For its sixth edition, ALLAPERTO, the contemporary art project of Fondazione Zegna
, brings to Trivero (Biella, Italy) a new permanent site-specific artwork: Two Way Mirror / Hedge Arabesque (2014) by Dan Graham. It will be inaugurated on May 31, 2014 in the presence of the artist.
Two Way Mirror / Hedge Arabesque is one of Grahams characteristic freestanding outdoor pavilions, here dissected by a high hedge in yew. The two-way mirror has a unique optical property: one side is transparent, the other reflects light, like a mirror. By assembling the plates so as to multiply the angles of refraction and overlapping of images and shapes, Graham subverts the mechanisms of visibility/invisibility associated with this material, often used for the facades of corporate buildings. Inside his pavilions, visitors are captivated by a kaleidoscopic game of mirrors, depending on their movements across space, inner feelings, conditions of light and transformations of the surrounding landscape. "My work is always about how viewers see themselves," says Graham.
The arabesque is the decorative style typical of Islamic art, consisting of floral and vegetal motifs woven seamlessly. Two Way Mirror / Hedge Arabesque is located in the Valley of Rhododendrons of Oasi Zegna, renowned for its spectacular spring bloom: a scenario both natural and artificial, as created and redesigned by two masters of Italian landscape architecture: Pietro Porcinai and Paolo Pejrone.
The relationship between art, architecture, environment and audience has been crucial in Grahams work. His first pavilions, created in the Eighties, like Two Adjacent Pavilions (1982, Documenta VII, Kassel) were the result of the artists studies on landscape architecture and historic gardens. Octagon for Münster (1987, Skulptur Projekte, Münster) recreated the volumes of an ancient gazebo, by reflecting the idyllic scenery of the city park. In the essay "Garden as Theater as Museum" (1988), Graham interprets the Renaissance gardens as the first museum of Western history. With works such as Two-Way Mirror Punched Steel Hedge Labyrinth (1994-6, Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, USA), the artist cites the Baroque hedge mazes, as well as the usage of the hedge as device that delineates private territories in the residential architecture of the suburbs - another major theme for Grahams research. From April 29 to November 2, the artist will present a new pavilion on the roof of the Metropolitan Museum in New York, in collaboration with the Switzerland-based landscape architect Günther Vogt.
The Valley of Rhododendrons
About a kilometre from the centre of Trivero, along the Zegna Panoramic Road, is the Valley of Rhododendrons. The rhododendron, a Greek word that means "tree of roses", is a plant perfectly suited to acid soils and rugged mountains that mark the region of Biella, in Piedmont, Italy. Between May and June, an explosion of colours transforms the Valley into a unique landscape. Starting in the '20s, Ermenegildo Zegna decided to redevelop the mountains behind Trivero by planting over 500,000 conifers and hundreds of azaleas, dahlias, hydrangeas, and especially rhododendrons, coming from Belgian nurseries. The plants were arranged in this natural basin according to size and hue, following a harmonic pattern. The area assumed its present feature in the Sixties, thanks to the great Florentine landscape Pietro Porcinai, who worked in Trivero between 1959 and 1979. He planned the Valley of Rhododendrons directly on the ground, without the use of study designs. Recently, another Italian master of landscape design, Paolo Pejrone, restructured the area, with the creation of a new path and customer facilities. Prevailing is the red beech, which tints the Valley all year round, together with ash, spirea, heather, camellias and forsythia, until the fall transforms all foliage. The Valley occupies the first part of Oasi Zegna.