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Bird Cage, a temporary shelter

Zhang Enli for the Galleria Borghese


The Galleria Borghese is hosting Zhang Enli’s monumental site-specific project Bird Cage: a Temporary Shelter in several spaces in the Museum, as well as in the “Uccelliera” and the adjacent “Giardino segreto di Tramontana.”  .
The event is part of the Contemporary Commissions programme that Annia Coliva, Director of the Galleria, conceived and is carrying out with productions by contemporary artists inspired by the fascination of the Galleria Borghese as an exceptional artistic place.

In effect, the Chinese artist’s work reflects on the relationship between architecture and works of art, in particular on the peculiarity of the relationship between the Galleria Borghese and the adjacent secret gardens. Playing with transpositions, historical echoes, and hybrids, Zhang Enli has created four symbolic structures that reveal to the viewer unexpected narratives telling of far-away lands and admixtures, and that transfer the complexity of ancient times into the equally stratified reality of the present.

The two structures inside the Uccelliera recall images of an ideal journey along the Silk Road: Greek columns, municipal towers, Persian palaces, and minarets in Samarkand. Using light, colours, and surfaces, the artist paints his structures with abstract suggestions, which in turn refer to the architecture and chromatic universe of the Galleria. The structure on the outside, instead, plays with the concept of a “third landscape” – a painted nature right next to the real nature – through which the painter appropriates an uninhabited space, which itself becomes an architectural module in a nutshell (cube) and part of a performance, because the public can interact with the object, entering and walking around in it. Finally, in the camouflage balls placed in the portico Zhang Enli’s reflection focuses on the Galleria Borghese as a place of sculpture. The choice of a zone of transition, between inside and out, sums up the overall sense of his work.

Curated by Geraldine Leardi and Davide Quadrio

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