The House of the Farmer, a new work by British artist Mike Nelson, curated by Didi Bozzini, at Palazzo dell’Agricoltore in the city centre of Parma.
The project conceived by Mike Nelson for the Palazzo dell’Agricoltore in Parma, will occupy the five floors of the building located in the heart of the Emilian city of Parma. The work will be monumental and will draw on the visceral and poetic power of the palace and the materials that will inhabit its halls.
Curated by Didi Bozzini, the exhibition has its origin in the history of the building, reflecting on the political, economic and social role it has played over 82 years since its construction in 1939. The building’s history is reflected in its name — Palazzo dell’Agricoltore — and by the title of the exhibition, The House of the Farmer.
The palace was the headquarters of the corporation that organised and facilitated agricultural activities under the Fascist government. One could say that this was a place where the work of humankind within nature was transformed into an exercise of cultural and political power. The installation by Nelson leads the visitor through the entire space to allow one to imagine the building as a sculpture in and of itself: the staircase and the imposing and repetitive flooring — typical of such bureaucratic buildings — are interspersed with Nelson’s interventions. These natural materials are taken from cleared land, its size proportionate to the palazzo. This wild landscape in the rural region surrounding the city has been cleared of materials that make the practice of agriculture more difficult: rocks, tree trunks, branches and roots, and even the entire side of a hill has been moved inside the building to become integral to its structure, as if part of its architecture. This network of visual traces is evocative but not descriptive, and attempts to provide a mental and material path in memory between reflection and fantasy, between nature and culture.