100 Benches for Rome

100 Benches for Rome

The Third Paradise is based on an idea by the Italian artist Michelangelo Pistoletto, one of the leading exponents of the Arte Povera movement. It is a symbol derived from the infinity sign but with an extra ring that represents the third phase of humanity: a connection balanced between nature and artifice, the synthesis between the first paradise and the second, their union and rebirth.

With the special project 100 Benches for Rome, a series of itinerant installations will bring the concept of the Third Paradise to the capital, thereby promoting the bond with the local area and communities. This is also in terms of sustainability, through the use of materials that are 100% recyclable.

An artwork that belongs to everyone

Depictions of the Third Paradise have previously been exhibited at sites of exceptional symbolic value, such as the United Nations Office at Geneva (UNOG) and the Nagasaki Peace Park. And they have been created using numerous techniques and various materials, from stone to mirrors.

The installations in Rome will be created with 100 benches made from recycled and recyclable PET plastic, in keeping with Pistoletto’s message. Not only is the meaning of this work of art important: so is the value of the medium used. The bench represents both a pause and an observation point; it is a symbol of respite, relaxation, reflection, inclusion and dialogue. But, most importantly, it belongs to everyone.

As a sponsor of the initiative, we have “adopted” 20 of the 100 benches that will then be made available to the city.

The project, which is one of the urban furniture initiatives that have been developed in collaboration with “Cittadellarte – Fondazione Pistoletto Onlus” as part of Rebirth Forum Roma, will include various phases within the Roman metropolitan area.

First phase: the Festival of the Suburbs

The journey begins with the Festival delle Periferie (Festival of the Suburbs), which is scheduled to take place from June 21 -23. This initiative is designed to promote the vast area surrounding the historic city of Rome, which, while not as internationally famous, is nonetheless rich in historical heritage and has a fertile cultural life. The aim is “for people to experience the suburbs as the city and not just as the edges of the city,” Rome’s mayor Virginia Raggi explained during the official presentation of the Festival on May 6.

The inauguration of the installation of the 100 Benches for Rome was held on May 23 at the Gabii Archeological Park - managed by Soprintendenza Speciale Archeologia Belle Arti e Paesaggio di Roma -, a site of great historical interest located approximately 20 kilometers to the east of Rome, along the ancient Via Prenestina. The site is just one of many archeological parks situated within the so-called Roman suburbs and is testimony to their extraordinarily rich heritage.

The installation will then move on to the picturesque location of Piazza di Siena in the grounds of the Villa Borghese, where it will remain until July 15 when it will return to Gabii until the end of October. It will be the subject of a series of guided visits and events.

At the end of their journey the benches will be donated to the city and positioned in 100 different locations where civic education and active citizenship workshops can be held with local schools and associations. This will offer further opportunities to raise awareness among the community, promote respect for the local area and the concept of responsibility as expressed in the Third Paradise. All of which goes to confirm the social value of the installation that has been described by Giorgio De Finis, Director of the Museum of the Suburbs in Rome, as an “inhabitable work of art.”