A series of photos – etchings – depicting typical Mediterranean botanical species, which are threatened by bacteria and parasites (Xylella and red palm weevil).

The botanical species are photographed from far above, a different point of view from the standard garden fruition, as if external agents looking at plants, threaten their existence, unveiling, at the same time, landscapes of the production chains, well suggesting an aesthetic towards modernity without any deceptive simulations from idealized “past” forms coming from some “traditional” idea of garden.

At the end, the series is just another reference to the history of photography suggested by the works exhibited at the show The Plural always outweighs the Singular at the Radicepura botanical park: in this case, the fantastic and fleeting gardens depicted by the surrealists’ daddy, Eugène Atget.

Lavandula spp madre #6007, 2018.
Inkjet print on cotton paper on dibond, Valchromat frame, glass. Dim.cm.43×64.

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Diagram #3 (Drawing), 2018.

“…there are ten, twenty or a hundred Mediterranean seas.
Around the Mediterranean there are not two places that are the same. Sicily, rather than combines the fragments together, split in two the Mediterranean. North against South, East against West.” [Fernand Braudel The Mediterranean in the Ancient World, The Penguin Press, London 2001 (f.p.1998)]

Two diagrams, installed in the outdoor spaces of the Radicepura Foundation, used to catch “impressions” like a photo-camera. Thus, their outcomes arranged – installed – inside the Radicepura Foundation’s venue.
The diagrams represent four Mediterranean areas, North/South and East/West. They are thought to be relational devices that let visitors interact with the Radicepura spaces; also, they are a tribute to the XX Century photographic social tradition of the physiognomic investigation such as that of the great German photographer August Sander.

(from the exhibition The plural always outweighs the singular, Radicepura 2018)

Diagram #4 (Gazebo) is a composition of four pavilions placed on the gardens nearby the Glasshouse of the Radicepura botanical park. Each pavilion’s roof with a different primary color, together they recall the communication campaign and image of the Premier League: the most popular national league of the most popular sport in the world. A real Photo-Booth (reminiscent of Franco Vaccari’s Live Expositions), built to let Radicepura visitors dive in the colors of the globalization, although amplified by the Mediterranean summer light, and be part of a video catalogue (Story) of a multitude of self-portraits (Selfies).

 

BARONELLO-W&X-6472-GAZEBO

Diagram #4 (Gazebo, Story), 2018. HD movie.

Diagram #5 (Garden) is a squared flowerbed, divided into four areas by two intersected metallic bars, that match with the glasshouse’s architecture, the congress hall of the Radicepura botanical park.
The garden aims to underpin the value expressed by the foundation as a symbolic and functional collector of an international community revolving around the Mediterranean, with a social portrait of Mario Faro – CEO of the Radicepura Foundation, and of his international relations. Relatives, friends, guests are all invited to suggest a plant example that can be representative of, on a subjective perspective, their own elective place. Plants become kind of a botanical “madeleine”. Displaced on the appointed area of the diagram, they create a Mediterranean garden made of simple forms and yet, while growing, rich and elaborated.
In the indoor spaces, paper sheets would have displayed as printed forms that describe each donator’s choice.
Unfortunately, the dynamics suggested did not succeed and the work remained unfinished, leaving the small olive tree donated by the Radicepura’s founder, Venerando, alone. That may be because relational aesthetics do not reach enough grasp in an environment such as that of a south Mediterranean country like Sicily, whose economy is actually dominated by relational capitalism dynamics? I’m not sure but, at the end, this is the “impression” produced by the installed device.

 

Documentation project of an art manifestation.

FICARRA CONTEMPORARY DIVAN, a program of art residencies and events in a small village located in front of the Aeolian archipelago and gate of the Nebrodi’s mountain natural park. Its aim to echo the best traditions of European and Western art institutions that have worked on specific areas in relation to international contexts.

I used my documentary work to question the landscape of and around Ficarra as an element of the political and cultural dimension. By processing images that can be highly evocative for a community that lives quite isolated in wintertime, given the weather conditions and the topography of the valleys of the Nebrodi chain, in Sicily.

