Cinnamon heart: Peepshow
Cinnamon heart: Peepshow
A taste of hidden things inside the nato ex- army base
On the 8th of June, 2019 at aA29 Project Room in Caserta will open CINNAMON HEART: PEEPSHOW, Giovanni Scotti’s solo exhibition designed together with the curator Diego Mantoan as a sort of anticipation of a wider artistic project focused on the NATO ex-base of Bagnoli, Naples.
After countless attempts, the artist obtained the permits to gain access to the area, discovering inside a perfect setting for a spy movie that naturally lends itself to the vision of his goal. Starting from images and materials derived from that semi-clandestine visit, Giovanni Scotti together with the curator gives shape to a storytelling focused on power, where ambiguity, secrecy and mystery are the main ingredients to flavor that “day after” atmosphere that reigns in the NATO ex-base. Considering that the open and shut truth is never believed, the operation is articulated along several stages to offer a progressive unveiling in which the artist discloses homeopathic pills of reality, or how much of it is still distinguishable.
The exhibition in Caserta marks the beginning of this gradual unveiling presenting the photographs of the Neapolitan artist and, for the first time, some real or supposed to be materials derived from his raid on the abandoned military base. Protagonist are six large shots of the interior – some free to the eye, others covered by a cloth – from which emerges an essential and objectifying photographic quality both fully aware of the teaching of the German school, from Andreas Gursky to Thomas Struth, and at the same time with that Mediterranean fullness of light. To increase the expositive tension between real and plausible there are some other objects and findings to exhort the public to discover reality in front of a mirrored representation, an artificial staging as the artificial truths distilled by the governmental Power.
With this anticipation Giovanni Scotti places the viewer inside a metaphorical peepshow, into a squalid strip clubs, where is needed to cross the curtains to penetrate the naked truth. Forced into the role of vouyeur, the visitor must decide for himself how far to push his curiosity stimulated by the artist. This exhibition is a prelude to the next one, a fundamental stage of the project: the public confrontation with the creation of an agency or artistic office placed in an unexpected context. Where is it? This has to be discovered. Certainly it will happen in a fantastic place, on the threshold between reality and fiction, and will pervade the entire city. The permanent artistic office, which has already received the approval of collectors of the caliber of Giorgio Fasol, as well as being a place of debate on power, will serve to provoke a reflection in the city, to trigger a process of unveiling, to revive a public debate on an open theme.
Cinnamon Heart by Giovanni Scotti
“Inside these rooms they decided to bomb Belgrade. It was 1999 … », a security guard tells me on the way to the building of the former NATO Command in Naples (the most important in Southern Europe from 1954 to 2013). This is how my journey begins in the “button rooms”, among all those things that were still there, as the Americans left them (furnishings, decorations and objects of various kinds, photographs and some confidential documents), together with a box of sweets in the shape of a heart, “cinnamon hearts”, hence the title of the work.
I get in. To receive me in the conference room an inscription: “This is a briefing”.
As a child I heard about NATO as an incredible and inaccessible place, but I didn’t know what exactly it was and what it was doing in there. What I knew was that you could buy peanut butter, marshmallows, Marlboros, JVC cameras, video recorders and stereos. All American stuff. I grew up now but I still don’t know exactly what NATO is and what it does. But I know this was a place of power. How I know that power has an effect, a cost. He digs deep furrows along which he always leaves a trace.
This is (not) at briefing.
The Rooms Of The Negromante
by Diego Mantoan
The real power is subtle, imperceptible. Covers everything like daylight but it remains invisible to a naked eye. It pervades people’s lives, even if nobody realises it. Behind closed doors with discretion, the real power decides the future of humanity. In the secret rooms, women and men then become a variable, an abstract idea. As insects for us that we barely recognise. There are some places where true power is concentrated, unperceived by the most. These places are unknown, no one has ever seen them. But we can all image them. We are assisted by the cinema or TV series. That if we could really end up in one of these places, we wouldn’t know how to distinguish it from a set. Reality and fiction would fit together in a single vision – and we would immediately understand that we are in the place of maximum representation of power, the real one, without believing it fully. These places exist, but we wouldn’t realize it, not even having them at next to home.
As in a controlled unveiling operation, Giovanni Scotti’s photographic series dedicated to Bagnoli’s NATO ex- base reveals a reality hidden for almost sixty years. The clock seems to have stopped itself almost waiting for someone to come and restore it. The rooms are still pervaded by an air full of gravity. Time and space seem be suspended, or canceled, as in a parallel dimension. One would say the day after: it has been a sudden disappearance, all the people dissolved in a moment, dew drops evaporated at the first light of the morning. Furnished rooms remain, others empty, corridors in a dim light. And then huge maps, emergency meeting tables, shelves suspended over nothing, classic curtains, mirrors on mirrors, chairs and telephones uprooted. Giovanni Scotti’s camera reactivates these places, becoming a work of necromancy. Rooms come back to life, but it’s a fake life, that of the zombies. They become even more threatening after passing away. And we realise, little by little, that those rooms could be anywhere in the world. Or maybe a few steps away from our everyday life.