Three children’s tales for a book that was never published
For the exhibition on Patrizia Vicinelli on view until 27 February 2022 in the ARRHYTHMICS section, MACRO presents three children’s tales by the artist.
The first to be published here is titled The Skyscraper-Tree and describes the life of the inhabitants of a big, age-old tree inside an urban park. On their own individual floors, from the deep roots to the very top, the animals “live together in a civilized and polite way, without bothering each other but respecting each other”. Together, the mouse, hedgehog, ants, millipedes, bees and many other species create a harmonious ecosystem full of energy.
Here you can read the tale.
Thanks to Archivio Patrizia Vicinelli for permission to use these materials.
1 – If you enter that park; that even our grandparents know, it is old, and you start walking, enjoying the fresh air, at a certain point you will meet a tree: which is so big, so majestic, full of leaves and branches, and so high, that it feels like standing in front of a skyscraper. In fact, it is the thousand children who have seen it and still go to see it, who call it the skyscraper-tree. This tree, as you may have already understood, is rather special: it is inhabited from under its roots up to the very highest branch. By whom? By many, many animals, insects, and birds, who have built their own little houses inside the trunk and on the branches, one on top of the other. These animals, contrary to what sometimes happens among humans, live together in a civilized and polite way, without bothering each other but respecting each other.
2 – At the foot of the skyscraper-tree passes the little train: it is the subway that transports people from one point to another in the city. The mole, who has a real passion for holes and spends all his time digging, is the first you will meet: like real workers, the moles are intent on digging a new tunnel.
3 – At the foot of the tree, just under the first layer of earth, there are the big roots. Among these, empty spaces are created, large holes where you can live comfortably: it isn’t too cold or too hot, during each season you are well sheltered. The smart mouse has chosen this place to live for himself and his family: and do you know how they spend their time? They prepare cheese pies after having chosen top quality pieces from amongst all their friends.
4 – If you look closely, next to the country mouse, you will find another glutton: the hedgehog, who defends himself with his long quills from intruders. He has chosen to live in the cool of a cellar, it will be difficult to disturb him there! He too is secretly preparing an insect jam: his provisions for the winter!
5 – Even the fox has found shelter inside the large hospitable tree: but he has chosen a much more refined place. The flying buttress of the skyscraper-tree base. He is still working on furnishing his lovely apartment, a pied-à-terre, full of objects of good taste.
6 – The neighbor, very discreet: the ants have their base. They come and go – as usual – on the bark-roads above the roots, looking for food. They live above the subway, but you could swear they know the whole tree, up to the highest branch.
7 – What’s going on? You can hear music echoing everywhere! The sounds come from the mezzanine: incredible! It’s the millipedes, who all together, with all their thousand paws, are practicing tap dancing! And who knows when they will stop!
8 – A sweet smell comes out from this point, on the main floor, that is, the first floor. It is impossible to understand almost anything of what is happening, the work that the bees are doing is so hectic: What do they do? Looking closer, you can see the Queen Bee – if I’m not mistaken she also has a crown on her head – and all the bees are around her, they wash her, dress her, feed her.
9 – Upstairs, always a little nervous and also rather shy, lives the lizard, she has chosen a quiet place on the second floor, in the sun almost all day: in fact, the lizard is enjoying the sun, hoping to get a tan while lying on the balcony.
10 – The cicada is on the third floor, where she can enjoy a beautiful view. Since she is a famous singer, right now she is listening to a recording of one of her concerts: she has put headphones on her ears to hear better and not be disturbed.
11 – We climb even higher in the skyscraper-tree. There is a soft cooing, certainly they are saying sweet nothings, the two newly married lapwings: they’ve only just moved into this comfortable nest on the fourth floor, and have recently had their first child, a small all white lapwing who they are lovingly caring for.
11 – On the fifth floor terrace there is a sparrow nursery. They are there to do exercises—they have to learn to fly. So, the instructor teaches the little ones how to raise their wings; how to move them left and right, the swoop and the slide, so that they can soar on their own in the great spaces of the sky.
12 – The swimming pool, for whatever reason, they put it way up high: here we are on the sixth floor, and there is a kind of hollow in a large branch of the tree: when it rains it fills with water, and here is the swimming pool. There are the hamsters, three almost identical brothers, who jump into the pool letting themselves slip from a twig which replaces the slide. And they splash each other!
13 – Four very serious looking woodpeckers are trying to make music with their beaks. They experiment with percussion music. Even if they are so high up – they live on the seventh floor – their music resonates so loud that you can hear it all around, from as far as a kilometer away.
14 – The higher you go in the skyscraper-tree, the more birds you meet. On the eighth floor there is a painting school. Canaries, robins, and budgies are very busy: they refresh the highlights of each other’s feathers, which are very colorful.
15 – Finally, who lives above all others? At the highest point of the skyscraper-tree is the owl, always waiting for the night. Every now and then he opens a sleepy eye to see what’s going on around him. Then he closes them again, waiting for the dark.
Translated by Allison Grimaldi Donahue
Some elements of the text have been modernized in translation to fit in our contemporary context, particularly the language surrounding race. While Vicinelli’s text does not use offensive language it does use dated terminology—this translation attempts to utilize the language Vicinelli herself might have used if writing today.