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ABOUT

Lapidarium is a work in progress by the Mexican artist Gustavo Aceves,

which will grow with each installation during

its world tour until its final exhibition

where it will finally present a total of 100 large scale sculptures.

Every sculpture is unique, without any copies.

Each sculpture stands for a fragment of human history,

creating a silent space of reflection available to us all.

PHILOSOPHY

Lapidarium was born as project in the waters of the Niger:

A canoe filled with men, women, and children, half Charon’s boat, half Trojan horse.

Lapidarium is a mute testimony. Silent like the silence of immigrants at the midway point.

Lapidarium is not an installation.

Each sculpture in Lapidarium is a death notice.

As a whole, they form an Obituary.

Lapidarium is not an Archaeology of human migrations,

no matter how much this might seem to be its cause.

Lapidarium is a rereading of this new lexicon that begins with the B for Barbarous and ends with the X for Xenophobia;

and between them, as an ignominious bridge, the S of the “Sans papiers”.

Lapidarium dates back to the day when humanity left

Africa. Lapidarium attests to the day when humanity continues to leave Africa.

The topography of Lapidarium is composed solely of water.

The Red Sea that parted for the Hebrews on their journey to the Promised Land, is now closed to the return of the displaced.

The Black Sea, witness to the migrations of the «Peuples de la mer» to the Near East, and who continue to drown today before massive indifference.

The Dead Sea, motionless, desolate. The sea where resurrection was invented for all humanity; today the sea of wanderers on their final days.

The Mare Nostrum. Finally, the other shore.

 

Gustavo Aceves

The Saint Mark’s Quadriga

One of the primary concepts of Lapidarium is the establishment of a dialogue between the journey of the Quadriga, now located in Saint Mark’s, Venice, and the horses of Lapidarium.

The Quadriga was first plundered from Corinth (Greece) by the Romans and placed over the victory Arch of Constantine in Rome in 304 A.D. Constantine brought the Quadriga to Constantinopolis (now Istanbul) and placed it over the entrance to the biggest hippodrome of the Roman Empire.

In 1204, the Quadriga was plundered during the Fourth Crusade and placed over the Basilica of Saint Mark’s in Venice.

The Quadriga was later taken by Napoleon’s troops during the Napoleonic wars and situated over the Arc du Carrousel in Paris, than moved again by the Prussian after the victory at Waterloo. After this event, two copies of the Quadriga were produced, one for the Brandenburger Gate in Berlin and the other left over the Arc du Carrousel in Paris.

Finally, The original Quadriga was brought back to Venice; the place where they remain to this day.

As a result of the epic journeys of the Quadriga, these places have become related, as if by a secret thread, charged with symbolism. These are the places which will now host LAPIDARIUM; the descendants of those original horses, now turned into stone, sand, marble, bronze, iron.

These places are also chosen as a metaphor for the contemporary experience of exile (migration).

The man who comes out of Africa

Errantry, exodus and exile is an essential aspect of Lapidarium. Cultural exchange evolves as a natural result of migration and diáspora is an eternal part of the human condition, as old as mankind itself.
The starting point for Lapidarium springs from the time in which the man first came out of Africa and testifies to the continuity of that act with the men who still come out of Africa (and with him, all the exiled of the world)

Waiting for the barbarians

The term ‘barbarian’ originates from Greek and means, ‘the other, the one who babbles.’ In Lapidarium, Gustavo has sought to underline the absurdity of the fear of others, to the different. Whilst many in Europe look on with fear to the influx of migrants, with the seeming conflict of interests and clash of cultures which ensues, we all stand to lose something valuable. By regarding others as barbarians and forgetting our shared humanity, we descend ourselves into barbarism.

A fragment of Hans Magnus Enzenberger: “Regarding the barbarians, it is not necessary to wait for them; they always have been between us.”

