Nine artists for reconstruction

Art works donated:

Belvedere Bridge by Volkwin Marg



Venice / Hamburg, 16 February 2020

In June of last year at the invitation of the art critic Roberta Semeraro, creator and curator of the "Nine artists for reconstruction" project, Prof. Ing. Arch. Volkwin Marg founder of the "Gerkan, Marg and Partners" studio, one of the largest design studios in Germany and the world, accepted the invitation to donate to the city of L'Aquila a project for the Belvedere bridge as the second art intervention on a monumental scale of environmental sustainability after the Amphisculpture of Parco del Beverly Pepper sun.

On 7 and 8 August 2019, Volkwin Marg accompanied by his assistant and his collaborators the Arch. Clemens Kusch and Eng. Maurizio Milan (founder in turn of one of the major Italian engineering firms, Milan Ingegneria, which has more than 1000 complex interventions in the world made with innovative materials), carried out his first visit to L'Aquila to take a look at the current condition of Ponte Belvedere and the surrounding area starting from the Fontana delle 99 Cannelle.

Roberta Semeraro said:

"I had been aware of the issue of the Belvedere Bridge since 2011, when my reconstruction project had started and I was taking care of the construction of the Beverly Pepper work. It was then that for the first time I heard of a reconstruction intervention for this bridge, located in a strategic and important position in the historic center of the city. Last year, when the matter came back into vogue, I was contacted again to look for an archistar who would sign the Belvedere Bridge project. Architectural works are much more complex than those of monumental sculpture, so it was not easy to find an archistar so generous to accept my invitation. Thanks to my previous collaboration with the architect Clemens Kusch, who supports Marg in his works in Italy, finally I managed to get the Professor's availability. It is evident that the generosity in this case is consequential to a long and very successful career, when interest in the territory and the environment becomes much more important than anything else. And this is the approach that the Professor had when we were together in L'Aquila this summer. Not only did he visit and retrace the Ponte Belvedere several times, but he wanted to go step by step, the entire adjacent area that leads uphill from the 99 spouts fountain to the bridge. With his 84 years as he was impervious to climbing the slope under the scorching sun, I saw again in him that same sense of belonging and love for the places that Beverly Pepper had when he traveled far and wide, Parco del Sole before the Amphisculpture was born . The first evening of ours staying in L'Aquila, Marg had already understood what her contribution to the territory could be with this bridge. The project he sent me in October demonstrates not only that humanistic vision of the city that is well suited to the tradition of our Italian historic cities, but also his great sensitivity and attention to the landscape and the environment. It is evident that for Marg (who is also an engineer), a bridge is an infrastructure of such importance that it cannot be camouflaged or overwhelmed by other volumes. 

The forms of Marg's architecture are archetypal forms despite being made with cutting-edge techniques and languages, therefore not impacting from an environmental point of view. In his works there is always a narrative element that brings people closer to places and that makes them feel at home. And this is why his design for the Belvedere Bridge fits perfectly with the assumptions and objectives of "Nine artists for reconstruction". I am proud to have presented this splendid project to the city of L'Aquila and to have created the opportunity to receive a donation from a famous archistar. By the way, and it's no small matter, considering that in our country there are a lot of unfinished public works, I would like to underline that Marg has recently distinguished herself for having completed the Palacongressi di Rimini over time and in the budget initially budgeted. "

Clemens Kusch concludes:

"The great advantage of the project is that the individual components of the project - the bridge, the garage, the recovery of the service station, the fountain, the arrangement of the road system and the 99 spouts park - can all be carried out independently and also on time different depending on the financial availability and the different areas of intervention. It is therefore possible to create them in different lots guaranteeing a functionality of each phase and a full use of the individual spaces, characterized by clear legibility, without resulting spaces, which risk always to become underused areas and therefore of degradation. The architectural language adopted is rather that of referring to archetypal forms, such as the entrance arch, without the introduction of forms and materials unrelated to the architectural tradition that distinguishes the historic center. With the project so articulated, it is also avoided having to face an overly ambitious, complex and economically demanding project that would entail the risk, with partial realizations, long times, geotechnical and structural complexities, of becoming yet another unfinished work."

