One day, sitting on the sofa, in front of me I noticed my old and worn shoes. They were placed on the floor in a position that appeared to be looking at me. I found them irresistible and I thought of reproducing them in ceramic, a truer reproduction of the truth that leaves no doubt about the subject portrayed. Because? The question went through my head until I understood that it is part of those symbolic objects that want to question us about the meaning of life and its transience.
Last September, for the occasion of the 2022 Philosophy Festival, the artists Bertozzi & Casoni presented a preview of the work "In your shoes. An epiphany", another masterpiece of their artistic practice with which they have redefined the rules of ceramics at an international level. We recall the artistic practice of Bertozzi & Casoni where images of reality, in its beauty and in its decay, are copies of a lost original, evidence of a time that no longer exists, that has already passed. What I have always liked about Bertozzi & Casoni's practice is their unique ability to confront the fragility of the human condition, a condition that characterizes the people of every culture across all of history. In the Western world, we have tried to overcome this fragility, this finitude. Blaise Pascal wrote in his thoughts, “Man is but a reed, the most feeble thing in nature; but he is a thinking reed. The entire universe need not arm itself to crush him. A vapour, a drop of water suffices to kill him. But, if the universe were to crush him, man would still be more noble than that which killed him, because he knows that he dies and the advantage which the universe has over him; the universe knows nothing of this.
All our dignity consists, then, in thought. By it we must elevate ourselves, and not by space and time which we cannot fill. Let us endeavour, then, to think well; this is the principle of morality.” Now, beyond the solution that we have found in our culture to the fragility of the human condition, I’d like to return to that theme again because the implication can also be different.
Craving for nothing else.
Tell me, moon: what's worth
The shepherd's life,
And your life as well? Tell me: whither will
My brief wandering lead,
Your endless course?
(Giacomo Leopardi, Night song of a Wandering Shepherd in Asia)
Do you remember Leopardi's pastor who wonders about the mortality of man in the face of the greatness of the sky and the moon? If we think about it, it is the fragility of that man that makes him human, so equal to us. It is because I am fragile that I feel emotions, it is because I am fragile that I seek an encounter with the other. By opening up and reflecting ourselves in the fragility of the other, we rediscover our ability to take care of ourselves, of the other, in other words of being human.
This is a bit of the sense of putting yourself in someone else's shoes, of taking the steps someone else took before judging. This is a sensitivity that has acquired a particular connotation in this post-pandemic period; the years of the pandemic have put a strain on our relationship but in some respects have also strengthened it. Think how much depth can be hidden in a polychrome ceramic sculpture. This is why I like to point out the Bertozzi & Casoni Museum again, the first permanent exhibition of contemporary art dedicated to ceramics commissioned by Franco Stefani, Founder and President of the System Group, which is housed in the hall on the ground floor of the Cavallerizza Ducale in Sassuolo. A world of beauty and wonder where you do not enter the fragile world of porcelain as in The Wizard of Oz, here you enter our world, in our deep intimacy, and from there we can also better observe ourselves in a way we have never done before. Even in front of a mirror. Who are we? Where do we come from? Where will we go?