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Venice Biennale of Art 2017 | Italian Pavilion: Il Mondo Magico (The Magic World)

Place: Venezia, Country: Italy

 Venice Biennale of Art 2017 | Italian Pavilion: Il Mondo Magico (The Magic World)

Curated by Cecilia Alemani, Il Mondo Magico (The Magic World), the exhibition in the Italian Pavilion at the 57th Venice Biennale of Art, is composed of three spaces which accommodate a sequence of three installations created by Roberto Cuoghi, Adelita Husni-Bey, and Giorgio Andreotta Calò.

All three artists share a vision in which imagination is a tool to see beyond visible phenomena and experience the world “in all its richness and multiplicity”, as the curator says.
The title of the exhibition, Il Mondo Magico, is borrowed from that of the best-known book by anthropologist Ernesto de Martino, published in 1948, which described magic rituals as the tools through which individuals tried to find their own identity in uncertain historical and social contexts.


Imitazione di Cristo (The Imitation of Christ) by Roberto Cuoghi, the first of the three installation presented in the pavilion, investigates the transformation of matter and the fluid concept of identity though a research on the historical depiction of Christ in Italian art.
The entrance space of the Italian pavilion has been transformed into a sort of workshop, a factory which produced devotional statues inspired by the De Imitatione Christi, a medieval text describing the path to achieve a state of ascetic perfection.
The statues of Christ manufactured in the workshop are then moved to an array of tables positioned inside a long tunnel made in transparent plastic, thus creating a sequence of “bodies” in progressing conditions of deterioration and crumbling of the matter.
The statues, almost decomposed, are subsequently “dried” in an oven to stop their decay.
Finally, the remains of the figures, distorted and broken to pieces, are re-composed and arranged on a long, dark wall at end of the gallery.

Roberto Cuoghi Padiglione Italia Biennale Venezia Arte 2017 Inexhibit 05

Roberto Cuoghi, The Imitation of Christ, one of the statues of Christ after the initial manufacturing process; photo © Inexhibit, 2017

Roberto Cuoghi Padiglione Italia Biennale Venezia Arte 2017 Inexhibit 07

Roberto Cuoghi Padiglione Italia Biennale Venezia Arte 2017 Inexhibit 08

Roberto Cuoghi, The Imitation of Christ, the plastic tunnel and some of the figures inside it during the deterioration process; photos © Inexhibit, 2017

Roberto Cuoghi Padiglione Italia Biennale Venezia Arte 2017 Inexhibit 11

Roberto Cuoghi Padiglione Italia Biennale Venezia Arte 2017 Inexhibit 12

Roberto Cuoghi Padiglione Italia Biennale Venezia Arte 2017 Inexhibit 14

Roberto Cuoghi, The Imitation of Christ, the figures of Christ are finally dried and their fragments recomposed on a dark wall; photos © Inexhibit, 2017


In The Reading, the installation of  Adelita Husni-Bey, a video documents a workshop aimed to explore the relationship between people and earth, with a particular focus on elements such as exploitation value and vulnerability.
The artist – who frequently investigates issues connected to race, gender and social class also by the means of innovative pedagogic theories – used tarot as sort of magical means to communicate with the young people participating to the workshop. The tarot were designed by Husni-Bei during the protest of the North Dakota Native American groups against the construction of an oil pipeline on their land.

The Reading Adelita Husni-Bey Padiglione Italia Biennale Venezia Arte 2017 Inexhibit 03

Adelita Husni-Bey, The Reading; photo © Inexhibit, 2017


Senza Titolo – la fine del mondo (Untitled- the end of the world) by Giorgio Andreotta Calò is a large-scale installation conceived in relationship to the architecture of the pavilion.
The work is composed of two parts.
In the lower part the visitor has to walk through a sequence of scaffolding which divides the hall into five aisles in order to reach the stair leading to the upper part of the installation. Here, the view is powerful and staggering: the timber truss ceiling of the pavilion is mirrored by a thin layer of dark stillwater which covers the platform supported by the scaffolding, with a deeply disorienting effect.

Darkness is the common element of all the three works, as well as a key functional component for their fruition; it emphasizes the dramatic appearance of the bodies in Cuoghi’s installation, it is required in order to watch the film by Husni-Bey, and it is a fundamental constituent of the dreamlike illusory feat of Andreotta Calò.

Giorgio Andreotta Calò Padiglione Italia Biennale Venezia Arte 2017 Inexhibit 01

Giorgio Andreotta Calò, Senza titolo (la fine del mondo);  photo © Inexhibit, 2017



Venice Art Biennale 2017 – info, program, exhibitions, and events

Venice Art Biennale 2017 – info, program, exhibitions, and events

Venice Art Biennale 2017 – info, program, exhibitions, and events


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