The exhibition presented by Nicolò Degiorgis (Bolzano, 1985), Museion’s guest curator for 2017, gravitates around the concepts of fatherland and Heimat—a German term which loosely translates as a sense of belonging—interpreted in the light of current events in Europe.
The physical and conceptual structure of the exhibition is based on the Flemish painting Noah’s Ark on Mount Ararat, 1570, by Simon de Myle, which depicts the landing rather than the departure of the ark, as is usually represented. Taking its cue from this curious, even grotesque, scene, the exhibition has been conceived as a large-scale mise-en-scene of the painting itself. Issues such as migration, nationalism, populism and identity are tackled in the form of dialogues inspired by the people, animals, objects and situations in the painting. The exhibition, which presents more than 30 works, including videos, sculptures, installations, photographs, drawings, artists’ books and documents, takes the form of an installation to explore, offering food-for-thought on some of the events of recent years.
The main dialogue is that between Hämatli, the Germanic term which is the root of the word Heimat, and patriæ, the Latin word for nation and fatherland. A series of further dialogues branch out from these two main concepts. The relationship between habitat and habitus, for example, is explored in dialogue between a photograph of the first migrants arriving in Italy from Albania in 1991 aboard the ship Vlora, and a work by Eugenio Tibaldi. The railway-line flora in Chiasso station, as drawn by the Swiss botanist Ernesto Schick, enters into conversation with the concept of fauna, represented by a new work by Luca Trevisani, commissioned for the occasion.
The exhibition is preceded by five presentations of artists’ books, hosted by Museion itself and in parallel, in five places in the local area which relate to the themes of the books, such as a school and a prison in Bolzano. The idea is to take art of the museum, into places, settings and communities not normally associated with contemporary art. Since January 2017 the settings have included: the Alexander Langer school, Bolzano; Villaggio Eni in Borca di Cadore (in collaboration with Dolomiti Contemporanee), Seminario Maggiore in Bressanone, the Plessi Museum (in collaboration with Autostrada del Brennero) and Bolzano prison.