Alma Mater, ‘a Sistine Chapel of sounds and strong, archaic, powerful and intimate femininity’, as defined by its creator Yuval Avital, got underway on 7 July and will offer the poignant magic of its contents every day until 29 August at the Fabbrica del Vapore in Milan. A total of 1,200 m2 of space, light and shadows – part-installation, part-performance – and 140 loud speakers relaying the voices, tales, chants and songs of grandmothers from all over the world, mothers of mothers, archetypes of wisdom and strength: Alma Mater is all this and much, much more. It is an all-embracing journey along which to find oneself and from which each person can gain different experiences, making them his or her own and exclusive.
From Afghanistan to the Brianza, from Yemen to the Arctic, the voices, so far yet so close, intertwined with the sounds of nature, create a thread that links the videos, lights and human experiences sharing the same space. Like Il Terzo Paradiso by Michelangelo Pistoletto, for the first time made out of rough Lombardy soil, a symbol of the equilibrium between the natural world and the human world, or like the Lacemakers of Cantù, who create their works of art according to Italian tradition with precision and passion, or even Liliana Cosi and Oriella Dorella, legendary Ètoiles of the Teatro alla Scala of Milan, who move with a mystical, dreamlike grace in video-projections that pay homage to women with a poetic vision, almost as if seen from the eyes of Petrarch.
Creating movement with spectacular interplays of refraction, lights and shadows is a unique installation by Enzo Catellani: a ‘sky’ of forty-two ultra-light discs that slowly oscillate, which are covered in gold leaf and lit by micro-LEDs of 1 Watt. A ‘beautiful game’, as Enzo Catellani calls it, ‘a wave of light’ that envelops the visitor and accompanies him along his intense journey.
‘The light par excellence is nature, and man is always attempting to chase after it, imitate it’ declared Enzo Catellani. ‘The logic behind these golden discs is therefore to imitate the natural light and warmth of the sun to provide a sense of space by means of refractive effects, which generate magical shadows.
Illuminating such a large space which, at the same time, is so dependent on light, on its intensity and on its heat, has been a wonderful challenge. Recreating the warmth of the maternal womb while leaving areas in the shade – to embrace all sensory experiences harmoniously and with sensitivity – wasn’t easy, but the result is beautiful and exciting. Alma Mater is a magnificent journey into art, but above all one of introspection‘.
Alma Mater, by Yuval Avital, in dialogue with Il Terzo Paradiso by Michelangelo Pistoletto
Lighting Installation by Enzo Catellani
Cattedrale della Fabbrica del Vapore, Milano
via Procaccini 4
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Photo: M. Piccinini, R. Sanzone, Paolo Chinazzi, Rossana Gombetti (Accademia Teatro alla Scala)