The sky in a room – Welcome to Chesterton home
This exhibit wants to propose to visitors much more than an introduction to the life, thought, and works of the most famous British essayists and apologist of the twentieth century: on the footsteps of his Innocent Smith, it wants us to literally sneak into Chesterton’s house, so that the objects, places, and affective experiences that molded his gaze and writings may let us discover what enabled man to remain a man amidst the lies and reduction within and outside his own self.
The leading idea of the exhibit is the very Chestertonian (and very Catholic) concept that the eternal is knowable always and only in what is carnal and earthly and, therefore, inside a frame, a limit associated with the idea of the Man Alive. Consequently, the best way to find one’s own home is to leave through the door, walk straight, go around the world, and to return home. A house lived in all its dimensions can contain the entire world (and the sky).
“Paradise is somewhere and not anywhere, is something and not anything. And I would not be so very much surprised if the house in heaven had a real green lamp-post after all.” (ManAlive)
The path of the exhibit is that of Chesterton’s apartment, moving from one room to the other, each containing a choice of key words of Chesterton’s vocabulary. Each room, each aspect of the human that it evokes, provokes, and welcomes, will also have a series of unexpected eye-catchers, that is, objects and unexpected scenes which, on a closer look, refer precisely to those experiences, projecting them onto a comic background: a public park bench in the bedroom, two crossed swords on the living room floor, or a closet that appears unused and unimportant and yet refers to the Bethlehem grotto. It is precisely the normal aspects of married life that daily renew the promise that makes us believe in romantic love, and every time one welcomes a friend he also welcomes a challenge. Similarly, it is true that from a grotto, one of the darkest and most forgotten parts of the world, two of the greatest revolutions of all times emerged: “The creature called man, and the man called Jesus.” Paradoxically, the contrary will also prove to be true: only the heroic, the great, the ideal will be able to give color, strength, and worth to everyday life.
Chesterton’s words, the events of his life, the characters of his books, and the most important scenes of his novels will be present not only in the panels, photographs, and objects, but will also “happen” in some crucial moments with the help of the tour guides or excerpts from movies or shows.