Noi e loro
(A link, a gap, a loss, a clue, a metaphor, a memory)
Ostia, Italy 2011
A field separates the ancient town of Ostia and a small synagogue (both unearthed). The field contains more remains from the past but funding to continue the archaeological search has not been sourced. Since scientists did not return to open the ground to find what is hidden (a suburb, a settlement, a ghetto?), the field has been used to grow medicinal plants and more recently to host an artwork (placed on lecterns around the field, with names randomly selected from the 2011 city of Ostia phone book). The plants and the art share the field and preserve the secret of the two ancient sites: the space between them they cannot claim.

Object: Eighty two names from the Ostia telephone book, plaques mounted on copper supports, the same as utilised in the Botanical Gardens, Rome.
Site: Field separating the synagogue from the rest of the archaeological site.

Noi e loro is an ambiguous title: it suggests a difference, a distance, even a hostility, as well as a common trait, something shared: the passage from antagonism to dialogue is, for Gerz, precisely the role of memory and the works dedicated to it. With a full awareness of history, it is necessary to transform yesterday’s foes into today’s friends, to work with the living to honour the dead. For these reasons, the field in Ostia is populated by living people and their names displayed with the casualness of a chance encounter, and not regimented like the tombstones in a cemetery. Thus, if the field separates the “us" of the synagogue from the “them" of the settlement in Ostia, Noi e loro inverts this meaning, bridging the gap and seeking dialogue and understanding. With a work that is not eternal like a monument, but temporary and reversible, like an encounter: the piece is an illegal guest, more like the medicinal herbs themselves, cultivated while awaiting the next phase of excavations. The work and nature contend the field: legible in January, when the grass has been freshly cut, the names are progressively absorbed by the grown grass and other spontaneous flowers" Extract from Adachiari Zevi, Arteinmemoria6.

- Arteinmemoria6, Fondazione Volume, Rome, 2011 (Italian, English)

© Rodolfo Fiorenza
© Gerz studio