Actions: Pistoletto and The Zoo

The Zoo was made up of people from different artistic disciplines (music, literature, theater, visual arts); with them, between 1968 and 1970, Pistoletto carried out a series of theater pieces, conceived as creative collaborations and as a form of communication not mediated by objects. The Zoo performed, in Italy and in Europe, in all kinds of spaces—streets, squares, discotheques, beer halls, theaters and galleries—and collaborated on several occasions with Musica Elettronica Viva, a group formed by musicians from the United States who had settled in Rome.

“The Zoo grew out of a quip made by Carlo Colnaghi: ‘I’m in the same position as a caged lion.’ So-called civilization had relegated every animal to its cage. The less dangerous, more docile and submissive had been placed in large commonfenced-in areas: factories, housing projects, sport stadiums…. Artists were isolated in the Venice Biennali, in theaters, museums, and organized events…. Now we know we are The Zoo. We no longer work for viewers; we ourselves are actors and viewers, makers and consumers. Among those of us who are able to work together there is a direct, clear, perceptive and instantaneous relationship…. When you see, hear and smell a piece we play out together, like that of The Zoo and Musica Elettronica Viva, what you think you understand will be just the skin, the envelope, but you will never know what happened until you become actors and viewers on this side of the bars” (Michelangelo Pistoletto, “Lo Zoo,” in Teatro, no. 1, Milan 1969, 16).

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