Maybe we're not paying too much attention, but we're starting to remember. It is a good sign, because reactivating the memory also means taking distance, and having the time to cultivate the idea that better times are coming. Recognize the signs left by the pandemic. Not the visible signs, the invisible ones, those that you never have the time or the desire to go and see, but which are fundamental for collective sanity. They are the emotional, irrational scars. These are the strategies invented to cope with the first true collective trauma of the century.
Memories from the lockdown are the 100 plates decorated by Vito Nesta during the first confinement, now the subject of the exhibition Diary of a designer. Sixty-nine days in the name of Vito Nesta, until 26 September at the Royal Palace of Genoa. The exhibition, curated and strongly desired by Alessandro Valenti and Luca Parodi, is a hymn to memory as a universal therapeutic space.
The plates of a large table set in the Gallery of Mirrors are the canvas on which the designer constructs a story, a continuous and hypnotic foray into an iconographic imagery of yesteryear, punctuated by the landscapes of courtyards, patterns of windows and facades, of window sills and terraces. Views of confinement, when looking out the window was a melancholy and strangely seductive activity.
There is also the exotic, the distant and the remote, in Nesta's work. Nostalgia for travel, for non-domestic atmospheres that are here recalled to the present with twentieth-century images, in a surreal and manipulated idea of distance.
Vito Nesta during tells that as a child he had a pact with his aunts: family photographs in exchange for small commissions. Within this strange exchange there is already all the designer's work on the value of memory, of quotation, of the story intended as the persistence of memory and not as an invention.
Incredibly fortunate then the choice of Palazzo Reale in Genoa, a place out of the passing of days, immobile as memories are. The throne room, the rooms, the anterooms, the rooms, the lounges… Vito Nesta leaves marks everywhere, contemporary design that amiably communicates with a vanished, unreal, very distant time. And that is why it is so important.
The anthropologist Matteo Meschiari in the days of the lockdown launched a digital open call called Draumar, the anthropocene of dreams. The invitation to collect the dreams made during the lockdown to cultivate a reservoir of subconscious memories that freely narrate the traumatic experience of the pandemic. It is not the first time that such an experiment has been attempted and Meschiari draws on the experiences of Nazism, in Schnitzler's dream notebooks, in the chronicles of Procopius of Caesarea. Dreams come to inform us and to pave the way for art, irony, the sacralization of memory.
London designer Freyja Sewell, during the 2020 lockdown, created a series of masks with common objects found in the house. Her idea was to celebrate the key workers, those workers who continued to leave their homes during the pandemic to provide basic services. Eleven beautiful images were born, sacred icons in a lean time of beauty and inspiration.
Between spirituality and science fiction, Sewell's dreams gave life to an empyrean of new saints with masks, evoking beauty in what was actually a dangerous, voluntary and humble mission.
The hidden and protected face of millions of human beings is the monumental image of the pandemic. It appeared in March 2020, it was the target of DIY, simple and clever design projects. It has become the object of daily orthodoxy. It is already art, design, photography. Soon we will also find the words to talk about it, for now it is nice to know that memory is made of images.