In 2003 Pistoletto wrote the manifesto of The Third Paradise [Il Terzo Paradiso] and drew its symbol, a reconfiguration of the mathematical sign for infinity, in the sand. Between the two contiguous circles, taken to signify the two opposite poles of nature and artifice, he inserted a third, central circle to represent the generative womb of a new humanity, an ideal overcoming of the destructive conflict between the two polarities of nature and artifice in society today.
In March 2004 the University of Turin awarded Pistoletto an honorary degree in Political Science. On that occasion Pistoletto publicly announced that the Third Paradise would be the next phase of his work. Since that time the Third Paradise has been the main driving force behind a work that has been conducted by fostering a close-knit network of relationships and collaborations with many different partners: individuals, associations and institutions active not only in the artistic field, but in every sphere of social life, turning it into an overarching collective and participatory work of art of which some of the most significant stages are summarized below.
In 2005 Achille Bonito Oliva organized and curated a special event at the Venice Biennale entitled “Inner Island: Art of Survival – Michelangelo Pistoletto & Cittadellarte present the Third Paradise”.
The year 2007 marked the beginning of the collaboration with the Italian musician Gianna Nannini, culminating in the installation MAMA–Third Paradise, presented between 2007 and 2009 in Milan, Moscow, Minsk and Bari, with the support of RAM–Radioartemobile.
Recycling and environmental sustainability are two recurrent and crucial issues in the development of the Third Paradise. They have been the prime topics in the many workshops organized since 2005 in collaboration with a variety of institutions, in particular the Education Department of the Castello di Rivoli Museum of Contemporary Art. During these workshops and events the symbol of the Third Paradise was realized on different sites and occasions, mainly using recyclable materials like aluminum.
Since 2008 two of Cittadellarte’s offices, the ones whose remits are architecture and fashion, have intensified their activities in relation to the Third Paradise. The former has been given the name N.O.V.A. Civitas (the acronym stands for New Organisms of Residential Life) and its aim is to promote a culture of sustainability in the architectural and environmental realm. The latter, called Cittadellarte Fashion B.E.S.T. (an acronym for Better Ethical Sustainable Think-Tank), is a platform and creative workshop devoted to the development of bioethical sustainability in the textile and fashion industries. Among the events organized it is worth mentioning: the exhibition “Cittadellarte Fashion - Bio Ethical Sustainable Trend” at Biella in 2011; the performance The Third Paradise for the Manifesto of the Sustainability of Italian Fashion in Milan’s Piazza Duomo in 2012, staged on the occasion of the opening of Fashion Week, in which a thousand students of fashion, art and design formed the symbol of the Third Paradise; and the installation of a large symbol of the Third Paradise at the UN’s Palais des Nations in Geneva for the event “Forests for Fashion — Fashion for Forests” in 2014.
Two of Pistoletto’s works are worth mentioning in connection with the theme of recycling. In 2009, in collaboration with Ecodom (the Italian consortium for the salvage and recycling of electrical appliances), Pistoletto created the work I temp(l)i Cambiano [The Times/Temples Are Changing], made out of parts of discarded household appliances: washing machine drums were used as columns and refrigerator coils for the frieze on the tympanum. And in 2012 he produced the work Recycled Italy [Italia riciclata] at the Venice Architecture Biennale, using material discarded during the mounting of the Biennale itself.
In 2010 Pistoletto realized a permanent work of Land Art: the symbol of the Third Paradise formed by 160 olive trees in an accessible area of 3000 sq. m. in the restored Bosco di San Francesco at Assisi, in collaboration with the FAI (Fondo Ambiente Italiano).
The same year Pistoletto’s essay The Third Paradise was published in Italian and English by Marsilio. Later on a French edition was brought out by Actes Sud and a German one by Schlebrügge.
In 2011 the mayor of Bordeaux, Alain Juppé, asked Pistoletto and Cittadellarte to take on the artistic direction of “EVENTO 2011”, to which the artist gave the title “L’art pour une ré-évolution urbaine”. Reviving and developing the operative principle of the Creative Collaboration carried out in Atlanta in 1979, Pistoletto invited artists and experts from various disciplines to explore the relationship between art and citizenship through collective works and collaborative projects centered on “workshops of shared knowledge” held in public spaces where artists of different nationalities worked with associations, schools and local institutions.
On December 21, 2012, the first worldwide Rebirth-Day, a celebration of the Third Paradise, was held simultaneously in a range of locations and countries. The documentation of participation in this event was presented at Pistoletto’s exhibition “Année un – Le paradis sur terre”, held at the Louvre in Paris from April to September 2013.
Since 2012, Rebirth-Day has become an annual celebration, giving rise to a large number of events and forging a close-knit network of relations out of which have sprung the Embassies of the Third Paradise, representing and promoting the Third Paradise in their respective regions.