Amphisculpture by Beverly Pepper

PLACE: Parco del Sole, L'Aquila

YEAR: 2010/2018

BENEFICIARY: Municipality of L'Aquila

SURFACE: 3.80 ha

CAPACITY: minimum 1800 seats with steps (maximum 6000 seats)

MATERIALS: Pacentro white stone and Verona red stone

PROJECT LEADER: sculptor Beverly Pepper

CONSULTANTS: Roberta Semeraro (curator), Michele Ciribifera (first assistant Beverly Pepper), Eni s.p.a. (sponsor), Superintendence for Archeology, Fine Arts and Landscape for the city of L'Aquila and the Municipalities of the Crater, Antonello Garofalo and Corrado Marsili (site manager)

WORK STATUS: completed

Intervention scale: LARGE


Beverly Pepper known worldwide for her works of land art including the famous amphisculpture / amphitheater (outdoor theaters), has created this great work for the public space of Parco del Sole right in the heart of the city, to return to L'Aquila a place for social gathering where you can relax and make culture.

Pepper worked following the natural forms of the landscape and dialoguing with its history, in this case represented by the famous Basilica of Collemaggio, to which the artist was inspired for her theater by taking the same pink stone and the motif of the flooring in a part of the steps and on the stage.

Pepper's Amphitheater is a response to the social emergency especially for young people from L'Aquila, who will have a meeting place in all seasons since the artist has foreseen that during the winter, the stage can become a skating rink.

The monumental, public, functional and social aspects that characterize this environmental sculpture make it similar to a work of architecture and as the artist recalls, the amphisculpture began just when the architect Gene Kohn asked her to find a solution to a large terrain filling.

Beverly Pepper said in a recent interview:

"In any place in the world that is the US or Italy when I create a public work the first thing I think is that I am creating something UNIVERSAL. In particular in a city like L'Aquila, people have come across to a great tragedy that involved the whole population and when these tragedies occur a sense of guilt arises, even though it is a natural disaster, people look around and ask themselves .. Why me?

The key to salvation is to feel most of all that you belong to that place. That you have a story there and that this story belongs to you. It is the sense of belonging that saves us and in this the artist has a fundamental task in public works.

If the work is successful, marry the landscape! You must recognize that the space in which the work is placed makes a contribution as important as the work itself. You have to respect that space only so it can integrate it into the landscape.

Many artists when they think they think they are God, I don't have this feeling, I'm grateful to have a space, but it's a public space! Above all, I try not to be too invasive and to respect its nature. I do not try to dominate it but to indulge its nature.

 As I said before, many artists when they create public works put themselves first, they create as if they were in front of a mirror. Art can have a very important social function but only when the artist stops dominating and begins to dialogue with the space that has been given to him.

It is not a profound concept, it is a practical make a work of land art work so that people can benefit from it and can become part of it in their daily lives!  


The Gemini I and Gemini II sculptures placed at the entrance of the work (which in their location trace the amphisculpture of "Fattoria di Celle" created by the artist in Tuscany in 1992), date back to 1991 and are part of the large family of Columns and Sentinels, sculptures inspired by the monolithic obelisks of the archaeological era, which the artist has created all over the world. In particular, these examples include the Todi Columns, built in Terni and installed first in the Piazza del Popolo in Todi in 1979 and then in 1996 in the Thetis space in Venice, and the famous Moline Markers and Manhattan Sentinels designed from 1993 to 1996 for Federal Plaza in New York, when Pepper was selected from among the artists who had submitted their application for the U.S. Government's General Services Administration Art-in-Architecture Program.

The two columns of corten steel, six meters high each, were designed by Beverly Pepper for a large installation organized in Narni, where the ancient fortress was the background. Afterwards they were transported to the United States (Sharon, Connecticut) and temporarily placed in the park of the house of the poet Jorie Graham, daughter of the sculptress. On August 4, 2017 Beverly Pepper donated the two sculptures to the CARISPAQ Foundation pto be installed at the entrance of his theater in Parco del Sole.

The columns finally arrived in L'Aquila from Connecticut on October 25, 2017.

Song chosen from the book "Ricostruire con l'Arte" by Roberta Semeraro, chap. V paragraph "The columns of Narni, the sentinels of Parco del Sole:

The donation deed was signed by President Fanfani, by me and Elisa as witnesses and by the sculptress (who had entered her ninety-fourth year of life) in her home in Torregentile di Todi. Always sitting at the same table that had been in turn, witness of all the most important reasons and decisions made for the sculpture, the notary Marco Carbonari and the secretary of the foundation Davide Iagnemma were present, as well as the two assistant sculptors of Beverly, Michele and Antonio Buonfiglio. celebrated in the art world between the artist and the city of L'Aquila, the memory of the excellent colored sugared almonds of Sulmona brought as a gift by the secretary of the foundation remains. 

