In 1985, Italo Calvino died while writing a collection of five short stories to be titled The Five Senses (1986). Each story was to be structured around one of the senses, and upon his death he had only finished three out of the five: Under the Jaguar Sun, A King Listens, and The Name, the Nose, which respectively refer to taste, hearing and smell.
The exhibition, titled The Name, The Nose conceptually incorporates Calvino’s literary device in its presentation of international artists who work in painting, sculpture, photography, video, installation and performance. Each artwork will be accompanied by a caption that will state title, author, media, dimension and year of manufacture but also a short description by the artist. Unlike standard museum practice where this information is written on white paper or cardboard and affixed to the wall next to the artwork, the exhibition blurb will appear on a particular colored background referring to one of the five senses. The artists will not know ahead of time which sense their work will be identified with, thus creating a tension between their description and its curatorial categorization.
In contemplating the artwork, its description, and sensorial association the viewer can judge whether these elements synchronize or not, or why there was not a different sense attributed to the artwork rather than the one given. Apart from presenting a mixed-media exhibition of international artists of which many have not shown in Italy, The Name, The Nose attempts to reconfigure the exhibition format while proposing the viewer’s role to be an active one rather than that of passive spectator.