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A marble apple to think about the Future. Michelangelo Pistoletto at the Baths of Caracalla

With “Mela reintegrata” (Reintegrated apple), a site-specific work for Baths of Caracalla, Michelangelo Pistoletto relates to a timeless artistic, mythological and social tradition. That way the issues originated from this fruit find a possible solution.

At the same time, his project “Terzo Paradiso” (Third Heaven) comes to its arrival point.

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Questo articolo è disponibile anche in italiano.

Pour lire cet article en français, cliquez ici.

An apple a day keeps the doctor away.

mela-pistoletto5The social and artistic reflection on the apple begins in greek myth: first Hercules starts his journey to the western edge of the world to retrieve the golden fruit of the Garden of Hesperides, able to guarantee immortality. Again, a golden apple is cause of the Trojan War: during the banquet for the wedding of Peleus and Thetis, Eris, goddess of discord, rolled it on the table at which sat Aphrodite, Hera and Athena, with the consequences that we know well.

In the biblical tradition the apple seized by Eve in Eden was the beginning of a new era of knowledge that made the man mortal.

Snow White falls in an ostesible death when she bites the enchanted apple.

For Newton it is the end of the reflections about gravity but also the beginning of several questions that still interest physicists and astronomers.

In the “modern mythology”, the apple is the best known and most desired symbol of the technological world.

[watch this video to discover the Baths of Caracalla]

The Third Paradise.

Il Terzo Paradiso. Image courtesy: http://www.arte.it/foto/da-carrara-a-caracalla-una-mela-trova-il-suo-paradiso-679/4
Il Terzo Paradiso. Image courtesy: http://www.arte.it/foto/da-carrara-a-caracalla-una-mela-trova-il-suo-paradiso-679/4

The apple of the Baths of Caracalla is directly related to the intervention by the same artist in 2012 “Il Terzo Paradiso” (The Third Paradise). In that event, the artwork was made with some archaeological materials coming from this site; the strong relationship put in place between the ancient materials, the ruins, the architecture of the past and the contemporary world, rouses a reflection on the future. The Third Paradise is the synthesis achieved between the “First Paradise” (the natural world) and the “Second Paradise” (that of the modern technological world); the balance between these two poles is the “Third Paradise”.

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From this point of view, the apple is the paradigm of the Third Paradise: the union of the first phase when man and nature were integrated (inside the apple, and that is the First Paradise), and the following phase, after its bite. From the doom comes the knowledge (the Second Paradise). The technical and scientific knowledge have degraded the planet of the First Paradise; the technological knowledges transformed the reality as harmful and alienating.


That way the Third Paradise is ovelapped with the recomposition of the bited apple. The apple, as like the Third Paradise, combines artifice and nature.

Destruction and reconstruction.

mela-pistoletto8This is a careful consideration on the reality, on the destruction occurred after the human intervention; reparing this situation is possible with a shift not only conceptually, but also with a real standpoint. It is the civil commitment that has to work through ecology and education, that now seem lost.


The apple recomposed by Pistoletto, is an invitation to reconnect both two parts of the “story” that, if we wish, are not completely irreconcilable.

The sculpture is made with Carrara marble, because in the Baths of Caracalla is the marble telling the past. The work reaffirms its classicism in the material that most exemplify the art of the past; it is an ongoing dialogue with the underground environment of the archaeological site where it is hosted.

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  • Where: Baths of Caracalla, viale delle Terme di Caracalla, 52. Metro B Circo Massimo
  • When: until September 26th, 2016
  • Why: the artist invites us to think about the needs of a real change. He make the anomalies as clear, and as a surgeon is engaged to heal it.


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