MY OWN EXOTIC

Exhibition project by FABIO VANIN in cooperation with researcher MOSES SERUBIRI

The title of the project is a sort of paradox: it highlights the distance between the process of appropriation of an external element or feature, becoming in such way part of someone´s identity (“My Own”) and the term “Exotic”, which Greek origin refers to the outside (exo), the foreign (exotikos).

That oxymoron constitutes the base of the work, that is composed of two artworks: an (unfinished) handmade booklet realised in 2014 during the first two weeks residence in Bayreuth and an artificial flower installation as result of the second residence in 2015. Both outputs invite to reflect on the clashes, connections, merges and blurs between waht is “originating in or characteristic of a distant foreign country”, something “out of the ordinary”, often “attractive or striking because colourful” and the efforts of constructing a purified, integral and original identity.

In the first case, the booklet highlights the idealised or distorted representation of the Angolan landscape and nature, as it was seen by the colonizers. It condenses an iconographic research based on the available books on Angola existing in the central library of Bayreuth, ranging from 1875 to 1975, where the artist focused on the understanding of different images displaying various natural forms.

In the second case, the artificial flower installation follows the three days photographic survey of different kind of flowers – natural or artificial – visible in the public spaces of Bayreuth city centre. Starting from the specific meaning of Exotics – “an exotic plant or animal” – the installation invites to reflect on the incorporation of allochthonous, exotic species into semiprivate and institutional public spaces of Bayreuth, some of which express the ultimate tradition and identity of the city.

Flowers are a central element of beautification of public, representative and important private space. They contribute to strengthen the image of a well kept, controlled, ordered and properly decorated city. But is there a logic and a symbolic meaning behinf the choice of certain species for those spaces? Do the compositions, design and associations of different flowers efer to any tradition? Should those flowers represent German identity along with the institutional flags and statues of local heros?

Fabio Vanin and Moses Serubiri will tackle those and other questions in their project “MY OWN EXOTIC”, putting in question the (shallow) understanding and public consciousness about the use and consumption of flowers, reflecting on the relation between their display and the public image of Bayreuth. Reproductions of autoctonous and allochthonous species will be positioned in opposite group rows, one facing the other, representing the disequilibrium/ unbalance between the two groups. Also, wireframes will reproduce the most recurrent geometrical that can be found in Bayreuth and 3D printed reproductions of flowers on representative monuments and buildings will be displayed next to each other.

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