The Library for L'Aquila by Linda Karshan


PLACE: Palazzo dell'Emiciclo

YEAR: 2019

BENEFICIARY: Abruzzo Regional Council

MATERIALS: books, stone, marble, drawings, digital sounds


CONSULTANTS: Roberta Semeraro (curator), Carmelo Grasso, Eleonora Laurini, young ANCE L'Aquila

WORK STATUS: completed

Intervention scale: SMALL

The Library for L'Aquila by Linda Karshan

After about ten years from the earthquake, thanks to the restoration work wisely conducted by the Superintendency for Archeology, Fine Arts and Landscape for the city of L'Aquila and the Municipalities of the Crater, to national and international cooperation and solidarity projects such as Nine artists for the reconstruction, and not least the commitment of the local institutions and its citizens, L'Aquila is being reborn from the rubble as a new city that feels the need to repopulate the places and make them revive, projecting them towards the future.

From the meeting that took place in November 2018 with the delegation of L'Aquila at the Veneto University of Venice, on the occasion of the Venice-L'Aquila conference, a cultural bridge of solidarity and the presentation of the book Reconstructing with art, the need by the ANCE young L'Aquila committee to draw the attention of the national and international public to the prestigious universities of the city with the aim of bringing them back to being those important centers of study that were before the earthquake.

As a concrete response to this need and as an ideal completion of the Beverly Pepper open-air theater for Parco del Sole, the Nine Artists for Reconstruction project focused its attention on the Anglo-American artist Linda Karshan whose work, for her high cultural profile, is followed by the most accredited academies and museums in Europe, including the British Museum in London.

This year Karshan was a guest with the exhibition entitled Art, Architecture and Sacred Geometry in conversation, in the Abbey of San Giorgio Maggiore in Venice during the 2018 Architecture Biennale.

The artist's thought is inspired by Greek philosophy and in particular by Plato, when in Timaiòs he relates the world (in every manifestation) to the numerical order of mathematics.

Karshan has distinguished himself in the art scene thanks to his personal and original artistic language developed with a universal technique, in which drawing becomes a sculptural act, which is achieved with discipline, exercise and deep concentration by counting the rhythm of one's breathing and in total balance with the body.

As was highlighted in the San Giorgio Maggiore exhibition, his drawings are very reminiscent of their extreme precision and naturalness, the miniatures of the scribes in the sacred books and the geometric motifs of the Gothic architecture handmade by the artisans.

Starting from the assumption that the ordering mind of the world manifests itself in all things and primarily in the proportions of the human body (Leonardo's Vitruvian man), the artist reveals in his drawings the pure essence of things.

To achieve this sort of technical trance, the mind must be alert in order to grasp the exact intuition of the design suggested by the rhythm of the breath and the balance achieved by the body.

In this case it is more of a psychophysical balance, since it is a balance between endogenous and exogenous factors for the organism. As Karshan teaches, balance is a constantly evolving concept: Galen, a doctor and philosopher also known for having given his treatments to the emperor Marcus Aurelius, was the first to say that the human body is never perfectly static which is continually subject to small tremors.

Karshan with a small choreography of steps that calls his internal choreography, as he follows the rhythm of his breathing, raises his left leg leaning on the drawing board on the same left hand, and stretching the right arm forward draws holding the pencil in axis to the hand as if it were an extension of it.

Once the sign has been drawn, from the top of the sheet downwards, it stops for a short interval and remarks the sign from the bottom up or turns the sheet counterclockwise and counting its breaths again, repeats the movements described.

Kandinsky said that the lines are nothing more than the dynamic projections of points set in motion by different forces and in different directions.

The patterns of signs and geometric shapes traced by Karshan become the trio of physical and psychic forces controlled by a natural measuring instrument, which is precisely his body.


Working in the absolute silence of his London studio, Karshan around the 90s discovered that the sound produced by the movement of the pencil that ran on the sheet, helped him in the execution of the drawing giving it a further trace compared to the rhythm of breathing. It is no coincidence that Joseph Beyus exhorted to listen andenough, because listening to sound is a sculptural act. The ear is the true meaning of sculpture.

In 2002 the film maker Candida Richardson interested in the genesis of abstract drawing and how abstract drawing is formed allowing the unconscious mind of the artist to gain the upper hand, made the film Movements and Thier Images in the Karshan studio where she filmed the artist while drawing

It was then that Linda and Candida decided to experiment together with Soundings (which takes inspiration for the title from the opera Essais by Michel Eyquem de Montaigne, a large collection of songs of various sizes, written without following a predetermined project).

As of 10 October 2014, Richardson with very sophisticated hearing aids recorded six drawings in the artist's studio. 

