Primary School

Moving Around the Houses (II cycle)

"Igloos" by Mario Merz

From 25 October 2018 to 24 February 2019

Background
The “Igloos” exhibition casts light on and outlines the multiple trajectories that have generated one of the most significant corpora of works in Merz’s output: igloos. In this artist’s practice, on the one hand the igloo serves to delimit space, a territory – or to determine the boundary between interior space and exterior space – while on the other it is a symbol of or metaphor for man’s condition and his way of inhabiting today’s world. In the artist’s imaginary the igloo is at the same time a “world and a small house” and its hemispherical form is a protection, a space in which to take refuge in order to withstand the outside reality: a small personal space that continuously converses with a broader context.The starting point for the “Igloos” exhibition is the Mario Merz solo show “Unreal City” curated by Harald Szeemann and held at the Kunsthaus in Zurich in 1985. Presented there were all the typologies of igloos created up until that moment which the artist himself described as “urbanistic”, in that the individual igloos liaised, thus creating a “grandiose context”, and organized the space.

Areas addressed

  • Geography
  • Art and image

Educational goals
By exploring the exhibition, children will discover why Mario Merz chose igloos as the preferred shape of his works from 1968 onwards.  Emphasis will be placed on the idea that the Eskimo igloo is a type of temporary shelter, a “nomadic house” because it allows the Inuit population to move about with respect for the natural cycle of the seasons; analogously, it allows Merz to create a new work each time, choosing the dimensions and the materials based on the changes underway in the surrounding society, in the territorial context, and in his own artistic inspiration. The goal of this activity is to introduce children to new places and relative cultural identities, and to add them to a large urban structure without roads, but filled with places in which to live, a metaphor for our own world, filled with contradictions, and yet unique and alive because of them.

Activity
Starting from something that Mario Merz said (concerning the 1985 show) “One of the most interesting phenomena of the cities is the proliferation of houses in so far as they are human products”,[1] after being divided into groups the children will be asked to create an urban project inspired in terms of its structure and composition by the ideas that came up during the exhibition. Each group will be assigned a particular corner of the world and, with the help of the books “Bambini nel mondo” (Children in the World) by Maia Brami and Karine Daisay and “Mappe” (Maps) by  Aleksandra Mizielinska and Daniiel Mizielinski, it will build living units that, starting from the same shape of the base (like the hemisphere for Merz) can be both personalized and related to those of the other groups, thus enriching its value and uniqueness.

[1] Mario Merz in B. Pietromarchi, Mario Merz. Igloo (Turin: testo&immagine, 2001).

Infinite Numbers (II cycle)

"Igloos" by Mario Merz

From 25 October 2018 to 24 February 2019

Background
The “Igloos” exhibition casts light on and outlines the multiple trajectories that have generated one of the most significant corpora of works among Merz’s output: igloos. In 1970 Merz added Fibonacci numbers to his igloos. Fibonacci was a mathematician who, in 1202, discovered a numerical system based on the exponential progression of numbers derived from a biological principle (the observation of the reproduction of rabbits) according to which each number is the sum of the two preceding numbers. A numerical proliferation is thus obtained – 1,1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55… – that, if represented graphically, generates a spiral. Merz uses this series as the synthesis of the active energy and vital growth impetus that are manifested in his works as the measure of nature and architecture.

Areas addressed

  • Mathematics
  • Science
  • Art and image

Educational goals
The goal of the activity is to get children to discover the story of Fibonacci numbers and their relationship with the world of flora, fauna, geometry, and natural phenomena. In the artist’s own words:  “My goal is to use numbers to create natural art with numbers. Fibonacci numbers do no just come from mathematics, they are also the measure of time and spaces joined together […]”.[1] Children, with the help of the Arts Tutors, will stroll through the exhibition searching for the red and blue numbers disseminated throughout the display space. Again with the help of the Arts Tutors, they will formalize hypotheses on their meaning and  use.

