Vatican Chapels (Zoom in and Zoom Out)
Let’s begin with a simple exercise of imagination, one that follows the same logic of Powers of ten, the broadly known film by Ray and her husband Charles, which script starts like this: “The picnic near the lakeside in Chicago was the start of a lazy afternoon early one October. It begins with a scene one meter wide which we view from just one meter away. Now every ten seconds we will look from ten times farther away and our field of view will be ten times wider. This square is ten meters wide and in ten seconds the next square will be ten times as wide. Our picture will center on the picnickers even after they've been lost to sight…”. Now, in our exercise, the characters and scenario change. A person, maybe an architect, a designer, a pilgrim, a tourist or all of those incarnated in the same body and soul, is wandering, meditative, silent and sweating through the woods. Suddenly, he steps into a big circular structure, then he feels trapped between four stone walls or sees his reflection on a mirrored cross. This human, these woods, and these pieces are on an island. This island is in an archipelago that receives millions of travelers and temporal structures that land from nowhere. The big drawing of canals, rivers, and campos is itself in a state that is part of a country, and that nation is in a continent, which plays a role in this planet and so on, in an infinite zoom out that tends to end in a nebulous blackout.
The exhibition we are about to analyze is the project Vatican Chapels curated by the Italian architecture historian and curator Francesco Dal Co and Micol Forti, curator of the Vatican Museums Contemporary Art Collection, who invited 10 internationally recognized architects to rethink and freely re-interpret the typology and concept of a chapel. Held in the wooded garden behind the 400-year-old Benedictine church on the island of San Giorgio Maggiore in Venice, this initiative, makes part of the Holy See’s Pavilion in this year 16th Venice Architecture Biennale and has, as a reference and point of departure, the Scandinavian pre-modern Woodland Chapel, designed in 1920 by Erik Gunnar Asplund, in the Cemetery of Stockholm. This commission, that responds to the interests of the Vatican City State to make part of this contemporary conversation, only had three parameters or rules for the architects to follow, to include both a lectern and an altar in a maximum building area of 60 sq. Going back to our symbolical exercise of scales, zoom in and zoom out, as in the Powers of Ten, the idea is to understand this project according to varied scales and dimensions. First, as an architecture exhibition, meaning how materials, structures, light and other formal elements are shown and used by each author. Secondly, as a spiritual or religious experience, while we understand the differences between a chapel and other religious temples, as well as comparing it to other art projects or real pilgrimage places. Finally, we’ll try to read this commission through a more critic lens that helps us understand what’s the role of this kind of exhibition in a wider network of political, cultural and economic interests.
An architecture exhibition
Vatican Chapels, at the Holy See Pavilion (created in 2013), was the first time in history that the Venice Architecture Biennale featured a project by the Vatican City. Previously they have participated in the Art venue but not in the Architecture one. As we said before in the introduction, the basic idea was to invite a series of famous and leading architects, ten in total, to design their idea of a Chapel. As narrow and broad as it may seem. The commissioner, from the side of the Vatican, was the president of the Pontifical Council for Culture, Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, who chose Francesco Dal Co and Micol Forti to curate the show. In the first overview of this event, we are going to look at it as an architecture exhibition.
The first challenge for the curators was to convince the Cardinal of having real buildings instead of models, drawings or plans. Then, as many articles and reviews state, the only requirement from Ravasi was that the architects include in their designs and constructions the ambo and the altar. Apart from that, Dal Co who declare himself non-Catholic and non-believer, had Carte Blanche to pursue the project, as a branch of the entire Biennial and its wide conceptual frame: Freespace. The location is one of Venice most beautiful Island, almost equidistant from Punta della Dogana, Piazza San Marco and The Giardini, heading south. Here stands the Church San Giorgio Maggiore, as well as the Giorgio Cini Foundation, a Museum for glassworks (Le Stanze del Vetro) and a bushes labyrinth named after the Argentinian writer Jorge Luis Borges. Once in there, exiting the Vaporetto Station, the audience is directed through the back of the Church and then to a gravel path in between both the museum and the labyrinth, to finally encounter the entrance to the natural emplacement, where the different chapels stand, between trees, plants and nature. Although there are two marked walkways, all the place is open to being freely toured. In this sense, we could say that the exhibition doesn’t propose any particular hierarchy or reading but, on the contrary, invites the spectators to lose themselves into the woods and into each one of the structures. As the curator explains in an interview: “art today needs spaces, settings and often direct confrontation with nature. And this is the first consideration. So, a pavilion not closed, but a pavilion that incorporates, in fact, what happens in the art world”. One of the first Chapel that you encounter is an eleventh one made by Francesco Magnani and Traudy Pelzel, where the drawings of Asplund’s Woodland Chapel are exhibited. This building works both as an introduction or a conclusion to give the visitor some context about the departing point of each commission. "With this small masterpiece Asplund defined the chapel as a place of orientation, encounter and meditation, seemingly formed by chance or natural forces inside a vast forest, seen as the physical suggestion of the labyrinthine progress of life, the wandering of humankind as a prelude to the encounter", Dal Co explained in a statement.