Linda Karshan recalls: 

"On that day the lines to be traced were first very long, then shorter, then short. The latter were as dotted, drawn vigorously and also with great speed. So the variety of lines gave consistency to the piece, combined with the footsteps and the door of my studio slamming. These six drawings gave rise to surveys. The first two were preludes; therefore they established the grid. The number 3 was that, completely drawn on that same day while the following stages were set for 4, 5 and 6. The latter were developed the following days, progressing according to the shifts. The shifts followed, as needed, ¼ circle, turn, ¼ circle turn, ¼ circle turn, ¼ circle, turn. 8 quarter bows and 32 bows per turn. "

Listening to the recording of these sounds we have the plastic representation of this special choreography, in which the pencil dance conducted in his steps by the artist.

The Greek Cross for L'Aquila

In the geometric figures of Karshan's drawings, the Greek cross appears repeatedly as an archetypal form, of the balance between the earth and the sky in the cosmic circle.

And it is precisely this design that the artist wanted to dedicate to the city of L'Aquila and its territory.

The design of the Greek Cross for L'Aquilarimanda not only for the decoration of the Gothic facade of Santa Maria a Collemaggio, but also for the legendary tradition of the Knights Templar to which the splendid Basilica is linked.

In 2017, Matthias Bärmann described the meaning of the Greek cross in relation to LK: 

"It is the balanced evocation of the relationship between heaven and earth, male and female, human beings and God, time that proceeds and momentary time. In architecture, it is oriented to the center, opposite the basilica with aisles. It connects the four cardinal points and represents the four seasons. If circumscribed, a circle emerges. It is the most ancient and simple form of the cross, the cross of early Christianity, of Christianity the cross of the Templars. The square crux. Its shape is devoid of soul, alignment, teleology, progress: it is simply there, simply what it is. " 

The tower of books

The tower-shaped book sculpture that Linda Karshan designed for the Palazzo dell'Emiciclo library is a site-specific work created with the help of students from the universities of L'Aquila, using materials from the artist's personal library and materials from the territory of L'Aquila and Abruzzo. In this questre which symbolizes the areté (the attainment of wisdom), the books are superimposed on each other and in a precarious balance, to restore that idea of ​​fragility of culture which, if it is not well founded, can collapse at any moment. But the artist teaches that building wisely can be decisive for the fate of all humanity.

First of all, you need to have solid foundations, first quality materials and excellent technique. And that's why she chooses to put at the base of the tower the texts that are the basis of her artist studies: Modern Europena Civilization; Western Intellectual Thought; and L'Art Roma to then continue with the main texts that formed her work; Andrea Palladio's four books on architecture (given to him by Candida Richardson's father); Piero della Francesca, Leonardo and Martin Kemp's treatise on painting; Samuel Beckett's Reader; Dante, The city of Florence by R.W..B Lewis; Needs, Values, Truth by David Wiggins; Penser Dieu by Anca Vasiliu; Eudaemonia of Aristotle; The Marriage of Cadmus, Harmony by Roberto Calasso; Borges' Library of Babel; 2 essays from Lapham's Quarterly on the topics of Discovery, States of Mind; 10 readings by David Wiggins; My name is Rosso, Red Doc, Plainwater by Anne Carson (the three books were donated to the artist by the director of the British Museum on the occasion of the exhibition at San Giorgio in Venice), Joseph Brodsky's Watermarsk (given to her by her son Thomas during the Venetian stay for the opening of the exhibition); a text written by her and Time: a collection of philosophy texts on the theme el tempo (given to her many years ago by her son) and her Plato, a book on Euclid and Six Memos for the Next Millenium by Italo Calvino.

Finally, on top of the tower, the artist plans to place her Toluca iron meteorite from Xiquipilio in Mexico, next to her husband Howard's Morasko meteorite. The association between the two meteorites recalls the duality and unity of opposites in the Greek cross, therefore the male opposed and united to the female. The Toluca meteorite was given to her on her 60th birthday by Matthias Barmann, curator, German author and publisher, expert in modern and contemporary art, of the relationship between the traditional techniques of Asian culture and the sciences and philosophy. The artist saw him for the first time at Barmann's home in Bavaria, and was immediately attracted to him because of the surfaces bearing figures of Widmanstatten (particular geometric motifs). 

So she asked Barmann to have a copy to exhibit together with her drawings so that visitors could grasp at first sight the similarity and understand that her work aspires to a dimension where there is no longer any force of gravity.

