Great Western Wall
Permanent installation, Great Western Wall was inspired by the original medieval wall surrounding Civitella d’Agliano, a small commune in Viterbo, Italy. While onsite leading a workshop, Wolf was struck by the relationship between the city’s historic wall and its surrounding badlands. The stones in the surrounding valley act as a portal to the city in the same way that the old door in the medieval wall connects the exterior of the city to its interior. These two architectural tropes — mingling the natural and the man made — employ a parallel structural logic of transition, one into the other. Always attuned to the possible effects of light, Wolf highlighted this recurrence by photographing a stretch of clay furrows in the surrounding valley and affixing the image to the original wall of Italian tuff stones. What we are left with is a black and white fragment of the architectural landscape superimposed upon the wall that generates a repeated image of the surrounding area through the reflection of light. At the same time, light is transmitted back onto the surrounding badlands, continuing the symbiotic relationship between city and valley.
1) General view of the installation.
The site used to include a house (left) and a small church (right). The abandoned buildings were demolished by the city authority and the site lost public appreciation. Wolf, Santolini e Candiano proposed to the city council a six hands art installation to modify the present state of the ruins into a space redesigned by the art presence. The preliminary works consisted in strengthening and fixing all the still existing traces of architecture and painting on the walls. The photographic and painting works were set within those fragments of wall surface where no pre-existing traces could be identified. The sculpture occupied the empty volume of the square, building a physical connection among all sides of the space, connecting ther other two media.
2) The Angel
A large scale photographic fragment of a marble plate with traces of water, writing and light is cut out and placed in an area of the wall devoid of pre-existing traces.
3-4) Church detail
The large scale photographic surfaces including the frescos of the old church apse are connected to the traces of its architecture. The two photographic fragments represent the same architectural structure seen from two symmetrical and opposed points of view. They build a monumental blind view compared to the size of the original church.
Scala Reale al Grato Soglio
Scala Reale is a permanent installation on a commercial apartment building in the Gratosoglio neighborhood of Milan, Italy. Wolf responded to a call for proposals from the architect/art collector that designed the building. Using his repeated artistic tropes of working with light and perspective, Wolf symbolically marked the time-space threshold of the building by transforming the façade, porch, and entrance through a series of black and white graphic gestures in both marble and glass. His treatment of the façade with repeating geometric shapes seems to vibrate in a step pattern and visually connects the foundations of the building to its roofline. The porch is activated by a set of symmetrical stained-glass windows of the same step-like pattern and is lit by natural light during the day and artificial light at night. Finally, the entrance is folded into the overall visual environment with applied black and white parallelograms effectively creating a complete transformation of the building into an experiential artwork. Anyone that enters the building’s threshold enters the work.
Scala Reale MAC
Already everything has been photographed endless times, and photographs now exceed the number of things themselves. It is from this awareness that Silvio Wolf establishes a different relationship with the visible reality. His research aims towards a metaphorical and subjective vision of the world, which does not privilege the narrative and testimonial value of the image.
Wolf’s art does not describe reality, but an ‘unreality’ that stimulates the cultural, ideological and sentimental expectations of the viewer through insistence on the themes of Absence and of the Other (an unreality that is such precisely because it lacks those perceptual references ordinarily present in the photograph). Often Wolf elaborates on images taken over the years, letting them decant in order to rediscover them at a later time. Many of these images represent timeless places, conceived as a ‘threshold’ between the Visible and the ‘I’. By putting the viewer in contact with concepts like those of limit and emptiness, Wolf defines the threshold as a place that interfaces the here of the viewer and the Elsewhere of the photographer, a conscious and experiential moment focused on the gaze and understood as an act of shared reflection.
The Scala Reale installation, specifically designed for MAC Lissone, consists of photographic films applied on the entrance doors and the large glass windows of the museum. Wolf describes his work as “a monumental two-dimensional and perspectival virtual image that wraps around the glass surfaces of the museum, creating an illusory perspective that redefines the perception of the building. Conceived as a fragment of a potentially infinite structure that emanates from the interior space, the installation offers visitors an immersive experience: entering the Museum is to enter the work.
The two parts of the installation, generated by the photographic image of an ancient stone floor exploded and doubled on the glass walls, create a physical and relational threshold that shifts between spatial perception and awareness of being there”.
Accessible during the course of the year, the Scala Reale installation not only redefines the architectural structure but also its own perception.
Installazione in due parti
di Sollevamento e Discensione.
Metafora del Lavoro
del Pittore d’Icone,
Vista della facciata
Simbolo del Sollevamento,
Segni d’Ascensione e Discensione.
Arcaiche Figure di Scavo,
Neri Canoni del Tempo.
Vista dell’installazione interna
Porto alla Luce
L’opera nasce dall’intuizione di un’immagine pre-esistente sulla parete Ovest della Chiesa: quella tracciata nel corso del tempo dall’accumulo e l’annerimento della polvere sull’intonaco che ricopre le strutture in cemento armato. L’oro e la pittura nera riportano alla luce questa immagine sommersa, istituendo così una relazione simbolica tra ciò che visibile e ciò che è invisibile.
L’opera rappresenta la trasparenza di una facciata esterna ora resa visibile all’interno; l’oro è metafora della luce, dell’annullamento prospettico e della smaterializzazione dello spazio, il nero è assenza di luce, profondità e spessore.