As an architecture exhibition, it is an opportunity to see, in a one on one scale, a wide range of materials, structures, shapes, constructive methods and also, each architect own interpretation of the straightforward brief. In the case of Eduardo Souto de Moura, awarded with the Pritzker price in 2011, it is outstanding the use of enormous yellow stones that fit together through a small L constructive system, described by David Mourão-Ferreira in the catalogue as “simply a place enclosed by four stone walls”. From the exterior, it reminds of an ancient monument, like a geometric version of Stonehenge. This massive volume contrast with the light erected cross from the Brazilian Carla Juaçaba, who managed to almost camouflage her work into the woods thanks to a mirroring surface made out of polished stainless steel. The simple figure of the cross, in this case, also works in the horizontal plane as a bench. It is also remarkable the way that the Chilean Smiljan Radic, who participated in the Serpentine Galleries Pavilion (2014) and is known for his interest in materials that look like handcrafted, made an inverted cone structure which texture remind us of a honeycomb or a bubble wrapping plastic, finished with an open-air sealing standing on a metal beam that is on top of a real tree trunk. In the case of Francesco Cellini, the curator highlights the use of a typically Italian product such as thin slabs: “For some time now and I have always thought that thin slabs are a possibility to be exploited in a new, different way for the exteriors of buildings, stopping thinking of them only as internal cladding. I think is one of the most interesting materials for the coming years, to work and to rethink the whole theme of exteriors of buildings. We hope that the small chapel is an example of this”. Andrew Berman, the only American, insisted in a sense of austerity and the use of very simple materials: “Its kin are sheds, buildings assembled of readily available materials for basic shelter or use. It is framed of wood studs and rafters, painted white. All exterior surfaces are clad in translucent polycarbonate. The interior is lined in black painted plywood. The plywood lining is folded down from the apex of the volume, allowing daylight to enter from above into the interior”, he stated in the description that accompanies his project. And this same navigation trough materials possibilities and details can be made for each one of the projects, like a sybarite will do with a luscious dish and an old reserve wine. The same occurs with the use of light, which is taken into account in the majority of the chapels but, more evident, in the Morning Chapel by the Spaniard Flores & Prat, who opened a hole in the top of the small dome, heading to the eastern part of the island, to capture the first ray of sun of the day. Apart from this materiality and use of light, there are also conceptual games such as the reinterpretation of a container, by the Australian Sean Godsell, who explains in his website how its vertical position takes into consideration the bell towers that stand out in the venetian skyline. The sound also becomes a material in Corvalán circular structure, allowing an echoing of the voice and other noises, when someone is inside it. In Norman Foster’s design, nature plays an important role since the wood structure is intended to be covered by climber plants and jasmine vines planted in the garden. As Elisabetta Povoleto wrote for the New York Times quoting the text in the catalog, “He nestled the chapel in “a green space with two mature trees beautifully framing the view of the lagoon. It was like a small oasis in the big garden, perfect for contemplation”. Finally, Terunobu Fujimoru from Japan, proposes the use of small black and white little rocks in the inside, in a surrealist way, as if the forest was invading the chapel. So, in a few words, the first and most simple dimension of this project is a showcase of the many possibilities of contemporary architecture today, seen through a small-scale exercise made by famous architects. When comparing them you can visualize their difference of procedures and styles, from the high-tech of Norman Foster to the handcrafted of Smiljan Radic, or the lightness of Juaçaba versus the volumes of Souto de Moura, as well as the color contrast between Flores & Prats terracotta chapel and Berman neutral tones, and so on. In addition, all the technical information on how each structure was built and conceived can be found in the sites of the authors. Without a critical lens, is an opportunity for visitors, especially designers, artists and architects reunited at the Biennial, to indulge themselves with all the details, the forms, the structures, the light, the sound and the beautiful surrounding of each chapel. In this sense, most of the common reviews for this event seem to agree of it being one of the most visited, surprising and interesting of the Whole Venue. That’s the first layer, the first dimension of our exercise.
