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Unexpected meets Rationalism, by Lisa Borgiani

October, 26th 2020

Sustainability is a concept that can be seen and experienced through many different lenses, whether it be through the eyes of a designer, manufacturer, student or artist. Staiy is on a mission to explore all of these perspectives and last week had the opportunity to pick the brains of Italian artist Lisa Borgiani. Through the exploration of her installations and photographic journeys, we not only discovered how artists can create new life, but how they give people a voice and the vital role this plays in the context of sustainability

Words By Gabrielle Hollenbeck

By Lisa Borgiani

Lisa Borgiani has exhibited her installations and photography in both private and public institutions worldwide. Some of her most recent installations include “The Unexpected Meets Rationalism”, which was chosen by the Fondazione Comacina and the Art Academy in Milan to be displayed in a house designed by famous architect and member of the Italian rationalism movement, Pietro Lingeri. Most recently, in 2020, another installation by Borgiani was featured at the Masters House, an integral space with a long history in the Bauhaus movement, the dominating avant-garde movement that swept across Europe in the 1920s, characterized by its distinctive approach to art, design and architecture.

The key theme in both of these installations lies within creating a new dialogue between art and architecture. The three dimensional installations are constructed using nets, and thus rely on mobility and the use of tension points to maintain their structure. The nets are all waste material, sourced from manufacturers who were ready to simply throw them away. One of the most important concepts in these works is the idea of giving things new life, whether it be the space where Borgiani’s works are installed, or the materials being used. Here, Borgiani is altering the nets’ architecture by creating different shapes, giving these previously unwanted materials a new life.

By breathing life into these art spaces, one cannot deny the creative approach to sustainability. Borgiani describes her artwork as “interest turned into obsession”. She adds that “art is research, asking questions and experimenting”. When it comes to sustainability, one could say the same thing; exhaustive research is needed to devise sustainable solutions. To Borgiani, sustainability is also a lifestyle and can positively impact one’s quality of life. In this regard, addressing sustainability requires addressing our communities; giving them a voice to express their needs and challenges, and their responsibility for safeguarding future generations of those communities. Borgiani tackles this concept and growing obsession through her project, What’s Europe To You?, described as a photographic journey into the European soul. 

What’s Europe to You?

Borgiani embarked on this project in 2019 by taking the streets of some of Europe’s largest capital cities, photographing individuals from a variety of ages, backgrounds, and professions, and asking them,“What’s Europe to you?”. She has been able to capture an eclectic mix of refugees, housewives, entrepreneurs, butchers and students, amongst many others. Adopting this method, Borgiani creates an expressive and meaningful dialogue between words and images. She began this photographic trail in Athens, continuing on to Berlin, Rome and Milan before COVID-19 hit. This journey, however, has not yet reached its terminal. With four books already published for the project and a current exhibition in the Italian Cultural Center in Como, she plans to visit many more cities around Europe. Not to mention that the project will soon be going digital in a collaboration with the department of Digital Strategy at the Polytechnic University of Milan.

Unexpected meets Rationalism, by Lisa Borgiani

One of the goals of any artist is to capture the time in which they are living. This project allows European citizens to have a voice and encourages them to think about Europe in a new way and about our quality of life. Perhaps most importantly, Borgiani’s work also attempts to unify diverse European voices. One of the key concepts is the ability to create a link between people and higher institutions in order to work towards a collaborative and sustainable future. Borgiani believes that opening communication between these two groups is a crucial part of sustainable development. 

Borgiani illustrates the many ways in which sustainability can be perceived by transforming specific concepts into structural installations and photographic storytelling. Through the eyes of this artist, we have discovered how creating life holds new meaning, and how giving people a voice plays a pivotal role in this burgeoning era of sustainability.

For more info on the What’s Europe To You Project, click here.