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Mauro Staccioli

Volterra. Sites of experience

the works of environmental art on show are: 1, 3, 7, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16

Galleria Il Ponte together with Galleria Niccoli of Parma and the Fotoimmagine association of Volterra have organised the exhibition project Mauro Staccioli.Volterra – Luoghi d’esperienza, a follow-on from the solo show Sculture in città held in Volterra in July 1972 and curated by Enrico Crispolti. At that time Staccioli was defining his way of doing sculpture, his attention focused on town life and the town landscape in an important step towards a new manner of conception.

The ambitious project is set out like an anthological exhibition in progress, and is divided into two sections:

a. three exhibitions in museums: (ends on November 8) in the Pinacoteca Civica in Palazzo Solaini, in the Loggias of Palazzo Pretorio and in Villa Palagione;

b. twenty sculpture installations (currently displayed) set out in the landscape, as well as in historic places and piazzas: from some of the works displayed in Volterra in 1972, the artist goes on to develop a dialogue with the whole area around the town with new works that underline times and places in a landscape in which history, culture and man’s work meet, arousing the memories of this home-grown artist. 
Through contemporary signs, Staccioli wishes to rediscover not only the identity of a community, but also the identity of a country, Italy, whose roots are buried in a past that has moulded the towns, countryside and the very development of society. The places have been chosen not only on the basis of the perception of space, but also where there are tangible traces of a civilisation and a people.


The exhibition is accompanied by a catalogue, format 25x30 cm, comprising 176 pages, CMYK print, hardback. Texts by Marco Bazzini, Massimo Bignardi, Gillo Dorfles, Maria Laura Gelmini and Simona Santini. Bilingual Italian/English edition. Damiani editore (www.damianieditore.it).

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Information point: Consorzio Turistico Volterra, Piazza dei Priori, 20 – 56048 Volterra. Tel/fax +39058887257 e–mail ufficioturistico@volterratur.it web site www.volterratur.it. Here it is possible to obtain all the information on the exhibition. Upon reservation, it can organise tours following the sculptures installed by Staccioli, taking visitors to Volterra’s characteristic calanchi or ravines, parochial churches, villas and the most picturesque outlooks in the area, with stops in some agriturismi to get a taste of local products.

Press office: Davis & Franceschini (davis.franceschini@dada.it)

Map of the environmental installations: the numbers refer to the single installations in the territory, a description of which is given below.


 

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1. ST 68 location: Spicchiaiola. L’indicatore 2009, cor-ten steel, cm 1780x50
The spot the inhabitants of Volterra refer to as “l’indicatore” (the indicator), located near a place called Spicchiaiola, is a panoramic viewpoint that marks the border between the province territory of Pisa and that of Siena. Here, the sculpture asserts itself as the catalyzing center, a point of interchange, the peremptory affirmation of a border that you always have to cross in your search for the other, a relationship with the world that this isolated and harsh land needs to seek.

 

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2. Villa di Pignano. Terracotta 2009, terra cotta, cm 280xØ137
The intervention inside the courtyard of the Pignano complex, in front of the Pieve di San Bartolomeo, aims at highlighting this beautiful medieval hamlet, one of the many places of local history, whose origin dates back at least as early as the XII century. Using an ancient material with a long tradition in rural work, Staccioli developed a sculpture that, on the one hand, celebrates the material and, on the other hand, expresses a love for field tilling and working among the vegetation and the natural environment.

 

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3. San Nicola Estate / SR 68, junction to Mazzolla. Al bimbo che non vide crescere il bosco [To the child who did not see the wood grow] 2009, 5 elements, brass, copper, inox steel, aluminum, cor-ten steel, cm 1530x25
The “forest” of stele close to the junction that leads to the village of Mazzolla pays homage to the beauty and diversity of the Berignone-Tatti wood, not far from there. In the artist's imagination, the trees become metaphors for human growth, for becoming an adult, for living, in this heartfelt dedication to a life that was prematurely taken away



 

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4. Chiesa di San Lorenzo a Mazzolla. Attraversando la storia [Crossing history] 2009, red plaster cm 535x70x535
The intervention made on the side wall of the San Lorenzo church was inspired by the artist's desire to highlight the medieval stretch of wall that is still standing, unlike the façade, which unfortunately was altered during the XIX century. The arch Staccioli designed starts at the margin of the narrow road that runs parallel to the church, gently abutting on the medieval wall, as if it wanted to support the remains of a past that has to be remembered.


