Born in Brunnen, Switzerland, in 1963 Lives and works in New York, USA
Ugo Rondinone transplants a 2000 year-old olive tree from a field near his parents’ birthplace in the Basilicata region of southern Italy to Venice’s Grand Canal. Cast in aluminium and white enamel, and displaced to an urban location mere feet from the water, Silence inserts the artificial into the natural, and freezes in time the once-living tree. Its relocation to Vita Vitale
’s Grand Canal pier yields a new geographical and cultural context, and thus fresh readings. Now uprooted, the barren tree potentially alludes to worldwide deforestation, or the loss of our rural spaces at the hands of urban development. More chillingly, its title, leafless branches devoid of wildlife, and aluminium and enamel cladding combine to render the tree mute, implying an unwelcome silence that unchecked urbanisation may bring.
Portrait photo by Christian Schoppe