Impactful yet playful: Marina Calamai

Latest projects by the Florentine artist and designer

Jane Farrell
September 23, 2021 - 14:01

Through art, jewellery and events, Marina Calamai’s oeuvre is emotionally impactful yet playful, operating from the belief that, when we laugh, our hearts open to learning. 

 

 

Love Labyrinth is the Florentine artist’s most recent project, a 35-metre-wide, heart-shaped installation created with 500 laurel plants. As you make your way through the maze, you are accompanied by the sounds of nature, animals and plants, which are interrupted by car horns, heavy traffic and the cutting down of trees. It’s a poignant reminder of how human arrogance upsets the climate, as the noise of glaciers falling into the ocean and earthquakes comment on the delicate environmental balance we urgently need to strike. Next come 13 strikes of a pendulum bell, a sign of transformation and conclusion, which is followed by the first cry of a newborn. The topics are accentuated by Luca Lupi’s choreography with dancers finding their way through the labyrinth. To alleviate the weighty subject matter, yet ensuring audiences come away with deeper awareness, ECO-OCA is an entertaining life-size game that’s played by rolling a large dice inside a barrel and physically moving through the spaces. At each stop, there’s an educational point with details about a subject, such as dendrochronology, where participants learn how Leonardo da Vinci was the first to deal with climate change through tree rings. Starting this September, groups will be able to participate in the game.

 

 

 

Marina Calamai outside her Santo Spirito store

 

 

Calamai’s works often surprise, and that’s certainly the case with the Corona Venus project. Jewellery and artworks inspired by the shape of the virus will be presented by invitation only at Palazzo Tornabuoni in mid-October before going on sale at the artist’s Santo Spirito store. The limited-edition rings and mixed media works revolve around the concept of rebirth and transformation, and aim to raise donations for the Oltrarno's Associazione Via Maggio. “Einstein says that even in times of crisis, we can transform problems into opportunities,” Calamai remarks. “In the artwork, Venus is not born out of water, she is born out of the virus itself as a symbol of how the future and good things will emerge out of this disaster.” 

 

 

Prolific is one of the most appropriate adjectives to describe Marina. This summer, the Florentine artist inaugurated Rings of Knowledge at Agriturismo Casetta in the Chianti countryside. The art and sound installation joined the permanent outdoor art gallery at the 270-year-old Tuscan estate owned by Xenia Lemos, paying homage to the force of nature. Musical compositions are reminiscent of the planet’s precious ecosystems and anthropocentric egoism, the score peppered with sounds of hope. The veins of the illuminated artwork are filled with the words of the Greek poem ‘Ithaca’ by Konstantinos Kavafis, a piece that has inspired Lemos throughout her lifetime, blending art, sound, poetry and dance to enchant the senses.

 

 

 

The Corona Venus ring

 

 

A jewellery collection dedicated to painter Artemisia Gentileschi will be presented on October 2 and 3 at the Bourbon del Monte Castle Museum in the Umbrian village of Monte Santa Maria Tiberina, in partnership with the Caravaggio & Contemporary art and research centre.

 

 

Ultimately, Marina Calamai’s guiding principle is “to create a dialogue with the audience. I really like to make things happen, I like action. I also think that irony is so important. It always has been for me, even in my earliest projects when I started making enormous cake artworks. It makes people understand things in a lighter way.”

 

 

Explore the artist’s work at www.marinacalamai.it.

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