For the Piazza Galvani location of Banca di Bologna, Margherita Moscardini (1981) has created a single work with a public message: The Decline of the Nation State and the End of the Rights of Man is a neon installation quoting the title of the ninth chapter of The Origins of Totalitarianism, an essay that Hannah Arendt published in 1951.
In it, the German philosopher describes how European nation-states were established through treaties that did not ensure legal protection for minorities, but instead condemned them to statelessness; this generated millions of refugees that the nation-state, having never questioned its own founding principles, continues even today to treat as exceptions rather than the foundation of its existence.
When presented to the public, these reflections of Arendt’s usher viewers into an era that has finally grasped the need for a paradigm shift, allowing the philosopher—seventy years later—to reply to questions that are urgently topical for us.
Though we acknowledge that the democracies built over the last century are valuable and must be defended, we have not been capable of reinventing them. Whatever the nature of the political entity capable of serving the needs of our time, will it be founded on the idea of statelessness? Will the condition of exile become not an exception, but the foundation for a different vision of citizenship, not tethered to any territory, that can finally overcome the distinction between the rights of the citizen and the inalienable rights of human beings?
If a paradigm shift is offered to us by the city—if the city could be an apt point of departure for arriving at a new idea of citizenship—it would have to be a city where there is no longer any point to institutions like asylum, or insidious words like tolerance and integration, because we all have legal protection as foreigners.
Margherita Moscardini, who sees the quoted title as the statement “in light of which” her recent work should be viewed, believes this is the challenge facing us today.
The installation—set in a space that, significantly, is visible from the street—is a new edition of a work presented for the first time in the city of Plovdiv, Bulgaria in 2018; it would be wonderful to imagine other copies of this statement being scattered through other cities, at least in Europe.
Margherita Moscardini (b. 1981) explores the relationships between processes of natural, urban, and social transformation in specific geographical contexts. Her practice focuses on process-based, long-term projects that generate large-scale works, drawings, texts, scale models and video documents.
Her projects include: Istanbul City Hills_On the Natural History of Dispersion and States of Aggregation (2013), about the recent urban transformation of Istanbul, which has led to the demolition of entire neighborhoods and displacement of local communities. From 2012 to 2018 she developed 1XUnknown (1942-2018, to Fortress Europe with Love), a series of twenty-one videos documenting the Atlantic Wall (1942-1944): a line of 15,000 bunkers built by the Third Reich along Europe’s Atlantic coast for the purpose of defending Fortress Europe. Since 2016 she has been working on the project The Fountains of Za’atari, which examines how refugee camps function as cities; it centers on the Za’atari camp, which sprang up in 2012 in a desert area of Jordan, on the Syrian border.
Margherita Moscardini is a graduate of the Accademia di Belle Arti in Bologna and has participated in Fondazione Antonio Ratti’s CSAV – Artists’ Research Laboratory in Como with Yona Friedman. In 2015 she was a research fellow of the Italian Academy for Advanced Studies at Columbia University in New York.
She has given talks and lectures at MAXXI, Rome; Columbia University, New York; SVA and ISCP, New York; Triennale di Milano; and NABA, Milan.
In recent years her work has been shown at MAXXI, Rome; MMCA Changdong and SongEun ArtSpace, Seoul, South Korea; Collezione Maramotti, Reggio Emilia, Italy; Fondazione Pastificio Cerere, Rome; the Italian Cultural Institute in Istanbul and Brussels; MACRO, Rome; CCA, Plovdiv, Bulgaria; MAMbo, Bologna; Quadriennale and Palazzo delle Esposizioni, Rome; Palazzo Reale, Milan.
22 January – 21 February 2020
Banca di Bologna Headquarters