The Sala delle Cariatidi of the Palazzo Reale in Milan hosts the installation by Fabrizio Plessi, the visionary of video art, consisting of 12 gigantic, nine-metre-long steel boats, inside of which a sea of gold is stirring

Golden is the sea that churns inside boats, as if rearing up in a storm, their bows pointing towards the decorated ceiling of the great hall. It is golden because water is as precious an element as precious metal. This is the message Fabrizio Plessi wants to convey to a humanity increasingly indifferent to the fate of the Planet. From 27 June to 10 September 2023, the artist, a pioneer of video art, arrives in Milan aboard gigantic boats in which a continuous flow of gold flows on television screens. Promoted and produced by the Municipality of Milan - Culture, Palazzo Reale and Studio Plessi, it is curated by Bruno Corà, Alberto Fiz and Marco Tonelli, with the exhibition project by Lissoni & Partners, and hosts a site-specific installation: twelve steel structures, nine metres long, dedicated to the seas of the planet, inclined to the limit of falling, in an attempt to maintain their fragile hold.

A precarious balance

"Everything, then, is ready to set sail on these new electronic Noah's arks, raised to the sky for us, the incredulous and astonished aboriginal-digitals of our time," the artist explains. With their precarious balance, the boats represent a metaphor for the contemporary human condition, made of instability, uncertainties and tensions. With his language, Plessi manages to express urgent collective messages with strength and emotion.

Water as the element of choice

Over the last three years, starting from the very first months of the pandemic in 2020, Plessi has made water, the element of choice in most of his creations, undergo a transformation into gold: this metamorphosis has taken place for a series of works entitled 'The Golden Age', to which the project conceived for the archaeological area of Brixia Romana and for the Museum of Santa Giulia in Brescia, on the occasion of Bergamo Italian Capital of Culture 2023, also belongs.

A limited resource

Water is a fundamental resource for life: indispensable for animals, humans and plants. But it is a limited resource; its availability is not infinite. It covers about 70% of the planet: fresh water makes up 2.5% of this 70% and accounts for 0.6% of all fresh water available for daily human use (the remainder is trapped in glaciers and snowfields); 12% of the world's population (including Europeans) consume 85% of the total water, while the majority of the world's population does not have access to adequate water resources; about 25% of the world's population (about one billion people out of the Earth's total 6.8 billion inhabitants) do not have access to drinking water; 1.8 billion people use contaminated sources.

In defence of history and beauty

Natural resources, particularly water, are the most precious assets of our time and this explains the alchemy created by Plessi. On the 80th anniversary of the bombing that marked the current appearance of the Sala delle Cariatidi, the artist's boats stand in defence of the history and beauty of the place, against violence and destruction, as Pablo Picasso did when, in 1953, he chose this very room of the Palazzo Reale to exhibit Guernica, among his most painful masterpieces.

Organise visit

Free admission: opening hours, Mondays closed; Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays 10 a.m. - 7.30 p.m.; Thursdays 10 a.m. - 10.30 p.m. Open on 15 August (ticket office closes one hour earlier). Click here for more info.

Photos: Petrò Gilberti