Marking the geological forms of a region located at the meeting place of three continental plates allowed me to evoke a temporal and spatial dimension shared by both local people and artists, without interfering with the specificity of the artists’ works or realizing a communication-based project accessible to a wider audience.

Here in Ficarra, ordinary people are used to being involved with the “curiosities” of art and contemporary artists, and you often come across discussions and analysis, not at all intimidated, on the quality of the artworks and research. Similarly, it was fun to listen to people who, intrigued by the details of the images I showed them, tried to guess the location of a rock, a cliff, or even a volcanic landscape, revealing the centrality of this town inhabited by just one thousand souls in the context of a wider region.

In a nutshell, I wanted my work to question the dichotomy between the center and the periphery so important for balance, not only within the art system, but also within the political and economic worlds; I was trying to suggest the possibility that, although part of a small community, you can feel part of a larger one beyond the confines of any environmental boundaries.

Mineo (Homes for America), photo installation 2014. Inkjet prints on baryta paper mounted on plasterboard panels, variable dimensions.

One of the largest centers for asylum seekers in Europe is located in the former homes for the American soldiers stationed at Sigonella, which is itself the largest military base in the Mediterranean. The title (Homes for America) refers to the work published by Dan Graham on Arts Magazine, December 1966. Also, the documented landscape references the Townships photographed by David Goldblatt. Both references contain connotative meanings and suggestions that reflect on the meaning of citizenship in the era of globalization.

INDIGENATION-4650

Installation view at the solo show ‘Indigenation’ at the Brodbeck Foundation, Catania 2016. 22 Inkjet prints mounted on plasterboard panels. 1 print, dimension cm.168×75; 8 prints, each dim.cm.75×112; 1 print dim.cm.168×112; 8 prints each dim.cm.50×75; total size of the installation cm.250×960.

Naval Air Station Sigonella “The Hub of the Med” is a U.S. Navy installation in Sicily, Italy. It is located at some 40 km south of Mount Etna. Because of its location near the center of the Mediterranean Sea, NASSIG is the Navy’s second largest security command, second only to that located at Naval Support Activity Bahrain. In 2011, after the Navy considered ending its lease for family housing in Sicily, it had closed the Mineo housing area. Mineo housing area was leased by Pizzarotti & Co. to the Italian government as a housing center for asylum seekers, many of them refugees from the “Arab spring” revolts in Tunisia and other North African countries. It has since grown notorious in local media and among immigration advocates, who say the facility puts too many people in units, with little access to health care and little progress on their cases.

WELCOME “Benvenuti!” On behalf of the entire Housing staff, welcome to your new home! Our purpose is to provide you with adequate, safe, and secure living quarters, and to support you and your family while you reside in the Mineo Housing Complex. The Mineo Trouble Call Desk provides assistance to meet routine, urgent, and emergency breakdowns or repairs not deemed the responsibility of the resident in accordance with the lease. It is your responsibility to promptly report any maintenance issues which may cause structural damage to your unit or effect habitability […]

RESIDENT RESPONSIBILITIES Residents are required to keep the Housing staff informed of any changes in projected rotation date, home and mobile telephone numbers, or people other than immediate family living in your quarters. Preventive Maintenance Inspections (PMI) are a requirement according to the Lease and are not optional […] Be advised that you will be held financially liable for returning quarters to the original condition upon check-out […]

Guests are welcome to visit you and your family while you reside in the complex, but please ensure your guests comply with all Security regulations. You, as the sponsor, will be held accountable for the actions of your guests […] Maintain your household noise to a minimum, keep your yard and carport areas tidy and clean, and be respectful towards your neighbors […]

Housing inspectors make rounds within the complex on a daily basis. If, during these inspections, they notice that residents are not in compliance with any rules and regulations, they may issue either a “friendly reminder” or a “violation notice”.

