On Saturday 4th December 2010 at 6pm at the Palazzina dei Giardini and Palazzo Santa Margherita, in corso Canalgrande, Modena, the Galleria Civica di Modena opens the exhibition entitled Lo spazio del sacro. Organised and co-produced by the Galleria Civica di Modena, together with the Fondazione Cassa di Risparmio di Modena, the group show presents works from both public institutions and private collections in Italy and abroad by some of the artists on the international contemporary arts scene who have reflected most deeply on the theme of the sacred: Adel Abdessemed, Giovanni Anselmo, Kader Attia, Paolo Cavinato, Chen Zhen, Vittorio Corsini, Josep Ginestar, Anish Kapoor, Richard Long, Roberto Paci Dalò, Jaume Plensa and Wael Shawky.
Each work will occupy a given space within the Gallery, on one hand underlining the direct, exclusive and intimate relationship that each of them creates with the spectator, while on the other hand enhancing their potential to interact with the architecture around them. The idea underpinning the whole exhibition may be found in the words of Mircea Eliade and on the fact that the sacred, in contemporary art, “has become unrecognisable; it has been camouflaged as shapes, notions and meanings that are apparently ‘profane’. The sacred element cannot be taken for granted, as it was for example in mediaeval art. It is not immediately or easily recognised because it is no longer expressed through the conventional religious language”. While these are the theoretical premises with regard to contemporary art, the essays by Vito Mancuso, Vincenzo Pace and Vincenzo Vitiello will guide the readers of the catalogue towards a broader understanding of the limits, the meanings and the potential that the word ‘sacred’ maintains intact to this day.
“It is not uncommon – states the curator of the show, Marco Pierini, in the exhibition catalogue – for the artwork to define a space as important, inviolable with its mere presence, and thus sacred in the sense that takes it right back to the etymology of the word: circumscribed, restricted, separate. Be as it may, this distance invariably marks out something extraordinary, exceptional, an out-of-the-ordinary or non-everyday dimension. Yet despite appearances, such a dimension is not detached from life; on the contrary, its force of attraction is all but irresistible, be it based on charm and fascination or on the fear and restlessness of the unknown. Limit and threshold, border and passage, the sacred space is always set out as a relationship – at times exclusive and private, at other times collective and shared – between different worlds, and as an invitation to the beholder to let him/herself be transported, to put him/herself in the hands of the work of art and experience a kind of contemplative estrangement or empathy.”
Lo spazio del sacro also marks the public reopening of the Palazzina dei Giardini, following the second stage of the restoration programme carried out by the Public Works Department of Modena City Council, which has renovated the inside of the building, including the electric wiring and the heating system, now running on geothermal energy. The final stage of the renovation process will concern the repainting of the decorations around the cupola.