Image: Vanni Cuoghi’s Typhoon Series on display at Rossi Rossi Gallery
Its hard to ignore all the devastating natural disasters that have taken place this year, from typhoons to earthquakes to life shattering hurricanes such a Hurricane Dorian, that are occurring more and more frequently.
At what point will we, as a civilization wake up to the epidemic of climate change that sits before us?
This week we saw the reports on Hurrican Dorian blitzing the Bahamas with 200 Km/h wind speed, the earths temperatures contribute to the ever-more violent storm as they are able to pick up speed on warmer sea water and are held at a standstill due to the atmospheres warmer temperature.
In the UN’s special report released last year, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change found that keeping warming of the earth below 1.5 degrees Celsius – a level already dangerous for low-lying states – would require an annual investment in decarbonization of $3tn through 2050.
That would just help to mitigate warming. Trillions more will be required to adapt to the climate impacts already locked in, ensuring that when hurricanes like Dorian do hit they do less damage.
Perfectly illustrating the moments of the aftermath of a natural disaster such as a Typhoon Hato that aggressively hit southern China including Hong Kong and Macau in 2017. This is commemorated in Vanni Cuoghi’s typhoon series in his current solo exhibition at Rossi Martino – fittingly titled The Eye Of The Storm, we as an audience are brought closer to experiencing the wake of a destructive natural event, frozen in time in a set of incased dioramas. Inspired by video footage of metal gates bent and distorted by the storm, which aired on news channels in the artist’s hotel room. These images also depict torn-up shutters and knocked-out gates smashed by the fury of the winds, as well as piles of rubble containing uprooted trees, torn metal sheets, chipped planks, shreds of paper, ripped fabrics and shattered furniture. They provide glimpses into the city’s silent and deserted corners – a negative and chaotic version of Giorgio de Chirico’s metaphysical imagery. It is the calm after the storm (la quiete dopo la tempesta) – as described in the eponymous 1829 poem by Giacomo Leopardi (1798–1837) – the merciless photograph of an announced disaster, that forces us to look at the world (and the fury of Nature) in a new light.
Image : Monolocale 88 (Typhoon 14), 2019, Water on paper, framed, 37 x 52 x 8 cm
The second gallery portrays the artist’s story of the moment before the typhoon struck the city. Included are visions of the indoor, cloistered spaces and sheltered areas where, as Cuoghi imagines, people happened to be as Hato passed: apartments, offices, waiting rooms, bars, hallways, hotel rooms, prayer rooms and even art galleries. He envisions the exact moment when, in different parts of the city, the typhoon will appear, freezing his characters in a momentary apnea. Yet, in this still, rarefied moment, in the hypnotic wait, someone realises that the atmosphere has changed, almost forewarning a sinister presence. A worshipper at Man Mo Temple unexpectedly turns her back on the altar in Monolocale 87 (Typhoon 13). In the meeting room of a skyscraper in the city’s business district, a man on the phone seems paralysed, his arm suspended to hold a document in Monolocale 86 (Typhoon 12). An elegant woman sitting in a luxury hotel bar suddenly turns towards the entrance in Monolocale 75 (Typhoon 1). On the other side of the town, a student inadvertently drops a ream of notes on the chequered floor of her living room in Monolocale 82 (Typhoon 8).
The diorama’s here highlight the rigorously damaged and solemn feel of Hong Kong’s neighborhoods in these moments of chaos, creating a unique and beautiful juxtaposition between the calm after the storm and destruction left behind.
What now is framed and archived in these works of art, is an earnest reminder for audiences to question what can be done to prevent these disasters from occurring often. What is sad is the politicians we have to trust to make the calls on funding activities that would mitigate the earths warming, are also those continuing to fuel the crisis. In the end, the people who have done the least to contribute to this epidemic tend to be among the first and worst effected.
Exhibition ends 14th September 2019
To read Vanni Cuoghi’s The Eye of the Storm press release please click HERE
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