In search of harmony in the scenic nativity carriage

In search of harmony in the scenic nativity carriage

If I had to let someone know the path of my artistic expressiveness I would say that it started actively with  research on the origins of Italian theatre.
It was 1980 when, looking for the traces left in the books, I came across the Renaissance, precisely in the early decades of the 1400s in Florence.

The more I researched historical knowledge, the more I found myself immersed in a Florentine artisan shop and looked around. A workshop populated by artists, architects, craftsmen, a distinction that imposed the culture of that time on me.
Gradually I could no longer distinguish the categories, indeed they disappeared to give way to the figure of a man who was able to forge the body of his thoughts with his hands.
I had found what I wanted within me: to be the son of the earth that had generated me. And our land is made of work, of matter, of its transformation for the utility of daily needs.
I always believed that culture was a daily requirement, so I started to give body to it with what others produced in tools for life.

I had become an artisan of thought, of beauty and inside my shop I started to transform the material and make it an emotional offering.

It has been a while since that beginning, the workshop is full of testimonies of my work and every time I enter, they tell me each of the life that I have given them.

But, as always happens, there is one of all that best represents you, which best defines the beginning of a new path.

It was September 1995, the plans for the advent of the new millennium were already shaking, I felt a strong desire to be the key figure in that extraordinary moment.
So I searched through the notes of my memory and found traces of an idea that I had been planning for more than ten years: the Nativity.
I went with my thoughts to the great Florentine architects of the 1400s, to their stage carriages created for the story of the Sacred Representations and immediately before the indelible eyes I was presented with the stage machine of the Annunciation by Filippo Brunelleschi.
High above the trusses a sky opened, a host of angels moving over the faithful,l taken by an ecstatic bewilderment, and the Archangel Gabriel with a slender rope descended to Mary to announce the long-awaited event.

It was the glorification of God with an infinity of lights, stars, which exalted his heavenly palace.

Instead, I wanted to represent the descent of God, his becoming man and his domus could no longer be heavenly but earthly. Then, I closed my eyes, took the starry dome placed high up in my hands, turned it upside down and laid it on the cold floor.

Man among men.

No longer to gaze upwards in an act of prostration, but gaze into the gaze. Thus the terrestrial domus in my representation was to be placed among the faithful as the centre of a new era. Metaphor of the new Jerusalem shown by the seventh angel, from the story of the Apocalypse of John, from a high mountain to the prophet.
The performances of the Sacred Representations were offered in churches full of believers, from all walks of life and diversified cultural backgrounds, there were the learned but also the uneducated, there were the literate as well as those who had always communicated with their hands.
And the hands in Florence had brought the craftsmanship to such mastery that, combined with the ingenuity of artists, they had created works of surprising perfection. Thus the moulded matter became a word capable of taking on the task of narration in shows.
In the show that I was creating, what tangible, material image could immediately represent for all the birth if not an egg that, to start life, had to half open?
Then in the centre of the space of the representation I placed a large sphere of light wood that opened to it half-way by means of a strong rope that went up to the trusses.

Then he descended wrapped in a winch operated by an stagehand: one half remained on the ground to signify our contingency, the dome turned upside down, the other raised high as a need for transcendence.
A need inherent in human aspiration.
On the earth half the birth of Jesus was told, in the centre, in the arms of the seated mother and the protection of Joseph. The figures of the nativity revolved around two tracks connected to each other with a hand-operated gear: shepherds, maidens who went with gifts and children who played.
A descent of Angels from heaven, not to announce the divine will but to show the sharing and joy of the Father for the Son who became man.
It was Christmas in 1995 and the Church of San Pietro in Magliano Sabina was the place of representation.
A long, tiring work, with many moments of human bewilderment for the fear of not being, like the masters of the past, capable of giving matter that lightness that it could tell the story, which would become itself a word.
At the end of the show, after the many and warm applause, I was alone and aiming for that narrative machine, made with my own hands, I strongly perceived the awareness of having found the harmony I was looking for.
My making theatre was before me, in that sacred space where heaven and earth return to that primordial unity to which every part of the Universe, after traumatic separation, will return.
The models of the scenic carriage of the Nativity and the Annunciation can be visited within the Artes Mechanicae exhibition, a permanent exhibition at the Church of San Michele in Magliano Sabina.
The exhibition is open by reservation (by calling the numbers: 3892775583/3203120850) and on the occasion of some holidays.

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