Activity
After they have explored the exhibition the children will be able to delve deeper into the connections between Fibonacci numbers and algebra, geometry, the plant and animal world, and the shape of certain atmospheric phenomena and the composition of famous artworks and architectural buildings by carrying out a series of exercises. Once the preparatory activities have ended, participants will be invited to represent their own vision of reality through the creation by the entire class of a Fibonacci spiral to which they can add a word or a number that, in their opinion, holds the energy that transforms the world.

[1] Mario Merz, Voglio fare subito un libro (Turin: Hopefulmonster), 2005.

Igloos Travelling in Time and Space (II cycle)

"Igloos" by Mario Merz

From 25 October 2018 to 24 February 2019

Background
The “Igloos” exhibition casts light on and outlines the multiple trajectories that have generated one of the most significant corpora of works in Merz’s output: igloos. It is a form that the artist has explored for nearly forty years, reconfiguring it each time with various materials and elements in a profound search for the processes of transformation between man and nature. In this artist’s practice the igloo has multiple meanings that change and evolve from one work to another: while on the one hand the igloo determines the boundary between interior space and exterior space, on the other it is a symbol of or metaphor for man’s condition and his way of inhabiting today’s world. For Merz, the hemispherical form is “the proper form in order to resist the thrust of reality itself” and within it space and time thrive in perfect equilibrium in a relationship of inversely proportional forces. Furthermore, in the artist’ imaginary the contemporary and the archaic are both present at the same time in the igloo, the result of which is a circulatory where time is suspended.

Areas addressed

  • Italian
  • Science
  • Art and image

Educational goals
The goal of the activity is to develop the children’s potential for storytelling by stimulating them to single out the individual elements added by Merzo to the igloos and bestowing them with a voice and a story. Indeed, the artist, inspired in his artistic output by specific conceptions of space and time, created each one of the igloos by imagining its link with nature, man, the socio-political context, architecture, the language of advertising and mass media, and even with the series of Fibonacci numbers.

Activity
Children will be given the image of one of the most significant igloos in the exhibition and they will be asked to write a story with the help of key questions like “What period in history might this igloo belong to?”, “Who might have lived here?”, “Where might it have been built?” In the final phase, each child can share the story of their igloo with the others.

Imaginary Planets (I cycle)

"Igloos" by Mario Merz

From 25 October 2018 to 24 February 2019

Background
The “Igloos” exhibition casts light on and outlines the multiple trajectories that have generated one of the most significant corpora of works in Merz’s output: igloos. It is a form that the artist has explored for nearly forty years, reconfiguring it each time with various materials and elements in a profound search for the processes of transformation between man and nature. In this artist’s practice the igloo has multiple meanings that change and evolve from one work to another: while on the one hand the igloo determines the boundary between interior space and exterior space, on the other it is a symbol of or metaphor for man’s condition and his way of inhabiting today’s world. In the artist’ imaginary, space and energy, the visible and the invisible, that is, the two halves of the sphere, thrive in perfect equilibrium in a relationship of forces that are inversely proportional.

Areas addressed

  • Italian
  • Science
  • Art and image

 Educational goals
The goal of this activity is to get children to discover how each of Mario Merz’s igloos is one-of-a-kind, and the representation of a small unrepeatable world that tells the story of a moment, a place, an idea, a choice. Visiting the exhibition will allow children to stroll between a constellation of hemispherical igloos that could be the visible half of imaginary planets, while the other half might enclose a story that hasn’t yet been told.

Activity
Inspired by the atmosphere of the exhibition, children will be asked to create the other half of one of Mario Merz’s most significant igloos, taking into account the artist’s working method and his ability to use an artwork that is both complex and essential to tell his own vision of the world.

Diametrically Opposite (I cycle)

"Igloos" by Mario Merz

From 25 October 2018 to 24 February 2019

Background
In Merz’s activity the igloo has many meanings that change and evolve from one work to another. Within that same activity contrasting elements and concepts – light-heavy, dark-light – coexist,  ones that are matched in order to breathe life into new entities. The igloo is a synthetic image, which in its hemispherical shape encompasses both natural and urban elements, including light, water, land, wood, and glass, so as to transform them into a poetic vision. Chiaro oscuro / oscuro chiaro, 1983, is an emblematic work made up of a glass igloo and an igloo completely clad with bundles of sticks that intersect like night and day.

