Light remodels the statues and provides a guide to the route through this exhibition, which brings together the fi nest works in the Italian public museums of Graeco-Roman archaeology, representing athletes and heroes of antiquity.Organized by the Ministry of Cultural Property to mark the Winter Olympics, "Heroes and Athletes - The Aesthetic Ideal in Art from Olympia to Rome to Turin 2006" was the first exhibition mounted in the restored wing of the Archaeological Museum, in the basement level below the long sleeve of the Royal Palace.The integration of the architectural design of the space with the exhibition of the individual works confronted the strong and highly defined character of both the theme and the exhibition rooms, a sequence of lateral chambers facing onto a central salon featuring rather shallow nineteenth-century brick vaults.
Hinting at Piranesian allusions, the project devotes each of the "sub-environments" defined by the vaults to one statue, placed on a restrained platform plinth in dark-coloured plain iron illuminated from above by a ring of light, consisting of a suspended hoop made of electrical rails towhich are connected high quality lamps which re-sculpt each statue by the angles of the different beams of light.
Where the reduced height of the interiors does not allow installation of the rails, the lamps are embedded in the courses of mortar, attached them to the vault itself. In the interiors kept in half-light, the statues illuminated with carefully angled beams of light gain a plastic and narrative identity on the "stage" created for each of them. The exhibition route is signalled by bands of blue light which guide the visitor from one room to the next and so keeps a clear vista which focuses on the large final room and the charioteer of Motya.
The artist Michelangelo Pistoletto was invited to supplement the exhibition with some of his historical works: seven mirrors in burnished metal decorated with prints, chosen from those of athletes and those that investigate the relationship with the public, created a variable and continuous interplay of interaction between the works and the public itself. The visual experience of the show was further enriched by a sound atmosphere which evoked antiquity and the Olympic games thanks to a composition of flutes, cithers and sounds emitted by the athletes and spectators.
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