Neither Nor: The challenge to the Labyrinth
Italian Pavilion at the Biennale Arte 2019

Catalogue of the exhibition curated by Milovan Farronato
Published by Humboldt Books in Italian and English
Texts: Stella Bottai, Italo Calvino, Enrico David, Milovan Farronato, Lavinia Filippi, Chiara Fumai, Liliana Moro, Christodoulos Panayiotou, Emanuele Trevi
Design: Julia
Paperback, 15 x 23.5 cm
528 pages
Images by various authors. 120 b/w plates; 64 colour plates
€ 30.00
ISBN 9788899385606


The volume is intended to serve as a supplement to the experience of a visit to the exhibition, adding contents of high quality and providing additional information on the three artists presented in the Italian Pavilion at the 58th International Art Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia.


The catalogue opens with forewords by the Minister of Cultural Heritage and Activities Alberto Bonisoli, the President of La Biennale di Venezia Paolo Baratta and the Commissioner of the Italian Pavilion Federica Galloni. These are followed by an introduction written by Milovan Farronato in which he illustrates the key references of the genesis of the project in relation to the idea of the labyrinth as narrative structure and as system of display and in its existential significance; he makes a critical analysis of the artistic choices in relation to this theme; and he places the contents of the volume in context from an editorial viewpoint.


The book presents, translated into English for the first time, Italo Calvino’s essay ‘The Challenge to the Labyrinth’ (issue no. 5 of Il menabò, Einaudi, Turin 1962): a fundamental text that provided the inspiration for the approach to curating the pavilion. The analysis of the labyrinth is enriched by an essay by Emanuele Trevi, written for the occasion, that retraces the historical idea of the labyrinth from its literary antecedents to our own day. A photographic essay expands the vision of the labyrinth or maze in metaphorical terms, illustrating, among others, such labyrinthine places as Burri’s Cretto at Gibellina and the Borges Labyrinth in Venice, the Sassi di Matera and the archives of Pompeii. The visual essay presents a collection of places identified as epiphenomena of a chaotic but logically organized physical space that define a link between art, architecture and contemporary culture.


The work of the artists is represented both through images of the works in the exhibition, and in written form in reference to the idea of the labyrinth: a series of short essays, put together under the direction of Milovan Farronato and Stella Bottai and accompanied by amplificatory notes by Lavinia Filippi, give rise to a polyphonic structure constructed around the key words that have guided the curator and the artists in the development of the exhibition project. The authors of the essays are the curators themselves, along with the artists Enrico David, Chiara Fumai and Liliana Moro. The catalogue ends with a letter from the Cypriot artist Christodoulos Panayiotou to the curator of the pavilion, a homage to the city-labyrinth par excellence: Venice.


Humboldt Books is a publisher specialising in narratives and experiences of travel which undertakes interdisciplinary publishing projects, blending geography with literature, photography and art. Humboldt Books collaborates with international artists, writers, photographers, designers and architects, gathering their travel stories – be they real or imaginary – and recounting these experiences through a new, unconventional gaze. Humboldt Books also delves into the classics of travel literature, curating new editions and bringing adventures of yesteryear back to life with a contemporary edge. The publishing house was founded in 2012 by Alberto Saibene and Giovanna Silva. Recent titles include: Nathalie Du Pasquier The Strange Order of Things; Mario Schifano America 1970; OMA Manifesta 12 – Palermo Atlas; Emanuele Trevi, Giovanna Silva Ontani a Bali; Riccardo Venturi Passione dell’indifferenza. Francesco Lo Savio; Yervant Gianikian, Angela Ricci Lucchi The Arrow of Time. Notes from a Russian Journey 1989 – 1990.