Berengo Studio is delighted to have collaborated with the artist Marya Kazoun for her latest site-specific installation at the Palazzo Pitti in Florence: First Act. The installation, inspired by the tradition of the Nativity, will remain on display until January 29 and uses contemporary art to make a compelling argument for art against ecological crisis.
How do we create a new world free of pollution, environmental disasters, and global warming? The Lebanese-Canadian artist Marya Kazoun answers through an installation inspired by the Nativity scene: the protagonists are the almost tree-like silhouettes of the Magi, made of cotton wadding – 2.60 metres high – and covered in a milky white fabric. They do not bring gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh but clean energy, represented by the wind turbines that extend out from their summits. The installation is named First Act and broadcasts its environmental message throughout the Christmas festivities until the 29th of January from the Sala Bianca, the most prestigious space within the Pitti Palace in Florence.
Within the artwork the wind, which represents those things that are transitory and elusive, acts as the vital breath of the universe and those who inhabit it. In opposition to it, the ominous presence of a swarm of locusts, made of Murano glass in Berengo Studio, symbolise the climatic ruin increasingly looming over the fate of the planet. The artist thus associates the ancient biblical disaster with the current ecological crisis, in order to prompt the viewer to reflect and act. The birth of a new world – the spherical sculpture in the centre – is admired by six figures arranged in pairs, representing the union between human beings. Following the Christian tradition, the figures of the Virgin Mary and Saint Joseph, the ox and the donkey, who watch over the newborn caringly, are not missing. The metaphysical space of Marya Kazoun’s Nativity – where nightmares, symbols, and utopia merge – is inhabited by creatures that open a window onto possible futures, from which the viewer can look out to investigate themselves and the reality that surrounds them.
“Protecting artistic heritage and preserving landscape and environmental heritages are serious and urgent duties that should never conflict, but favour each other.” The director of the Gallery, Eike Schmidt observed. “In the installation First Act, Marya Kazoun takes the tradition of the crib as a starting point and makes us reflect on the greatest danger our planet is facing: that of losing its ecological balance, thus endangering the survival of the human race. The artwork highlights and exemplifies how the natura naturans, inherent in every creative act, necessarily invokes the utmost respect and commitment to creation, while natura naturata in turn shines forth and promotes the miraculous action of natura naturans.”
The artist Marya Kazoun added, “The wind whisperers have always inhabited this place, and they are an extension of the voices of the past.”