The Horse

In the Occident (the West) the horse is chosen as a symbol of excellence and as a conduit for human interaction (it comes out of the Asian Steppes and conquered the Occident, including America). However Gustavo Aceve’s horses do not have manes and legs, they are not imbued with a victorious equestrian aesthetic. The Lapidarium horses attain their nobility and solemnity from the dazzling sculptural movement of their heads and their massive torsos ensuring Aceves’s apodal horses are not static. It is obvious that they have been captured in the act of moving forward, sometimes proudly, sometimes nervously and other times wearily, with their heads drooped over their shoulders. But they are always alive and on the move. There is a look of pity in their eyes, an awareness of the burden of pain they carry, a suffering that actually transfigures their being, altering, corroding, withering their body, but never stifling out their desire for life and redemption.

horse-water

 LAPIDARIUM IS A REREADING OF THIS NEW LEXICON, WHICH BEGINS WITH THE B OF BARBARIAN AND ENDS WITH THE X OF XENOPHOBIA;

AND BETWEEN THEM, AS AN IGNOMINIOUSBRIDGE, THE S OF “SANS PAPIERS”.

GUSTAVO ACEVES

LAPIDARIUM PIETRASANTA

On March 22nd, 2014 the preview of Lapidarium “Work in Progress” was inaugurated in Pietrasanta:
The First Monumental Horse is exhibited as well as three Heads at the interior of the Church of Sant’Agostino.
Five green patinated bronzes are exposed at the interior of the main courtyard of the Cloister of Sant’Agostino.
A monumental Head in asphalt is exhibited at the interior of the campanile.
Four horses are exhibited in the square of the campanile, in diverse materials like iron, white bronze and traditional bronze patinated in black.

On May 10th, 2014 the second Monumental Horse in white bronze was presented, placed at the historic center of Pietrasanta.

 On May 24th, 2014 the exhibition series Work in Progress closed with a live performance called Mare Nostrum,

a rescue of the third monumental sculpted horse which was born up from the sea whilst 25 ones were installed alongside the jetty of  Tonfano Marina, Pietrasanta.

LAPIDARIUM BERLIN

Berlin Exhibition ” Lapidarium – To overcome borders“

2015 is the 70th anniversary of the liberation from the Nazi -dictatorship: A reason for commemoration to the victims and a reflection about our political and cultural present in Europe and in the world by dealing with separation, borders and migration.

In celebration of May’45 – Spring in Berlin“ the Mexican artist Gustavo Aceves realises an art project with life-sized horses on the Pariser Platz in front of the Brandenburg Gate. His sculptures are directly located in oppostion to the Quadriga of the Brandenburg Gate. The Quadriga of the Brandenburg Gate symbolises German history with its many facets: Almost completely destroyed, its condition memporialises the end of the Second World War and marks the beginning of the division of the city, of Germany and Europe. Whereas its late reconstruction during the 1990s stands as a symbol for the reunification, the development of Germany, reconciliation and mutual understanding.

They reflect the historical infirmity of the Quadriga and bear evidence of their own journey in itself: Migration, asylum-seeking, immigration. Where the horses go To is unanswered. Effective actions are called for with regard to the versatile socio-political challenges of migration, immigration and integration in today’s world.

LAPIDARIUM ROME

Exhibition

Arch of Constantine, Colosseum, Imperial Fora, Trajan’s Market
16th September 2016 – 8th January 2017

The exhibition is curated by Prof. Francesco Buranelli who commented:

“One of the aims of Lapidarium is to throw a spotlight on the suffering of the many millions of people living with the unspeakable hardship of diaspora, constantly moving in order to survive. In so doing, Aceves also invites us to look at our own difficult history in the West – and acknowledge that in part, our wealth and cultural achievements are derived from the exploitation of others.

Lapidarium is a monument to the  “losers” in that history; a space to reflect on what we have already taken from those that now seek our help and a reminder not to repeat the horrors committed in the past.”

Lapidarium is Aceves’ attempt to create a dynamic and powerful response to one of the most pressing and divisive issues of our times – the migration crisis. The artist achieves this whilst forcefully portraying that this is a catastrophe with a long historical context, with each sculpture in Lapidarium representing a moment in time from the ancient history of diaspora.
The installation is comprised of some 43 individual sculptures, ranging from 3 to 8 meters and with some
works up to 12 metres in length, being an evolving work of large scale which grow since it last exhibition in Berlin.

The Arch of Costantine

The Arch of Constantine – Installation of one Monumental sculpture in granite

The artworks are representations of the human diaspora, symbols that create a dialogue within the most ancient diaspora originating in Africa and who gradually migrated around the world. We belong to a civilization that comes from Africa, this is the reason why the first art piece is a tribute to this origin. Gustavo chose granite for this representation because inside, in the most natural part of the stone, is a vestige of a cave painting. At the division of the sculpture, the natural patina of the stone is not altered: and the iron which is contained inside leads us inevitably to Altamira and to the cave paintings of the country of Dogon in Mali; This piece is where the exhibition begins.

