The only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars and in the middle you see the blue centerlight pop and everybody goes Awww!
(Jack Kerouac, On the road)
What do we mean when we talk about health and disease? The answer from a sociological point of view, which is what belongs to me, is by no means exhaustive. There are those who rely on "statistical normality" for which the patient is someone who behaves differently from the majority, those who rely on socio-cultural integration for which the patient is someone who is not adequately integrated into society, those who rely on symptomatic criteria for which you are sick if you have some specific symptoms of certain pathology and so on. The World Health Organization links the notion of health to that of well-being: "It is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not the mere absence of a state of disease or infirmity."
The interesting project by Christian Fogarolli, born in 1983, moves in this area with artistic research that focuses on the "relationship between visual art and scientific theories/disciplines and on the border between normality and deviance in contemporary society."
Pneuma is a project carried out thanks to the support of the Italian Council (6th Edition, 2019), a program for the promotion of Italian contemporary art in the world created by Direzione Generale Creatività Contemporanea del Ministero per i Beni e le Attività Culturali e per il Turismo, today Ministero della Cultura MiC. The project is an attempt (utopian according to its author) to give continuity to the process of de-stigmatization, reconsideration of mental illness and to have new questions about how economic, political and social systems define an anomalous or non-compliant individual. Pneuma like the breath of life, the soul, the spirit, like everything that is immaterial, which is still unknown to us, just like madness, illness.
The Pneuma project, moving from these considerations, is in tangential dialogue also with the current world emergency, caused by the rampant epidemic of Covid-19: what is the psychological impact of such collective traumatic events on the individual? What are the psychic implications behind isolation?
Fogarolli conducted his research in ten countries (Italy, Switzerland, Austria, Germany, France, Belgium, Holland, England, Romania, Czech Republic) meeting medical staff, people in care and other social actors. He has developed relationships with psychiatric institutes, private realities, centers for assistance, thus comparing himself with those who really live those places and trying, where possible, through creative and practical activities, to share moments and spaces in a personal attempt to overcome a marginalization which very often pervades the lives of these people.
Following these solicitations and influences, Fogarolli "has built an exhibition itinerary consisting of an environmental installation of different materials that interact with glass sculptures, a video work, documentations of field experiences and photographic works made thanks to the collaboration with institutes of research on mind and brain such as CIMeC Centro Interdipartimentale mente/cervello di Rovereto and King's College in London.”
The project was presented through various exhibitions and occasions at STATE Studio Experience Science in Berlin, MARe Museum in Bucharest, Löwenbräukunst Contemporary Art Center and schwarzescafé in Zurich, Etablissement Gschwandner Reaktor in Vienna, La Fondazione in Rome. In the coming months, a catalog will be published retracing the different phases of Pneuma with essays and contributions written by different personalities and authors. The final works will become part of the permanent collections of the MAMbo - Museum of Modern Art of Bologna.