At the show with the artist: Arianna Carossa smells Pieter Coecke van Aelst’s seminal exhibition at the Met

As proved by the the book she has recently published, “The aesthetic of my disappearance” (BlisterZine, 2014), artist Arianna Carossa has an extraordinary ability to express failures, nevertheless keeping her artworks positive and rich of encouraging meanings. The book gathers together 9 interviews with the artist. The objects of these interviews are Carossa’s unrealized artworks, such as a huge installation at the JFK airport, or a sophisticated sculptural dialogue with Carlo Scarpa’s refurbishing of Palazzo Abatellis in Palermo: “I worked and conceived the work using lines in relation to the colours that Scarpa used” says Carossa in her book, acting as if she were a famous artist trying to explain the holy sources of her inspiration: “The first time I saw the intervention of the architect Scarpa I was very astonished, the measure of the colours used for the preparation, the choice of the materials, the audacity in its architectonic interpretation. His extraordinary impulse has been to accent the content and the architecture. I wanted to take this challenge including myself in the space and fill the empty areas. The green room with the marble chest portrayed Eleanora of Aragon made by Francesco Laurana has been my most firm decision”.

This turns out to be quite funny  if you have in mind certain exaggerations of disputable art stars such as Marina Abramovich or Orlan, but it is also a very serious assertion about artistic freedom. It could remind of certain characters from novels by Jonathan Franzen (Freedom, 2010), Don DeLillo’s (White Noise, 1985) or Tom McCarthy’s seminal novel, The Remainder (2005). A man could fail in his research for perfection, or in making his dreams come true, but he could at the same time realize that the process is more important than the result itself, especially when you are dealing with art. Only then he can survive to himself and live happy with what he is really able to do. This is indeed the kind of great success that Ms. Carossa’s “failed” artworks embody and represent, and that is why we asked her unconventional sight on the great exhibition the Met is dedicating to one of the most lavish artists the history of art has known, Pieter Coecke van Aelst. As you will see, her writing is centered around a specific sense, that is indeed the same one the artist gives in the touching introduction to her “The aesthetic of my disappearance”.

The magniloquence of Pieter Coecke van Aelst’s tapestry primarily lies in the olfaction.

Smell of flesh of the [golden] pheasant cooked here over fires of seasoned cherry wood and sprinkled with much sweet marjoram” (Italo Calvino, Invisible cities), the majestic exhibition of tapestries conveys the fragrance of a voluptuous and embracing domestic desire. What an incredible sensation, as these objects, so perfectly detailed and sumptuous, imply a splendor on the edge of the sacred,  so little close to human, certainly in relation to something faraway.

Instead it happens that you feel wrapped up in this desire, invited to a banquet where the flesh of the [golden] pheasant, roasting on the cherry wood, seems to enjoy to be the “chosen” one.

This place of desire is indeed the place where no one gets lost, where nothing can be done but enjoying this smell.

December 22, 2016