Maria Nordman ’s work is grounded in the investigations of Environmental Art that emerged in California within the Post-Minimalist climate of the 1970s.Space,for this artist, is a dimension that viewers must experience totally, developing their capacities for reception and psycho-physical reaction.
Nordman works exclusively with the natural light of the environments in which she operates, and she views this element as a tool for both revealing and transfiguring space.
The absence of artificial light allows viewers to perceive each change in color of the sunlight. The use of mirrors that reflect and project the sun ’s rays, or colored pieces of glass used as filters on windows or skylights, determine the experience of light and color as a dimension that alters, in an emotional sense, the facts of perception. Nordman also intervenes in outdoor spaces, with installations of structures that refer to
everyday experience, such as tables and chairs that the public can use, or allude to habitability as an abstract concept. Incontro tra la Dora e il Po (Meeting of the Dora and the Po),1985,consists of two distinct installations, one created inside a room of the museum, the other located outdoors, on the building ’s terrace. The point of departure for the conception of the work was an architectural element of the Castello di Rivoli, the marble slabs that make up the building ’s cladding and form its corners. Nordman treats this element almost as an archetype. Inside the Castello, she has constructed a large wooden structure in the form of a prism, with each exterior wall painted in a different color (red, black, blue, green).Using a system of double doors, she has made the structure habitable, and in a way that contradicts the fundamental rules of traditional architecture. Here, the corner, the meeting point of two walls, does not delimit a closed space, but becomes instead a movable element and a point of opening and passage. The four double doors constitute
the sole source of light, which orients viewers when they enter the space. The sense of displacement is also
accentuated by the paradoxical nature of the interior-exterior relationship, which takes on an alienating function. In fact, the construction closes off the space, but in its turn is located within the room, while the installation on the terrace is created outdoors, yet still within the building. Here, there are no longer walls, but benches, made from the same stone used for the facing of the Castello and built at the corners of
a virtual rectangle, the outside dimensions of which are identical to those of the structure installed inside the room.
For the open space, Nordman has turned to another archetype of habitability, the bench, which, multiplied into four identical corner elements, refers to the idea of dialogue, and thus to an encounter or meeting, as in the title of the work. The material, rough marble from a quarry located at the confluence of the Dora and Po rivers, in turn evokes the natural landscape from which these elements are taken.
Dalla notte al giorno,da una mano all ’altra (From Night to Day,From One Hand to the Other),1989,is a series of works,each formed by a table on which rests a wooden structure similar to a vertical flat file used for filing
documents. Visitors can view the sheets of paper or marble preserved within, settling into a chair, interacting with the work within a dimension that refers to everyday ’s habitation and living. When exhibited in the light, the extremely thin sheet of marble reveals its transparency and an unexpected lightness. Each sheet of paper, however, bears writing and notes that refer to the relationship between the idea of city, the site upon which it rises, and natural light