July 23 - November 1, 2020

Sensitive devices
Pavilion 9b
Sensitive devices
Pavilion 9b

curated by Angel Moya Garcia


An interdisciplinary project conceived as an open laboratory, an experiential environment in constant and continuous evolution

What happens when magnetic fields migrate? When time loses unity, direction, and objectivity? What would happen if space suddenly folded in on itself, inverting its structure?

The rigorous research of Andrea Galvani (Verona 1973, lives and work in New York and Mexico City) coalesces around history’s biggest questions—investigations nurtured by social, educational, political, ideological, technological, and scientific transformations that continue to change the conditions of our daily lives, inescapably and oftentimes invisibly. La sottigliezza delle cose elevate [The Subtleties of Elevated Things] is an interdisciplinary project conceived as an open laboratory, an experiential environment in constant and continuous evolution. Through a series of architectural installations, actions, and performance specifically developed for Pavilion 9B of the Mattatoio, Galvani focuses our attention on the human need to measure, decipher, and understand the unknown, to give shape and direction to the abstract.


The title of this exhibition is adapted from the grimoire Shams al-Ma'arif wa Lata'if al-'Awarif (كتاب شمس المعارف ولطائف العوارف), The Book of the Sun of Gnosis and the Subtleties of Elevated Things, written by Ahmad ibn ‘Ali al-Buni (أحمد البوني‎) before his death in 1225 CE. Shams al-Ma'arif is generally understood as the most influential text of its kind in the Arab world, opening with a series of complex magic squares that demonstrate hidden relationships between numbers and geometrical forms. It was written at a time when science, mathematics, and magic were intricately intertwined. For over 10,000 years, humans have looked out on the visible and intelligible world, constructing our intellectual inheritance through observation, calculation, and analyses of phenomena often described with equal parts logic and mysticism. Many of the greatest minds in the history of Western science were part of this legacy: Galileo Galilei and Johannes Kepler were avid astrologists; Isaac Newton and Robert Boyle were alchemists. In his groundbreaking Systema Naturae (first published 1735)Carl Linnaeus devoted a whole chapter to the taxonomic order of mythical creatures, like the hydra and the phoenix. For the great physician Paracelsus, mastering chemical as well as magical cures was crucial to understanding illness and wellness.

La sottigliezza delle cose elevate embodies this visionary, pioneering, transdisciplinary approach to scientific research and processes, while also embracing the emotional, spiritual, and metaphysical environment of the exhibition. In this show, the Mattatoio does not only contain an articulation and extension of scientific and mathematical languages that transform, expand, and illuminate architectural space, but also the physical, intellectual, and psychological effort behind the mathematical calculations that form the architecture of our collective knowledge.


Upon entering the space, visitors will encounter The Subtleties of Elevated Things — a live performance produced in collaboration with researchers from the Sapienza University of Rome. Galvani has invited a group of students, graduates, and research fellows across different scientific disciplines to develop complex analyses and calculations on-site. Through intensive daily intervention, the space becomes an athenaeum for the duration of the show.
The architecture of the entire pavilion will gradually transform into a manifold numerical fabric, a silent dialogue describing complex phenomena—deconstructing, designating, and interrogating the very nature of the reality that surrounds us.


The raw process of computation and analysis—the uncertainty, the mistakes, the physical and intellectual effort of continuous numerical elaboration, developed by researchers working live on the walls of the exhibition space—becomes the very center of the action. The Subtleties of Elevated Things exposes what is normally hidden from us: human presence, its triumph and fragility, the desire to understand, to solve mysteries, the emotional, psychological and behavioral architecture that constitutes the engine of learning. Behind each calculation is a constellation, stratified layers of knowledge, thousands of white lines that intersect, mathematically mapping the steps in an ongoing process of scientific inquiry that is open to the future, welcoming the public.

The epicenter in this galaxy of happenings is Instruments for Inquiring into the Wind and the Shaking Earth, a monumental installation which occupies the final room. The work is constituted by an intricate series of neon sculptures which take shape as mathematical equations that have revolutionized our understanding of reality: from Einstein’s theory of general relativity to Newton’s famous Calculus equation; from the Doppler Effect to Friedmann’s equations which describe the evolution of time and geometry of the universe; from electromagnetic radiation defined by Planck to the quantum gravity of Wheeler-deWitt, and the extraordinary Noether’s Theorem.

