PESCE DI SCARTO
Travertine weight: 80kg
Structure weight 30kg
Material: Travertine and chestnut wood
33 pieces of travertine arranged around the work of variable size
“Discarded Fish” is a reflection on the unearthing of sacred objects, such as Etruscan tombs, but it is also a look toward nature researchers, who, with the intent of collecting, cataloging and archiving natural objects, have almost taken away the freedom of these objects to return to the earth by having them disappear instead.
In the travertine quarry la Querciolaia Rinascente, in Serre di Rapolano, a convex fossil of a fish belonging to at least the Pliocene Era was found. The find, which at first apparent glance amounts to an ordinary travertine rock, with a second look supported by greater sense of awareness, led to the discovery of an object of priceless culture and history. The breed of this fish seems to be unknown according to current scientific research, but in time we will find more information about it. The fish, defined as “a discarded fish” through its name, tells of its bizarre discovery: all the men in the quarry were convinced that its identity belonged more to travertine than to the archaeological world. Usually the fossils and archaeological finds once collected are filed and placed in archives and museum cases, becoming thus sacred and immortal objects. This museumification leads to the formalizing of the effective importance of this object to our culture, but it leads us to ignore nature’s point of view or that of the recovered fossil. The museum action perpetuates a classic iconoclastic act now normalized by historians, who document the past territorial realities, sometimes without considering the cultural respect from which the discovery itself came.
The true story of the archaeological find: The work is a scrap collected from the Querciolaia Rinascente quarry in Serre di Rapolano. The artist, upon first seeing the stone, immediately noticed the resemblance to a fish. Quarry diggers often find fossils and animal bones sedimented in the rock. Thus was born the story of the “discarded fish,” which on the one hand tells the story of the existence of these artifacts while on the other hand discussed the history of the stone. Travertine is a multifunctional material, not a speck of which is ever wasted: we can find it in architecture, in furniture, but it is also part of the asphalt on which we walk.
Setting up: The work can be said to be finished when it is allowed to die freely and thus continue its mortifying process that will lead to its disappearance. This will happen when it is possible to create a marine museum that offers the viewer the opportunity to enjoy the work, but also to allow it to deteriorate naturally over the centuries. In this way, the animist gaze towards the found fossil is respected, but also the human desire to musealize objects that humans believe should be remembered. The work will be installed in a marine seabed, thus realizing the first living marine museum that will have the temporal significance of the “discarded fish.” The base, made out of chestnut wood (the same that’s used in the construction of the columns that support Venice), on which the fish would go on to be laid, took the stylized form of the iron structures used in travertine quarries, metal beds used to transport and place material in the outer part of the warehouses. Chestnut wood is a non-polluting material that, through the oxidation process, changes color to gray: a natural element that seeks to bring about its discovery in its natural environment. Surrounding the structure, the artist placed 33 pieces of travertine discards that are meant, through their shape, to recall the backdrop of a marine setting.