‘Le Vie del Mondo’ was a monthly geographical/travel review published by the Italian Touring Club between 1924 and 1992 under, over the years, slightly different headings. In the years from 1933 to 1937 the publication changed its title to ‘Le Vie d’Italia e del Mondo’ and offered themes and illustrations that were highly influenced by the fascist ideology of the time. Under the pretext of showing the picturesque diversity of customs and costumes, the wonder of nature and the beauty of artifacts, the reviews were actually proposing a perspective of the world that was west-centric, bigot, colonial, and kept feeding to its readers ridiculous and dangerous racist (prejudiced) cliches.
The reviews were collected and bounded, according to the year, in three hard cover tomes by Paolo Giardi’s grandfather, Napoleone Giardi, and passed down two generations. As a child, the artist used these books as a surface for his first attempts to drawing with scribbles and doodles; as a young man their beautiful photographs were used as endless source of reference for illustrations; as an adult he discovered their not so hidden ideological darker side.
With ‘Aurora Borealis’ Paolo Giardi presents us his most personal work to date. It is a reflection on the act of seeing and its process of attraction and repulsion, at what draws us into something and what pushes us away. An evaluation of what makes an image alluring and what is its real context. An exercise on aesthetic and ethic.
Giardi wants the viewer to discover his grandfather’s books with his very own sense of wonder and curiosity that was felt as a child. He is adding geometrical shapes borrowed from the modernist movement, quoting contemporary artists, pasting colourful screens in order to conceal the view and obliterate any form of nostalgia. Underneath the playful doodles another reality exists, and it is not always pretty.
Detail from the publication 'Le Vie d'Italia e del Mondo', 1933