Imagine the land

Tocca la terra/ MACRO ASILO

Tocca la Terra was composed from Italian local soils, hand gathered by Doblanovic and Barnes from the regional landscapes of Rome and Tuscany. These soils were ground by the artists into fine pigments and transformed into a 15m long art installation, filling one of the MACRO exhibition halls.During the exhibition, visitors were invited to create small clay vessels and cover them with soil pigments. Next, they performed a slow, barefoot walk into the artwork along a soil pathway, to place their vessel within the installation. Thus, notions of the body as agent of performative, affective experience lead to immersion in a poetics of materiality, transcendence and shared ontologies of creative community. As drawn by Doblanovic and Barnes the large-scale composition grew methodically from one single earth-toned strip to encompass many multi-coloured stripes set within an almost white elliptical centre. Concentric borders of earthy tonalities gave a central focus to breathtaking effect. From light pink marble dust, purple manganese deposits in soil, yellow ochre to red clay – to the deepest brown topsoil – the presence of pedological time was conveyed through colour, texture and rhythm, hovering between materiality and abstract void. Scores of delicately pinched clay pots arrayed like stars and planets across an infinite universe completed the effect of encountering another world. Yet Tocca la Terra’s material simplicity was very much of our real, everyday life –simultaneously considering the scale of the human within the cosmos. The aesthetics of soil had the power to move one viewer beyond earthly materiality: “I felt a great sensation of connection with Nature, with art’s power to transcend the artificial space of the museum, and an immersion in beauty’s subtle body.” After ten days, the labour of many was destroyed to underscore impermanence and the vulnerability of Nature. By highlighting human interconnection with the natural world through tactile, sensory and conceptual experience, Tocca la Terra reminded participants that their relationship to something as simple as soil literally grounds and centers their lives.

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