The labyrinth in the garden
– nature –

Fragment nr. 5 point 1 from “The Truth of Labyrinth”

We will thus move forward on our own and explain what we want to achieve: to devise a modern spirituality, which is adapted to the world in which we live.

To this end we will rely on a source image: that of a person Meditating in search of inner peace. It is a radiant image, which promotes two existential positions: an Outlook, born of silence and which is turned within; a Witness who contemplates the works and their journey.

Maria Rebecca Ballestra
On Nature, 2015
21 engraved bamboo reeds, 21 prints on paper
Variable dimensions

In this stage devoted to the theme of nature, Maria Rebecca Ballestra focuses on the secular and ludic tradition of the botanical labyrinth, first appearing in the Middle Ages and reaching the peak of popularity during the Italian Renaissance. In particular, On Nature takes explicit inspiration from the bamboo labyrinth built inside Labirinto della Masone, a cultural park recently realised by Franco Maria Ricci in Fontanellato (Parma).

The first botanical labyrinths appeared towards the end of the Middle Ages and soon became a fundamental element in the art of gardens and characterised the parks of many European castles. Charles V, for instance, ordered a labyrinth to be built in the gardens of Saint-Paul in Paris, and then spread the fashion in his palaces in Brussels and Seville: in the gardens of the Alcazar, for instance, a yew-tree labyrinth can still be admired. During the Renaissance and up to the eighteenth century, labyrinths became consistently popular in gardens, where they worked as secular and ludic architectonic elements. While earlier labyrinths are characterised by short hedges that seldom reach knee height and follow an elementary path, with time designs became more complex, with taller hedges and richer in ornaments.

In this stage of the project, Maria Rebecca Ballestra took particular inspiration from a bamboo labyrinth built inside the Labirinto della Masone, a small town near Fontanellato (Parma), a cultural park recently created by Franco Maria Ricci: eight hectares of labyrinth whose layout develops from bamboo reeds that reach the height of five meters and come from the region of Liguria and France. Franco Maria Ricci thus describes his own work: «I have been discussing labyrinths all my life, with Italo Calvino, Roland Barthes, Jorge Luis Borges. The latter was particularly obsessed with labyrinths, and repeatedly quoted them in his short stories, such as in the Tema del traidor y del héroe (“Theme of the traitor and the hero”), the inspiration behind director Bernardo Bertolucci’s La strategia del ragno (“The Spider’s Stratagem”). Borges spent twenty days at my house, in the 80s, and then was when I started thinking about building an actual labyrinth».

Galleria d’Arte “Mario Di Iorio”, Biblioteca Statale Isontina di Gorizia
26 January – 14 Februry 2018

26 January 2018, 6 pm: inauguration