A spiritual experience
The other evident layer of this exhibition, clearly stated in its title, is the connection of these commissions with concepts of spiritualty, religiosity, reflection and contemplation. Although most of the authors consider themselves as non-believers or non-practitioners of any religion or cult, they were asked to think about what a chapel could be and represent nowadays. In a broad and common sense, people use this term to refer to a Christian place of prayer and worship, usually attached to a larger building or structure such as a school, a hospital, a prison or an airport. Nevertheless, in a larger definition, a chapel is a generic small place where people from any religion can enter to have a silent moment with themselves. Unlike a church or a cathedral, it is not a place for large congregations of worshippers and multitudinous mass, but a much personal space. Sometimes the word can even be understood in a metaphorical way, as a place of solace and spiritual renewal, which seems to be the point of departure for the architects and the curator. In this sense, the location itself, a woods garden in an island with its beautiful view to the lagoon, at one vaporetto ride of the extremely hot and crowded labyrinth that is Venice during the summer, is itself a kind of retirement. As Flores & Prats wrote on their proposal: “To be on an island and then inside a garden, allows a state of being where one’s mind can drift to a peaceful place of reflection”. Or, In the very cheesy and advertising words of Cardinal Ravani: “It is a path for all who wish to rediscover beauty, silence, the interior and transcendent voice, the human fraternity of being together in the assembly of people, and the loneliness of the woodland, where one can experience the rustle of nature, which is like a cosmic temple.” What becomes interesting about this broad idea of Chapel is that it has some kind of open understanding and freedom of worship. Another example of this same idea is the Rothko Chapel, founded by Dominique de Menil and his husband, in Houston in 1971, and which, according to her, “It has been adopted by people of all traditions an all countries, who thus confirm its vocation of hospitality. The Chapel is open to all, and each visiting group follows and deepens its own tradition, enriching and being enriched by other traditions”. In the words of Sean Godsell: “The church of the twenty first century must be a peaceful, safe place, a multi-generational place, an engaging place for contemplation, self-reflection and meditation and all of these before a space for liturgy, prayer, mass, hymn, dogma and ritual.”
While talking about spirituality in such a crowded and intense place such as Venice –that receives 30 million people during a year, especially during the summer and in the months of the Biennial– might be ridiculous, it is true that the surroundings of the chapels and the way they were built in relation to nature, light and the landscape, give the visitor some sense of calm. Probably not a transcendental moment but at least a moment of tranquility and short pilgrimage, which seems another key word to understand this exhibition. In fact, almost any exhibition, whether it is an art, architecture, design or other type of curated show, implies some kind of path, personal journey or pilgrimage. Although it may sound exaggerated, this is not so far away from reality, since every spectator usually starts with an idea of what he is going to see but then, through the walking in between works, artifacts, didactics, texts, displays and other elements, his prejudgment or initial idea can be transformed and lead to new, more critical, more poetic or more philosophical questions about the theme of the exhibition, or even other topics. And that is exactly what a pilgrimage is about, a journey in search for new questions, for taking a position, for understanding other people. This is the case, for example, of the famous Camino de Santiago de Compostela, a pilgrimage route or network of paths, that end in the town of the same name. What is interesting, in accordance with travelers that have made this journey is that on the adventure they overlap with hikers, religious people, philosophers, tourists, etc., which, in a tiny scale, is the same that happens in Venice with the Biennial and The Vatican Chapels. It’s an exhibition and touristic system that allows all kind of visitors to wander around through a lot of different architectural and cultural ideas tracing in their minds complex networks of thoughts and reflections.
