The celebrated artist Massimo Grimaldi is a staunch supporter of EMERGENCY and continually returns to EMERGENCY’s hospitals to capture beautiful and illustrative images of the persons being treated at EMERGENCY’s facilities and the environment in which they live.
From Massimo’s artist statement:
“My work explores the nature of what we call ʻartʼ, the way that it is perceived, judged, and understood. It is an ongoing investigation of the criteria used to produce and circulate images, the power and limitations of aesthetic speculation, the possibility of redefining it in an ethical way.
My desire to rethink the basic utility of my role as an artist, in an art system that is so often self-absorbed and vacuous, has led me to collaborate with EMERGENCY, an independent, neutral NGO that was founded in Italy in 1994 to offer free, high-quality medical and surgical assistance to the civilian victims of wars, landmines, and poverty…”
Massimo’s first interaction with EMERGENCY dates back to 2003 with his work Igor Pesce’s Life In Afghanistan Photos Shown On Apple 23-inch Cinema HD Display.That was the first of a series of works to be displayed on an Apple computer. Massimo explained in an interview with Luca Cerizza for Kaleidoscope that he aimed to juxtapose the “impersonal plane of the industrial object and the emotional plane of the images shown by means of that object.”
Not only does Massimo create awareness about EMERGENCY and the civilian victims they treat by displaying photographs of patients and EMERGENCY hospitals in his art installations, he has also won and donated prize money four times to EMERGENCY. In fact, his biggest prize winning from the MAXXI in Rome resulted in the construction of an entire pediatric facility in Port Sudan.
In Italy there is a 2% law that states when public agencies construct new buildings, they have to set aside no less than 2% of the total budget for the production of artwork. In 2009, the MAXXI’s 2% award of 700,000 euros went to Massimo Grimaldi and 92% of that sum (after taxes) went toward the construction of the Port Sudan Pediatric Center.
Massimo said of himself and his art in his interview for Kaleidoscope, “I consider myself a hyperformalist, always ready to pursue the most extreme and artificial abstraction. But at the same time I have often thought what I was doing was sterile, so I wanted to find a way to make myself “useful,” in the simplest sense of the term. An attempt to make ethics a new frontier of my aesthetics.”
On Massimo’s last visit to an EMERGENCY facility, he visited the Pediatric Center in Port Sudan and was able to see first hand the end product of his MAXXI prize winnings. While there, he initiated two wonderful events for the benefit of not only the children being treated, but also the children in the surrounding area. Fully supporting EMERGENCY’s goal to interact with and relate to the local community. He brought about the 1st annual “EMERGENCY Cup,” a bracketed soccer tournament and “Drawing Day” for the local kids in Port Sudan.
The soccer tournament consisted of 4 of teams with about 11 kids and one coach per team. Ultimately, the championship game was held between team Almoug and team Alakhiwa with team Almoug crowned the victors. At the end of the tournament, all participants were given educational kits.
Drawing Day enabled local Port Sudan children living around the hospital to enjoy some carefree time drawing delightful images of fish, animals, and trees just to name a few.
Massimo is an example of the spectrum of ways that a person can support EMERGENCY. Through his art he has literally helped to build a hospital and through his own resourcefulness he has organized impromptu activities that entertain and cheer the children being treated.