VADEMECUM According to the Dublin Regulation (no. III 1. 604/13) you cannot decide freely in which Nation to request protection […] For the Regulation, a “citizen of a third country” is any person who is not a citizen of European Union or who is not a citizen of a State which doesn’t subscribe to the Regulation for doing an agreement with the Union […]

During the procedure to establish whether Italy is the competent country to examine the request for asylum, your status on the Italian territory is therefore that one of an asylum seeker […] The law establishes that you may seek the assistance of a lawyer. If you are unable to pay a lawyer, you may do a petition for receiving free legal assistance (sponsored by the Nation) […]

If they send you to CARA they will give you a nominal certificate (a paper where your personal data and your legal condition are reported). So, they will give you an appointment at the police office. The police will make you some photos and will take fingerprints (“foto segnalamento”). Later, they will give you an appointment to formalize your application […]

If you decide to benefit of the welcome procedures of the CARA, your stay here last the necessary time  to obtain the documents and, once you obtain your permit of stay, you must leave the Centre.

EUR_Libya, photographic series, Giclée prints on cotton paper on dibond panels, variable dimensions, 2010-12.

With his new photographic project, shown now for the very first time after two years in production, Federico Baronello analyzes the symbolic representation of power in its purest form, through architecture. The starting point for his research is the «Fascism embodied in stone» mentioned by the Italian historian Emilio Gentile: the ideology of power illustrated by the magnificent buildings of Italian rationalism spread between the two poles of new Fascist Rome, the Foro Italico and EUR.

EUR-3779, installation view at the group show 'The Materiality of a Dream' at the Brodbeck Foundation, Catania 2013.

Left: EUR-3779, installation view at the group show ‘The Materiality of a Dream’ at the Brodbeck Foundation, Catania 2013.

Already its title, EUR_Libya, points to the paradoxical sense of the work. The artist further suggests a metaphysical aspect: the architecture depicted appear as archeological monuments abandoned in the empty midday sun, reminiscent of the De Chirico’s Italian Piazza, but also of the Italian colonial landscapes in Africa.

EUR-3779, installation view.

EUR-3779, installation view.

Lost in time, a surreal landscape fixed in sunlight, monumental but empty, silent, found here in Italy, but it could be anywhere in the Mediterranean or even in Africa. Indeed, on closer observation, the architecture in the photographs of Federico Baronello is transformed through a surreal manoveur by the very transgressive nature of the artwork itself (i.e. the photo-montage).

EUR_3779 Headquarters of the Central Bank of Libya at the “Palace of Civilization and Work” designed by Giovanni Guerrini, Ernesto La Padula, Mario Romano, 1938-43.

EUR_3779
Headquarters of the Central Bank of Libya at the “Palace of Civilization and Work” designed by Giovanni Guerrini, Ernesto La Padula, Mario Romano, 1938-43. dim.cm.150×100.

A visual strategy inherited from the Dadaist who through the process of appropriation and de-contextualization developed the neo-avantgarde criticism during the ’60s and ’70s. However for Baronello the combination and overlapping of images and places, reminiscent of the strategy of visual artists such as Hans Haacke, without any direct bearing, does not embody the same ideological criticism. Baronello’s investigations are not a work about the real, as is the case of the German-American artist, but rather it is about the freedom of imagination, the utopia of the possible, inscribed by a minimal and discreet gesture.

As if Libya, or better North Africa, according to the definition of the ancient Greeks and then the Latins, might become Rome, and Rome in turn could really become the capital of a unified Mediterranean world. By inquiring into the meaning of Fascist architecture today, the artist questions the political and symbolic role of the institutions and of the cultural landscape in its broadest sense. In these photographs the ideological result of architecture undergoes a profound transformation, as if the original imperialist ideology had passed through the anthropophagous assimilation theorized by Brazilian modernist Oswald de Andrade, as the ultimate destiny of colonialism.

An economic post-colonialism, indeed. The names and logos of national companies that have long held trade and economic relations with Gaddafi’s Libya, appear as imprints on the surface of the «Fascism embodied in stone» photographed by Federico Baronello.

Anna Cestelli Guidi, presentation text for the solo show at the galleria collicaligreggi, Catania 2013.

Also, see the interview by Giuseppe Mendolia Calella (in Italian)