ambio —from the medieval Latin cambium, 'change, exchange'— is the name of this exhibition dedicated to the environmental crisis by Formafantasma, on show at the Center for Contemporary Art Luigi Pecci from May 15th to October 24th 2021.
Cambio is a multidisciplinary project which the Amsterdam-based Italian-design duo (Andrea Trimarchi and Simone Farresin) created from their research into the governance of the timber industry.
Trees, the timber industry and its impact on the environment are central to this exhibition, which was initially started and organized by the Serpentine Gallery and curated in London by Hans Ulrich Obrist and Rebecca Lewin, and later moved into the hands of Cristina Perrella of the Pecci Center.
The exhibition is organized just like tree rings: in the central spaces there are interviews, informational resources and two films made by Formafantasma at the end of their research, while the spaces on the perimeter offer some case studies with information on how timber is purchased and used throughout the world.
Trees are living creatures which communicate with us and warn us against land exploitation and monocultures which make the Earth more vulnerable. The two designers ask themselves, “What can we do to understand and act on these warnings?” and “What are the political and ecological responsibilities of design?”.
The Cambio exhibition offers a reflection on the role of trees as sources of information, sensors for global climate change and solutions to these changes (thanks to their capacity to produce oxygen and absorb carbon dioxide).
Some rare samples of hardwood make an appearance, which were first displayed at the Great Exhibition of 1851, representing trees which went extinct due to their being chopped down. Next to them there is furniture designed by Studio Formafantasma, all made from a single tree uprooted by Vaia, the storm which hit the north of Italy in 2018. Among the pieces there is no lack of special works, like the “olfactory” project from the smell researcher and artist Sissel Tolass, which recalls the flora and smells of the woods, highlighting what we lose when we don’t protect the environment.
Safeguarding the environment and collective responsibility are themes which are central to the entire exhibition. It investigates the crucial role of design and the necessity of going beyond one’s borders in order to contribute to the emerging environmental consciousness and offer support and responses.
Where: Centro d’Arte Contemporanea Luigi Pecci, viale della Repubblica 277, Prato
When: 15 maggio – 24 ottobre 2021