Contained Nature in the art of Giuseppe Licari

Review at No New Enemies, July 2013

Giuseppe Licari - Public Room

Passionate with chicken while a student, the humble bird was only the start of Giuseppe Licari’s continuous transaction with nature in his art. Trees and plants are dominating his work producing poetic, yet uncanny images of a contained nature.

In 2007 Licari, dismantled, burned and then surgically reconstructed a chestnut tree inside the white cube space of a gallery. During that summer, man-made fires extensively destroyed the forests of the European south. In most cases the burned land is taken over by building speculation, providing a motivation for setting the forest on fire. In the case of the “Sky in a Room”, we can measure how much space a tree occupies, when confronted to a building.

With the work “Humus” (2012), the public is entering a mysterious underworld. The people become the soil of a forest hidden beyond the ceiling. Roots hanging from the roof give the impression of the trees growing above. In “Humus,” like in the “Sky in a Room”, a piece of nature is being framed by a human construction.

The park is a typically urban element. Unlike a garden that has a productive role in human culture – to feed us- the park fulfils the need for the natural presence in an urban landscape. So each park embodies the ideas societies have about nature in a given time. And our society embraces the culture of the indoor. Shopping malls provide a roof for the market, indoor ski centres make sure you can enjoy the sport in the middle of the dessert; indoor beaches can send you on a tropical holiday in Russia. So what ‘s next, if not an indoor park?

In his latest exhibition “Public Room”, Licari transforms Hommes Gallery in Rotterdam into a public park. People are invited to enter and engage in activities that would normally take place in an outdoor park. With this intervention, Licari not only comments on the culture of the indoor but also inverts the common understanding of indoors as private and outdoors as public. Public Room is activated by weekly events, comprising of typical park activities, like bbq’s and improvised concerts to informal talks about the current character of social spaces and the inherent contradiction of a true public space inside a private gallery.

Read the article at No New Enemies