It’s a question of space
The coordinator of the Rebirth/Third Paradise ambassadors Saverio Teruzzi tells us about himself through anecdotes, past exchanges with Michelangelo Pistoletto and an bit of introspection. In this moment of crisis caused by the Coronavirus emergency, his words reflect his self opening up to our readers.

Writing in times of Coronavirus is something suspended in time.
I am actually on my tenth day of isolation, or ‘house arrest’, having started it before my family as I had stopped over at Linate airport on my way back from Mexico, so it feels weird to find myself talking about time, all seems ‘relative’. Anyway, as we all, I have to fill my day, and writing an article should be a good way to occupy this time.
Among many, one of the things that has impressed me most in the last few days is linked to the idea of space.
It strikes me as impossible to consider how we are not used to correctly assess the space we use and the number of contacts, physical contacts, we have every day… every hour in fact.
They might start first thing in the morning with a kiss, and then they carry on throughout the day: handshakes, hugs, pats on the shoulder, elbow-to-elbow situations, the exchange of tools and instruments of all kinds, let alone everything we touch that has been or will be touched by others.
Each of us lives in our own space, which we consider private, when it’s in fact very much public!

One of the benefits of collaborating with Michelangelo Pistoletto, Maria Pioppi and Cittadellarte’s entourage is that I can attend conferences, interviews, round tables and lectures – sometimes with the opportunity to personally participate in them – but there’s more to it: all the time we spend together at dinner, or driving from one place to the other, or waiting for a flight or simply for the next meeting.
Moments in which anything could happen and, above all, Michelangelo could say anything, in a sort of suspended time in which we can talk about anything and I could ask him anything.

Here’s an example to clarify the concept. We were once having lunch together, just an ordinary meal without the pressure of being a special event. We were chatting and joking as usual, when Michelangelo started talking about the idea of the world as a single political entity in which changing the government system is a duty not only for the politicians, but for everybody inhabiting it. He was talking about a politics in which politics must be considered as a new plastic form of art. He almost shouted out: “Everybody stop! Sorry but I need a pen and a piece of paper”.
I can’t remember the year, possibly 2013 or 2014, but Michelangelo was simply summarising and elaborating what Paolo Naldini just the year before had defined in a single word: demopraxy.

On that occasion, Michelangelo had cancelled space, giving the government of a family (which we could call a micro-government) the same importance as the government of a state, or even of the UN Assembly. The protagonists? Art and artists. A concept by now widely adopted and accomplished by Cittadellarte, but nonetheless still researched.
But at the time, the beauty was in his question: “Have I said something interesting?
This is one of many situations you might find yourself in when you’re around Pistoletto, certainly not the only one, but let’s go back to the concept of space.
Being my background in political sciences and economical politics, I have a particular interest in public engagement and public amusement, with a predisposition for the idea of art as a universal language, able to infiltrate any discussion, theme, issue.
In this view, art is a sort of ice breaker anticipating questions, criticisms and proposals.
Starting from art, you can move across the space-time dimension, read the past, foresee the future, inhabit both a place and a non-place.

Talking about space in its declination as public, civil and civic, art is the only element strong enough to cross every area, environment and social status. But the freedom of art, on its own, risks of dissolving into indeterminacy. Determinacy could be achieved through a dialogue and the assumption of responsibility though. Is keeping a one-metre distance an assumption of responsibility?
If there’s something the Coronavirus has overtly demonstrated is that there’s no public or free space, and that the civil space is clearly exposed because of people’s lack of civic sense and education.
So, how can we measure space?
There obviously exists an actual physical measuring system in metres, feet or nautical miles. But the concept of space in terms of time and the sensation of time itself are as real and true.

When we were children, we were taught to part stretching out our arms with only our fingers touching (Sistine Chapel style). Today, the Italian government and common sense are asking us to follow that same rule for our safety. Our safety area is therefore now measurable as the range of a breath, a spit, a sneeze. Is it a legal requirement? No, it’s not the law and hence falls into the civil sphere, but the public space has actually disappeared.
Distances have equally been modified. Up to a month ago the distance between Rome and Milan was a three-hour train journey (from Rome Termini to Milan Central stations) which ran many times a day, considering services were departing every 10/15 minutes. Today, inevitably, Milan seems a world away from me in Rome. It’s a question of perspective.

What’s also true is that talking with Cittadellarte on the phone or in a Skype conference with different people from all around the world reduces time to nearly zero, similarly to the way in which WhatsApp reduces the distance between me and my sister in Ecuador to the time it takes to write a message. In light of all this, the Coronavirus crisis is clearly showing that space doesn’t have only three dimensions.
I’ve happened to be talking with Michelangelo Pistoletto about the mirror, we actually often speak about the mirror and how it can explain reality.
Conceptually, the mirror doesn’t exist, because a mirror without a person in front of it doesn’t have any function. I have to be in front of the mirror to see myself reflected, which means that there’s always automatically two of us, myself and my reflection, a duality.
But this is not enough, because looking into the mirror I can also see what’s happening around me. And the closer I am to the mirror, the more my view widens; while if I wanted to enter the mirror, I would have to move away from it, walking backwards into the room, back into society, back in time, as if I were learning from the past.

‘Civic sense’ is now asking me and us to maintain a ‘sneeze distance’ between me and the mirror, allowing me to have only a limited vision of the present reality. It’s not easy, it’s not easy to understand, but at this moment in time all I can actually do is step back, look at the past, stay at home and search for those values of responsibility, trust in the other and commitment that have always characterised the human being. We have to go back to the concept of duality, that is our natural need for the other, the need to be social. And everything will be fine.