Marni have spent the past year celebrating their 20th anniversary with a series of events that have come under the umbrella of the wonderfully titled Marni Prisma – a project which Special Project Creative Director and Marni Heiress Carolina Castiglioni describes as “revealing each facet of Marni, which is distinctive for its prismatic character.” Composed of a Flower Market in Milan, a Roof Market in Hong Kong and a Blossom Market in Tokyo, the project has culminated in an exhibition entitled Becoming Marni that launched during Venice Biennale, completing the brand's international circuit, returning to its Italian home.
What Marni Prisma has managed to capture is an authentic and vital engagement with arts and culture that has come to define the brand over the past decades. The flower market held at Rotondo della Besana during Milan Fashion Week was a (warmly received) respite from the frenetic pace of the shows, the Hong Kong roof market a sanctuary amidst Art Basel. But the events they have held have not been industry-exclusive; in fact, Castiglioni says that the emphasis of the project has been participation and her favourite element was "everybody taking part, adults and children, either through the experience of the Markets, or through the participation at the workshops which were offered during the events to the public."
These events have been celebrations of vitality, of nature and of colour; they are interactive and communal and innately human. "We wanted to create situations that actively involve the spectators, lively occasions where one could participate" explained Castiglioni. Hong Kong's Roof Market surrounded an installation by Massimo Bartolini that pulsed light in response to a soundtrack created from recordings registered during the Milanese Flower Market. Tokyo's Blossom Market projected an animation from Brian Rea (a regular Marni collaborator) tracing the surreal continuity between the intercontinental "happenings". They have been conversations with the followers and supporters of the brand, firmly rooted in its composite DNA.
For the final element in what they have quixotically termed this "non-celebratory celebration", Marni have taken residence within the walls of Venice's San Gregorio Abbey for Becoming Marni. The exhibition is a collaboration with autodiadactic Brazilian artist Véio, who creates his sculptures from materials he finds along the riverbanks in his native village of Nossa Senhora da Glória. He "immediately identifies a being in each piece – an animal, a resting human, a fantastic bird" and his role thus becomes one of an excavator and a conduit, his duty to reveal the authentic spirit of these objects rather than superimpose his own beliefs upon them.
"We immediately felt that Véio’s aesthetic vision was close to Marni, the spontaneity and the unexpectedness his works express," explained Castiglioni. "We find that Véio’s sculptures have a strong impact; evocative, unique, naïf but elegant." And it is this spirit that is so aptly communicated through Véio's work; their harmonious shapes and instinctive, enigmatic appeal the same elements that have found Marni such sustained and international renown.
Becoming Marni is at San Gregorio Abbey, Venice until 22 November. All proceedings derived from the sale of limited edition products are donated to The Vimala Association.