Text by Cesare Cunaccia.
Rhinoceros, the building of the Forum Boarium in Rome, now transformed into a gallery complete with artist residences, was officially opened on 11 October at 10 pm, with a series of art performances and the adulation of an awestruck audience
Rhinoceros, the building of the Forum Boarium in Rome, now transformed into a gallery complete with artist residences, was officially opened on 11 October at 10 pm – not without a few critical moments due to the large crowd and the gates closing – with a series of art performances and the adulation of an awestruck audience. Rome responded generously to the invitation to rediscover this secluded corner of the centre that was being returned to her fold.
Occupied for ages, after cutting through a pile of red tape and many long years of restoration, the building was recovered from the state of decline into which it was headed by a project initiated by French archistar Jean Nouvel and commissioned by Alda Fendi, heart and soul of the Fondazione Alda Fendi – Esperimenti. The name of the building, Rhinoceros, – standing six storeys high and spanning three thousand five hundred square metres –, is a tribute to the animal world and to primitive energy. It consists of an exhibition-gallery space on the ground floor and twenty-five apartments for rent, known as the Rooms of Rome, managed by Spanish businessman Kike Sarasola and destined for use by international gallery owners, artists and curators.
Rhinoceros is situated next to the Arch of Janus – lit up for the occasion by Vittorio and Francesca Storaro and topped with the installation Rhinoceros AT Saepta by Raffaele Curi – and the church of San Giorgio in Velabro, just behind Santa Maria in Cosmedin and the Mouth of Truth. Going up to the loft, there is a panoramic terrace dominated by a pop-kitsch panel bearing an enormous portrait of Alda Fendi by Pierre et Gilles, and the Caviar Kaspia Restaurant, just arrived in Rome from Paris. The view is intimate and circular, decorated with a portion of Via di San Teodoro and part of the Palatine Hill.
A barrowful of events and exhibitions punctuated the opening night until the small hours. From Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, with Vincent Gallo playing the role of Antony – directed by Raffaele Curi, who is also the author of the installation Virtus AND Fortuna –, to Pity the Nation by Lawrence Ferlinghetti. Amalia Grè accompanied by a bass, caught everyone unawares, performing a short concert out of the blue. The fourth floor also hosted a surprise: several drawings by Michelangelo for the Medici Tombs in San Lorenzo, Florence, commentated by Jean Nouvel, a prelude to the arrival of the Adolescent, sculpted by Buonarroti himself, at the Hermitage Museum in Saint Petersburg, on 14 December. It will stay there for three months, and a special form of lighting has been designed for the occasion by Oscar winning photographer Vittorio Storaro.
In a mix of scraped walls, exposed bricks, overlaps and fascinating textures of plasters set with 1970s tiles revisited in various sectors and segments, Jean Nouvel has chosen layering as the key for interpreting the location, adding structures with a geometric, purist impact. A minimalist and characteristic blend of materials and mirrors projects the overlapping of memory of the place on a contemporary, laced up grille, made of steel, iron and concrete, with flashes of crimson in the hallways, as well as blacks and scarlet reds. Original furniture, from Jean Prouvé to Charles Eames, underlines the dialogue with what went before, assigning real value to the simple, evocative poetics of its traces, in a bid to beautify the subsequent presences and hermeneutics of the living space.