THE CREATIVITY OF SCIENCE AND THE BATTERY OF ALESSANDRO VOLTA
Fiere di Parma, from 1st to 9th October 2022
Also on display at the exhibition centre: the sketches of the Fontana sisters, exemplary role models of female entrepreneurship and Made in Italy ambassadors, the images taken from the archive of films shot by the Piedmontese photographer Adriano Scoffona, immortalizing the Cuneo-Colle della Maddalena race, and the photographs of the new Fiere di Parma collection.
(Parma, 9 September 2022) – Piero Angela used to say that “creativity is above all the ability to constantly ask yourself questions.” Let’s try to imagine Alessandro Volta, in 1776, observing a strange phenomenon along Lake Maggiore, “the flammable native air of the marshes.” He was fascinated by it and, being an outstanding scientist, immediately hurried to the laboratory to carry out the studies and experiments with those “flammable airs” that would lead to the creation of the so-called Volta’s Perpetual Lamp, using a gas that in our current times we have learnt to know very well: methane.
Observation and creativity, understood as “the ability to constantly ask oneself questions,” are the foundation of many of Alessandro Volta’s discoveries and inventions, including the most famous of all, the battery. At a time when nothing worked through electricity, the inventor from Como imagined and then created a device which today makes an iPhone and a Tesla work, and which will very likely be pivotal in the transition towards a more sustainable world.
Sparks of creativity, or rather “Sparks of genius, Alessandro Volta precursor of sustainability”, is the title of the exhibition that Mercanteinfiera (1-9 October) dedicates to the great inventor, organized in collaboration with the Como Silk Museum, the Paolo Carcano Silk Factory, Fondazione Setificio, Associazione ex Allievi Setificio di Como, the Civic Museums of Como, the Alessandro Volta Classical and Scientific High School, the Alessandro Volta Foundation and Società Plachettisti Teatro Sociale of Como.
In addition to the famous Voltaic Pile made of zinc and copper discs, there are also some rare pieces, such as the lithograph by Marcello Dudovich depicting the 1899 International Exhibition on the occasion of the Volta celebrations. This exhibition aims to tells the story of Alessandro Volta’s “creativity” and “scientific design” ability through a series of tools and devices where – as Italo Calvino points out in his Six Memos for the Next Millennium, quoting Carlo Emilio Gadda – “a whole multiplicity of convergent causalities” seem to merge: an inextricable combination of imagination, scientific knowledge, innovation and technology.
“In this exhibition – explains Ilaria Dazzi, Exhibition Director – we are seeking to convey the power of imagination and creativity and the role they also play in the world of science, whose research, inventions and discoveries have often drawn inspiration from art, from literature and, as the Alessandro Volta’s studies on methane demonstrate, from the phenomena of the natural world. It is an exhibition that, inspired by Piero Angela’s great work of dissemination, wants to bring science to different and unusual places, such as Mercanteinfiera, in order to draw an ever-greater number of people closer to scientific culture. It also aims to reach a very young audience by offering a narrative that starts from the objects, where stories often lurk in hiding to remind us of the great value of being curious, of being able to always observe the world with eyes open to the new, of cultivating different kinds of knowledge, and of the importance of asking ourselves questions. This is particularly important today, – concludes Dazzi – when we are called upon to deal with climate change and energy transition: we can face these challenges thanks to the inventions, intuitions and discoveries of Alessandro Volta, whom we deliberately defined as a precursor of sustainability. We must not forget that they are also beautiful objects, often with an extraordinary design, in their own way works of art to be collected and admired.”
THE MERCANTEINFIERA COLLATERAL SHOWS
“From sketch to archive: the Fontana collection originals” is a tribute to the Fontana Sisters. The outcome of a collaboration with CSAC-Study Centre and Communication Archive, this exhibition aims to tell the story of the creativity of these famous protagonists of Italian High Fashion through a selection of sketches taken from over 6,000 fashion drawings preserved in the archives, at the same time exploring the development of taste and changes in social history. The exhibition is hosted in Pavilion 7, where Art Parma Fair, an exhibition of Contemporary Art, is taking place at the same time.
“Those daredevils of the white roads. Nuvolari, Varzi, Campari and other heroes of the Cuneo – Colle della Maddalena race” (Pav. 4), organized by Giosuè Boetto Cohen. A journey made of images taken from the archive of films shot by the Piedmontese photographer Adriano Scoffone (1891-1980), immortalizing the Cuneo-Colle della Maddalena races of 1925, 1926, 1927 and 1930.
Number 8: Fiere di Parma collection – Eight works for a new Art Collection” (Pav. 4). This exhibition includes shots by Camilla Borghese, Laetitia Ky, Maddalena Barletta, Regina Anzenberger, Santi Caleca and Gianpiero Fanuli, all part of the Fiere di Parma private collection.
Mercanteinfiera in numbers
1000 exhibitors (20% of whom foreign ones) spread out over four pavilions with an exhibition area of 40,000 square meters. 5000 buyers coming from the USA, France, China, a sign that the exhibition is now an essential event in global agenda. These Mercanteinfiera results are the outcome of a long-term strategy that has been able to renew itself and meet new trends in taste, making the exhibition attractive to different audiences, including young people.
Mercanteinfiera, the collection of rare pieces, whether of antiques, historical design, modern antiques or vintage collectibles.
Unique pieces are the true distinctive feature of Mercanteinfiera, a space where it is not unusual to find an 18th-century Florentine bas-relief next to a rare early 20th-century fan evoking burlesque settings. All this may be displayed not far from an eccentric pink opaline perfume bottle from the 1870s or a painting by the famous Ukrainian artist Sonia Delaunay, who revolutionized 20th-century art with the power of colour. There is the range of historical-auteur design pieces, the production of furniture and home furnishings from the period spanning the later post-war years to the 1980s which involves designers who are globally recognized as “masters”: Gio Ponti, Franco Albini, Iosa Ghini, Joe Colombo and Vico Magistretti, just to mention a few. And then modern antiques, the series of objects that seem to have been abandoned by the flow of life, such as old games from the early 1900s or evocative musical photo albums. Finally, on display in the four pavilions of the exhibition centre are antiques ranging from the 16th to the 19th century, jewels, watches, including vintage ones (Rolex, Audemars Piguet, Vacheron Constantin, Patek Philippe, Hublot) and fashion of yesteryear.
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