Today, Iolanda and I (Lawren) drive to Artfarm Pilastro to visit Umberto. We are here to take some pictures of the various exhibition spaces for the show in June. It’s strange to walk around the farm on this dead January day —we are usually out here in the late spring or early summer— the dull light, leafless trees, so still without the constant hum of millions of insects. We look at an old installation he’s storing in the attic, a series of wooden masks that seem to combine the form of a burka and medieval armor, with eye slits. If you peek inside, each one contains a colorful silk garter. They are meant to be lit.
Umberto has a few different properties in the Bassa, one of which I have never seen, his teatrino which is only about 20 minutes away. I ask if we can go. He and Iolanda are up for a visit. Umberto built the tiny theater about 20 years ago. It could only hold maybe 10-15 people comfortably, but the entire space surrounding the stage is a labyrinth. In the antechamber, stairs lead up to a cell-like single room, ideal for a monk. At the base of the stairs, a narrow door with a circular stoop carved out of stone opens to a shaggy topiary garden with an ancient well. Back in the antechamber, metal rungs on the wall provide sole access to a catwalk which crosses the vaulted space. A small door opens to a secret room with a peephole looking out onto the theater platform below. A passage runs underneath the theater seating to reach a small kitchen and bathroom. It’s truly a creation of a Gemini mind, complex and playful but clean and classical at the same time.