Euroluce and The City of Lights: art, culture and design

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Fiat Bulb. The Edison Syndrome, ph. Francesco Merlini

In Euroluce’s pavilions, light is on show in all its expressions, with a wide range of exhibitions and installations curated by Beppe Finessi and the display designed by the Formafantasma studio

From architecture to design, from photography to art, with exhibitions, talks, workshops, site-specific installations. In addition to the product, at the Euroluce pavilions (9-11 and 1-15), light can be experienced and appreciated in all its expressions. The concept behind the international lighting biennial is The City of Lights. Designed by Beppe Finessi and designed by the Formafantasma studio, the spaces of the cultural program of this edition of the Salone del Mobile.Milano reveal a sensitive and multidisciplinary curatorial approach involving the illustrious names of artists who have explored the theme of light from a wide range of standpoints. 

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Aurore Arena, design Formafantasma, ph. Francesco Merlini

The pivot of these spaces is Aurore, a great piazza designed by Formafantasma that hosts various activities, then transformed into a meditative installation, with giant screens projecting images alluding to the different shades of light, captured in various areas all the way to bioluminescence in nature. Next to it there is the Corraini bookshop, a space for the sale, reading and consultation of books, where visitors can also find a selection of prints, artworks, limited edition volumes, as well as magazines, small art objects and graphic works.

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Bookshop, curated by Corraini, ph. Francesco Merlini

Within the cultural program there are four main exhibitions, entrusted to as many curators and exhibition designers, but through the whole exhibition itinerary of the Euroluce pavilions, there are also seven Constellations: architectural interludes that present drawings, photographs, paintings, video installations, individual works and families of objects. Each is enclosed in a lightweight, recognizable setting signed by Formafantasma, recyclable and reusable. Made from materials such as wood and paper, each space focuses on works and contents devoted to the theme of light by masters and great protagonists of the international scene, while also providing breakout spaces for visitors. 

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Costellazioni, Gae Aulenti, ph. Francesco Merlini

Among the Constellations we start from the one devoted to Gae Aulenti, with her figurative and experimental approach, and Umberto Riva: two seminal figures in Italian architecture who focused on the design typology of the lamp, from the famous Pipistrello to the magic of King Sun all the way to the E63 inspired by Constantin Brâncusi. On display are original sketches and drawings illustrating the proportions and measurements of objects that have entered the history of design. A fascinating exhibition focuses on Guido Guidi, one of the most famous names in contemporary photography, who in the last twenty years has photographed many works by Le Corbusier, Mies van der Rohe and Carlo Scarpa, decoding some of their masterpieces while waiting for the passing of the hours to see those spaces change as the light changes. The same procedure was used in the exhibited sequence of 16 photographs taken in Preganziol (Treviso) in 1983: an operation of measuring space-time through light. 

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Costellazioni, Nanda Vigo, ph. Francesco Merlini

Also enclosed in the Constellations are the works of masters such as Aldo Mondino, with his Jugend Stilo of 1992, François Morellet and Keith Sonnier, as well as leading figures such as Monica Bonvicini, Andrea Bowers (unforgettable her Chandeliers of Interconnectedness), Mark Handforth and Sislej Xhafa. Also well worth seeing is the research by transversal authors such as Corrado Levi – an unmissable work is Edipo from Fabbrica Eos, 2003 – and Nanda Vigo with Light Trees, luminous trees dating from the 80s, as well as experimentalists such as Mathieu Mercier, Duccio Maria Gambi and Valentin Ruhry

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Installation "You can imagine the opposite", Maurizio Nannucci, ph. Francesco Merlini

Welcoming visitors to Euroluce is a long glowing neon sign - You Can Imagine the Opposite - the large site-specific installation created by Maurizio Nannucci, who ever since the 60s, with the first neon texts, has added meanings and new perceptions to architectural spaces. Written in large lettering, the work by Nannucci, one of the most powerful interpreters of artificial light in contemporary art, is an admonition to think outside the box and imagine new possibilities.

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Hélène Binet. Nature, Time and Architecture, ph. Francesco Merlini

Objects need light to be seen and light needs them to exist.This is the starting point for the reflection of Hélène Binet (1959), the award-winning French-Swiss photographer who has captured the essence of some of the world’s most famous buildings. In her images she follows the path of light on architecture, showing how it caresses and exalts its lines. Among the four main exhibitions scheduled is the beautiful “Nature, Time and Architecture”, curated and designed by Massimo Curzi, offering a selection of photographs of the relation between light and architecture, nature and time, and presenting a visual account of some of the works of the most important masters of architecture. Hélène Binet's photographs tell of places where the slow movement of natural light across surfaces, forms and materials prompts us to reflect on the magical relation between light and architecture.

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Dawns. The Lights of Tomorrow,  ph. Francesco Merlini

Light is not an object, but a subject, natural or artificial, and an atmospheric and environmental phenomenon that is always changing. Poised between technology and poetry, the exhibition “Dawns. The Lights of Tomorrow”, curated by Matteo Pirola, presents a series of light fixtures, the work of the creativity of designers who reproduce natural phenomena. The range from the “blue hour”, the moment of transition between day and night, at the center of Horizon Halo by the Mandalaki studio, to mimicking the behavior of celestial bodies, as in the case of Constance Guisset's Apollo lamp, a small Moon made of metal and plaster. The exhibition is designed by the duo From Outer Space and represents an internal itinerary that passes through ambiances featuring different luminous atmospheres - dark, twilight, pure light - enhancing the essence of the works exhibited. Among the names: Iwan Baan, Thierry Cohen, Nendo, Adrian Paci, Alberto Garutti, Daniel Rybakken, Guillaume Simmen.

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Fiat Bulb. The Edison Syndrome, ph. Francesco Merlini

Martina Sanzarello is the curator of “FIAT BULB. The Edison Syndrome”, an exhibition that pays homage to the incandescent bulb, a true icon of our time. Devised as a sequence of light bulbs transformed from their primary use into unsettling objects and small experimental installations, the exhibition reviews different interpretations of this light source. A series of light bulbs “kindles” a circular conveyor belt that through the whole development of the space acts as a display stand for the works of artists and designers positioned in boxes and packaging. 

Artificial light plays a fundamental role in interior design. It can pick out certain features of the project, or even become the protagonist, radically transforming our perception of the environment. “Interior Night. Luminous Artifices”, curated by Michele Calzavara, with an installation by Berfu Bengisu Goren, is a layout with dozens of photographs that stage artifices of light ranging from small “grafts” to veritable inventive acts on a full architectural scale, between great masters and younger designers, historical icons and images perhaps more often disregarded, with the idea of recounting a small inventory of poetics, languages and shining aptitudes.

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Interno notte. Bright Artifacts, ph. Francesco Merlini

21 April 2023