Areas addressed

  • Italian
  • Science
  • Art and image

Educational goals
The aim of the activity is to help children discover that each of Mario Merz’s igloos is a planet, a unique world that holds within it numerous pairs of opposites that render it complete. Starting from one of the elements making up the pair – for instance, transparent, light, natural, curved – with the help of the Arts Tutors,  children are encouraged to find the opposite seeking among the different components included in the artist’s igloos.

Activity
Drawing inspiration from the artist’s working method and synthesis, during the lab activity each child will build their own catalogue of opposites, comprised of cards where the two opposite elements are ideally joined in a perfect sphere.

Dwellings while Journeying (I cycle)

"Igloos" by Mario Merz

From 25 October 2018 to 24 February 2019

Background
The “Igloos” exhibition casts light on and outlines the multiple trajectories that have generated one of the most significant corpora of works in Merz’s output: igloos. In this artist’s practice, on the one hand the igloo serves to delimit space, a territory – or to determine the boundary between interior space and exterior space – while on the other it is a symbol of or metaphor for man’s condition and his way of inhabiting today’s world. The igloo is a synthetic image, which in its hemispherical form encompasses both natural and urban elements, including light, water, land, wood, and stones, thereby transforming them into a poetic vision. In the artist’s imaginary the igloo is at the same time a “world and a small house” and its hemispherical form is a protection, a space in which to take refuge in order to withstand the outside reality: a small personal space that continuously converses with a broader context.

Areas addressed

  • Geography
  • Geometry
  • Art and image

 Educational goals
By exploring the exhibition, children will discover why Mario Merz chose igloos as the preferred shape of his works from 1968 onwards.  Emphasis will be placed on the idea that the Eskimo igloo, which inspired the artist, is a type of temporary shelter that is used while moving around for the purposes of hunting: thanks to its essential and compact nature, it preserves as much heat as is required inside, and can be built with the materials that are available, in perfect symbiosis with the surrounding nature. Furthermore, the igloo is considered a “nomadic house” because it allows Eskimos to follow the migrations of the game they are hunting according to the natural cycle of the seasons; analogously, it allows Merz to create a new work each time, choosing the dimensions and the materials based on the changes underway in the surrounding society, in the territorial context, and in his own artistic inspiration.

Activity
Drawing inspiration from the most significant igloos on display and from a reading of the book by Leo Lionni “La casa più grande del mondo”, the individual activity will allow each child to build their own “travelling house”: by choosing a shape, colours, and the materials and smells that make it  up, each child will be able to create an ideal shelter, one that reflects their personality and can accompany them wherever they want.

Exploring the Depths (I and II cycle)

“CITTÀDIMILANO” by Giorgio Andreotta Calò

Valid from 14 February to 21 July 2019

Background
“CITTÀDIMILANO” brings together for the first time a broad selection of sculptures by Giorgio Andreotta Calò. The Shed is transformed into a fluid environment, which visitors can “navigate”, following their own hypertextual interpretation of the work. They are stimulated by the countless connections and cross-references between the works on show, which together form an archipelago of symbols and meanings, each of which is linked to a particular geographical context.

Areas addressed

  • Geography
  • Science
  • History
  • Art and Image

Educational goals
The children will be guided by the arts tutors as they explore the Giorgio Andreotta Calò exhibition, which combines his sculptures with the architectural modules of the Shed to create a single landscape dominated by one hypothetical horizon. Here they will discover imaginary submarine and subterranean worlds where the hand of man is clearly visible. In particular, they will investigate the complex relationship between man, nature, and work, as well as the concepts of visible-invisible and submerged-emerged, with the help of the scenarios created by the artist in the display.

Activity
In the first part of the session, the children will be helped by a reading of “Sottacqua. Sottoterra” by A. Mizielinska and D. Mizielinski, published by Mondadori Electa (2015), to take a scientific look at the characteristics of extreme environments that are invisible to humans, such as the bowels of the earth and the abysses of the oceans. In the second part, they will draw inspiration from the landscape in the exhibition to create a hidden, invisible world where natural elements can exist, but they must also take into consideration that they will need to coexist with the products of human work.

