Nicola Zito, Nature englobes

Nature englobes

Nature always finds the way to emerge, to survive, to contrast physical attacks and to assert its simple but powerful vital energy. This truth can easily be defined as absolute, and is the assumption on which Guillermina De Gennaro has based the set of works she has created in connection with Inglobe, a project that encompasses and summarises her most recent research. 

«I’ve been thinking a lot about the land lately […] as a habitat, as our “dwelling”»; this was said in an interview in 2012 and has now been transposed into a series of works created using different mediums, from sculpture to video, from photography to installation.  This concretion also includes an evaluation of the present conditions of the plant kingdom, mostly due to human actions, also expressed in the same conversation connected with Volver sin Volver, an activity carried out for Watershed in the port at Rotterdam: «I feel very close to the land and I think about how it is being attacked by cement».

Starting from a careful study of the surrounding context, Guillermina De Gennaro traces her own representation of the dynamics that regulate (and increasingly destabilise) the balance between the natural and anthropic spheres, in an interaction, which only apparently assigns the roles of victim and tormenter, respectively. 

Observation of the relationship between and human activity starts from finding evidence of the former overcoming the suffocating preponderance of the latter in the city and outside the city. This catalyses creative dynamics that come together in an environmental intervention that the artist establishes like a genuine set, constructed with different visual and plastic means; within this, the two spheres do not simply co-exist, but collide to create a personal mise-en-scène.

The entire scene is dominated by climbing plants – especially the genetically strongest and most resistant like ivy, which tend to take possession of everything present, whether tangible or simply projected, creating a type of “perennial embrace” that causes other objects almost to disappear.

Following her Neo-Nature cycle, Guillermina De Gennaro further explores the Man-Nature relationship, but departs from her previous output with a change of perspective. The predicted “new possible alliance”, theoretically able to cancel the opposition between man and the environment, now transforms into a recognition of conflict, in which the progressive destruction of greenery is countered by the slow but inexorable action of plants, which have evolved in the attempt to survive in the concrete and iron urban jungle. 

Climbing plants become a symbol of the utmost contemporaneity and cover every element in the environment, gradually concealing everything. However, this is only the representation of  hypothetical revenge by the force of Nature, only partially supported by the investigations and explorations, motivated by the need to identify “wild forms of life”; although restricted  in narrow and improbable contexts, they have still managed to assert themselves, «to grow larger and spread in every direction».

Guillermina De Gennaro transports these developments from the outside to the inside and offers a personal perspective, enriched with a further element – Art – that she gives the same treatment. The casts of old or classical statues like the bust of Caesar and the Hermes of Praxiteles (god of Nature before the messenger of the gods), Michelangelo’s David    the model par excellence for comparison – rather than statuettes of the Madonna or other small sculptures, are “infested” in the same way as could happen to an anonymous wall in reinforced concrete.

The meaning is immediately understandable: Nature does not make any distinctions between works of art and any other kind of manmade creation. Nature’s instinct, the strength with which it fights to survive, has nothing to do with the aesthetic connotations of the manmade object; the same fate can befall a simple everyday object or the result of a sculptor’s artistic genius. 

A fate that the artist encloses in a small ecosystem where images of the natural world and that of man come together, solidifying into installations from which emerge all the paradoxes  underlying a relationship renewed through a mutual attempt to dominate, and which is one of the distinctive aspects of the Anthropocene, the present geological era entirely dominated by Man and conditioned by his decisions.

Inglobe is therefore the temporary endpoint of long and elaborate research, the convergence of elements from different fields of knowledge, from botany to art, from architecture to biology, and the prelude to future artistic ventures outside the narrow confines of an exhibition. This is the first stage in a new process that looks towards external contexts, to the urban spaces that are – as the artist says – “spots that we rush past every day without noticing them, but they are there, not moving, with all their extraordinary vitality”.

An energy which Guillermina De Gennaro transposes into this new production, making it flow in her installations and sculptures alike, in her video works and in snapshots of a transformed reality that rests on a special, cyclical balance between the contrasting but complementary forces that define “places in continual metamorphosis” in which Nature reasserts her own unstoppable power,  enveloping the bulky material created by man.

Nicola Zito
independent curator