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15/04 2012

Skybook

The Saloni 2012 pays homage with light and sound to the ‘second’ heart of the city of Milan –
specifically to that literary paternity/patrimony that goes back to the Classical world. From the world
of books, reflections on how we inhabit our spaces. From 17-22 April at the Biblioteca Pinacoteca
Accademia Ambrosiana.
The city of Milan historically has two hearts, two sites that have contributed equally to establish its unique
identity. The first, the ancient Celtic forest, was re-evoked in Piazza San Fedele during the 2011 Saloni,
specifically Euroluce, with the event “The Arbour”.
The second heart, dating back to the Romans, will receive its homage at the 2012 Saloni with “skybook”
(librocielo), a multimedia installation designed, like the first, by Attilio Stocchi and dedicated to the origins
of Milan. The event will run from 17-22 April inside and around the Pinacoteca Ambrosiana of Milan.
The vibrant center of all Roman cities was the forum, at the intersection of the cardo and decuman,
the commercial, administrative and judiciary heart of the city. In 1609, in the area of Milan’s ancient forum,
between Piazza Santo Sepolcro and Piazza Pio XI, Cardinal Federico Borromeo built the Ambrosiana with
the aim of conserving the ancient past and “protecting the pictorial and literary vestiges of the Classical
world”.

“skybook” is an homage to Roman Milan, to the Mediolanum that was the capital of the Empire from 286
to 402 AD but above all to the literary paternity/patrimony that has come down to us from antiquity.
Why not, therefore, “illuminate and give voice” to the extraordinary quantity of texts conserved
in the Ambrosiana that have contributed so much to our evolution and knowledge?
Books illustrate the origins of the distinctive conformation of the city of Milan – the Ambrosiana hosts,
among other things, the first planimetric representation of Milan (in a codex by Galvano Fiamma)
and the famous sketch by Leonardo da Vinci of the concentric city: “The city is circular in form:
its rotundity is the symbol of perfection”, writes Bonvesin de la Riva in Le meraviglie di Milano.
How did people inhabit the domus of Roman Milan? Is there a hearth at the center of the home today?
Dialogues, reflections on living in a real place from the past but that also occupies our collective
imagination:
“… Books are full of the words of the sages, examples of the ancients, their customs, laws and religion.
They are alive, they speak to us, teach us, console us” (from a letter written by Cardinal Bessarione
to the Doge of Venice, Cristoforo Moro, displayed in the pronaos of the Ambrosiana).
“skybook” is an event that unfolds inside and around the Ambrosiana, a unique journey of light and sound
whose fulcra are the Sala Federiciana and the Cortile degli Spiriti Magni, where visitors will be able to see
and hear “books dialoguing with one another”.
The entrance court on Piazza San Sepolcro – the original entrance of the library’s first nucleus – will initiate
the journey, with the statue of Federico Borromeo acting as host. “Federigo conceived this Biblioteca
Ambrosiana with great depth of spirit, and erected it with tireless effort from the ground up. To provide
it with manuscripts, in addition to the bequest already collected by him with scholarship and at great
expense, he sent eight of the most cultured and expert men he could find to Italy, France, Spain, Germany,
Flanders, Greece, Lebanon and Jerusalem. In this way he succeeded in assembling there some thirty
thousand printed volumes and fourteen thousand manuscripts”, as Alessandro Manzoni describes
the glorious undertaking in The Betrothed.

During the journey, visitors will enter a new and visionary world, beholding imaginary dialogues between
talking books. Swaths of light, like guiding voices, will help them understand the relationships between
the ancient volumes. This idea of allowing books to speak for themselves is consistent with the philosophy
of Cosmit, which seeks to combine commercial events like the Saloni with purely cultural ones.
Biblioteca Pinacoteca Accademia Ambrosiana
Entrance from Piazza San Sepolcro, Milano
17th – 22nd April

 

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