The Santa Maria Maggiore di Siponto church in southern Italy was built in 1177.
The crypt beneath the church dates back even further, possibly all the way to the sixth century, and the relics of Laurence of Siponto, the patron saint of Manfredonia, were stored beneath the church’s high altar.
A seventh century painting of the Virgin of Siponto was hung there as well at least, until an earthquake struck in the 13th century, destroying the structure at the front of the church.
But in the spring of 2016, a stunning ghost appeared in the form of the ruined basilica…
This wasn’t just some random miracle. No, this magnificent wire-mesh opus was the handiwork of a Milan-based installation artist named Edoardo Tresoldi.
Created in collaboration with the Italian Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Activities, Archaeology Superintendence of Puglia and Cobar SpA, this spectacular edifice was the result of several months of painstaking research into the historical architecture of the basilica that once stood in its place. It took a month to build too.
Tresoldi and his crew built a series of interlocking mesh “puzzle pieces” off-site, before fitting them together above the ruins of the former basilica. The completed structure weighs around seven tons and required 4,500 meters of electro-welded zinc metal netting held together by hog ring staples, with a total price tag running upwards of $4 million.
That sounds like a pretty hefty investment, but don’t worry this cool creation will stay there for a long time, a gorgeous ghostly reminder of what used to be.
“I liked the idea of drawing on space. And this was a new way of thinking about transparency,” Tresoldi explained in an interview with Wired.
“In this building you can still feel the wind, hear the sounds from outside there’s no real ‘outside,’” he said.
In a statement about the project, curator Simone Pallotta called Tresoldi’s work “a majestic architecture sculpture” and credited it with finding a way to illustrate “the relationship between the ancient and the contemporary.”
In other words yes, it’s a beautiful work of art. But the coolest thing about it is the way that it allows us to interact with history in a way that’s modern and imaginative, without losing that link to the past.
Of course, Tresoldi didn’t start off re-creating ruined churches in permanent installations.
The 28-year-old theatrical designer has created plenty of other stunning installations, even though it’s still early in his career. Here are seven of his coolest works of art, all of which create a similar sense of clarity with world around them:
“These series of cages can be considered metaphors for captive thoughts,” Tresoldi explained in an artist’s statement. “The birds in the structures lose your essence, yet outside they are fully formed and free. The work suggests nature as its own order, but what we impose is an order to capture it, to destroy it.”
This is a “floating church,” suspended above a field at the 2015 Secret Garden Party in the U.K..
This wire-art restoration was created for Milan Fashion Week at the recently restored vineyard of Leonardo da Vinci at Casa degli Atellani.
4. “Looking For”
An installation at the Roskilde festival in Denmark.
This sculpture was built specifically for the 2015 Meeting del Mare in Marina di Camerota, Italy.
Part of the “Ink Departure” Festival of Contemporary Art, this installation was inspired by the Spanish idea of a pueblo, or “place,” being both a group of people as well as a village.
Tresoldi expanded on this in an artist’s statement: “The pillars make orderly and rational architecture, the pace of which is altered by the various positions and directions of the faces. […] The dialogue between the visitor, architectural and sculptural faces takes form and expression in polarizing interaction centers, meeting places between people in space groups.”
This piece, from the 2014 Festival Beyond the Wall in Sapri, is also summed up well in Tresoldi’s artist statement: “There’s a fine line between sky and sea, which gives access to our life from the world of thoughts: it is the horizon line, shape and story of the relationship between man and space. […] In telling the relationship between Man and the Sea, only thoughts are left behind.”
There’s nothing new about recreating old buildings, or about sculpture art in general. But Tresoldi has found a remarkable new way of helping us see into the past and re-observe the present, without losing sight of the future.
Here’s an interview with the artist about the creation and philosophy behind “Thinkings,” above:
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