International competition for the creation of a permanent work in the museum’s atrium
MAXXI, Museum of the XXI century’s arts
Rome, 2009


My project is the result of the work carried out on a series of environmental works in sacred places or in highly symbolic locations, where the spectator is at the centre of a deformed and broken narration, which inverts the consoling mechanism, which is typical of a “sacred” location.
When entering the museum the spectator would therefore be in an exhibition with an environment of self-criticism and at the same time of celebration. In fact, the broken mirror, which is part of the work, reflects a broken image of space, as can be seen in Byzantine mosaics. In this work, therefore, it is impossible to consider art as “the mirror of reality” as often is in traditional Western culture.
At the same time, the contemporary museum should not simply act as a container of artwork, only to testify its existence, but should reflect the problematic reality of life and celebrate its beauty as well as its transience – its glory together with its failures.


The first part (the terrestrial part), is a path which receives the spectators and leads them in their movements.
It is placed on the floor and is the shape of a cell caught in the pause between one state and another, in the process of continuous mutation; like neurons connected by coloured synapses. Big “tablets” made of extremely hard crystals, translucent white in colour give way to surfaces of broken mirrors, which reflect the surrounding architecture, filtering it lightly through small folds.
The areas connecting the tablets, which are coloured in the drawing, look like completely transparent “synapses”. The broken mirror reflects fragments of the building into this transparency, colouring some parts and shattering others depending on the movement, the temporary viewpoint or the position of the spectator in the space, whether it be horizontal or vertical on the stairs. As a consequence, the plane on which it rests, i.e. the floor, is perceived in three rich dimensions which cohabit harmoniously: the real one in grey, the clear, coloured one and the dominant, opalescent one.
The tablets gather closely in the area between the stairs, which projects a sense of void and from which they originate. They then stop at the reception by rotating around it as if it were a cliff.

On the whole, the artwork is about architecture entering the realms of art and returning in a mutated state. It also offers each of us two possibilities: we can either find our way in the space and lose ourselves in the narration or let ourselves be overwhelmed by the image to then allow ourselves to be struck by the reality which falls upon us from above.

Alfredo Pirri

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Texts by Vincente Altaio, writer, essayist, and director of the Ars Santa Monica in Barcelona, ​​Jannis Kounellis, artist, and Federica Zancoarchitect, director of Barragan Foundation, Basel 
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