Magic Flowers, SIAM, Milan, Italy – 2015
The Society for the Promotion of the Arts and Crafts (SIAM is the Italian acronym) was founded in 1838 by cultural luminaries such as Heinrich Mylius, Antonio De Kramer, Michele Battaglia, Luigi Magrini and Giulio Curioni with the aim of supporting the technical progress of the manufacturing industry in the Lombardy region of Italy.
Since 1889 this institution has been housed in a palazzo in via Santa Marta in Milan, designed by Francesco Pestagalli and inspired by the “Renaissance Revival’ style of the second part of the 19th century.
When invited to contribute a work of art to an event called ‘Cortili Aperti’ (Open Courtyards), organised by the Historic Home Association of Italy (ADSI) to encourage people to explore outstanding houses, buildings and estates, Roberto Cambi was offered the library of SIAM1838 as the setting for his installation.
Amongst a wealth of scientific and technical books dating as far back as 1534, the most cherished are a copy of the ‘Encyclopèdie Ou Dictionnaire Raisonnè des Sciences, des Arts et des Metiers’ by Denis Diderot and Jean le Rond d’Alembert (1758-1776) and a complete copy of ‘Description des Arts et Métiers’ by Duhamel du Monceau (1761 – 1779).
‘Magic Flowers – Imaginario Planum’ mirrors the blossoming of past ideas which went on to change the cultural landscape of the region.
Both the foundation of the Politecnico of Milano (Polytechnic University of Milan, the largest technical university in Italy) in 1863 and the creation of the Esposizione Nazionale (the first national trade fair) in 1881 were conceived within the ranks of this organisation.
The brilliant white flowers still maintain the purity of something newly born and have yet to take in the colours and details of a wholly defined project.
Although seemingly suspended in the air to remind us that this was a place where innovators would have floated their ideas, they are deeply rooted in the tremendous intellectual legacy of the site.
These alien flowers might not be indigenous to the culture laden environment where they have blossomed, but they certainly reflect the historical drive of SIAM1838 to embrace and nurture new projects.
Photo Credit: Alessandra Sofia