The work Alfabeto, 1973, by Claudio Parmiggiani (1943) is made up of 22 photographs (taken by Luigi Ghirri in collaboration with Tiziano Ortolani; each cm 50 x 50) that evoke the idea of a ‘museum within the museum’: a synthesis of the nature, culture, science, magic, alchemy and transformation underpinning The Shit Museum project. As Daniela Palazzoli writes, citing the words of the artist: “21 boards plus 1, ‘the fool’, like in tarot cards, a sort of grotesque cosmology of mnemonic references, a natural history which instead has become unnatural and most of all turned on its head. 21 images taken from the collection of natural history of Lazzaro Spallanzani […] finally, a white board with evanescent lettering – ‘alfabeto’ – offers the definition of the work. Alphabet meant as the result of the words – of collective intentions, of political ideologies – a museum moved or transferred into another museum. What’s more, the boards correspond to the symbolism of the tarot cards.”[1].Once again it’s the artist who suggests the ‘instructions for use’ of this fascinating work, quoting Nietzsche: “‘The easiest and also the most difficult thing is to see with one’s own eyes what is right in front of one’s nose.’ I used these words for I am convinced that the sentence defines in an elementary yet exemplary fashion the ancient and essential relationship between the image and the observer. And so the only reference is to the eye and to memory, the eye and memory in order to see oneself clearly even beyond oneself. […] Hence the images: ALFABETO for the eyes.”[2]

Gaspare Luigi Marcone (October 2017)

[1] Cf. Claudio Parmiggiani, Alfabeto, text by N. Balestrini, preface by D. Palazzoli, L’Uomo e l’Arte, Milan, 1974.

[2] Cf. Claudio Parmiggiani, Alfabeto, Museo di Storia Naturale Lazzaro Spallanzani, texts by N. Balestrini, C. Parmiggiani, Reggio Emilia, 1975, p. 15.