Iconostasi è ispirata metaforicamente alla tradizione “Parete di Immagini” nella tradizione della Chiesa Ortodossa, dando vita essa stessa alla propria immagine.
This was the first work of an artist in the Waldensian Church in Milan, conceived on the occasion of the event: The Freedom of the Others 1848-1998. 150th Anniversary of the civil liberties for the Waldensians.
Silvio Wolf was inspired by the Community evangelical tradition and particularly by the symbolic value that the word assumes in their cultural context and the memory of the place. He also searched the traces of the first Waldensian Church in Milan, which was originally located in the ‘ ancient Basilica of San Giovanni in Conca, whose remains are visible in the current Piazza Missori.
The artist has set powerful direct light sources behind the two large side windows of the church (m.16×6 each); on the window panes he has placed black-opaque cutout shapes of the essential structures of a library and of an architectural space, that are visible in back-lighting from inside the church.
The North side window presents the black and white alternation of books on shelves that create a binary code light/no light: a new form of visual writing, referencing the evangelical tradition that associated the Light of the Word. The artist intends light as generating force of a new visual alphabet.
With the same technique Wolf has reworked the architectural traces of the original XI century crypt of the Church of S. Giovanni in Conca, evoking the transfiguration of another place in time and space.
Like in other site-specific installations by Wolf, place and light become simultaneously the subject and the object of his work. Using the binary code light/no light he rewrites intangible aspects of the community’s tradition as well as the latent memory of the place. Internal and external sources and new creations interact in the single environment of the church.
On the Thresholds
Conceived specifically for the PAC in Milan, Wolf created On The Threshold in the galleries usually set aside for sculpture. For Wolf, thresholds are “Places of transition that connect and separate, simultaneous internal-external visions. The threshold is a borderline that faces two worlds, each of which could not exist without its counterpart. That which joins also separates.”1 With this as a starting point for investigation, On The Threshold considered the architecture of the space, its material makeup, and the specific dynamic between the inside and outside of the building (the sculpture gallery is set alongside a glass wall facing an exterior garden). Wolf covered this 10-panel glass wall with a backlit photograph, creating a linear abstraction in black and white that echoed adjacent architectural elements. The effects of the artificial light (as opposed to the natural light usually visible from the garden) along with the photographic image interfered with the perception of the real environment, prompting viewers to consider their understanding of space and objects in relation to manipulations of light.
The Jewish Theological Seminary solicited a proposal from Wolf for their yearlong exhibition, Traversing Tradition: Transformation in and of Contemporary Jewish Life. Wolf’s Double Doors emerged as a reaction and reflection upon the institutions impending renovation of its world-renowned Judaica library. After spending time in the library and considering its surrounding environment, Wolf lined the doors and windows of the institution’s glass entryway with adhesive films of translucent imagery symbolically referencing the library’s soon to be missing book stacks. The images, portraying fragments of the original library as they were captured in film negatives, were installed opposite a silhouette of a tree alluding to the Tree of Life, a meaningful symbol in Jewish culture and also the emblem of The Jewish Theological Seminary. The work transformed the façade of the institution into a threshold between nature (symbolized by the tree) and culture (symbolized by the books) and offered passersby the opportunity to meditate upon the inheritance of tradition and the free will that accompanies the acquisition of knowledge. The piece brought key tenants of the institution’s mission— acknowledging history and engaging contemporary society—to the community at large.
In his first solo show in the UK, Italian artist Silvio Wolf transforms the Ballroom into a timeless living sculpture – a virtual space – filled with pure white light and the sound of children’s voices. To the casual passer-by the space may appear to be empty, but with a second glance it becomes obvious that the glass wall at the back of the Ballroom is flooded with light, forming a constantly radiant backdrop. The broad belt of light creates an uncanny effect of time standing still; the light remains unchanged while all around the Royal Festival Hall moves from day to night. The polished Ballroom floor mirrors the light like the surface of a watery pool. The sound of children’s playful screeches filter through the space, emitted randomly from several hidden speakers.
In The Elsewhere “The Place becomes the Event”. Wolf has created an unseen world, conjuring up a community of children which is just out of sight and reach. The Ballroom is the site of a new experience of time and of an absent and immaterial community sharing the space with the visitor.
The piece develops an installation Wolf created for Milan’s major contempory art gallery, Palazzo delle Stelline. The gallery was originally Milan’s most famous orphanage for girls, founded in the early eighteenth century. The young girls were known as ‘little stars’. The orphanage finally closed in the 1970s, and the refectory was turned into an art gallery years later. Projecting transfigured still images and videos taken from 19th century photographs of the orphans, and transmitting the sound of young girls’ names and voices, Silvio Wolf created an installation capturing the sense of the lost community of children.
To accompany The Elsewhere Wolf has created an interactive CD catalogue which allows the reader to navigate through the installation, activating links and hotspots of sound, seeing the light and hearing the voices from a multitude of different angles. Not just a catalogue providing background information and a record of the exhibition, the CD is also an artwork in its own right as it will trigger further perceptions and a new experience of the installation to the one physically experienced on the Ballroom. A limited edition will be signed by the artist on the occasion of the exhibition.