“Anabasis articulata is an Afilla plant with plump twigs, but here it is in two variants: with bare twigs and flowering twigs,” said the colonial official showing of the images obtained in the laboratory, on a cloudy background.
Thus began one of the chapters of The Oblivion, a visual and damning novel by Alessandro Spina, published in Milan in 2005. The book, which completes the “Stories of Officers” series started by the writer in 1967, is not only a literary source that inspired the title of the artistic duo Invernomuto’s work at the Triennale, but also a poetic script, which offers the dimension of fiction in what is, to all effects, presented to the public as a film set.
Invited to work on the documents at the Triennale di Milano archives, Invernomuto (Simone Bertuzzi, 1983, Simone Trabucchi, 1982) has built an installation with an explicitly mysterious title, freely adapted from a re-reading of a selection of documents from private archives as well as the historical archives of the Triennale di Milano (photographs and drawings of the projects of the Second Biennale in Monza in 1925, the V and VII of the Triennale di Milano n 1933 and 1940). Through a juxtaposition of projects, objects and thematic exhibitions, these editions of the event made room for African architecture and particularly to colonial dwellings, the relationship between living space and untouched nature, between furniture in museums and the representation of power, between the construction of imagery and its collective sharing, between optical seduction and disturbing monumentality, the search for authenticity and hybrid modernity, between fiction and reality.
Invernomuto began thus with a collection of drawings and photographs on interior architecture, published in the catalog for the Colonial Equipment exhibition, made in 1940 for the VII Triennale di Milano, to give shape to an environment that was poetic, literary and full of expectation. The two-dimensional drawing as well as the texts of the catalog itself become space.
The artists built a fragment of this architecture to scale. Through non-linear editing, they combined this element in texts and images taken from the editions in 1925 and 1933, as well and with materials and private documents related to the research that took place for years in Africa, particularly on the figure of Negus. A patio, a window with sharp and marked lines that frames the view of the garden at the Triennale, a banner on the wall: like a mural, it transforms the flat surface into a post-modern bas relief with the effigy of a Black Venus. The sounds, sculptural elements and different light temperatures are the punctuation that Invernomuto uses to translate history into occurrence. The effect is that of being in a private living space: - We move stealthy and suspended together in a celebrated time, in search of signs and traces that allow us to read about the life that is featured herein. In this project, clues such as Spina’s novel blend with the documents from public and private archives, readings and discoveries, characters and the alienating ambiances.
The artists give shape to this group of narratives working in an avant-garde exhibition space, sandwiched between the inside of the institution and the garden that surrounds it.
The result is a room suspended in time and space, a poetic environment where architectural forms exert an impression on our moods. The metaphor of architecture as a body and personified is also the focus of reworking archival data in an environmental experience. It’s a melting pot of stories, sounds and presences that are interwoven into a single environment, suspended between the installation and set, between reality and fiction, historical archive and reinvented past, nature and architecture.
— Paola Nicolin