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'Dead Nations: Golden Age Version' by Evgeny Antufiev at Chiesa di San Giuseppe delle Scalze, Naples

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What of our history should we put in a Time capsule? What traces are we leaving behind?

The church of San Giuseppe delle Scalze opens its doors to the works by Evgeny Antufiev in its mysterious semi-darkness and its open wounds.

The project is an inventory, a distillation of our identity, a visual narrative of values, frailty, yearning for power and immortality, which have marked our history. … Antufiev leaves traces, a sort of “legacy” from a dead, or soon to end, epoch, which however yearns to speak to posterity, driven by a sort of horror vacui, the fear of disappearing and becoming extinct.

The artist has to engage with a religious architecture; he explores the idea of a church meant not only as a place of worship, but also as the repository of a narrative of the human history, the essence of humanity: replete with signs and secrets to unveil. Space is explored as a Time capsule, a spacecraft bringing travelers from the future to discover artifacts and symbolic objects testifying of what humans have made and left behind. The notion of immortality in memory is not new: here Antiquity and the Futuristic blend together in a sort of game surrounded by mystery.

The entire exhibition is a tale open to multiple interpretations which deconstruct the spatiotemporal dimension where energy develops in a circular process, also thanks to a formal intermingling of pop with a reinterpretation of classical culture.

At the centre of the nave a tent, a temple within the temple houses the Chessboard of Destiny made in ceramic and bronze, and an unfinished mosaic with excavation objects, findings from an ancient civilization. On the outside the tent is marked by graffiti hinting at the relationship between permanence and impermanence.

Hovering in the entrance, a huge gold mask hangs from the gallery: a deceptive image presents itself forcefully, floating in a space with a ripped-open roof. Does it point to the mystery of the future or is it a bitter reflection on the present?

In the exhibition the powerful presence of gold reminds us of its symbolic value and the sacredness of the divine image, but also of the unstoppable human greed for power and wealth, which has often brought about decline and fall of civilizations throughout history, and consumer compulsion in the present time. Large size ceramic vases inscribed with signs and figures linked to the theme/aspiration to immortality are placed in the transept and in some recesses, together with small size casts of imaginary figures inspired by our mythology (or are they biological superfetations we have created?) and hexagonal casts recalling beehives. The hexagon, its meaning resting in the sacred geometry of ancient civilizations, is also the shape of the solar hexagon, the magnetic imprint of the sun, its rhythm giving life to our universe.

The gold colour appears in several works: a wall of the church is used as a theatre drape; small flowers, butterflies, birds are placed in other spaces and recesses of the building, testifying the on-going human tension for a melding with the natural world and its ambivalent complexity.

Warrior angels protect the space from the tabernacle on the altar and in two niches. As in a science fiction story, visitors gaze from the outside our past and present history with eyes of the future.

For the opening a music piece for single voice, composed by the author, will be performed from the pulpit of the church. An explosion of gold confetti, at the end of the performance, will scatter them on the floor of the nave, where they will remain: fragments of a party enjoyed in the luxury of declining nations.

— Marina Dacci

21.9.19 — 25.10.19

Curated by Marina Dacci

Chiesa di San Giuseppe delle Scalze

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