The enhancement of public art through conservation: Piazza Fontana in Taranto by Nicola Carrino

The sculptures and installations by Nicola Carrino are site-specifc, made for the place in which they will remain, a place that is not only physical, natural or artificial, but also cultural, original and symbolic. The conception of a public intervention begins with a survey, with the reading and observation of the environment in which the work will be placed, the analysis of the structural needs and spatial dimensions, the identification of significant lines. [1] The attention that the artist places in this phase and time devoted to the study of these features lead to the construction of a sculpture that respects the site and its nature, an object that can be a space in the city, contributing to create habitability, socially perceived. Nicola Carrino not only design the work for its mere aesthetic value, he aims instead to a functional implementation, responding to a social demand and that fits into a collective plan of urban renewal. [2] So it is not a question of only decorative sculptures, but of environmental interventions, which hold together the rules of architecture, meanings of tradition and artistic motivations, for a total redesign conceived for the place. Each of his public work takes into account the natural characteristics of the territory, of the historical processes that have gone through, the artistic works that have been preserved over time, no less than the man as part of that environment, generator and receiver of a cultural context and community. [3]

The artist, for the realization of public art works, rather than to all other creations, must take into account all these elements and factors, linking them as much as possible with their natural way of thinking and working, preserving their artistic language and contemporary forms of expression, even if expressed in historical contexts. The public art work by Carrino, Piazza Fontana in Taranto, built in 1983, is the result of this spirit and this modus operandi: the project is a redevelopment plan and urban renewal of the old square, within the wider restoration plan of the old town, developed in those years by architect. Franco Blandino, and then developed with the intention to respect and to recall the existing context. The recovery of the ancient neoclassical fountain by Cataldo De Florio, whatsoever created to replace the one dedicated to Charles V, and in reference to the Aragonese walls enclosing the square, demolished in the century, have been the cornerstones of this intervention. The project is enriched not only with references to the past, but also contains strong and valid indices of modernity. The work is in fact made of stainless steel, material related to the history and production of the industrial city of Taranto and the steel plant Ilva (then Italsider). [4]

The sculpture, structured in a corner, stands diagonally in the middle of the square, tracing the evolution of the original conduit alleging water. The artist has built a system made up of 36 modules in the form of L, C 1/71 Constructive Form L, assembled together to the wall, interspersed with wide openings, some located on the square, the other in the tub. The archaeological remains of the ancient fountain, incorporated in the work together with the remains of the neoclassical one, and the city walls, build a system of civic historical memory, enclosed in a project based on sculptural and environmental unity. This work fills the void left by the fall of historic structures and, at the same time, becomes the guardian of the cultural relics remained, protecting the place from possible interference of new insistence. [5]

Piazza Fontana turns out to be the result of a complex project, layered, rich in symbolism, historical and cultural references, meanings, a system of values ​​that can be difficult and not easy to understand. Although targeted at Taranto, while wanting to be a functional space of aggregation and sharing, the sculpture has been repeatedly subject to manifestations of hostility from the people and of an attitude of declared aversion to contemporary art. But the connection with a work, especially if public, and the respect towards it, born from his understanding, from the commitment of the institutions in the dissemination of its message, the disclosure of the multiple meanings of the project, a continuation of what has been done by the artist. The abandonment and degradation to which has been forced Piazza Fontana, consequently at the time of its implementation to date, with a brief interruption of the maintenance of 2012, may inevitably affect the behavior of citizens, driven to interpret that absence of care as an indication of lack of value of the work. In September 2014, during the FAI days, with the city overrun by tourists, the basins of the fountain contained debris and waste of all kinds, and what was supposed to symbolize the urban regeneration of the old center ended with represent the total failure of the government. [6]

Struggles have been incurred by the artist and supporters to save the announced destruction of Piazza Fontana and the assumption of relocation of its components in a site to be determined. In defense of the relationship installation-environment, Carrino writes, Condizione a rischio della scultura urbana, to complain about the poor maintenance and few guarantees of conservation of these works. Too many factors affect their protection, policy options, changes of government in charge, vandalism; nothing is guaranteed to artists and their sculptures, sometimes uninstalled for the construction of parking areas or for additional urban rearrangements. It is the professionalism of the artist to be undermined, together with the educational function and meditation of its art works, which require, since their creation, the protection of institutions and superintendents. [7]

[1] N. Carrino, Scultura e intervento urbano. Integrazione delle arti come ‘arte dei luoghi e del paesaggio’, in Io arte – noi città. Natura e cultura dello spazio urbano, Atti del convegno (Roma, 23-25 novembre 2004), a cura di M. Crescentini, P. Ferri, D. Fonti, Roma, Gangemi Editore, 2006, pp. 33-34.
[2] Nicola Carrino. Costruttivi trasformabili. 5 sculture / 10 rilievi 1969-1990, catalogo della mostra (Padova, 2 febbraio-20 marzo 1991), a cura di A. Da Rin Fioretto, Padova, Galleria Fioretto, 1991.
[3] M. Galbiati, Nicola Carrino. Ricostruttivi Progetto Invernizzi 2009.2010, in «Espoarte», 19 maggio 2010, consultabile alla pagina web (ultima consultazione: 04 aprile 2015).
[4] web (ultima consultazione: 04 aprile 2015).
[5] F. Moschini, Piazza Fontana a Taranto. Lo spazio urbano come luogo “dell’accidentalità”, A.A.M. Architettura Arte Moderna, Roma, 1992.
[6] L. Madaro, Piazza Fontana a Taranto: l’opera di Nicola Carrino vittima (ancora una volta) del degrado e dell’indifferenza, in «La Repubblica Bari.it», 20 maggio 2013, alla pagina web, (ultima consultazione: 04 aprile 2015).
[7] N. Carrino, Condizione a rischio della scultura urbana, in «Nuova Meta. Parole & immagini. Rivista di critica delle arti», XVII (2003), 17, pp. 24-26.

Nicola Carrino, Decostruttivo Artehotel, 2006, Perugia. © Nicola Carrino...

Nicola Carrino, Decostruttivo Artehotel, 2006, Perugia. © Nicola Carrino

Nicola Carrino, Riassetto urbano di Piazza Fontana a Taranto, 1983-1992....

 Nicola Carrino, Riassetto urbano di Piazza Fontana a Taranto, 1983-1992. © Nicola Carrino (foto di Cosmo Laera)

Nicola Carrino, Riassetto urbano di Piazza Fontana a Taranto, visione de...

Nicola Carrino, Riassetto urbano di Piazza Fontana a Taranto, visione del basamento della fontana antica, 1983-1992. © Nicola Carrino (foto di Cosmo Laera)

Nicola Carrino, Riassetto urbano di Piazza Fontana Taranto, visione dei ...

 Nicola Carrino, Riassetto urbano di Piazza Fontana Taranto, visione dei moduli dislocati nella vasca, 1983-1992. © Nicola Carrino (foto di Cosmo Laera)

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Annalisa Ferraro

Storica dell'arte, specializzata nella valorizzazione e conservazione dell'arte contemporanea.

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