Sound art, Sculpture, Score for the Reggio Parma Festival 2022.

Exhibition curated by Chiara Canali and Camilla Mineo.

Il Bestiario della Terra, Reggio Parma Festival 2022, Marchi Palace, Parma, Italy, September 10th to October 30th


As part of the macro-work created by the Italian-Israeli author Yuval Avital titled “ Il Bestiario della Terra”, project of the year of Reggio Parma Festival 2022, Persona is the third exhibition and represents the investigation on maturity, after the previous two about childhood, with Anatomie Squisite (Civic Museums of Reggio Emilia), and adolescence, with Lessico Animale. Prologo (APE Museum of Parma).

After questioning himself about  "what is a body, what is an organ?", and after having explored the authentic and profound essence of the human being, in an attempt to bring out his instinctive and animalistic origins, Avital takes a step forward in its kaleidoscopic investigation, trying to define those boundaries between the human presence and its definition in space and time, which make our species so unique and different from any other living being.

The exhibition bears witness to a parallel and dreamlike path, composed by ten rooms, that traces an allegorical framework of the concept of 'Persona', meant primarily as the reading of the others, memory and the passage from the truthful intimate microcosm to the public and social one.

The Italian term persona comes from the Latin verb personare, formed by per = through + sonare = resonate, referring  to the actors of classical theater who "spoke through" the wooden mask they wore on stage. Persona therefore in the past meant mask.

Opposing to the generic concept of "human nature" with which are identified all the beings from the same species, the concept of persona underlines singularity:  the set of qualities, traits and identity of each individual.
Starting from these assumptions, Avital has focused its research in the context of the ongoing reflection on human nature and, as the mask allows everyone, hiding it, to express the deepest truths, the real "self" and consequently the primordial, instinctive and animalistic soul enclosed in each of us, it has tried to identify or open different channels of communication with the world.

Not by chance, at the center of the exhibition are the famous singing masks by Yuval Avital, one of the most important corpus of the artist's sound works, created in collaboration with Tuscan artisans (in 2019 on the occasion of the monographic exhibition Nephilìm, at the Marino Marini Museum of Florence, and presented in 2021 in Milan in the site-specific installation Mikvé, at the Bagni Misteriosi in Milan), Avital's sound masks contain a strong underlying symbolic meaning from which mystery, artifice and ritual emerge.

"For several years, my research has highlighted the need to reaffirm the uniqueness of the individual even in exasperated situations, through a process of re-humanization of the de-humanized individual. Just think of the war in Ukraine, the continuous migratory flow in progress in the Mediterranean with the ensuing tragedies, the natural and climatic upheavals that we witness helplessly: we often tend to forget that behind these tragic or extreme events, of which we are reported numbers we hardly pay attention anymore, there are people and stories that deserve - and must - be listened to ”.

Therefore, together with the singing  masks, is shown the video installation Firedance, a reflection born in front of the traditional fires of San Giuseppe of Matera, in which the shadow of a child feeding the fire is intended as a spiritual and purifying message.
Born from the same will, is the choice of re-elaborate and present River Icons, an iconographic work where the river alludes to the flow of migrants who abandon their lands and in which the participants, made up of refugees and asylum seekers, become co-creators of the work, engaging a process of re-humanization of the de-humanized individual.

Attempting  to underling his personal vision regarding  the concept of individual and individuality, the artist react to these fundamental events in the hic et nunc by creating throughout his works, places for reflection and dialogue, that embrace, care for and support.

For this reason, in the Persona exhibition, all the works selected by the artist have the individual as their central theme, who is not always present, indeed, is often offered to the public through his absence.
 Also in the Persona exhibition, Avital has thought of a project that dialogues with the venue where it will be presented.

"After numerous visits to the city of Parma, I was struck by the beautiful halls of the eighteenth-century Marchi palace, of which I am fascinated by the wealth of frescoes, rooms and collections - human signs and containers of memory and identity - which suggest lived experiences, family and cultural ties, with a rich and complex past. "

The space suggested the creation of original works, in a close interaction - sometimes set on a strong contrast - between the works and the beautiful rooms of the eighteenth-century Marchi palace.

The first room well shows the constant dialogue between the artist and the space that embrace his works. In the center of the room is set  a wooden model of a classic temple, made by the architect Petitot and his students, where Yuval Avital has placed 50 prints on transparent Plexiglas - in various sizes - representing characters taken from the engravings on the walls, belonging to the series of “Delizie Farnesiane”. Characters from the court of Francesco and Antonio Farnese, immersed in eighteenth-century everyday scenes, become animated, emerge from the paintings and come to life within the three-dimensional reproduction of the temple, creating a theater of relationships between the various subjects.