Winner of the third edition of the Italian Council (2018), Elisabetta Benassi’s installation “EMPIRE” was displayed at Palazzo Altemps from June to September of last year. This was the second stage of the project which was first displayed in the Italian Institute of Culture in London in the form of a labyrinth. The itinerant exhibition continued to MOSTYN in Wales before being transferred to the Crypta Balbi which will be its permanent home.
“EMPIRE develops in an installation of six thousand terracotta bricks - especially made in Great Britain using black and violet clay by a brickworks located in the Royal Forest of Dean, in Gloucestershire - which have been embossed with the name of the work. In addition to these there are two bricks made of a bronze and gold alloy. On a formal level, EMPIRE reflects the basic building element of ancient architecture, the Roman brick, transforming it into an element with new aesthetic potential and meaning.
The term “empire”, with its varied and contrasting meanings, suggests figures of power and grandeur, and at the same time evokes dark scenes of coercion, domination and submission. Positioned at the crossroads between history and memory, between symbolic and political value, between verbal language and visual experience, with this project Elisabetta Benassi once again reflects on the dialectic relationship between the past and the present. Like a form of device that produces unexpected configuration, the work aims to challenge the idea of an Ancient era that is considered as accepted fact, instead presenting it as a conflicting plot, a form of resistance to the presumed inevitability of the present.”