The Italian contemporary artist Sasha Vinci is interested in the aspects of being in this world. In Vinci’s Utopia, humans live simply just as they did in ancient times: They work, and in their spare time, they play games, read, and socialize. Other forms of entertainment, such as gambling and hunting, are looked down upon. They only eat and possess what is necessary; their consumption is modest. This Utopian lifestyle is the exact opposite of our contemporary ways of living which turns into a highly capitalistic society that depends on consumerism and that exploits any living creature –animals, plants, human beings, and ultimately the human mind– for a source of monetary income. This society has moved far away from a harmonious co-living with the naturally available resources.
In Vita Activa and the Human Condition, Hannah Arendt wrote, “Men, not Man, live on the earth and inhabit the world,” meaning the plurality of things represents not an aspect but a condition. This plurality is the law of our existence, and yet we still have to learn to live with it.
Many contemporary artists wrestle this reality by dreaming of a Utopia and seeking solutions in fiction. These artists work on the recognition that we have entered the Anthropocene––a new geological era marked by the impact of human activity on Earth. Their creations of eco-art tread where scientists, politicians, and environmentalists dare not; and aim to point out a way to a more ecologically sustainable future.
Vinci’s artistic practice also feeds on these ideas of ecological sustainability, Utopia, and the Anthropocene. Vinci starts from the intimate memories of the self and evolves into a multiplicity of visions to unveil the pain and social contradictions of our contemporary times. By examining with the lens of an anthropologist our once natural habitats, surroundings and urban environments, he collects data, stories, and elements that are later transformed into icons of other times, loaded with the urge to remind humans of their roots, their current existence and offering a mode to visualize a new existential condition for all the species that inhabit this planet.
In his most recent series of works, made in the northeastern United States close to New York, Vinci aspires to amplify the reflection on humanity’s ongoing violence towards their environment. The artist catalogs endangered species of plants and animals and depicts them under or over geometric shapes of gaudy colors. By doing so, Vinci proposes a visual alphabet in an attempt to (re)build a relationship that goes beyond the boundaries of the human dimension towards another perspective, the cosmos of otherness.
Yellow, orange, and red are recurrent colors in his drawings. The diamond-shaped and polyhedral objects are often the base for representations of earthly life-forms that resemble old books of scientists and scholars. With this imagery, Vinci succeeds in being credible in viewers’ collective memory and at the same time perplexing them, inviting them into a world of amazement and wonder only Utopia can have. His dreamlike, sometimes surreal visions of non-human or post-human living beings surrounded by a white, empty space complement each other through the spectator’s gaze. Vinci’s drawings create an open space between order and chaos that enables us to visualize a new existential condition for all the species that inhabit this planet.
In the societal structure we live in now, nature is something external to the human being, something on which to impose humanity’s domain. This system, built with the human being at the top of the eco-pyramid, cannot guarantee humanity’s survival in the future. Vinci’s art aims to reveal that if we want to imagine a possible survival, we must quickly overcome the age of the Anthropocene and restore certain natural balances. This means to demolish our ego-system in order to live in the only natural ecosystem. This proposed culture is a “multi natural” world, a term Vinci himself coined, in which the sense of otherness and plurality dominates life; and humanity exercises absolute respect for all beings. “We often talk about a plurality of cultures, but we forget where we come from and where we will go, which is nature,” says Vinci. His art suggests that it’s of vital importance to start talking about a plurality of nature and sustainability. With this in mind, Vinci’s works become luminous “signs” that offer alternative paths, reveal possible worlds, and imagine a new form of humanity necessary to overcome the devastating era of the Anthropocene.
Having his art in the public realm with this exhibition enhances the poetic nature of Vinci’s work, bringing an aesthetically appealing experience into an artificial place of work; inspiring bringing back nature into the industrialized world. Merging art, nature and the workplace is reminiscent of Vinci’s own way of conjoining his art and plurality; and it aims to initiate a discourse, making the viewers think about a possible and different future.
Vinci’s art conveys to his viewers the magnificence of nature, the wonder of possible crosses between flora, fauna, and humanity through colors, shapes, and icons of beauty that contain a message of hope for the future and, at the same time, a revolution for the present.
This essay has been published in a catalog produced by aA29Project Room Gallery (Milano, Italy) on the occasion of the exhibition ‘Sasha Vinci: The Multinatural Form of Tomorrow’ held in New York from September 26, 2019, to February 16, 2020.