It is also important to note that during the process of this commissions the organization decided that after the Biennial, all the chapels were going to be moved to, or rebuilt in different Italian towns that have suffered recent earthquakes. This second instance, or life of the Chapels, also connects to another important element in spirituality which is the mourning and the importance of symbolic gestures in order to heal wounds. In this case, the idea is that these small places, once in their new environment, serve as artifacts to rememorize the catastrophic event and then mourn their victims. This might re-launch the possibilities of new pilgrimages to those towns and activate new routes of religious tourism while they also serve as monuments for the habitants of those places. In this sense, the show is spread out and prolonged in time through new understanding of it. We can think here on how cemeteries, tombs, temples, cathedrals, mesquites, and so on, all of them architectural spaces, had become one of the main reasons for people to travel around the world and, at the same time, serve as solemn key places for people who live in the areas where they lie. Some examples are the Père Lachaise cemetery in Paris, the Arlington Cemetery in Washington, the hundreds of mesquites in Istanbul, the Christ or the Cathedral in Rio de Janeiro, the Mosque of Córdoba, with a cathedral inside of it, or the Tomba Brio, by Carlo Scarpa, in the Province of Treviso, just to name a few. Thousands of places around the globe that are emblems for a specific place, like permanent architecture exhibitions, but, exposed to a mobile energy. Just like the Biennials or the International Exhibitions. In this sense, The Vatican Chapels seems to have also this dual condition: being conceptual artifacts to understand what spirituality could mean in terms of architecture on a specific place but, at the same time, allow a short pilgrimage during a few months.
The behind the scenes
Until here we have talked about the obvious elements of the venue: it is an architecture exhibition inside an internationally renowned venue such as the Venice Biennial, realized through the historic format of commissions, to explore the conceptual and formal elements of a chapel in order to talk about silence, religion and spirituality. But like in every pilgrimage, aren’t there new questions, another dimension of our zoom exercise, maybe other interests for this project to happen?
First of all, it is important not to forget that the commissioner, The Vatican City, working as an independent nation inside the Biennial, has the mission of opening dialogues with the contemporary arts and entertainment culture, through the proactive management of their Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi. As Catherine Pepinster, from The Guardian, explains: “That the Vatican agreed to sponsor such a venture is down to one man – the trailblazing Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, who is bringing a new dimension to the sometimes vexed relationship between church and world. It’s the second time this month that Ravasi has been instrumental in creating such a high-profile arts event. Without him, the New York fashion exhibition Heavenly Bodies and its associated, controversial Met Gala, where pop star Rihanna dressed as a sparkly pope, would never have happened. For the past 11 years, Ravasi has headed the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Culture – in effect, a thinktank set up to encourage dialogue on behalf of the pope with the contemporary world. It has brought the cardinal into contact with celebrities not normally associated with senior clerics, such as Donatella Versace and Anna Wintour. He has raised eyebrows by praising Lou Reed and David Bowie, and embraced opportunities to change the image of the Roman Catholic church as the fusty custodian of centuries-old art.” From a positive and ingenious point of view this means that religion is trying to connect with society in new ways. Nevertheless, behind that “speech”, there is also a clear interest from the Vatican City and the whole catholic organization to bring back to their side the liberal and progressive people that they have been losing in the past decades. In other words, making an event like this, in the middle of a Biennial which topic is Freespace, is also a way to “rebrand” catholic religion associating it to the avant-garde world of art, architecture and design. The paradox is that their cores not necessarily collide. While catholic religion still stands for conservative principles and struggle with their own problems of corruption, sexual harassment scandals and obsolete hierarchies, the Biennals seems to navigate towards the opposite side. As Sabine B. Vogel manifest in the conclusion of her book Art on a Global Scale, “Since the first biennial was founded, biennials have to come to represent a process of individual and social emancipation, self-determination and social tolerance, cosmopolitanism and a faith in the role of a public forum in which different opinions can be discussed and criticism expressed”, which is a statement that doesn’t necessarily correspond with the big picture that liberal people have of Catholic precepts. And that is the reason why, for them, is so important to redefine, rethink and reshape their image through this kind of event. If we think of this in philosophical terms, this is a good example of how to use the ideas behind the concepts of New Materialism for purposes of marketing. This meaning that this event is perfectly disguised to make it seem like an altruist and innocent proposal that connects different social actors but, at the end, it is also a sophisticated form of contemporary evangelization –even if the term seems anachronistic today–. Of course, this is not new, and has been part of most nations political and ideological agendas in sports, academic, scientific and cultural venues, especially after 1988 in what Tjaco Walvis called, in his text Cosmopolite: Stardust World Expo & National Branding Newsletter, the Nation Branding era of International Exhibitions, commonly known as globalization. What might be new and interesting, in terms of historical research, is how it has been developed and carefully refined to the extent that it’s difficult to even notice it or, not to make part as practitioners and professionals of this massive system.
