Roberto Cuoghi’s project for the Italian Pavilion fits into a complex vision that explores the transformative properties of materials and the fluids definition of identity. This research intersects here with a broader meditation on the significance and persistance of certain traditions closely linked to the history of Italian art. 

The artist transforms the basilica-like space of the Arsenal into a factory for churning out devotional figures inspired by the Imitation of Christ, a medieval text of Christian doctrine that describes the path to achieving ascetic perfection and that the artist reinterprets from the standpoint of what he calls a “new technological materialism.” Cuoghi introduces us to an experimental process of sculpting matter, reflecting on the magical power of images, the force of repetition, and the iconographic memory of art history. The installation – a workshop set up for producing these sculptures from start to finish, from casting the organic material in a single mood all the way to the phase of stabilization — does not cease to evolve with the opening of the exhibition: it continues to unfold through decomposition and composition, death and regeneration. The entire process has been conceived so as never to yield the same outcome, creating a sens of dissociation that seems to echo the present moment.