Chiara Gambirasio M’ama and V’arco

Artistic Director: Lorenzo Giusti
Associate Curators: Sara Fumagalli, Marta Papini
Head of Magazine: Valentina Gervasoni

18.05.2024

On the occasion of Thinking Like a Mountain, and in collaboration with Fondazione Dalmine, artist Chiara Gambirasio (Bergamo, 1996) embarked on a participatory project developed in several stages.

Thanks to the network of relationships between Fondazione Dalmine and the community of former employees or citizens, the intervention originally took the form of a workshop featuring a number of “eyewitnesses” who, as young girls, attended the TenarisDalmine summer camp in Castione della Presolana. The camp, currently inaccessible, hosted several generations of children of the company’s workers, who would spend part of their summer vacations here every year.

The women involved were invited by Chiara Gambirasio to relive, rediscover and share experiences and memories related to the time spent at the camp—a time suspended yet steeped in experience—through a work focusing on the use of color.

For the artist, color represents the medium through which to intuitively and subjectively perceive the world, but also a condition in which to “reside,” without the mediation of words, to learn to feel beyond the immediately perceptible: the cosmos and the inner sphere, but also geological time elusive from memory.

And it is precisely the process of memory activation that takes on a crucial role in the work developed by Chiara Gambirasio, who returned with the participants to Castione della Presolana on the occasion of one of the workshops, in order to let them rediscover places of their childhood and ponder the memories of their experiences, as well as the emotions generated by the new encounter with the former summer camp and the surrounding environment.

The path developed during the workshop forms the basis of the sculpture intervention that the artist devised for the village of Rusio: a small hamlet in the municipality of Castione della Presolana.

Since the sensation most widely shared by the workshop participants was a sense of loss, both linked to the memory of being away from their families and to the now disused camp, Chiara Gambirasio took up these evocations and further expanded the reflection by exploring the sense of loss of our relationship with nature, which places us in a centuries-old position of estrangement and independence. The colors that emerged during the workshop then partly flowed into the work, which features grayish-brown tones at the base, greens and yellows in the central part, and iridescent blues at the top.

The sculpture, titled M’ama, which evokes the idea of Mother Nature, or a “mother mountain,” thus layered in levels of perception and meaning, was conceived by the artist as an attempt at rapprochement and reconciliation, both with her own personal experience and with nature itself. Indeed, the form taken by the work is that of a mountain merging with a wood stump, in a kind of embrace that the artist hopes will also include visitors, called upon to embrace the sculpture.

Exhibited in the village of Rusio from May to July 2024, the sculpture became part of the GAMeC’s heritage thanks to the artist’s donation, and is currently on public view in the Una Galleria, Tante Collezioni (One Gallery, Many Collections) itinerary, which presents the main nuclei of the museum’s collections.

The second sculpture is set up at the ancient bridge connecting Castione della Presolana to Valle dei Mulini, in the area below the former summer camp. 

V’arco constitutes a sort of temporal and spatial arc that unites several dimensions: to the north that of the mountains, with their geological perspective; to the east that of the former camp, with all its emotional bearing; and to the south that of the valley in which TenarisDalmine itself, Fondazione Dalmine with the people involved in the participatory intervention, and GAMeC are located. The arched form of V’arco echoes and joins the arches of the three bridges in Castione della Presolana that trace the river’s descent towards the valley. The orientation of the bridge and arch, comprising an intertwining of branches, painted in the colors of an “earth rainbow,” follows the direction of the sun from East to West, forming a halo of light that frames the peak of Presolana in a sunburst, casting branching shadows across the valley floor.

Both of Chiara Gambirasio’s works for Thinking Like a Mountain thus speak of relationships, shared experiences, and spatiotemporal trajectories, but also of her enmeshed relationship with nature and the landscape, the real protagonists of her artistic interventions.

The documentation of the creative process that led the artist to conceive the exhibition project, through the path shared during the workshop, will be available to visitors at the new Fondazione Dalmine headquarters, together with materials from the photographic archive that will provide evidence of life in the summer camp dating back to the early twentieth century.

Note biografiche

Chiara Gambirasio (Bergamo, 1996), lives and works in Mapello (BG). She trained at the Brera Academy of Fine Arts in Milan, where she graduated in 2019 in Painting and then specialized in Sculpture in 2022. Hers is a multidisciplinary research, yet one bound together by the essentially pictorial principle of encoding reality through color. This practice is referred to by her as kenoscromìa, i.e. the chromatic vibration in/of the void. Her focus is on points of color that appear in reality as intruders, and which she aims to transform through the resulting images—pictorial, photographic, sculptural or hybrid—into fulcra of perspective. Public works include in 2023 Terre D’Istanti, curated by Roberto Mauri for the municipality of Mapello (Bergamo); Ammiraggio curated by Zeno Massignan on Monte Stivo (Trento); and in 2021 Sedimento, curated by Adiacenze Bologna (Spilamberto, Modena). Solo exhibitions include in 2022 Vedere dentro, curated by Gabi Scardi, Galleria Cinquegrana (Milan); 5Dì, curated by Caroline Corbetta, Il Crepaccio; in 2021, Istruzioni di Volo, curated by Sergio Risaliti, Museo Novecento (Florence). Group exhibitions include, in 2023, Visibilia, curated by Isabella Puliafito, Museo di Villa Croce (Genoa) and at Palazzo Ducale (Gubbio); in 2021, L’Armonia, curated by Sergio Risaliti, Manifattura Tabacchi (Florence); in 2020, Corpi sul Palco, curated by Andrea Contin at the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art in Rijeka.

Fondazione Dalmine

The Fondazione Dalmine ETS was established at the behest of TenarisDalmine with the aim of promoting industrial culture, enhancing the history of a steel company rooted in the territory for more than a century and now part of a global firm, Tenaris. In an outlook that combines attention to the local community with a global vision, Fondazione Dalmine ETS shares the same values of industrial culture with Tenaris: innovation, work culture and skills, health and safety, business ethics and transparency, environment, energy and circular economy. Starting from the preservation and enhancement of the company’s historical archives, Dalmine ETS Foundation promotes studies and research in the fields of business history and economic and social history, promoting the results through exhibitions and events, and organizing seminars and training events. These are the lines of a cultural project that looks to the future and addresses an audience of different ages, cultural backgrounds and interests: families, students and educational institutions, enthusiasts and experts alike.

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