EVERYONE. HUMANITY ON THE WAY
November 24, 2021
On Friday, 5 November, His Holiness Pope Francis came to the Vatican Library to inaugurate the new permanent exhibition space and its first show «Tutti. Umanità in cammino».
As its subtitle makes clear – «From Travel Cartography to Utopian and Allegorical maps: the Vatican Apostolic Library Meets Pietro Ruffo » – the exhibition currently on display in our rooms is the result of a long, passionate (and also amusing) back-and-forth between the library of the popes and the artist Pietro Ruffo. It presents the exhibited works of the ancient patrimony of the Vatican alongside contemporary creations in an interaction akin to musical harmony, such that one of the first visitors mistook a contemporary work for something five hundred years old.
Those who visit the exhibition will be amazed at how limiting it is to think of cartography solely as the representation of geographical reality. In fact, all the works on display, ancient and contemporary, conspire to reveal how people have often resorted to such scientific means to describe that which properly escapes a rational, scientific understanding: namely their dreams and ideals, utopias and desires, travels and power relations, violence and fears, the fatigue of living and religious convictions; protests, charms, adventures.
Finally, the climax of the exhibition evades easy classification and eludes any possibility of description: one simply has to enter the Barberini Room of the Vatican Library and admire the site-specific installation conceived and created by Pietro Ruffo. What the artist offers the viewer is not indeed the most effective representation of a library, but rather the portrait of a soul, an x-ray of interiority. This installation, composed upon rolls of graph paper applied to canvas, seeks to render as both an object and in a material way what moves in the mind of the librarian and scholar; it is the mapping of what goes through the mind and stirs the heart of those who frequent a library and spend hours and hours to study there. Like those pieces selected from the Vatican’s heritage and exhibited in the previous room, Ruffo's installation in the Barberini Room is a non-geographical map, in which the representation, according to the milimeter, of curiosity’s dynamism is attempted for the first time. This perspective representation points to the amazement that books arouse in the depths of the reader and scholar. It is the mapping of desire.