Stellar Myths

“The Seven Heavenly Palaces 2004-2015” by Anselm Kiefer

Introduction
For the opening of Pirelli HangarBicocca in 2004, the German artist Anselm Kiefer created an installation called The Seven Heavenly Palaces, to which in September 2015 he added five large canvases that give new meaning to his original work.
In the form of constellations, meteorites and stars, the celestial sphere is the protagonist of the stories told by the towers and paintings.

Focus Areas

  • Italian
  • History
  • Science
  • Art and image

Educational Objectives
During the guided tour with the arts tutors, the children will find out more about the celestial sphere, through stories about constellations, meteorites and stars.
The aim of this activity is to help the children find out how the heavenly bodies can lead to different interpretations, depending on the terms of reference, which may be artistic, mythological or scientific.

Activities
Starting with a reading of myths and legends about the constellations, each participant will be asked to make one of their own, using the materials provided.
At the end of the activity, the works will be placed next to each other to create the idea of a great sky, where different sets of stars – all telling different stories – can coexist harmoniously.

 

A Great Multi-Material Picture

“The Seven Heavenly Palaces 2004-2015” by Anselm Kiefer

Introduction
In September 2015, eleven years after it was unveiled, the permanent Seven Heavenly Palaces installation was complemented by five large paintings, which Anselm Kiefer had made between 2009 and 2013. These works give new meaning to the towers, expanding the issues they address: great architectural constructions of the past appear as man’s attempt to ascend to the divine, but they also examine the history of the West, the constellations in the form of astronomical numbers and, lastly, man’s relationship with nature.Since the 1970s, the German artist has been using materials such as lead, wood, sand, straw and seeds to create his paintings, giving them a dense, material consistency.

Focus Areas

  • Art and image
  • History

 Educational Objectives
During the guided tour with the arts tutors, the children will find out what materials Anselm Kiefer used when making the five large paintings in the exhibition space and what the significance of each one is.
The aim of the activity is to show the pupils how crucial the choice of a material is for creating a work of art, since it brings about new visual forms, new compositions and new stories to interpret.

 Activities
The class will be divided into groups during the workshop and each one will make their own multi-material painting, taking inspiration from the paintings in the exhibition, and using the materials provided, which will include sand, seeds, straw and bits of wood.
At the end of the session, the works will be placed next to each other to create just a single vast canvas.

 

Numbers on Towers!

“The Seven Heavenly Palaces 2004-2015” by Anselm Kiefer

Introduction
As well as having their own mathematical value, numbers can also have symbolic value and thus be open to a number of interpretations: numbers are such an intrinsic part of daily life that we often fail to notice their importance. And yet, since the most ancient times, they have played a fundamental role in enriching and giving meaning and value to the most magnificent works of art. In Anselm Kiefer’s The Seven Heavenly Palaces 2004-2015 we find many references to the world of numbers: the repetition of individual modules, the use of the double, the choice of the number seven, the presence of long series of numbers on pieces of glass, the numbering of strange rocks, and more besides. The children will discover how a number used apparently randomly can bring with it a whole array of mean­ings, whether universal or subjective, immediate or hidden, shared or personal.

Focus Areas
• Languages, creativity, expression
• Numbers
• Knowledge of the world

Educational Objectives
This activity helps children find out about and enter into the world of numbers in a simple, direct way. They will need to look very carefully at the work and find elements linked to the world of numbers, such as the modules and multiples, and the presence of doubles. The significance of numbers in the work will be investigated, linking them to what the pupils have already learnt at school and bringing out the multiple range of concepts that numbers represent.

Activities
Starting out from identifying important numbers that are significant in their daily lives, the children will examine how important numbers are for recognising and understanding the world around them. During the workshop activities, each child will be able to make a cube into which they can insert all the numbers that are important in their lives, linked to their personal lives or to school, and they will be helped to give these numbers the right level of importance. Starting out from this cubic module, which is the same for everyone, the class will together make a construction, taking inspiration from Kiefer’s towers, or creating new surprising forms. Starting out from their individual works, the children will then be invited to create a collective work in which the individual “voices” come together in a choral composition. This will give value to the contributions of each child, whose individual peculiarities will gradually decide the shape of the collective work.

