Emilio Ferro is an Italian artist born in 1988. His works are an intriguing blend of light, sound and visual arts, giving rise to evocative installations such as QUANTUM, his latest piece on display at Palazzo Martini di Cigala in Turin from 5 May to 23 June. The installation was commissioned by the Projec_To association for the second edition of Design of Today, an exhibition put on to mark the major international contemporary art fair Artissima.
QUANTUM is a site-specific installation crafted out of nothing more than light, which Emilio Ferro has based on the combined research of two figures who are worlds apart in time and space: German doctor Ernst Hartmann, a theorist of geopathology and scholar of terrestrial electromagnetism , and Italian architect Filippo Juvarra, designer of the majestic Baroque palace in which the exhibition itself is held.
Ernst Hartmann, who lived during the 20th century, worked in the post-World War II era on his theory about the existence of a network of magnetic nodes all around the earth. These nodes are supposedly able to affect the health of the people living near them due to telluric radiation, which consists of bands approximately 21cm wide that are arranged along the earth’s geomagnetic directions from North to South and East to West. At the points where these lines meet – known as ‘nodes’ – the electromagnetic field tends to be stronger, thus causing the so-called ‘geopathies’. It is claimed that two such nodes are located within Palazzo Martini di Cigala, coinciding precisely with two imposing black columns designed by architect Filippo Juvarra to adorn the inner courtyard of the Baroque palace.
As such, Ferro’s work exists in a dialogue with the space, defining it through the use of light alone, which is itself a form of electromagnetic radiation. According to the artist and designer, the radiation from this light serves to counteract the negative radiation of the Hartmann nodes. The curators Simone Becchio (Tempesta Gallery, Milan), Elisabetta Chiono (Crag Gallery, Turin) and Paolo Bonacina (Robilant + Voena, Milan, London, Paris, New York) say of the installation in a press note: “QUANTUM is a piece that dialogues with the space in opposition to these nodes, occupying the surface that is free from the electromagnetic mesh and fostering a sense of balance in visitors who stand under the horizontal beam of light. A journey ‘into the positive’ that positions itself as a counterpoint to the verticality of Juvarra’s dark columns, which are located on the ground floor of the building at the precise point of the two ‘H nodes’. The element of light thus creates a new dimensional level that transcends the polarity of opposites and ends its journey projected onto a large structure erected within the Palazzo, generating a circle of light – the essential form of the sun – which irradiates its surrounding environment with a suspended energy “.
Of course, the idea of using light as the fundamental element of an installation or work is nothing new: one need only consider the work of important figures such as Dan Flavin, James Turrell and Olafur Eliasson for examples. That said, Emilio Ferro’s work also incorporated the launch of a dedicated NFT, released at the same time as the opening of the exhibition.
The other works on display in the palatial setting of Palazzo Martini di Cigala and selected by Projec_To are by renowned names including Studio Nucleo, Studio F, Tommaso Spinzi and Artefatto. “Freedom of choice on what to exhibit and open discussion are the guidelines that we wish to follow in our programming, as well as the opportunity to blend our tastes by constantly mulling over and discussing all the aspects of design and aesthetics involved,” say Becchio and Chiono, founders of Projec_To.
Artist: Emilio Ferro
Curators: Simone Becchio, Elisabetta Chiono and Paolo Bonacina
Photo: Roberto Conte