THE FIFTH ELEMENT ::
THE VEDIC SPACE

Chiara Pergola and Jean-Baptiste Maitre are the main characters of an artist residence created by Fulvio Chimento in conjunction with Italia-Oriente, the show dedicated to contemporary art during the third edition of *Dolce India* Festival, which hosted the famous Indian environmentalist Vandana Shiva and occurred in the Ashram Joytinat in Corinaldo (near Ancona) – that was founded by the Indian master Swami Joythimayananda in 2003. For ten days the two artists lived in the (open) community inspired by the principles of Yoga and Ayurveda, developing their works (added to those of Umberto Chiodi and Valerio Giacone elaborated in 2012) by the daily confront with the Vedic culture.
Chiara Pergola realized Anna-Purna, an artwork composed by 108 biscuits cooked on a rock inside the unfired clay oven set in the Ashran’s garden. The artistic operation hides a refined symbolism: 108 is a sacred number representing the five elements of the Vedic culture – earth of the stones, water to wash them, air, that is necessary to the leavening, fire for cooking, and space, vehicle of the movement/changing, that is functional to their creation – and then the ingredients bring all the six basic Ayurveda tastes – sweet (flour), sour (leavening), salty (salt), pungent (ginger), astringent (stone) and bitter (Brahmi herb). The biscuits embrace the stone creating a landscape, but only when they are picked up to be eaten it is possible to notice, just for a moment, the form of this relation. Then, what has been united starts to split off again: the biscuit’s kneading turns into our body’s matter and energy, as much as the stone will change itself in the great biogeochemical cycle that includes us. So the work is a gift to Anna-Purna, the goddess of nourishment, who also gives the name to one of the sacred mountains of Himalaya.
In his work called Il verde tramonta a Est, Jean-Baptiste Maitre crafted three abstract-organic-shaped objects, put on the top of one of the hill that surrounds the Ashram Joytinat, in a panoramic place generally used for meditation practices. The clay used for the works has been painted by sprays using primary colours; then the objects have been placed on metallic poles in order to reach the sight height. At this point, they reveal the visual (pictorial) kinesthetic effect that they are able to activate between the viewer and the surrounding landscape: walking around the three works, in a circular movement that reminds the mandala, one can notice that the landscape is absorbing the colours of the works, or they contrast it, showing always different nuances depending on the light and the observation point. Therefore, the colour reveals its illusory nature, becoming a tool to rip the veil of Maya, according to the Vedas, the continuously changeable dream we are into.
In Italia-Oriente festival, the artists, acting in the physical space (and not in their studio isolation), determinate a theoretically unlimited creative ambient, where the interaction with “external” and passing observers increases the content of the work’s elaboration. What distinguishes this experience from the other artistic residences based on the “artist’s immersion” in the natural context is that in the Ashram Joytinat, the “sacred space” is the ultimate survey, going beyond the subjectively observed nature. The people who live in this little community follow a path of inner growth through shared rules, a hard path compared to the one chosen by an artist while he dedicates his own existence to something so universal as art is, that is also the “common good” par excellence.

Antonella Malaguti
03.10.2013

Chiara Pergola and Jean-Baptiste Maitre :: Italia-Oriente
Ashram Joytinat
via Ripa, 24
web: http://ayurveda-ashram.it

Corinaldo (AN), from September 6th to 8th 2013