Chasing a Star

“The Seven Heavenly Palaces 2004-2015” by Anselm Kiefer

Introduction
The installation is a perfect scene in which to imagine fantastical stories and help children discover the depths of the sky and take a close look at its inhabitants: stars. The artist has chosen them as the guardians of one of the towers, presenting them in the form of shards of glass. But what are stars really like? Where do they come from? Do they live forever?

Focus Areas
• Sciences
• Motor and sports sciences

Educational Objectives
Through play, children will learn a complex concept such as that of the birth of the stars. They will learn what they actually look like (the points are a convention invented by humans to draw them), the matter composing them, why they shine and their life cycle. They will also learn that heat comes from the agitation of gas and dust particles, simulating their movement and heating action through play.

Activities
The explanation of the birth of a star is introduced directly during the visit of The Seven Heavenly Palaces 2004-2015. Back at the workshop, the student will actively participate in the “birth” of a star, in order to understand together – starting from the basics – the complex creation of these heavenly bodies. This workshop can be integrated with a story (the story of Thomas) to get the children involved and spark their imagination.

Further information

We Are History

“The Seven Heavenly Palaces 2004-2015” by Anselm Kiefer

Introduction
Anselm Kiefer has always been acknowledged as “the artist of history”, particularly German history, because his works originate from profound reflection on memory and on “how to remember”. Each of us has an individual history full of events and encounters that have determined our path: The idea is thus to help young people understand that their personalities are influenced by an array of factors that this activity aims to bring out.

Focus Areas
• Geography
• Italian
• Religion
• History

Educational Objectives
The workshop aims to underscore the importance of individual history, as well as personal and family memories as the constituent elements of collective memory. The child will become aware that his or her personality is the outcome of personal experience and that existence goes beyond the present and is irrevocably bound to the history of his or her own context.

Activities
Starting with the reflection on the importance of memory in the language of Anselm Kiefer, students will be asked to identify people, places or things that are particularly significant to them. They will be asked to imagine that they are picking up Anselm Kiefer’s Falling Pictures and to think about what they would like to see represented inside the frames. Using recycled material that is provided to them, each child will create his own picture and “content”. When everyone has made their pictures they will build a tower with boxes and use it to hang their works. Anselm Kiefer’s pictures will thus be picked up and put back in place!

Further information

The Towers Tell a Story (second cycle)

“The Seven Heavenly Palaces 2004-2015” by Anselm Kiefer

Introduction
When making his work, Anselm Kiefer was profoundly inspired by the idea of the tower in history, with many references to the architecture of the past, but especially to its symbolic value. His towers, which each consist of between five and seven modules, testify to what remains after every conflict. Their precarious look does indeed make them appear like ruins, as the memory of a by no means distant past, or the foreboding of a possible future. When looking at them, some have wondered: “Are they the remains of an ancient city, an industrial settlement or of a village with asbestos-cement roofs?” There is no single answer to this question, for there can be many interpretations and everyone can apply their own imagination to them.

Focus Areas
• Italian
• History
• Art and image

Educational Objectives
The activity is designed to show the kids a different approach to history, letting them discover how the same architectural forms may be repeated in every age, but with different functions, depending on the particular historical period. Having them build a tower of their own to reflect their world and their needs, and choosing a particular historical period for this, is designed to include them actively in the flow of time and make them the manual creators of a past that will testify to the present. Individual work and a spirit of cooperation between classmates will also be developed.

Activities
At the beginning of the activity, the kids will be shown pictures of various towers that have been built throughout the course of history, from ancient lookout towers to bell towers, minarets and the Leaning Tower of Pisa, through to towers of distant cultures and the modern towers of our cities, such as skyscrapers and chimneys. The class will then be divided into groups and each one will be asked to invent a tower, taking inspiration from the ones they have seen together, imagining what it might look like and be used for, and what functions it might have. The students will decide whether to take inspiration from a historical tower or to make one that might suit their present needs.

Further information