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INSTALLATION

Giovanni Aloi and Jenny Kendler have been invited by the Chicago Botanic Garden to create a living installation based on the famous "Renaissance Unicorn Tapestries" on permanent display at the MET Cloisters in NYC. The most iconic panel in the series shows the mythical animal, believed to possess curative and supernatural powers, captive, wounded, and trapped in a small fence surrounded by a wonderfully biodiverse meadow in bloom. Aloi and Kendler’s installation interprets the fence as a symbol of the constriction imposed on the natural world. The installation spills out beneath the fence’s gate, bringing the rewilding of the prairie to the monotony of the common lawn.


The plants-studded gravel mounds inside the fence of Through the eye of the unicorn are a reconstructed fragment of Bell Bowl @bellbowlprairie, a rare and precious 8000-year-old dolomite prairie brimming with biodiversity that was recently bulldozed for an unnecessary access road by the Chicago-Rockford International Airport @flyrfd. Today, only 3 acres of this once vast and very precious prairie survive and so this project stands as a memorial to this irretrievable loss. The work asks: As only the smallest fragments of original prairie remain, how could this have been allowed to happen?


In folk tales, unicorns are often characterized as elusive creatures, capable of becoming invisible. Only those with a kind and attentive predisposition can detect their presence. Over time, the magical beauty of natural environments like Bell Bowl Prairie has also become invisible to us, to the point where our laws and culture somehow allow for their reckless destruction. Like tapestries, prairies are the result of intricate enmeshments between many, often invisible, organisms. How can we attune ourselves to the complex beauty of these ancient and sacred places again?


On show at the Chicago Botanic Garden until September 22nd.

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Left: Through the eye of the unicorn, 2024, Gravel and soil mound with plant species native to Bell Bowl Prairie, cedar fence, recycled polyester “silk” flags with silk-screened pigment, upcycled poles, and hardware. The Unicorn Rests in the Garden, from the 'Hunt for the Unicorn Tapestries', 1495–1505.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York;

PHOTOGRAPHY

Aloi studied photography theory and black and white printing techniques at the London College of Printing. He has exhibited work in the UK and Italy. His body of work explores our relationship with nature and is structured around thematic series that often remain indefenately open as ongoing studies.

DEDICATED "MAKER" WEBSITE  - UNDER CONSTRUCTION

PAINTING

Metamorphic Iconostasis is a series of seven byzantine icons representing different species of butterfly chrysalis. Each is painted on an original gessoed icon board custom made in Ukraine and leafed with 24kt gold. Egg tempera and oil on 60x40 cm oak wood. Made between 2019 and 2021. More on "MAKER" wesbite.

SOUNDSCAPE

Moths is a series of neo-classical piano pieces and electronic elements composed and recorded between 2016 and 2020. These tracks are sedimentations of moods and thoughts that have defined my experiences as a member of the LGBTQ+ community after moving to the United States at a time of intense political and social tension. Recurring motives, compositional circularities, and occasional bursts of light outline a journey into a dark undergrowth of mostly melancholic soundscapes. 

Released on vinyl 12" and digital download by Blue Spiral Records

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VIDEOPOETRY

This piece of videopoetry is a creative response to Aldo Leopold's 1949  ‘A Sand County Almanac’ commissioned by 'Nature Art and Habitat', an Eco-laboratory of Multidisciplinary Practices that looks at the relationship between nature and culture. The video was presented at the “Coexistence: Interdependence Between Species” symposium held on April 17th, 2021 and screened at the Angewandte Film Festival in July 2021.

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MORE INFO AND RESOURCES

ANTENNAE:

THE JOURNAL OF NATURE

IN VISUAL CULTURE

Founded in 2006 by Giovanni Aloi, Antennae is the leading journal on nature, the environment, and art. A peer-reviewed, hybrid, journal free to the public. Download all issues free and stay up to date with current news.

Visit Giovanni Aloi's faculty page at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

Giovanni Aloi's academia.edu site features downloadable essays, book chapters, and video recordings of talks and other events.

PHOTOGRAPHY

Aloi studied photography theory and black and white printing techniques at the London College of Printing. He has exhibited work in the UK and Italy. His body of work explores our relationship with nature and is structured around thematic series that often remain indefenately open as ongoing studies.

DEDICATED "MAKER" WEBSITE  - UNDER CONSTRUCTION

PAINTING

Metamorphic Iconostasis is a series of seven byzantine icons representing different species of butterfly chrysalis. Each is painted on an original gessoed icon board custom made in Ukraine and leafed with 24kt gold. Egg tempera and oil on 60x40 cm oak wood. Made between 2019 and 2021. More on "MAKER" wesbite.