Embracing the Dark, Giardino dell’Orticoltura
Giardino dell’Orticoltura was created by a desire to exhibit plants. The initial project was later enhanced with the addition of the now characteristic tepidarium, whose beauty is reflected in its functionality.
Multimedia artist Emma Maggiani has based her work on the conflictual yet fascinating relationship between human beings and nature. She considers the greenhouse system not only a symbol of human control – as it ensures growth regardless of the seasons – and sets a nonexistent classification, labelling and prioritising plants useful for commercial purposes, such as ornamental plants, and excluding toxic and dangerous plants and bacteria.
Embracing the Dark shows a toxic plant with anthropomorphic characteristics known as mandrake, whose presence in front of the greenhouse reminds the viewer of the importance of biodiversity and the constant dialogue we need to maintain with nature. It sets the tone for how we can observe and react to nature through the aesthetic use of technology.
Giardino dell’Orticoltura has also housed cultural events, such as Vanessa Beecroft’s performance for Pitti Immagine Uomo in 2004, one of the most memorable events from the fashion festival, portraying how humans and art are not distant from nature but a part of it. Both Beecroft and Maggiani have strengthened the connection between humans and nature through a magnetic moment within the garden, a work closely linked to the place, the environment, and light. In both cases, garden plants grow above Mother Earth, just like women, symbols of fertility, beauty, chaos and life.
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Emma Maggiani lives and studies in Florence, Italy. She is an undergraduate student of Multimedia Arts at Istituto Marangoni Firenze.