Immersed in a labyrinth of illuminated numbers, visitors navigate through a constellation of white blown glass and metal structures hanging from the ceiling like the canopy of a jungle. The installation is a real incandescent landscape, a unified visual field conceived as an experiential environment—an act of discovery. Mathematical equations precisely describe the symmetry of physical laws: from the undulating movement of waves, to the nature of time; the generation of a lightning storm, to the regulation of ocean tides; the rate at which the cosmos expands, and the possibility of life on other planets.

During the opening reception and at certain times during the exhibition, a group of vocalists and performers transform the space into an immersive kinetic theater. Live voices produce a chorus that seems to emerge from a primitive instinct. Natural sounds and chants rise, articulating a sonic ecosystem that is alive and in flux. The action expands, becomes a soundscape, an experiential orchestra of audio-visual stimuli that moves and pulses through space, texturizing it, interacting with the architecture, the work, and the public.

La sottigliezza delle cose elevate exists in a dimension where time is absent, where history, memory, and the direction of human research merge into a process that evades the singularity of knowledge, transforming into a collective, emotional, and shamanic experience. For the artist, each work in the show is a memento mori as well as an object of resistance against death, capable of revealing a more dense and nuanced reality.


While The Subtleties of Elevated Things seems to expose the oblivion of the present—its slowness, incompleteness—in an endless and cyclic sequence of calculations, labor, uncertainty, failure, and temporary success, Instruments for Inquiring into the Wind and the Shaking Earth seems to proclaim and monumentalize our certitude, elevating an outcome that becomes a ceremonial synthesis, a paradigm that illuminates and accelerates. Andrea Galvani’s entire oeuvre honors the power of human knowledge—the desire to understand the mysterious, to regulate the abstract—while simultaneously emphasizing its limits, circumscribing a perimeter of action that moves forward, able to appear and generate itself from its own impossibility.

Performance Program

The Subtleties of Elevated Things performance will take place Thursday through Sunday for the entire duration of the exhibition, from 23 July through 25 October 2020.


Participating researchers:

Ares Bortolussi (Bachelors, Physics); Gabriele Galbato Muscio (Bachelors, Electrical Engineering); Noemi Massetti (PhD, Neuroscience); Daniele Pannozzo (Masters, Particle Physics); Ornella Juliana Piccinni (research fellow at the Sapienza University and member of the Virgo data analysis group, international experiment for the detection of gravitational waves); Francesca Pucci (Masters in Physics); Raffaella Tramontano (PhD, Physics); Alessandro Vannini (PhD, Mathematics); Benedetta Zarcone (Bachelors, Electrical Engineering); and Chiara Zennaro (Bachelors, Physics)


Instruments for Inquiring into the Wind and the Shaking Earth performance will take place 23 July, at 6:00pm, 7:00pm, 8:00pm, 9:00pm.


Vocalists and participating performers:

Ludovica Manzo
Costanza Alegiani
Giuseppe Creazzo

Luca Bloise, Andrea Crescenzi, Andrea Lopez, Laura Migliorato, Chiara Perciballi, Benedetta Piatti, Alessandra Plini, Katia Valente e Julie Zingg



This exhibition was made possible thanks to the support and collaboration of the Sapienza University of Rome, the Civic School of Arts, MaTeMù Youth Center and School of Art, and Saint Louis College of Music.


Special thanks to Prof. Fernando Ferroni, President of the National Institute of Nuclear Physics from 2011-2019, as well as all the researchers and performers actively involved in this project.


We would like to thank the following professors from the University of Rome La Sapienza for their valuable contribution: Prof. Isabeau Birindelli, Director of the Department of Mathematics; Prof. Alberto Boffi, Director of the Department of Biochemical Science; Prof. Luciano Galantini, Director of the Department of Chemistry; Prof. Paolo Gaudenzi, Director of the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering; Prof. Marco Oliverio, Director of the Department of Biology and Biotechnology “Charles Darwin”; Prof. Marella Maroder, Director of the Department of Molecular Medicine; Prof. Paolo Mataloni, Director of the Physics Department; Prof. Maria Sabrina Sarto, Director of the Department of Astronautical, Electrical, and Energy Engineering.



La sottigliezza delle cose elevate by Andrea Galvani is the inaugural exhibition in Dispositivi sensibili [Sensitive Devices], a three-year program conceived by Angel Moya Garcia for Pavilion 9B at the Mattatoio in Rome which focuses on the convergence between methodologies, aesthetics, and practices in visual and performing arts through a constantly-evolving model of presentation.

Padiglione 9B, Performer: Prinz Gholam
13 luglio, ore 12-13
13 luglio, ore 12-13
13 luglio, ore 12-13