“Noble Explosion” installation by Robert Pettena in the SACI Gallery – artist reception May 30 at 6pm

Robert Pettena: Nobel Explosion

Robert Pettena: Nobel Explosion

ROBERT PETTENA: Noble Explosion

April 21 – June 25, 2016

Artist Reception: Monday, May 30 at 6pm

The SACI Gallery presents photographs and objects from Noble Explosion by Florence-based installation artist Robert Pettena

The first free market arms industries were run by individual men, like Alfred Nobel, who made their fortunes setting up networks of companies to produce arms and explosives, all over Europe. This completely changed the way wars were fought and big civil engineering projects were approached.

These early companies transformed state-run armaments industries into corporate/state, public-private partnerships. Armaments suddenly became products, for sale to the highest bidder, on the free market. Market forces began to govern warfare and have continued to do so ever since.

Interno del Ex Società Generale Esplosivi e Munizioni (Photo: Robert Pettena)

Interno del Ex Società Generale Esplosivi e Munizioni (Photo: Robert Pettena)

Borders between countries and political systems have changed since the time of Nobel, but armaments corporations have continued to produce arms, merging with other corporations, taking over and being taken over, continually growing larger and stronger. The Nobel corporate empire is a typical example, conquering more and more territory during the beginning of the 1900s, consuming small and middle-sized industries on the way. It was only after the Second World War that it began to be taken over by even bigger corporations.

In Italy the Nobel Corporation was forced to shut down its arms industries, one by one, as the result of an Italian law, which was designed to prevent the spread and development of heavy arms. This left the field open for other countries, like Germany, to increase the range of their corporate power, taking over the Nobel companies and transforming them into a diverse range of industries to fulfill the needs of the new global market.


Driving along the west coast of Tuscany, as night began to fall, he came across some old fortifications. Slowing down to take a better look, he realized that he was looking at large buildings completely covered in brambles. These, it turned out, were the old dynamite factory, built by SIPE Nobel (Societa´Italiana Prodotti Esplosivi) the Italian explosives company set up in 1891.

Further research revealed that it was Alfred Nobel, founder of the Nobel prize, who created the SIPE Nobel company in order to produce dynamite in Italy.

This exhibition is structured in five parts, like a journey, from La Spezia to Argentario, as Robert Pettena gradually reveals his sensational discoveries.

Find out more at: www.noble-explosion.com

Robert Pettena - Noble Explosion catalogBorn in Penbury (UK) in 1970, Robert Pettena spent a large part of his youth and adolescence between Brixton (London) and San Giovenale (Reggello). In 1990 he moved to Florence, where he attended the Accademia di Belle Arti. He embarked on his artistic career by experimenting with video-art, though his research led him from 2000 on to focus on the relationship between the video image and spatial environment. His output now ranges from photography, to performance art and to site-specific projects, one of his most recent creations being the Jungle Junction for the Kunsthalle in Athens.

He has taken part in numerous collective exhibitions both in Italy and abroad, including: Watou Poëziezomer 2001 Een lege plek om te blijven, curated by Pier Luigi Tazzi and Ann Demeester, Watou (Belgium) 2001; Palazzo delle Libertà, curated by Lorenzo Fusi and Marco Pierini, Palazzo delle Papesse, Siena, 2003; Fuori uso, curated by Luca Beatrice, Pescara 2004; The Food Show: The Hungry Eye, curated by Robert G. Edelman and Gina Fiore, Chelsea Art Museum, New York (USA) 2006; Pan Screening,Art Radio Live, WPS1.ORG Broadcasts, Giardini della Biennale, Venice 2007 and Rites de Passage, curated by Pier Luigi Tazzi, Schunck, Glaspaleis, Heerlen, Netherlands 2009.

SACI logo

SACI Gallery
Palazzo dei Cartelloni
Via Sant’Antonino 11, Florence – ITALY
T 055 289 948

Open: Monday – Friday, 9am – 7pm
Saturday & Sunday 1pm-7pm
Admission is free.


About SACI

SACI is a US non-profit College of Art and Design in Florence, Italy, for undergraduate and graduate students seeking accredited instruction in studio art, design, conservation, art history, and Italian language and culture. Founded in 1975, SACI offers the following programs: Academic Semester/Year Abroad, Summer Studies, Venice Summer Program, Post-Bac in Conservation, MFA in Studio Art, MA in Art History.

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