One of Italy’s most renowned contemporary art museums, the Castello di Rivoli Museo d’Arte Contemporanea near Turin has opened its doors to the Covid-19 vaccination drive. Vaccinations will be administered in the galleries of the Claudia Comte exhibition on the third floor of the museum — in an effort to heal mind, body and spirit, says one of the museum’s directors.
In recent months, the Castello di Rivoli Museum of Contemporary Art, in collaboration with the City of Rivoli and the Piedmont Region local health service, the Asl To3, has undertaken a pilot project to allocate the museum’s vast gallery spaces as a location for vaccinations in support of the National Covid-19 Vaccination Plan. This has been done in synergy with Cultura Italiae, which proposed the reopening of cultural spaces as vaccination centres for the protection of citizens’ health.
The best art should be an experience that includes and involves, that processes trauma and combines cultural well-being with physical well-being. Castello di Rivoli, once a palace owned by the Savoy dynasty, a cultural space devoted to openness and plurality, is ideally suited to providing a community service and to hosting Covid-19 vaccinations.
Occupying a former baroque royal palace, the museum’s large, open spaces are well-designed for social distancing and the museum is implementing all the necessary health and sanitation measures mandated by the current situation (including taking visitors’ temperatures on entry and limiting visitor numbers).
The vaccination centre is set up in the galleries on the third floor of the museum where Swiss artist Claudia Comte‘s How To Grow and Still Stay The Same Shape mural exhibition is currently underway. Claudia Comte, starting from the observation of nature and its changing patterns, creates large environmental installations on the gallery walls that incorporate the world from the perspective of the digital experience.
For her exhibition at Castello di Rivoli, the artist created monumental mural interventions specially designed for the rooms of the historic residence that develop according to geometric modules repeated in the space through which Comte creates an enveloping and vibrant optical environment.
To accompany the vaccinations, the artist has interwoven a new soothing sound artwork that will be broadcast in the spaces from 29 April. While in the museum’s vaccination centre, people will be able to listen to the sound work The Pattern That Connects, 2021, composed by the artist with the collaboration of Egon Elliut (sound, 41’26”, courtesy of the artist and Castello of Rivoli Museo d’Arte Contemporanea).
Artist Claudia Comte said, “For the vaccination centre at Castello di Rivoli our aim, with composer Egon Elliut, was to create an audiovisual experience akin to a daydream, something that was above all calming and welcoming. There are several chapters that make up the soundscape and each represents, rhythmically, the natural realm of flora and fauna. The process involved creating sounds that give an impression of a sentient thing, for example, the humming of a jellyfish propelling itself through seawater and the soft gentle grunts of a herd of deer.
“Oscillating between electronic sound to more classical influences, the soundscape also incorporates field recordings taken from nature, the sound of the ocean can be heard in varying depths and pulses for example. Mimicking the soundscape are the patterns in the wall paintings that visitors will experience in unison for the first time, these immersive works wrap around all twelve walls of the upper gallery floor.
I hope that people feel they are entering an inviting and calming environment and that even some joy can be gleaned by seeing and experiencing this work while waiting to receive this very important vaccine.”
The project is the result of a wide-ranging collaboration. The Castello di Rivoli Museo d’Arte Contemporanea, the Piedmont Region and the City of Rivoli all contributed to the project.
Francesca Lavazza, the newly appointed President of Castello di Rivoli, said: “I am pleased that Castello di Rivoli has made its spaces available as vaccination hub for its community. This initiative, launched by the Director Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev with the approval of the Board of Directors, underlines the civic value of places with public functions – such as our museum – in putting themselves at the service of the community, sending a message of solidarity at a challenging moment, such as the one we are experiencing.”
The Director of the Castello di Rivoli, Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev, added: “Art has always contributed to the care of society – it is no coincidence that some of the first museums in the world were formerly hospitals. We would now like to return the favour, so to speak, by making the rooms of the Castello di Rivoli available for the national vaccination plan.
“Our baroque spaces are large enough to house a safe vaccination centre; our staff are welcoming and well trained in monitoring the public. But above all, this is a commitment to create an accessible place at the service of the community. Our buildings can continue to serve this purpose and fulfil our mission – art heals. We invited the artist Claudia Comte to take this journey towards health with us. I thank her for her sensitivity and creative generosity.”
The Castello di Rivoli is one of several Italian museums following in the footsteps of cultural institutions that have opened their doors to vaccine drives. We reported on Salisbury Cathedral doing the same to the accompaniment of exalted organ music last year.
From Thursday 6 May the Castello di Rivoli will also reopen to the public and, to mark the occasion, the painting Narcissus, 1597-1599, by Caravaggio on loan from the Gallerie Nazionali di Arte Antica in Rome will be installed in the Manica Lunga wing as part of the Espressioni and Anne Imhof. Sex exhibitions.