9 porcelain figurines, 1- or 3-channel video installation, 3' loop
Mare Mediterraneum highlights the paradoxical nature of the media-image and the associated political debate surrounding Middle Eastern refugees migrating to Europe via the Mediterranean Sea, putting the Union’s humanist values in opposition to its citizens’ comfortable lifestyle. The project consists of 9 porcelain figurines rendered in the classical Neapolitan tradition of Capodimonte but depicting gallant and religious scenes of pale European tourists rescuing drowning migrants in amorous embrace. The elaborate compositions take place atop various floating vessels, from lifeboats to surfboards to a large yacht, supported by voluminous porcelain waves populated by diverse sea-life and accentuated with gold-leaf flourishes. The porcelain figurines are accompanied by an animated digital video rendering, in one or three channels, of a sea perpetually shifting between states of calm and storm. Like Europe, Europe (2008), this series explores pressing European sociopolitical issues through porcelain, the “traditional” decorative medium of the European bourgeoisie. Both series of works encapsulate a contradictory combination of “conservative” media with “progressive” form, whose function is to reveal the fear of the Other inherent in Western far right discourse.
The project was first presented at the Teatro Massimo in Palermo as an official collateral event of Manifesta 12, the itinerant biennale of European art that in 2018 took place in Palermo, the Italian Capital of Culture that year. In 2019 it was presented at Senda Gallery in Barcelona and subsequently in 2021 at the Palazzo Reale in Milan, as part of the exhibition Corpus Domini: From the Glorified Body to the Ruins of the Soul.