3412 Kafka, text by Ilaria Gianni

3412 Kafka is just one of many millions of asteroids in our solar system. The artist Carola Bonfili came to hear of it by chance, while she was conducting research some into the work of Franz Kafka. She soon became intrigued by this tiny celestial body, and the position it occupies in our small part of the universe. Her attention thus shifted from the author to the asteroid named after him, and from his life story to the wider universe, seen as a place that puts no limits on the imagination. The infinity of space, the heavenly bodies that inhabit it and the difficulty of illustrating them are all the subjects for the exhibition 3412 Kafka that, thanks to a variety of points of view, media and methodologies – sculpture, performance art, educational workshops, videos and virtual reality – opens up a fascinating reflection on the ample potentialities of our imagination. 3412 Kafka is thus not just an exhibition, but a process that is destined to evolve, consisting of several stages that will be presented for the first time in a choral form by Fondazione Smart – polo per l’arte. During these workshops, after a brief lesson on the life cycle of the stars, the children were asked to describe, illustrate and name a planet of their own invention. The names of the planets, invented by the children at the Pirotta School, became the subject of a light installation in the public housing of Quarticciolo, where they were transmitted in Morse code by an automated set of lights on the facades of two adjacent buildings.
The children who attended the workshop at Fondazione Smart – polo per l’arte, were asked to build three dimensionally their planet, using discarded items and trash. In both cases, the workshops led to the development of imaginary scenarios that use reality as a basis on which operate continuous deviations of meaning and form. The results, shown for the first time together in the exhibition, lead the spectator towards extra-ordinary dimensions, highlighting a curious parallelism between the childlike invention and the mysterious darkness of our Universe. A similar process led Carola Bonfili to build a new set of sculptures. An entire room of the exhibition space reveals a landscape that is suspended somewhere between the real and the utopian, which is the result of a process based on experiences, memories, the rewriting of imaginary references and experimentation upon the various materials that all contribute to make up the artist’s cultural roots. The concepts of the game and of simulated reality – potentially real but perhaps displaced in time and space – can also be found in an immersive VR video realized with computer graphics, associated with a sound project by Francesco Fonassi. Bonfili leads the spectator into a world of simulation, into a space within outer space, using the same techniques that are usually associated with video games, but that, because of its ability to shape and mould unknown scenarios, hypothetical futures and inaccessible places, is also used by military organizations, as well as in the fields of medicine and politics. Earth is presented as a virtual space, in a dimension that is both familiar and alien, illusory and disturbing.