A new motorway service station opened a few weeks ago on the A22, or Autostrada del Brennero, otherwise known as the Brennerautobahn (they’re bilingual up there in the South Tyrol). No common-or-garden Autogrill, this one, but a futuristic structure designed by the A22’s technical director Carlo Costa as a museum, signalling a whole new and exciting experimental approach to… rest areas. The Plessi Museum is certainly Italy’s first motorwayside cultural centre, so-called because the works in its permanent collection are those of internationally acclaimed artist Fabrizio Plessi, no less. The centrepiece, in a towering great hall, is the huge installation Plessi conceived for the Hanover 2000 Expo, an artificial mountain landscape representing the three provinces of the historical Tyrol region (Italy’s Trento and Bolzano and Austria’s Innsbruck).
The artist himself, 74 years old this year, designed the fittings and set up the spaces in which his paintings and drawings, video installations and sculptures are exhibited. The glass-walled structure makes the landscape beyond a supporting actor in the narrative which, as in most of Plessi‘s work, revolves around the theme of water. Flowing water and art in constant evolution; the mountains which separated Mediterranean lands from central Europe and the Pass which linked them: symbolism is rife and the Museum, on the site of the old customs post on the Austrian border, is emblematic of a staunch and specific regional identity. With its 13,000 square metres, contemporary architecture, and a congress hall as well as restaurant and service areas, the Plessi Museum also fits into the A22 company’s new concept of the motorway as a development resource and an opportunity for cultural and aesthetic experiences!