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Biennale Arte 2017


Italian Pavilion

The Italian Pavilion at the Tese delle Vergini in the Arsenale, sponsored and promoted by the Ministero dei Beni e delle Attività Culturali e del Turismo, Direzione Generale Arte e Architettura Contemporanee e Periferie Urbane, this year will be curated by Cecilia Alemani.

A return to the imaginary and the fantastic

The project of Padiglione Italia at 57th International Art Exhibition in Venice fully embodies the theme proposed by this year’s curator, Christine Macel, who has defined Viva Arte Viva as a Biennale with artists, of artists, and for artists. By drawing attention to them and to their creative quests, the exhibition Il mondo magico [The magical world] offers the possibility for a novel and intriguing interpreta- tion of reality.

The brainchild of pavilion curator Cecilia Alemani, the title is a direct reference to the book of the same name by Ernesto de Martino, published by Einaudi in 1948. And just as his Il mondo magico proposes a return to the imaginary and the fantastic as a means for experiencing the richness and multiplicity of the world, the artists chosen by the curator—Giorgio Andreotta Calò, Roberto Cuoghi, and Adelita Husni-Bey—pursue their adventures in the sphere of magic and imagination, each producing profoundly distinct creative results, in terms of both content and form.

Championed by Culture Minister Dario Franceschini, the project is certainly ambitious, multifarious, and innovative. According to guidelines issued by the Directorate General for Contemporary Art and Architecture and Urban Peripheries, the number of artists was kept to three and they were given a year to develop their projects. This laid the groundwork for organizing Italy’s presence at La Biennale and establishing timelines and methods that would allow all involved to be most effective in their respec- tive roles. The outcome can only be a reaffirmation of Italy’s contemporary identity at the Venice Biennale, an event that has always represented a vital occasion for sharing and exchange within a global culture.

Andreotta Calò, Cuoghi, and Husni-Bey have thus been provided everything they need to produce ambitious, complex works, negotiating the compelling and fascinating space of the Tese delle Vergini, which poses infinite chal- lenges and possibilities for venue design.

Lastly, a rich and variegated program of side events has been developed, featuring in particular workshops geared to students at Italian fine arts academies. Through direct contact with the artists and professionals who created Padiglione Italia, they will gain invaluable awareness of the complexity and variety of professions associated with the contemporary arts, their future field of action.

Federica Galloni

Il mondo magico according to Cecilia Alemani

The exhibition for Padiglione Italia at the 57th International Art Exhibition, titled Il mondo magico [The magical world], presents ambitious new projects by Giorgio Andreotta Calò, Roberto Cuoghi, and Adelita Husni-Bey. These artists—all born in Italy between the seventies and eighties—emerged on the scene in the first decade of the new millennium and, despite many stylistic differences, share a fascination with the transformative power of the imagination and an interest in magic.

In their works, Andreotta Calò, Cuoghi, and Husni-Bey construct parallel universes that teem with references to magic, fancy, and fable, creating complex personal cosmolo- gies. They see themselves not just as producers of artworks, but as active interpreters and creators of the world, which they reinvent through magic and the imagination. For the invited artists, magic is not an escape into the depths of irrationality but rather a new way of experiencing reality: it is a tool for inhabiting the world in all its richness and multiplicity.

The title of the exhibition is borrowed from Ernesto de Martino’s book Il mondo magico; this Neapolitan scholar developed seminal theories about the anthropological func- tion of magic, which he studied for decades, describing its rituals as devices through which individuals try to regain control in times of uncertainty and reassert their presence in the world.

Within the landscape of contemporary Italian art, Andreotta Calò, Cuoghi, and Husni-Bey use magic as a cognitive instrument for reconstructing and reinventing reality, sometimes through fantasy and play, sometimes through poetry and imagination. This approach allows them to create complex aesthetic universes that eschew the documentary-style narrative found in much recent art, relying instead on an alternative form of storytelling woven from myths, rituals, beliefs, and fairy tales.

Like the rituals described by Ernesto de Martino, the works of the three artists stage situations of crisis that are resolved through processes of aesthetic and ecstatic trans- figuration. If one looks closely, these works offer up the image of a country—both real and fanciful—where ancient traditions coexist with new global languages and vernaculars, and where reality and imagination melt together into a new magical world.

Cecilia Alemani

Biennale Arte
Biennale Arte