Il mondo magico (The magical world), presents the work of three Italian artists—Giorgio Andreotta Calò, Roberto Cuoghi, and Adelita Husni-Bey—whose practices suggest a new faith in the transformative power of the imagination, and an interest in magic. With references to magic, fancy, and fable, these artists see art as 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. De Martino (1908-65), developed seminal theories about the anthropological function 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. Il mondo magico, written during the Second World War and published in 1948, ushered in a series of reflections on a body of beliefs, rituals, and myths that would continue to hold the Neapolitan anthropologist’s attention in the decades that followed, from his “Southern” trilogy (Sud e Magia, Morte e pianto rituale, and La terra del rimorso) up to his last writings, posthumously collected in La fine del mondo.
Like the rituals described by de Martino, the works of Andreotta Calò, Cuoghi, and Husni-Bey stage situations of crisis that are resolved through processes of aesthetic and ecstatic transfiguration. 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.