Willy Verginer

Il giardino perduto. Purgatorio e Antropocene

Chiesa di San Barnaba, Bondo

15 luglio - 28 agosto 2022

BONDO – SELLA GIUDICARIE Willy Verginer’s poetics and the theme of the Garden of Eden in the Divine Comedy meet in St. Barnabas Church in Bondo to open a dialogue to the present. The exhibition “The Lost Garden. Purgatory and Anthropocene,” set up from July 15 to Aug. 28, constitutes the second stage, dedicated to Purgatory, of a trilogy that the Municipality of Sella Giudicarie is dedicating to the 700th anniversary of the Supreme Poet’s death. The exhibition engaged the Gardena artist in a site-specific work that focuses on the dramatic lament of our garden-planet. It is a story that has the intensity and grace of Willy Verginer, artist of international standing (in 2017 he exhibited a large installation on the theme of the environment at the Wasserman Gallery in Detroit, Michigan) who maintains his workshop-atelier in Ortisei, in a close, necessary and existential relationship with nature and the Alpine landscape. The place that hosts the exhibition, the church of San Barnaba, has been hosting different languages of art in its Baroque architecture for years, with a growing role in the context of Trentino’s exhibition hubs. The idea of a path of growth in virtue, central to Dante’s Purgatorio, is translated in the exhibition’s path into a reflection on the present, marked by the man’s increasingly unsustainable impact on the Earth, to open a gap in the now widely prioritized debate on the subject of the Anthropocene. The exhibition project approaches it from an artistic perspective that stages the contrast between human gazes, immersed in the virtual and technological world, and a questioning nature represented by the animals carved in wood by Willy Verginer, removed from darkness and brought into light in a moment of centrality. A current theme is that of climate change, that causes landslides and disorients Homo sapiens, used to thinking of themselves as the center of creation. Thus the silver-colored man in the center of the aisle, sculpted by Willy Verginer with a colorful headdress formed by an array of cell phones covering his view, makes clear the disorientation of a society unbalanced in vision by the multitude of screens it frequents and inhabits. A man shielded from reality and distracted by mental zapping on different screens, in the illusory indexing of his own paradises. A man who has forgotten that he is only a part and not the whole, removing the dramatic truth that if the garden- planet dies, identical fate befalls the one who inhabits it. The sculptor Willy Werginer’s profound knowledge of alpine nature enables him not to fear the disruptive encounter with consumer objects, inseparable companions of our lives. Indeed, in the very play of contrast with the products of technological society, in this case cell phones, a spontaneous feeling of alliance with nature and nostalgia is released. The same nostalgia from the garden of delights, wonderful place in the Old Testament hosted Adam and Eve before the disastrous fall into the world of toil, which Dante places on the summit of Purgatory, the metaphorical end point of the exhibition, with Verginer’s animals above the candelabra, in his garden of Eden. Exhibition choice that is upwardly structured and suggests that to progress towards the best in us, as in Dante’s Purgatory, the path is uphill. An image that takes on a present meaning: are we not called to the challenge of radical balance, certainly lost, with our garden-planet? “Next to the roe deer, the donkey, the raven, the bear, – writes curator Roberta Bonaza in the catalog published by Vanilla editions – there is room for the last remaining specimens of the Amur leopard, not more than fifty; for the Sumatran elephant, one of the most endangered species on the planet; for the polar bear, which can feel the ice melting under its paws; for sea turtles, who mistake plastic floating in the ocean for food; and for the Javan rhinoceros, perhaps the rarest large mammal in the world. ” The pink hat covering the gaze of the man sculpted by Verginer is the hat that we all wear. An object that we honor every day on the altars of our contemporary times and that the church’s own side altars offer us in its breakdown. A theory of cell phones, glittering and repetitive, that loses polish over time, fading into a gray, tragic hive, where there is no trace of the industriousness of bees and their sweetness. To see in the open field, we must remove ourselves from our beloved screens and accept the challenge of the real, rediscovering the preciousness of our gaze and the courage to climb our purgatory, changing habits. There is a need to get on the road: no longer a going down, an indolent and passive letting go, but a consciously and actively working for our planet, rediscovering the perseverance of the working donkey and the breath of the running deer. A path that is taken starting first of all from a strong willpower, from a desire for harmony. A patient step, instead of the magical touch on the display. Willy Verginer, capable of sensing the substance of things and stripping it of all superstructure, traces a path that invites resistance. The sculptures that the artist has dedicated to this adventure, by their presence propose a way.