Rosa and the Fascination of Forms

Lucrezia Ungaro
A Head of the Museum of the Imperial Fora

It was my fortune to be able to write this text after the works of Rósa had been put on display in the spaces of Traian’s Market, confronting History and immerged in the routine of daily life. They look like objects made gently at ease on the museum floors after a long and ideal voyage. What was fascinating, and as I can confirm, still makes Rósa’s proposal fascinating, is her capacity to be true to the ancient forms, while at the same time using modern materials. But that is just the most superficial, or if you like, the visionary aspect of her artistic creativity.

The critical message goes further and addresses the future, or rather the harassing heritage left to future generations: the antiquity still recreates itself in the “security” of the form and its material substance, but what do we leave behind to us our contemporaries? Turmoil, sweeping an ocean of plastic!

The provocative approach between the ugly portrait of Constantine the Great and the “column” realized out of plastic bottles filled with colored water and electric lightening is certainly shocking to the visitor, but knowing the history of the bust it also invites us to reflect. The bust and the face of the imperator have been used for various purposes during the centuries before they ended... in the gutters of Traian’s Forum!

Beside this illustrious case Antiquity has left its “butto” (a term familiar to archaeologists during excavation: you “butta” or throw away things that can’t provide additions to already known data). Tons of particles which nowadays are laboriously catalogued and interpreted, but had no value to the former excavators.

Serial productions of certain utensils were already practiced, and in Roman society the organization of “pre-industrial” work was already well known. The impact of social unbalances was heavy and class division absolutely rigid. At the same time the juridical and religious system certainly permitted absorption and inclusion of conquered populations into a system based on centralized structure, but with a capacity of local meditation never before seen in other empires of antiquity. This goes especially for the juridical system that still today constitutes the juridical fundaments of our beloved, old Europe.

Architecture and construction technology are sometimes experimental and we are still trying to understand how it was possible that the “Grande Aula” didn’t fall down in spite of the many traumatic attacks visible in its structure! The sculptures displaced in and protected by the architecture transmitted the images of the Gods and the halo of men who aspired to become Gods. Because of this we have an ongoing research in antique iconography which looks for balance and perfection. Rósa has discovered some of these trends and recaptured them, rediscovering them and representing them, knowing that we cannot reach anymore to any divinities through these forms. Equipped with this knowledge but also with a great deal of courage, Rósa has used the dimension of the enlarged detail as an element in her bottles filled with color, a different balance and a different confrontation with history and Nature, in a space characterized by strong architectural heritage contaminated by the passing of Time end the osmosis of the chaotic city, today as in the past.

What will we then leave behind? We can’t get used to the idea of leaving emptiness behind, neither can we hold on to the romantic passion for the ruins of antiquity, but those are our memories which we have to build our future on.

It is true, we are acting in a negative way towards the Earth, our common fatherland, but our “progress” has anyway revolutionized our life on Earth, although it has not known how to do it in a more equilibrated and justly distributed way. So much richness, so much poverty. This is the equilibrium we have to look for, and that is what Rosa is doing, perhaps unconsciously, because she gives form and dignity to the plastic bottle through the liquid, the color, the light, recalling the (presumed) perfection of the antique form.