"The ancient Greeks aspired to aretè or virtue; they aspired to the excellence of the body, mind and character. Achieving this goal requires a lot of effort. It also requires time, training and patience after recognizing" our particular shape  For me, all this is second nature: my form is the archetype of time. By tracing my numbers and rhythms, I mark time itself, that mobile image of eternity as Plato describes in Timaeus. This image can be heard and seen in Soundings: the acoustic drawing recorded on paper. My figure can be heard and seen by opening my eyes, ears and heart. My forms are universal; they belong to all of us. I hope this meeting will offer students and citizens of L'Aquila hope for the future. "

Linda Karshan (October 2018)

The rediscovered San Michele convent and the library of Palazzo dell'Emiciclo

From 1606, on the proposal of the scholar Capuchin friar Francesco Vastarini, it was thought to build in L'Aquila a seat of the order of the minor friars within the city walls. So it was that on a project by Father Bernardo Romano the convent dedicated to the archangel Michael took shape, consisting essentially of a church and flanked by a quadrangular convent with a courtyard in the center, on two levels with service rooms on the ground floor and rooms for friars on the first floor. Behind the complex towards the walls, there was the vegetable garden with the fields of the convent.

In 1865 after the unification of Italy the convent was suppressed and expropriated, and the Capuchins moved to the Complex of Santa Chiara in Borgo Rivera and the convent of San Michele became the headquarters of the Guardia di Finanza and then the municipal administration that took over the management, decided to locate the Regional Exposition with a reconversion of the architect Carlo Waldis who transformed it into the current characteristic exedra porticoed facade at the Villa Comunale. The complex housed the 1903 and subsequent exhibitions. In 1972 the seat of the regional council was transferred to the Hemicycle, which was restored by the architect Renzo Mancini thanks to the intuition of the superintendent Mario Moretti.

In 1984 the complex was enlarged with new buildings designed by the architect Giuseppe Santoro.

The 2009 earthquake seriously damaged the entire complex, therefore the Hemicycle was subjected to a radical reconstruction project according to anti-seismic regulations. It was reopened to the public on 22 June 2018. The intervention allowed the construction of a new foundation below the complex and the installation of 61 seismic isolators.

It is the first public building in Italy and Europe to have adopted such an advanced anti-seismic solution.

Thanks to this radical intervention carried out by the Superintendency for Archeology, Fine Arts and Landscape for the city of L'Aquila and the Municipalities of the Crater, the ancient rooms of the seventeenth-century convent and the church were found, which remained hidden for years in the basements of the Hemicycle and which currently house the Library of Palazzo dell'Emiciclo.

As the superintendent Alessandra Vittorini says 

"The discoveries, the ancient paths and traces of the past re-emerge from the subsoil and redesign urban history, contributing to the construction of new knowledge and contributing to the recovery of a collective memory of the city and the territory .... "

In the transition from late antiquity to the Middle Ages, the monasteries and immediately afterwards also the convents, had an important social function, as places of conservation of writing and knowledge display cases contained works of theology, rhetoric, history, architecture, medicine and mathematics and other natural sciences as well as treatises on the state, philosophy and poetry.

The manuscripts were born, from late antiquity to the Renaissance, in monasteries.

The transcription of the codes and their study became the primary task of the convent.

The miniature of the codes assumed a fundamental role for the dissemination of the rules of the order and of the culture of the specific writing of the monastery, and each monastery had a special scriptorium room where the scribes worked.

The artistic intervention of Linda Karshan for the L'Aquila library, in addition to focusing on the value of art and culture for the reconstruction of identity of a city of great and historical cultural traditions such as L'Aquila, is also a starting point for reflection on the concept of balance, in a territory plagued by continuous earth tremors.

Rethinking equilibrium as a dynamic state, not a quiet one, inevitably leads to a more physiological view of events. Knowledge in philosophical and scientific terms of the notion of balance proposed by Karshan's artistic work becomes a possible path to restore confidence in the city so that it can live peacefully in the places found.

The donation by the Anglo-American artist to Palazzo dell'Emiciclo will provide a unique and unmissable opportunity to build a network between the L'Aquila library and the libraries of universities and international museums where the artist is accredited, for a cultural exchange in philosophical and scientific subjects, with the aim of periodically organizing seminars, conferences and lectures with representatives of international culture in L'Aquila. Therefore, the L'Aquila library will become the first model in Italy, a library that proposes a circular idea of ​​culture, intended as an active and propulsive place not only for research and studies, but also for new stimuli towards the local and international community

For all the reasons just explained Nine artists for the reconstruction referring to the theories of Vitruvius which indicates libraries as public works for the opportunitas, is pleased to present the library for L'Aquila by Linda Karshan, with the hope that the citizens after having faced inevitable and numerous changes, can find their balance thanks to culture.