 

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5. Villa di Roncolla. Omaggio all’architetto Campani [Homage to architect Campani] 2009, terra cotta, cm 280xØ137
In front of the unique chapel attached to the Roncolla villa, Staccioli placed a sculpture – a similar specimen is installed in Pignano. With it, he aims at drawing our attention on the impressive terra cotta façade built between 1834 and 1840 by the architect Luigi Campani, then owner of the building. Staccioli's tribute to Campani is designed to emphasize the skillful, original use this ancient material was put to by the designer and builders of the panels that cover the whole façade, in a sort of horror vacui, creating an absolutely unusual and, in some ways, unique decoration

 

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6. Villa Palagione.
The Palagione is a 15th century complex on the southern side of the Monte Voltraio. Just next to the mountain, you come to the spot where the waters of the two arms of the river Era meet – the so-called "living" and "dead" Era. Staccioli chose this spot to exhibit his (never carried out) Project for Pontedera 2007, inspired by a reflection on the etymology of the place name.
A room has also been set up to display the photographs of Robert Tyson relating the artist’s work in California (open every day: 10.30–1.00 and 2.30–6.30).
 


 

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7. SR 68 location: Poggio di San Martino Anello [Ring] 1997-2005, concrete and iron, cm Ø600x50
The ring, which has the typical oxide-red color, a favorite with Staccioli, was installed  in 2005, on the occasion of the exhibition Generazioni in Arte. It gives this gentle, hilly view of Volterra a new, enhanced visibility, leading our look over the elevated, metal-rich terrain that lies beyond the lush slopes. This sort of round frame/screen forces us to slow down our uphill run towards Volterra, and look at (i.e. contemplate), not see, the scene that opens within it.
 

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8. Villa di Cozzano. Volterra di profilo [Outline of Volterra] 2009, steel and concrete cm 700x60x650
Here Staccioli views the passage, the threshold, as a significant place to access this privately-owned villa, used for the harvesting and conservation of products from the neighboring countryside. His sculptural sign creates an entrance, giving the panoramic view (from Cozzano, through the olive orchards and cultivations, all the way to the northern skyline of Volterra) the feeling of a hypothetical "beyond". 





 

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9a. Volterra, Piazza dei Priori. Barriera 1972-2009, 9 elements, black iron, cm 220x100x100 each
Volterra's main piazza, symbol of central power, is surrounded by the buildings where, in ancient times, the Commune's highest authorities lived. The sculptor recasts the nine pyramid-shaped iron points he had placed in 1972 along a diagonal line crossing the piazza. His intervention therefore becomes the metaphor of a barrier, a clash that the piazza itself witnessed during the Medieval struggle between Guelphs and Ghibellines.


 

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9b. Volterra, Piazza San Giovanni. Piramide 1972-2009, concrete and iron, cm 440x400x400.
This large pyramid, which had already been exhibited in 1972, acquires a strong symbolical meaning with respect to the city's ancient religious buildings - the Duomo, the Baptistry and the hospital. The ascending lines and the mystic aura of the pyramid in this case have a negative connotation, due to the threatening effect of the iron point.



 

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9c. Volterra, Chiostro Palazzo Minucci-Solaini. Prismoidi 2003-2009, 11 elements, galvanized iron, cm 110x70x80 each
These prismoids, as Staccioli defines them, represent significant forms which are scattered randomly, determining a plurality of directions and points of view within a disorienting, precarious setting.
Small sculptures, drawings and a video of the exhibition installation are presented in the basement of the Palazzo; while in the altana, or roof terrace, we find a selection of large blown-up photographs of the main sculptures displayed in museums, foundations and private collections both in Italy and abroad (open every day: 10.30–1.00 and 2.30-6.30).



 

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9d. Volterra, Piazza dei Priori, Logge di Palazzo Pretorio. Barriera 1968-2009 (Fonti di Docciola), concrete and iron, cm 160x160x180
Welcoming us to the loggias of Palazzo Pretorio is one of Staccioli's sculptures-interventions from the 70s. Already exhibited in the Piazza Sant’Andrea in 1972 and on the steps of Docciola in 1973, the sculpture again becomes the symbol of a possible need to defend one of the centers of Medieval power, the seat of leaders such as the Podestà and the Capitano del Popolo, as well as of the communal prison.
Here is a second outing of the Mauro Staccioli: pensare la scultura exhibition curated by the Luigi Pecci centre for contemporary art in Prato, centred around the artist’s method of creating-designing using drawings and maquettes (open every day: 10.30–1.00 and 2.30-6.30).
 



