, sometimes even bigger than myself, and therefore requiring every time an evolution, a development of myself as an artist. "
The title refers to the Atlas Palace, a myth that appears in the Boiardo and Ariosto Orlando, and that here acquires a personal value for Tosatti as a place to deal with, but also in a relationship with the visitors, though the symbols of the labyrinth and the mirror, a central theme in the artist's research between 2011 and 2012. Through a practice divided between art and architecture, often described by Tosatti himself with an analogy with the room in the middle of the "zone" in the Andrei Tarkovsky film Stalker, a model of superimposition of identity and desire, here the artist tries to make the apparition of “castles and monuments” true, introducing in the project the themes of electricity and illusion:
“The culmination of the work will consist precisely in a large switch that visitors could turn off, letting darkness and silence fall over the entire building. It will therefore be necessary - also from the visual point of view – to rely on certain image of technology, related to electricity. Obviously the kind of technology that should be used is not be the most modern one, but the one that is present in a shared imaginary, consequently machines and tools form several decades ago, which aren’t used anymore”.
Studying the construction diary and the preparatory drawings we can also highlight the particular attention dedicated to the façade, upon which two “mirror flags” should have been installed to make "the invisible building" recognizable, and the structuring of a path through the different floors. A room should have contained, upon one of the tables that are already present inside the building, a glass of water and a bottle of Novalgina, a painkiller, together with an hidden mechanism that would have created a light and steady vibration to shake the water surface when placed upon the table. Another room was designed to provide the optical illusion of a rhino freely moving inside the space, so to anticipate the top floor switch, where the machinery would have been placed. Classical statues - originals or copies - should also have been present alongside the path, as an archetype of man and as a mirror for the visitor, while at the ground floor, currently occupied by an archaeological excavation, an artist intervention would have been necessary to turn it into a sculptural space.
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