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Alma Mater

Issue 86 August / September 2015

Enzo Catellani's custom-made gilded discs use LED light sources to shower Yuval Avital's multi-media installation, Alma Mater in an ethereal golden mist.

This summer, Cattedrale della Fabbrica del Vapore in Milan hosted a truly unique arts event: Yuval Avital's new multi-media creation entitled Alma Mater, in dialogue with a yet-unreleased version of Michelangelo Pistoletto's Il Terzo Paradiso and a lighting installation by Enzo Catellani.

Catellani has designed a site-specific sky of 42 ultra-light discs that slowly oscillate, covered in gold leaf and lit by micro-LEDs of 1W. Catellani called it: "A wave of light", that envelops the visitor and accompanies them along an intense journey. 

Dedicated to the female figure, Alma Mater explores the mater-familias-cum-Mother-Earth image at the heart of all natural balance. This 1,200sq m allegorical, part-painting part-performance installation combines the extraordinary with synergy of creative excellence.

Catellani's gilded discs vary in size and are positioned at different heights, bringing the exhibition to life with enchanted reflections generated by tiny sources of LED lighting. At once enchanting and mystical, its warm, all-enveloping effect resembles a tenuous golden mist.

With diametres varying between 80 and 170cm, the discs hang suspended above the graphics in Michelangelo Pistoletto's Terzo Paradiso - a re-visitation of the symbol of infinity made out of rough Lombardy soil, and an image of the maternal womb within which nature and artifice - the two circles to the side - meet and co-exist.

The evocative trait d'union between the two images comes from Yuval Avital’s powerful soundtrack, made up of grandmotherly voices from all over the world intertwined with the sounds of nature and cast forth through a forest of 140 stone and terracotta loudspeakers. Fairy stories, lullabies, traditional chants, whispers and prayers mingle with seismic tremors, volcanic rumbles, sounds from the deep and watery gurgles. 

Impressions, both visceral and of a softer nature, are video-projected into ethereal apparitions, sometimes recalling the light-treading movements of such legendary étoiles of the Teatro Alla Scala in Milan, sometimes evoking the lace makers of Cantù labouring over their snowy threads.

Maga Global Arts partnered with the Municipality of Milan, Fabbrica del Vapore, Cittadellarte - Fondazione Pistoletto and Architettura Sonora to create Alma Mater - a catalyst for other events such as Dialoghi, a series of evening events featuring Acvital's own choice of international performers and artists. Sponsored by Expo 2015 and Regione Lombardia, Alma Mater was part of the programme of events hosted by Expo in Città.

Pics: Paolo Chinazzi &  R. Sanzone


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