works from Acacia Collection at the Venice Biennal 2013 
During the Venice Biennial, the Museum of Natural History hosts a show entitled Contemporary Bestiary, with works taken from theACACIA collection (Friends of Italian Contemporary Art Association).
ACACIA is a private association that represents Italian collecting by gathering the most significant collectors in the country.
Gemma De Angelis Testa is the head of the association. Together with art critic and curator Giorgio Verzotti and with the scientific support of Gabriella Belli, director of the civic museums of Venice, Gemma De Angelis Testa curates this exhibition.
The artwork on show flows so smoothly in the exhibition fabric of the Natural History Museum as to create total environment, rich in hints and references; a chromatic and formal concerto finding its balance in the topic of research – artistic, scientific or intimate and existential as it may be.
Another important topic in the show, which is addressed by a beautiful and maternal Vanessa Beecroft artwork, is that of life in its multiple forms and facets.
The artworks become sudden lights in the elemental kaleidoscope of the exhibition halls, as phenomena realities that are already implicitly present in the topics of the museum Wunderkammer, generating a gap that makes the spectator experience the artistic reality.
The connection – both apparent and intellectual – between the artworks and the background of the exhibition halls is impressive. A visual SIMBIOSIS is produced, and it is so strong that it is sometimes hard to find the artworks. The show experience then becomes like a treasure hunt.
Nido, the artwork by Nico Vascellari, comes to my mind. It is made of two thecae with destructured bird nests tidily exposed piece by piece in front of the thecae containing the zoological collection of birds and insects.
I also think of Love Saves Life (Town Musicians of Bremen) by Maurizio Cattelan: four taxidermied animals one on top of the other exhibit in the same hall containing the hunting trophies that belonged to Giuseppe de Reali.
Another outstanding artwork is La morte tornò a letto (Death went back to bed…), by Marzia Migliora. It is made of two skeletons facing a huge dinosaur skeleton. The two skeletons are composed in the foetal position, embracing each other, as if death had taken them away in a moment of love.
Some of the artworks were far too well camouflaged amidst the many findings that are part of the museum’s whole cosmogony. I have looked in vain for an artwork by Luca Trevisani entitled Partirei dall’acqua (I would start from the water), a sphere containing an hourglass. One of the museum caretakers searched with me, but it was his first day of work and we could not find it.
The whole exhibition path is an experience rich in wonder and fascination, the leitmotif being the research – that of the museum, of the artist or of a collector.
This is not the first ACACIA exhibition. Part of its collection was exhibit in 2012 at the Royal Palace in Milan, former residence of the Savoias, and in 2004 at Nicolosio Lomellino Palace in Genoa. In 2003 an initiative called Invito was launched to open the doors of the collectors’ houses as venues for young artists solo exhibitions.
The association also introduced the ACACIA Prize for Contemporary Art, which is awarded every year to an under 40 artist as an international recognition to his or her work, which is then acquired in the collection.
The association takes into account the research, preservation, and collection of Italian artists having acquired national and international recognition. The association also operates on the cultural system organizing talks and debates between collectors and museum directors.
ACACIA is based in Milan and has been promoting contemporary culture for many years, pushing for the opening of a public museum to which it would donate the artworks.
Fiammetta De Michele

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