z2o Garden Project: Michele Guido

with a text by Maria Giovanna Mancini

Text by Maria Giovanna Mancini


z2o Garden project is a site specific installation that Michele Guido realizes as his first personal exhibition in this Roman Gallery. As the title itself suggests, the reference model of this exhibition is the historical garden. The precise study of the space, the delicate geometric construction and the organization of the plants enclosed in their safe enclosure, are all a punctual representation of the botanic knowledge of a mysterious practice.

The garden is a space of science, theology and power. It is an expression of the renaissance knowledge. Here it is the conceptual ‘locus’ that gives the image’s complexity a poetic synthesis.

In this installation, the universally great is reduced to the geometric linearity. The line, in fact, in the renaissance speculation is infinite. The rational construction of the space on which the photographic image is placed here becomes a sort of reflection which enhances the meticulous perception of things.

Visiting this roman gallery, one will experience a sense of fluidity suggested by the antique influence. The micro and the macro, nature and culture, full and empty. All these polar extremities are exactly what lead the eye of the visitor around the exhibition.

The unity of the image is not given by its aesthetic value but it is experienced through the combination of analytical security, geometric organization of the space and by the poetic beauty of the forms that are photographed.  

Around the central eclipse one will find the organized flowerbeds which take over the whole exhibition space.  The grey and white rectangular forms, represented as flowerbeds, are the base on which the photographic images of microscopic elements of vegetation are placed. The forms of these images, realized by the technical choice of putting in focus, often break the harmony of the spatial construction.

The symmetry is just hinted but the small variations are what introduce in this garden the semen of diversity. The relationship between the garden as a representation of the world and the vegetation found inside it, enlarged by the technological eye of the artist, are highlighted in Nicolo’ Cusano’s De docta ingnorantina written in 1440. The idea of unity in his philosophy suggests to the observer a detailed and particular glance. The unity of things, ‘the conscience of the opposites’, given by the maximum greatness and the minimum tininess are represented and therefore visible in the installation. The space represented by means of the line, as infinity, holds and coincides with the photographic forms. The relationship between maximum and minimum, universal and particular are comprehendible only when put against each other. According to Cusano, the analogy of proportion is not equality between the two but it is achieved by the relationship between the two. According to the Aristotelian origins, followed in the middle ages, the idea of analogy is structurally separate from the metaphor.

The analogy structured in z2o Garden Project could be considered the element of vegetation and the garden. The reality and the world or the maximum and the minimum. The garden in the work of Michele Guido is a metaphor to an antique building; a hortus conclusus. Here the relationship that connects the single elements to the whole construction is the same as the one that connects every element to the universal. Similar to the renaissance philosophy, based on mathematics and geometry as a central part to the theoretical study of a building, the garden is structured with geometric forms which take over the whole architecture of the space. The eclipse becomes the central part of the space from which triangular and rectangular forms are generated. However, given that the circular, triangular and rectangular forms central to the renaissance geometry, the eclipse is not. In fact, considering its historical critique, it is the baroque symbol. The circular form, introduced during the renaissance static era has been opposed by the baroque eclipse which simplifies the complexities and tensions found within it. In this occasion, however, the eclipse seems to be an answer to the space and to the harmony of the division of the ‘flower beds’. In fact the eclipse is appropriate to the long shaped room. While walking through the space, one contemplates more on the perception of time rather than concentrating on the central plant itself, which cancels out time space and time.

The photograph in this detailed construction is the necessary element for the analogy of proportion. The whole architectural construction is the necessary element for the analogy of proportion. The whole architectural part of the installation is held entirely by the natural photos of the exhibition. The statute of the photos as a trace or index, also considered a message without a code, here is the representation of reality. It becomes the balanced element of the analytical construction that Michele Guido realize in the gallery. At the same time, the artist lingers over the beauty of the forms. The images, on one side, declare their status of trace and index and on the other their beauty – their artistic beauty, which the artist tries and believes to control its value.

The beauty that Arthur Danto borrows from Charles Morris, is in fact a means that recognizes its value in the history of art whilst keeping its different status in the contemporary art. This value in the twentieth century was separated from the moral aspects. Similar in the case of z2o Garden Project, there is no moral aspect neither in the beauty of the forms nor in the actual construction.   


Even though the installation is based on the bi-dimensional photograph of the plant project, in the z20 graden project the sculptural background of the artist are clearly visible in as ‘tactile sight’.

In the 70’s Rosalind Krauss recognized paradoxically in the environmental art and in the performances the action of photography. It is interesting to note that on the other hand, in the z2o garden project,  the statute of the photograph is not betrayed, but in fact it works as a main subject in the overall sculpture. It confirms one of the most interesting Heideggian thoughts that recognize in the sculpture the immediate ability to prepare and instruct the space.