The colossal black Brazilian granite horse was inspired by the artist’s own experience of living by the banks of the Niger River. In this work, the metamorphosis of the indigenous canoe in which the horse is anchored is already underway. Through the already visible muscles you can catch glimpses of the thousands of scattered human skulls that merge with the animal’s body. Its head is on the ground and in its place an evidently tribal totemic figure removes its mask to reveal its humanity.

The Colosseum

INSTALLATION OF ONE MONUMENTAL SCULPTURE IN BRONZE

The horse, made in green patinated bronze, is marked with a sequence of numbers on the skin. Obsessively and infinitely inscribed, the numbers recall the tagging of prisoners in Nazi concentration camps and, in a more general sense, the dehumanization of the many victims of migration; numbers, not humans, masses, not individuals.
A large sculpted totem with a primeval tapered silhouette emerges from the back of the monumental horse, symbolizing the artistic evolution sparked by cross-cultural pollination.. Aceves creates a work where every individual can take back ownership of their roots and history. It is a work of art that serves as a paradigm of our future, a silent space of reflection available to us all.

Mercati di Traiano

INSTALLATION OF 41 SCULPTURES IN DIFFERENT MATERIALS: SAND, STONE, MARBLE, BASALT, BRONZE AND CASTED IRON.

Each sculpture measures three metres in length and they are all made out of different materials: bronze, iron, marble, travertine, resin and wood, with the result of also having different colors: white (marble, travertine and white bronze), red (iron oxide), black (tar, Marquinia marble from Spain, and Brazilian granite) and green (bronze patina). They share the same subject: a horse or part of one, on top of a skeleton of a boat, a monumental horse “forced” onto a boat or rather the remnants of a boat, with absolutely no volumetric-structural relations between the animal and planking.

The colors of the various materials used to create the horses have a definite meaning, since they are the most evident topographical reference to the specific seas crossed during history’s most significant migrations. The Mediterranean Sea, the Mare Nostrum of the ancient Romans or White Sea of the Turks and Arabs, the destination and means of salvation for so many refuges heading across to the other side, is assimilated to white horses; on the other hand, the red horse cast in iron oxide represents the Red Sea, which parted its waves for the Jewish people as they travelled to the promised land and which is now shut off against the returning “landless”. The black horse made of simple, rough materials coming from the sea, such as pieces of wood and smooth stones daubed in the tar that pollutes our seas, evokes the Black Sea, a sea with deep rocky beds that witnessed the oldest migrations to and from the East. Lastly, the green horse cast in bronze and coated with a patina, as pale as death, gives shape to the Dead Sea, waveless sea, desolate. A sea where the idea of the resurrection of all men was invented, and today, sea of vagrants on their last day.

Berlin-timeline-new

BIOGRAPHY

Gustavo Aceves (b. 1957, Mexico City) currently lives and

works in Pietrasanta, Italy. Aceves is known for his powerful

paintings of the human figure which draw on classical

pictorial traditions whilst using the monumental scale and

strong colours common to Mexican murals. His work has

been exhibited around the world since the late 1970s

including the Museo del Palacio de Bellas Artes in Mexico

City, the Venice Biennale and the Beijing Biennale and is

held in major private and permanent collections including

Museo Memoria y Tolerancia, Mexico City and the

Vatican Museum, Rome. He was one of the youngest

artists in Christie’s and Sotheby’s new Latin American sales

in New York in the early 1990s.

PRESS

PRESS RELEASE – Lapidarium Rome

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NEWS

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Lapidarium video on Reuters

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The sheer scale of the endeavour is astounding: when Gustavo Aceves’s peripatetic exhibition “Lapidarium” opens in Rome on September 15th it will already have doubled in size to around 40 sculptures, mostly of horses, each up to eight metres high and 12 metres long. It......

CONTACTS

Contacts 

Manager
Jose Botaya, Lapidarium – josebotaya@gmail.com

Director of Communication
Aimée Hoffmann, Lapidarium – aimee.hoffmanns@gmail.com

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