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The Door Paris Green

Green, curated by Sergio Risaliti, Manifattura Tabacchi, Firenze.
17 September 2018




“The colour green can never be ecological because of the way that it’s made. It’s impossible to make green plastic or to print with green ink on paper without contaminating” (Alice Rawsthorn, the New York Times 4th April 2010).
“Paris Green” is an inorganic, synthetic pigment that was invented towards the end of the eighteenth century in England, during the Victorian era. Soon after its invention the first deaths of workers producing the wallpaper that contained the toxic element arsenic were recorded. People who bought the wallpaper and covered their walls with it also died mysteriously in their unventilated rooms. Even Napoleon’s residence in Sant’Elena had walls decorated with green wallpaper that contained arsenic, which led to the suspicion that it was the cause of his gradual poisoning. But recent studies have revealed that the real cause of his death was Helicobacter pylori, which resulted in stomach cancer.

Even today, a veil of mystery surrounds objective data and belief systems and our green colour continues, despite everything, to convey the message of sustainability.
© Robert Pettena 2019