Having said this, the only one with broader interests –other than culture–, in these onerous commissions, is not solely the Vatican. Behind the project there are also involved a series of enormous and leading companies, mostly multinationals, from the infrastructure, construction and primal materials sector. Each one of this corporations, along with their subsidiaries and partners were paired with each one of the selected architects, who are themselves, known as superstars and famous figures of the architecture world. Meaning that their structure is actually closer to the one of an enterprise than of an individual, even if there is a huge difference between, let’s say, the size and methodologies of Foster + Partners versus Flores & Prats. In any case, the idea is that the big companies provide materials, construction methods and labor force to make each design possible. In the scale of their real portfolio and clients–we are talking about entire airports, roads, electric networks, demolitions, urbanism plans and civil engineering proposals all around the world–, the Vatican Chapels are like a tiny Lego toy for them. While it is very difficult and would take a lot of time, as well as a team of lawyers and journalists, to find exact documents and information about the board members of this companies and their partner’s legal information and complete activities, there is in the air an unavoidable feeling of suspicion around the real interests behind these collaborations. And we think about this because the large scale of every project they usually do, involve complexes negotiations with governments, cities municipalities, politicians, and also participation in public biddings and contracts. It will also be interesting to research on the provenance of the primal resources that they use, or directly sell, since this might involve third world countries with long struggles on behalf of territory and local community’s needs and rights. It is difficult not to imagine the negative impact that activities such as mining and the use of water can have in the places where those resources come from. This, added to a labor force that can lack of proper benefits and usually is underpaid. “Another striking consequence reported in an International Labour Organization study is that perhaps as many as one out of seven jobs in the world is supply‐chain related (ILO 2015). The report goes on to stress that this estimate does not capture informal or “non‐standard” forms of work. Non‐standard work also includes the entire range from casual and temporary employment to bonded and forced labor. If the ILO figures are correct and we make a rough guess about non‐standard work, then global supply chain‐related jobs may involve more than half a billion people. The world's total labor force in 2013 was estimated at 3.3 billion (indexmundi.com). And if we assume that many of those workers have families, the number of directly affected people easily exceeds 1 billion. Intense cost pressures and tightly synchronized delivery schedules throughout these networks and various layers of subcontractors can lead to violations of workplace standards and pose environmental hazards” explains John Gerard Ruggie in his article Multinationals as global institution: Power, authority and relative autonomy. Although this companies operates in Europe, most of them, have connections to markets and firms in other continents. In this sense, even if we cannot jump into conclusions and state that, just because they are large companies, they are indeed involved with doubtful procedures, it is difficult, as in the case of the Vatican, not to relate their image to unequal logics of power, aggressive competitiveness, and economic values that, ironically, architecture exhibitions in Biennials, tend to criticize. If we take Latin America, for example, as a case of study, it is difficult not to relate this kind of companies to the recent political turbulence all over the region, due to the confirmed network of corruption of Odebrecht, a Brazilian conglomerate working in the fields of engineering, construction, chemicals and petrochemicals. Probably the major case in recent history, not only because they managed to win multi-million dollars contracts in almost every country through extended bribe payments, but because they also influenced presidential elections to make sure that they will be part of future national development plans. Anyway, if we just think of the companies involved as suppliers of products and a certain know how, the project gets reduced to a fancy vitrine, or pop-up show of their business portfolio. Sadly, that might be the other face of beautiful shows such as Vatican Chapels.
While these edges of the project might result problematic for the invited architects, the curators and the Biennial organization, it is undeniable that it represents the perfect opportunity to have a big budget, involved sponsors, a good fee for their work and minimal creative restrictions. To speak frankly, all parties seems to benefit. For that reason, once again, is very difficult to find critical approaches from the part of them or a statement to reinforce the possible conflicts of interest. On the contrary, their texts and statements seems to be often celebratory and strictly related to abstract thoughts on architecture and conceptual reflections. They don’t even talk about the unequal number of female architects participating (just two, one of them as part of a collective), in relation to men. Unfortunately, through a critical lens, the romantic vision of the chapel, as well as the experimentation and creativity on architecture seems to fade away. Of course, this is not a novelty and have been the case since the creation of this kind of global events and exhibitions: “no major event such as a biennial or triennial occurs without other intentions such as a city promotion or cultural tourism motivations, because nobody wants to invest so much funding and effort for purely artistic reasons”, explains Sabine B. Vogel.