On December 16, 2014, the Rebirth-Day embassy in Cuba staged an event of great symbolic significance: a number of fishing boats, coordinated by the artist Alexis Leiva Kcho, Laura Salas and Lorenzo Fiaschi, formed the symbol of the Third Paradise on the sea off Havana. The following day the agreement to resume diplomatic relations between Cuba and the United States was officially announced. This momentous coincidence laid the foundations for the staging in Havana, in November 2015, of the “First Rebirth Forum”. Called “Geographies of Transformation”, this was an ambitious workshop of art and politics that saw the involvement of organizations, companies, associations and institutions. The Forum also focused on the 17 Sustainable Development Goals of the UN’s Agenda 2030, to which its 193 member countries had signed up just two months earlier. The Forum in Havana would see further developments over the following years and in November 2016 was accompanied by a retrospective of Pistoletto’s works at the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes in Havana.
The dialogue between art and politics promoted by the Third Paradise also found expression in the installation in 2014 of the symbol of the Third Paradise at the Europa Building, the seat of the European Council in Brussels, on the occasion of Italy assuming the presidency, and in 2015 of Rebirth, a permanent work located in the park of the Palace of Nations in Geneva, composed of 193 stones, one for each member of the United Nations, arranged to form the symbol of the Third Paradise.
In 2015 the permanent seat of the Third Paradise, promoted by the “Biella Committee for the Third Paradise,” was opened at Cittadellarte in Biella.
The years 2015 and 2016 also saw some important occasions at which another of Pistoletto’s works, The Apple Made Whole Again, was presented. “The symbol of the apple made whole again represents the reintegration of opposing elements: nature and artifice. The apple denotes nature; the bite taken out of the apple denotes artifice, as we see it used by a global computer brand, presented as the emblem of a technology that is wholly replacing nature. With The Apple Made Whole Again, artifice takes on the task of stitching the part removed by the bite back on and rejoining humankind to nature, instead of continuing to drive them apart.” (Michelangelo Pistoletto). The first Apple Made Whole Again was created in 2007. It had a surface covered in wool and was put on display for the first time the same year at the GAMeC in La Spezia, on the occasion of the exhibition “Cittadellarte. Pistoletto e Il Terzo Paradiso”.
The Apple Made Whole Again installed in Milan’s Piazza Duomo in May 2015 was covered with grass instead. Subsequently temporarily relocated to a position in front of the headquarters in the Parco Sempione of the FAI (Fondo Ambiente Italiano), the institution involved in the staging of the event, the work was moved permanently in 2016 to Piazza Duca d’Aosta, where it was erected in front of Milan’s Central Station, its surface covered this time in white clay plaster mixed with marble dust. And in the same year an Apple Made Whole Again carved from a block of white Carrara marble was placed in the vaults of the Baths of Caracalla in Rome, complementing another of Pistoletto’s works that was already present on the archaeological site: the symbol of the Third Paradise that had been created in 2012 out of fragments of the ruins on the site of the Baths.
Since 2016 the Venus of the Rags has played a leading role at several of the activities of the Third Paradise, acting as a sort of honorary ambassadress. This now historic work of Pistoletto’s is in fact at the center of a busy program of meetings and collective actions organized by the network of “Embassies of the Third Paradise” in several places in Italy that have been particularly affected by the recent flow of migrants, like Lampedusa and Ventimiglia, as well as in Rome, Bozen and Turin. Through the involvement of various institutions and social groups, in the first place the refugees or migrants themselves and the inhabitants of a number of city suburbs, two groups that are often represented as being in conflict with each other, often to serve political ends, have found through these initiatives a form of dialogue and a creative means of overcoming situations of conflict.
In 2017 the Third Paradise was adopted as the symbol of the “VITA” mission of the European and Italian Space Agencies, during which the photos of the Earth taken by the astronaut Paolo Nespoli were shared through the “SPAC3” app to create a collective planetwide work.
In 2017 Pistoletto’s book “Hominitheism and Demopraxis: Manifesto for a Regeneration of Society” was published. An important theoretical reflection that had already gone through several phases of elaboration between 2012 and 2016, it offers a further development of the aspirations of the Third Paradise in the light of the principle of Trinamics formulated on this occasion. This manifesto constitutes the theoretical reference for the principal activities that Pistoletto, Cittadellarte and the Network of Embassies of the Third Paradise have been carrying out over the course of the last few years.
For further and more up-to-date information on the Third Paradise:
“Trinamics is the dynamics of the number three. It is the combination of two units that gives rise to a third distinct and new unit. In Trinamics three always represents a birth, which occurs by fortuitous or deliberate combination of two subjects. [...] The sign-formula of Trinamics, also used as the symbol of the Third Paradise, consists of three circles in a line. The two outer circles represent all opposites and any kind of duality. In the theorem of Trinamics the middle circle, generated from the conjunction of the two outer circles, represents a third and previously nonexistent subject. Trinamics acts in the natural sphere as well as in the artificial one, including every area and aspect of human society. We find it at work for example in the reaction between oxygen and hydrogen that gives rise to water; in the interaction between masses of warm and cold air, causing thunderstorms; in the connection between positive and negative poles which produces electric power; in the union between male and female that generates a new being; in the dialectic between thesis and antithesis that produces synthesis; in the fusion of the opposing political models of absolutism and anarchy out of which democracy has sprung. In the specific terms of this manifesto Hominitheism and Demopraxy are two different subjects that produce a new social system when joined. Trinamics is the science of relations and balances. But it is before all else the principle of creation.”
(M. Pistoletto, Hominitheism and Demopraxy [New York: Lévy Gorvy, 2020])