In climbing up towards the old part of Bomarzo, brushing past the wall roots of Palazzo Orsini, for a moment you can throw your distracted glance on the smooth and plastered wall. It is the basis of a princely palace, the architecture desired by the doleful and hunchbacked Vicino Orsini.
Then the curve flanks you with the climbing building, and the natural landscape with the richly green valley of the Bosco Sacro [Holy Wood] returns to catalyze the entire attention of the traveller. And yet… a light and darker “shade” on the plaster is still visible and with the corner of one’s eye one is aware as if it were a “double” imaginary and nocturne of the solar world of Bomarzo. Today that shade still lightens near the curve, continuing to tell its story…
It was the Summer of 1995 when an eccentric and solitary artist with a blazing tie lying beneath a vaguely melancholy face of a noble clown explored the streets of Bomarzo with a vigilant eye. As happens with love at first sight, for his installation he rapidly chose an abandoned place, a hole in the rock, perhaps an air vent of the massive Palace which had already ‘breathed’ for almost five centuries.
And with the sacralization of the person about to found a city Fiorenzo Zaffina began to excavate in the peperino stone, as the psychoanalyst delves into the unconscious of a human being, slowly and methodically, until with the patience of a detective he recomposed a scene – the primary scene? – to give an integral sense, to narrate a story one can read easily from whatever point one wants.
Moreover, in Zaffina’s case (as in the metaphorical gesture of any archaeologist) the excavation, the digging alludes and always refers to an original interment, to an ‘ancient’ death , an immobilized truth which in any case wishes to see the light of day: a taboo, in short.
And so a posteriori the events have revealed all of the internal coherence of this ‘work-taboo': in fact, the installation after having won the prize of the popular jury – in competition with other forty works – was transformed into the subject of a contention, giving rise to an interminable wake of discussions regarding the relationship between contemporary art and ancient-cum-old history, between conservation and the restoration of ephemeral works and concerning the merits and defects of the so-called “environmental installation”. Although even before the dialogue between the parts began, and not to mention a lengthy legal battle, the work had already been destroyed, removed and buried. Now that legal battle has been concluded in favour of the artist. However, in the haste ‘to check’ the broken taboo even the structural function of that simple “hole of air” was ignored. A ‘curtain was drawn’ of lime and cement over the scene. With all haste possible the tomb was closed up again and regarding that event nothing remains in Bomarzo except that “shade”.
by Miriam Mirolla