Coming back to the beginning, to the possible scene of our character walking around the garden, maybe looking up to the small triangular hole in the sealing of Berman’s chapel and then going through Foster’s tensegrity structure of cables and masts to contemplate the view, we can conclude that seeing any exhibition is like playing with a camera and its focus and framing. As in Powers of ten, in the Vatican Chapels we can explore every detail of the buildings, the nails, the texture of materials, the beams, the geometrical forms, the labels, the surroundings plants, the objects, the colors and even how the light changes in every millimeter, and so on, in a careful, enjoyable and thorough manner. When the camera goes up we still can see the architecture in the plan of the project. Five rectangles, a circle, and L, a rectangle, a cross, then an island, other islands, the Giardni, Italy and The Vatican. But the camera could focus on a subjective view. One that can try to depict the spiritual, the religiosity and some kind of message hidden behind every Chapel. In this scene, our character will pilgrim in search of calm, serenity and new meanings. Maybe this is the metaphysical dimension of an exhibition. And finally, through a critical lens, connecting more complex dots of our global economic system, one encounter less altruist, aesthetical and cultural interests in favor of marketing, ideology, money and capital. That’s what is interesting about exhibitions. That they open layers and layers of understanding and meaning. You decide to believe or not to believe, to take a position or remain passive, to say something or just enjoy. Is this an amazing show on human creativity and capacity of innovation? Is this a call for spirituality, silence, patience and wisdom? Is this a game of powers, diplomatic gestures and a sophisticated marketing strategy framed by a Biennial? Should we be part of all these structures? “As we draw toward the atom's attracting center, we enter upon a vast inner space. At last the carbon nucleus. So massive and so small. This carbon nucleus is made up of six protons and six neutrons. We are in the domain of universal modules. There are protons and neutrons in every nucleus. Electrons in every atom. Atoms bonded to every molecule out of the farthest galaxy”.
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 1968. Powers of Ten. Directed by Ray and Charles Eames
 The invited architects are: Andrew Berman (USA), Francesco Cellini (Italy), Javier Corvalàn (Paraguay), Eva Prats and Ricardo Flores (Spain), Norman Foster (UK), Teronobu Fujimori (Japan), Sean Godsell (Australia), Carla Juacaba (Brazil), Smiljan Radic (Cile), Eduardo Souto de Moura (Portugal).
 For over a century, the Venice Biennale (La Biennale di Venezia) has been one of the most prestigious cultural institutions in the world. The avant-garde institution has remained at the forefront in the research and promotion of new artistic trends, while leading international events in the field of contemporary arts that are amongst the most important of their kind. Over the past thirty years, the Biennale has given growing importance to the Architecture Exhibition, which is still a young component of the Biennale considering that its first exhibition was held in 1975. (Archdaily, 2012)
 Francesco Dal Co is professor in the history of architecture at the Istituto Universitario di Architettura Venezia (IUAV), and director of the architecture magazine Casabella, a position he has held since 1996. Dal Co served as the director of the Venice Biennale from 1988 to 1991, and curator of the Italian Pavilion in 1998. His many publications include Modern Architecture (with Manfredo Tafuri) and Figures of Architecture and Thought. He has also curated a number of important exhibitions, including an exhibition on Carlo Scarpa (1984), and has edited volumes on architects, including Frank Gehry and Tadao Ando, as well as Electa's series on Italian architecture, Storia dell'architettura italiana. He has recently worked with Yale University Press to launch Great Architects/Great Buildings, a new series of small-format books devoted to iconic modern structures, and has authored inaugural volumes on the Centre Pompidou (2016) and the Guggenheim Museum (2017). (Graham Foundation, 2017)
 A scholar of modern and contemporary art, directs the Collection of Contemporary Art of the Vatican Museums. After the Postgraduate School and a Ph.D., has taught Literature in Art and Museology at "La Sapienza" University in Rome, dealing with various aspects of the art and critical thinking of the twentieth century. In 2016, she was renewed appointed as consultor of the Pontifical Council for Culture and is a member of the permanent Female of the same dicastery. She 'was the curator of the pavilion Vatican at the 56th Biennale of Art in Venice in 2015 and Executive Director of the First Vatican Pavilion at the 55th Biennale of Venice in 2013. (www.micolforti.it, 2018)
 Freespace describes a generosity of spirit and a sense of humanity at the core of architecture's agenda. (www.labiennale.org, 2018)
 Interview by Panariagroup, published on May 23, 2018. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PM5db6iSchQ Accessed 11 15, 2018.
