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Aqua Aura - Millennial Project

Millennial Project - Aqua Aura
by Serena Ribaudo - Segno n. 266

The Synagogue in Reggio Emilia is hosting Millennial Project, a one-man show by Aqua Aura, curated by Chiara Serri. Before our very eyes, Aqua Aura lays out sublime visions in which expanses of polar glaciers become the metaphor for a crystallized moment in time; they are poignant custodians of memory, heroic spirits that hold supernatural powers: Aqua Aura has built a bewitchingly magnetic series, a veritable phenomenology of spirit and memories here on earth. His artistic inventions manage to link investigations into the natural world with Turnerian feats: physis (or nature) transliterates into a dazzling theurgy of forms.

In Aqua Aura the melancholy of the infinite is brought to life, almost with undertones of Cassirer, through his scientific inclinations, informed by his studies on astrophysics, particle physics, biogenetics, philosophy and the psychology of perception; yet at the same time, in his unsettling, slippery universes we can make out a religious, specular quality, or, one might go so far as to say an assimilation between humankind and Kosmos. In short, to quote Schiller: “All in me and out of me is only the hieroglyph of a strength which is like to me.  The laws of nature are the cyphers which the thinking mind adds on to make itself understandable to intelligence”.

Millennial Project begins in the central hall of the Synagogue, with the audio/video-installation “Millennial Tears” which contains and develops the artist’s photographic endeavours from the past, enhanced and reworked using new formulas and an ever-changing creativity. “Millennial Tears” is without a doubt the focus of the entire exhibition: it’s an immersive, metamorphosing experience imbued with a special significance in relation to the space for which it was designed, namely the Synagogue of Reggio Emilia, built in the seventeenth century and re-founded in the nineteenth century. The work is dedicated to the Jewish communities and their history stretching back millennia. The artist was profoundly affected by a visit to the Yad Vashem Museum in Jerusalem, particularly the Yad Vashem memorial, an enclosed space in which Hebrew prayers for the dead are recited continuously.  He later developed his project in the glaciers of Iceland, tackling a relevant contemporary issue: the catastrophic melting of the polar ice caps. Spectators thus find themselves faced with a phenomenon that lays bare their own natural, ineluctable transitory nature, before being sublimated in the assumption of a meta-historical, universal substantiality. The video installation consists of three panels on which the visual narrative of the work is alternated and woven together; the aural landscape is also an important component: the gushing of the water, the thunderous sounds of the ice, and the Hebrew melody “Kol Nidrei” in both instrumental and sung versions all generate a profoundly appealing, synesthetic effect.

Moving on to the side rooms, we come to the dreamlike landscapes and contemporary still lifes taken from the “Scintillation” series, and the “oneiric wandering through unexplored territories that leads Aqua Aura to metaphysical theatres, to the comets and crystal balls of the Void series” (Chiara Serri). Lastly we come to the final rooms, dedicated to the alabaster sculptures “Shelters – on the very nature of light”, which are the artist’s first foray into the plastic arts, and the installation “Domestic Eternity” which places the spectator before the multiplication of the concept of time: the time of the real object in relation to human experience, the time of representation, the time in which the work itself is viewed.

The “Millennial Project” exhibition is part of the book “Lustro” (Vanillaedizioni, 2017), along with “Somewhere Out There”, an exhibition curated by Matteo Galbiati in Alessandria (Palazzo Cutica and Sale d’Arte, 25 November 2017 – 28 January 2018), and Aqua Aura’s work from the past five years.

The solo show has been produced with support from Co.O.Pe.Ra.Te. srl.

Millennial Project was created in partnership with the City Council of Reggio Emilia / Musei Civici, under the aegis of the Emilia-Romagna Regional Authority, the Province of Reggio Emilia and the National Museum of Italian Judaism and the Shoah (MEIS).