This extensive exhibition occupies the venue’s airy Podium, where most of the works are displayed and visitors may wander freely, zigzagging without any particular chronological or thematic hierarchy, and the Cisterna, which features what is undoubtedly the most impressive piece in Recycling Beauty: an impressive reconstruction of the Colossus of Constantine, whose original fragments have for centuries lain in the courtyard of the Palazzo dei Conservatori on the Rome Capitol. Here, for the first time, a head, toe, foot and other parts are presented not in a virtual reconstruction but as an actual sculpture in the round, created by Adam Lowe of Factum Foundation. The resulting colossal statue may be admired from several vantage points. Like all hypertrophic things, it inspires awe, yet it also generates a vaguely alienating feeling to see a Roman emperor’s titanic body seated on a sheet metal throne in a former industrial building in a reclaimed Milan suburb.
En route to the foot of the statue, a set of archival images reproduced on the walls show fragments of the colossus in various eras, including Johann Heinrich Füssli’s famous red ochre drawing The Artist’s Despair Before the Grandeur of Ancient Ruins, which the Swiss artist executed around 1779 inspired by these very finds. Arguably as a result of recycling, decontextualizing and appropriating what is left of the past, artists and architects have today definitely overcome that feeling of inadequacy toward it.
From 17 November 2022 to 27 February 2023
Recycling Beauty, Fondazione Prada, Milano