 Part of Venice-based architectural office MAP Studio.
 Interview by Panariagroup, published on May 23, 2018. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PM5db6iSchQ Accessed 11 15, 2018.
 2018. Andrew Berman Architect. Accessed 11 20, 2018. http://www.andrewbermanarchitect.com/projects/chapel_for_san_giorgio_maggiore.
 Povoledo, Elisabetta. 2018. The New York Times. 05 25. Accessed 11 20, 2018. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/05/25/arts/design/venices-architecture-biennale-the-vatican.html.
 2018. Flores & Prats. Accessed 11 20, 2018. http://floresprats.com/archive/the-morning-chapel/.
 Pepinster, Catherine. 2018. The Guardian. 05 19. Accessed 11 15, 2018. https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2018/may/20/vatican-venice-biennale-
 Menil, Dominique de. 2010. The Rothko Chapel / Writings on Art and the Threshold of the Divine. New Haven : The Rothko Chapel.
 Godsell, Sean. n.d. Sean Godsell . Accessed 11 20, 2018. https://www.seangodsell.com/vatican-chapel.
 Pepinster, Catherine. 2018. The Guardian. 05 19. Accessed 11 15, 2018. https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2018/may/20/vatican-venice-biennale-architecture-norman-foster-cardinal-ravasi.
 - Vogel, Sabine B. 2010. Biennials - Art on a Global Scale. Sprimger-Verlag/Wien
 According to the political scientist William E. Connolly, the ‘new materialism’ is the most common name given to a series of movements in several fields that criticize anthropocentrism, rethink subjectivity by playing up the role of inhuman forces within the human, emphasize the self-organizing powers of several nonhuman processes, explore dissonant relations between those processes and cultural practice, rethink the sources of ethics, and commend the need to fold a planetary dimension more actively and regularly into studies of global, interstate and state politics.
 Moretti (Constructive systems); Terna; Panariagroup (represented at the Star segment of the Italian Stock Exchange, Panariagroup is active in the field of ceramic materials for floors, coating production and marketing, focusing on the high-end and luxury segment of the market. With over 1,800 employees and 6 production facilities (3 in Italy, 2 in Portugal and 1 in the USA) Panariagroup is ranked among the top national producers operating through 7 name brands (Panaria, Lea, Cotto d’ Este, Fiordo, Margres, Love Tiles and Florida Tile), all positioned on the high-end market. The Company distributes its products through a commercial network coordinated and managed by the directors of the seven brands. This network consists of 500 employees, 500 Sales Agents, and 20 Promoters serving over 9,000 customers; Simeon (Structure and façade systems); Saint Gobain (provides its expertise in the areas of innovation and co-development through a wide range of high-performance materials for demanding applications in diverse segments, such as the automotive, aeronautical, health, defense, security, and even the food & beverage industries); Maeg (A General Contractor specialized in steel manufacturing. Maeg is an international player in the construction sector, both as a General Contractor and as a steel specialist. Maeg offers a complete service along the design, production and erection of bridges, viaducts, civil and industrial buildings); Secco Sistemi (leading Italian brand in the production of integrated systems for doors, windows and shutters, and façades in galvanized steel, stainless steel, corten or weathering steel and brass; Laboratorio Morseletto (totally handmade marble tailors for over a century. Stone Sculptures); Alpi (Wood).
 - Ruggie, John Gerard. 2017. Wiley Online Library . 06 8. Accessed 11 22, 2018. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/rego.12154.
 Ruggie, John Gerard. 2017. Wiley Online Library . 06 8. Accessed 11 22, 2018. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/rego.12154.
 1968. Powers of Ten. Directed by Ray and Charles Eames