MUSEO / MUSEUM
The Museo Novecento shows its experimental vocation on the exterior of the former Leopoldine building, and it does so with an artistic sign on the façade that in affirming its communicative function as mere signage, actually denies it artistically and poetically. The large text MUSEO, realised by Paolo Parisi, polarises the attention of citizens and tourists from the Santa Maria Novella Square, directly towards the loggia, a Renaissance hinge that opens and closes the recognizability and the permeability of the museum. The word MUSEO in its forms and sizes flaunts, amplifies and exacerbates the contemporary nature of the place that up until now has been unspoken, unsuggested, in the context of a Renaissance architecture overabundant in values compared to the attractive power of the institution’s cultural mission, the collections and exhibitions coexisting within the spaces of the museum. MUSEO, with its monumental dimensions, seems to burst forth from the arcades like the sound of war from the mouth of a canon, like a blare from the bell of a trumpet. The chromatic variety as well as that of the lettering in the context of the golden ratio of the loggia, with harmonies both dissonant and irreverent, is like a jazz performance in a 15th century chapel. The word is the result of a composite operation of withdrawing and quoting, cutting and sewing, and finally a significant oversizing. The wooden shapes have been cut to the maximum size allowed for safety, over 4 metres. Each letter is placed on the front of the fence and attached to it. Parisi has found a way to interact with the qualifying presence of Renaissance symbols, with a communicative function and, last but not least, with selected works of 20th century masters found in the museum at the time the work was conceived. After inspecting the rooms, he singled out the necessary letters to compose the word MUSEO from paintings, collages, manifestoes and newspapers. In each letter he used a design borrowed from the graphics and lettering of others. The final word is therefore an eclectic composition that mixes Futurism and Fluxus, Abstract art and Conceptual art. The artists that captured the imagination of Parisi are Ori, Cagli, Scheggi, Chiari, in addition to the front page of the 1921 «Firenze Futurista». The word, with its chain of letters that refers to other stories and other periods of avant-garde art of the 20th century, transfers the primary function of the museum to the exterior: the conservation of a collection, a continuity in the discontinuity of art history. This adds a second fundamental function: that of emphasising the collection, and it does so by combining the project of the artistic direction that sees the collection as a changeable asset rather than static, subject to many variable comparisons and interventions intended to deconstruct meanings, to reinvigorate artistic, poetic and critical interpretations. And as such, Parisi has borrowed from the collection and returned the disiecta membra to the public space of the piazza. Words that generate other words, other meanings, and play with different functions. To have decided on an installation created in this way also responds to a need to reread the history of art and how to interact with it in order to pursue it; a line of analysis, in this case limited to the 20th century and Italy, beginning with the futuristic visual poems and reaching the neon sentences of Maurizio Nannucci. Parisi’s modus operandi represents an innovation, different to previous ones. This is the reason it is located on the façade, a true museum outpost. Finally, thanks to the layout, it is beautiful that the word can be read with a pause to recognize the entirety of the root origins of the word MUSEO. And thus, the protective muses appear on the façade, in a version that is no longer figurative or statuary like in a 19th Century museum, but in their conceptual version, a retrospective homage to artists like De Chirico, Duchamp and Paolini; to remind us that the museum is the place of memory. Hence the citation and the creative interpretation, without which even the modern and contemporary collection of the 20th century would be a repository of silent objects of an inert beauty, of illegible words. Finally, the word MUSEO preserves and conveys the memory of the original works no longer exhibited, giving way to the presentation of the new museological project.
© 2019 The author, Carlo Cambi Publisher, Museo Novecento, Florence. Sergio Risaliti, curated by, Paolo Parisi, MUSEO, with texts by Sergio Risaliti, Giacinto Di Pietrantonio, Helga Marsala, Marco Senaldi, Paolo Parisi, Stefania Rispoli, Poggibonsi, 2019.