 

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9e. Volterra, Chiesa di San Dalmazio. Omaggio a Giovan Paolo Rossetti [Homage to Giovan Paolo Rossetti] 2009, red plaster, cm 580x525x28
A triangle poised on its vertex, a classical mystical-religious symbol, here performs a function that has to do with vision. Staccioli's work actually takes away from our sight the surrounding ornamental excess, thereby defining and emphasizing the beauty of  Giovan Paolo Rossetti's panel (1519-1586). Rossetti was a pupil of the better known Daniele da Volterra, so this is a hymn to XV-century painting - remote, and yet so relevant for Staccioli, and for the local artistic tradition.


 

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10. Location: Montebradoni. Cerchio imperfetto [Imperfect Circle] 2007-2009, red plaster, cm 350x350x45
Staccioli was born in 1937 in Volterra, or better, in Montebradoni. If not for the archaic fascination of this small village between the Camaldolite Badia (abbey) and the Etruscan walls, or its millenary history, Staccioli's sculpture deserves to be here at least on account of its biographical reference. For Staccioli the huge red square with curved sides becomes a sort of screen, through which you can look at centuries of history and glimpse your own past.
 

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11. Fattoria di Fognano. San Giacomo in Fognano 1985-2009, red concrete and iron, cm 125x2100x100
An overturned arch placed on the margin of a flat hillock, a short distance from the precipice that marks its end, underlines (not just ideally) the landscape around Volterra, with its gentleness, but also its harshness, resulting from its geological structure. With a gently arched sign ending in sharp, rigid extremities, Staccioli encourages us to contemplate the natural scenery and the lines modeled by the erosion of the clayey soil, with its ravines and constantly changing colors.
 

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12. Chiesa di Santa Lucia a Corbano. Corbano 2009, red plaster, cm 302x219x6
The ruins of the early Romanesque church of Santa Lucia in Corbano inspired Staccioli to create a sign for this small building, left at the mercy of the elements and destined to disappear. In this case his sculpture turns into a strong action against neglect, expressing the artist's regret as he looks at the consequences of time and carelessness.




 

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13. Location: Piancorboli. Primi passi 2009, cor-ten steel, cm 805x1300x40
Here the harsh lands echoing from Cassola's novels blend with the artist's childhood memories. The large cor-ten steel ellipse that frames the landscape, from the ancient Montebardoni district  - the village where Staccioli lived until adulthood – to the  Balze, the church of San Giusto and the Volterra outline, creates a sort of perspectival telescope which, on the foreground, frames an abandoned country house, where his grandparents used to live. In this very house he took his first steps as a small child and had his first contacts with the Tuscan rural tradition.

 

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14. Lischeto farm. Portale 2009, cor-ten steel, cm 1000x805x55
Looking at the Portale from the alley that leads to the Lischeto farm, you can glimpse from afar the ellipse installed in Piancorboli. Both sculptures, with their constant exchange of glances, ideally retrace the steps of the peasants who used to go from the Persignano estate to the farm where their whole harvest was collected. If you look at them closely, the large "compasses", poised on their sharp points, reveal themselves in all their  imposing presence, tuning into both a welcoming and solemn threshold that leads into the memory of some of the most significant episodes in the artist's life.


 

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15. SR 68, location: La Mestola. Tondo pieno [Full circle] 2009, concrete and iron, cm Ø600x60
Two circles, one ring-shaped and open, the other full, appear along state highway 68, on the stretch that connects Volterra to the Saline hamlet. Both of these signs, typical of Staccioli, run along the road on the hill, underlining one of the most trodden streets outside Volterra. In the underground at the foot of the town hill, the inhabitants used to extract, with a rather bizarre technique, the so-called "white gold" from the salt-mines. Today, despite its slow decline, this road which, ever since ancient times, has served as an enormous, resourceful mine, still marks the lot of these places.




 

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16. SR 68. La Boldria 2009, concrete and iron, cm Ø600x60

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