Cratere, Italian for ‘crater’, is the title of this exhibition at De Vleeshal, the first in the Netherlands by the visual artist Francesco Arena (b. 1978, Italy). The exhibition is associated with The Forgotten Bombardment, a programme of events taking place this summer in Middelburg.
In many of Arena’s installations, materials such as stone, sand, and wood form what appears to be an objet trouvé but is in fact a creation of the artist. The installation at De Vleeshal, curated by SBKM/De Vleeshal director Lorenzo Benedetti, refers to the bombardment that destroyed a great deal of Middelburg’s historic centre 70 years ago. The destruction wrought during the war is the theme investigated by Arena, whose work often makes reference to history and major events that left their mark on collective life.
The point of departure for this project was a photo connected with a bombing in an unknown place between Zeeland and Belgium during the Second World War. In the foreground, a crater is visible amid a ruined landscape. The artist calculated the volume of earth that must have been blasted out of this crater and will include it in the exhibition. For this purpose, he is constructing an installation made of clay-filled scaffolding. The mass of the materials serves as a visual metaphor for the destruction and absences left by the bombardment.
Arena often works with the interpretation of historical and social facts, which he translates into dimensions, materials, and masses. In 3,24 mq (‘3.24 m3’), for instance, he alluded to the improvised cell where the Italian prime minister Aldo Moro was held prisoner in 1978, prior to being murdered. For 18.900 metri su ardesia (‘18,900 metres’), Arena retraced the route walked by the anarchist Giuseppe Pinelli the day he died in the Milan police station in 1969.
Francesco Arena lives and works in Cassano delle Murge, Bari (Italy).
Selected Solo Shows: Statement Art Basel 2010. 18.900 metri su ardesia, Monitor, Rome; 2009: 3,24 mq, Nomas Foundation, Rome 2008.
website: Francesco Arena