Fabulae Romanae – Observer [Spirit]
Materials: Felt, canvas, cotton, resin
Dimensions: 170 x 100 x 60cm
Exhibition history: 2012 MAXXI National Museum of XXI Century Arts Rome
Courtesy: Lucy + Jorge Orta and Ermenegildo Zegna
The body of work Fabulae Romanae is both a performance, a film and an major exhibition, which depict a symbolic excursus across the city of Rome, through the eyes of a series of ethereal Spirits. These Spirits, wearable-sculpture, draw from archaeological and historical research, and observations on the cultural and social map of the city. They are multi-faceted characters that interrogate social, anthropological and philosophical themes. Through these genius loci, Lucy + Jorge Orta question art’s critical force in recounting and addressing the emergencies of contemporary living.
In the filmed-performance, the Spirits take to the streets of Rome, they become contemporary sentinels, who silently interact with the city’s landscape. The Traveller is to be found under the Castel Sant'Angelo bridge and in the Trastevere back streets; the Observer overlooks the Sacro Cuore dei Monti and the Isola Tiberina; the Tunneler and the Myth Maker live in the ancient Roman gardens of the Villa Gregoriana, alongside the other characters; the Flying Man, Chariot Rider, Memory Man and the Bale Maker. Throughout the film, the Spirits’ meanderings are accompanied by the audio-poems by Mario Petrucci, narrated in two languages they weave a metaphorical layer of stories into scenario.
By crossing the boundaries between the disciplines of performance, film, sculpture and poetry, Lucy + Jorge Orta’s practice challenges conventional aesthetics, drawing a cultural and social map that encompasses the richness and diversity of human life and experience.
Fabulae Romanae was commissioned by Ermenegildo Zegna, ZegnArt, for an exhibition at the MAXXI National Museum of XXI Century Arts Rome, Italy (22 March – 23 September 2012) and supported by the University of the Arts London Centre for Sustainable Fashion, with the assistance of LCF alumni Mio Jin, Lara Torres, Oliver Ruuger, Sum Yu Li. Photography by Paul Bevan.