curated by Eduardo Cicelyn e Mario Codognato
14.12.02 | 08.01.02
After the installations in Turin for the fourth edition of Luci d’artista (Blue Spirits, 2000) and New York (Book-mirror, 2001), Rebecca Horn [Michelstadt, Odenwald 1944] lands in Naples to try her hand at the monumental space of Piazza del Plebiscito. Mostly known for the body extensions of her early performances in the 1960s, in the following decades the German artist dedicates herself to the construction of kinetic sculptures and big installations in places of particular historical or political relevance. Her unique ability to interpret the character of a place or of a people produces Spirits of mother-of-pearl, that turns Piazza del Plebiscito into a field of magnetic energy between heaven and earth, body and soul, life and death. Using formal elements that have their roots in the cult of the dead, with its religious and superstitious significance typical of the Neapolitan tradition, and in a vernacular mysticism in which past and present are closely related, Horn gives a visible and spectacular shape to the complex dialogue between two parallel worlds: a secret and underground one, and a worldly one. She puts 333 cast iron skulls on the pavement of the square, surmounted by 77 neon light aureoles hanging in the air, as a sign of redemption from death but also of reconciliation with it. The idea of life not being concluded with death but becoming part of eternity lies at the basis of this work, in which the physical vitality of those who were once men is turned into light and energy, to take part in the life of the universe. The work is inspired by the magical and mysterious atmosphere that lies over the so-called "capuzzelle", the skulls of nameless dead housed in the Fontanelle cemetery in Naples. According to an ancient belief of pagan origins they are souls of Purgatory looking for someone to adopt them and take the burden of praying for them, thus facilitating their ascent to Heaven and receiving in return favours, benefits and revelations through dreams, as it is explained by Marino Niola and Antonio Emanuele Piedimonte in two books soon to be released: Il purgatorio a Napoli (Meltemi, Rome 2003) and Il Cimitero delle fontanelle. Il culto delle anime del purgatorio e il sottosuolo di Napoli (Electa Napoli 2003).