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Massimo Vitali

Lernpark, Italy, 2001

Chromogenic print with a diasec mount, 220x180 cm

Courtesy of the artist and the collection of Michael J. Blum and Abigail Rose, Minnesota

Massimo Vitali’s photographs reproduce the authorities’ point of view and transform it into a complacent, sterile, analogical view of normality. At the same time, the artist reveals the inner conditions of this normality and the elements which disrupt it: the cosmetic pretending, the sexual allusions and the culture of leisure which characterize it.

“Pointing to the inherent problems regarding the Enlightenment movement’s philosophy towards nature, Raymond Williams claimed that “nature” is perhaps the most complex word in the whole language”, writes Einat Manof, editor of “Nature | Nation” catalogue. “The holistic/romantic referral to nature, as containing everything that exists in the world, excluding man’s intervention in it, deepens the divide between nature and human culture, and leaves the former in its primal, autonomous, sublime and at the same time “dominated” state. Despite its limitations, this was the basic philosophy of the green organizations that were founded in numerous places in the 1950’s and that sought to protect nature from accelerated technological development, and called for a “return to nature.” This basically anti-urban concept sustained the ecological rhetoric. The changes in ecological schools of thought in the 1960’s and 70’s, generally named the “ecological modernization”, despite the major differences between them, aimed at rational management of global resources. They were based on a utilitarian concept of a reciprocal relationship between man and nature, whereby nature is considered a perishable resource, abused uncontrollably for the production of energy, development, construction and industry. Such actions deplete nature, since the production processes pollute the soil, the air and the water and create hazardous waste. And who is in charge of managing the resource of nature if not man, the state and the market forces? It is not surprising, therefore, that the use of the word “nature” practically disappeared and was replaced by the word “environment” – everything which surrounds man, including the mechanisms and objects which he created. “Environment” links the economy, sociology and other social sciences to one system embedded in the physical environment. However, the more this word unified fields of thought, and the more the ecological theory gained ground and became fashionable, so did the ecological discourse become divided and lacking in coherent principles.”