Castello Lanza di Trabia
Trabia, Sicily, Italy
I have been working on a series of large-scale metal sculptures that symbolically represent the root systems of various plants. My sculptures are site-specific or site-responsive; at times, I work from the roots themselves, which I dug out of the earth; other times, I photograph, copy, or draw roots as the basis for my work.
When I was commissioned to address the Castello Lanza di Trabia in Sicily, Italy -- its outer walls, tower, and aqueduct, my primary goal was to respect and honor the significance and remnants of this historic castle. Once the site of tax collectors during the Roman Empire, then an Arab fortress from AD 827 -- in the last 800 years, the castle has belonged to the princely Lanza family.
As an American sculptor, I chose to bring the root system of a sweet potato plant to Castello Lanza. Depicting roots on the façade of the castle seemed an appropriate challenge, considering its varied history. I wanted to draw attention to the many architectural details of the space – the crossbow slits used to defend the castle, the bell-tower, and the aqueduct with its unique archways. My work is intended to glorify and highlight these details. By covering this great expanse with a system of thin tendrils of reflective gold, I wanted to produce a work that did not draw attention only to itself. Rather, I wanted to create an installation that allows contemporary time to converse with the past.
About Castello Lanza di Trabia
In Trabia, northern Sicily, situated on the coastal road between Palermo and Cefalù, stands Castello Lanza di Trabia. This architectural marvel has a rich and varied history that begins with General Aausman Ben Muhammad, who first established his fortress there in AD 827. In the 11th century, the castle was donated to Captain Conrad Lanza, whose descendants would keep the property for 900 years. In the 17th century, Ottavio Lanza made extensive changes to the fortress, which had maintained its stronghold as a site for major strategic military decisions. Prince Raimondo Lanza di Trabia (1915-1954), a bon vivant whose successes are something of Sicilian legend, was the last member of the Lanza family to live in the castle, entertaining such renowned figures as his one-time partner Rita Hayworth, and Aristotle Onassis.
The city of Trabia also has the unique distinction of being considered the first home of spaghetti. It is mentioned by name in the earliest written references to pasta in AD 1154, and this important culinary tradition survives there even today – adding to the allure of this scenic coastal town.
Now privately owned, Castello Lanza has undergone major renovations in the past five years and will soon be opened as an exclusive destination.