The opening exhibition of Gallerie delle Prigioni interprets the world art encyclopedia of Imago Mundi as a laboratory of knowledge. In a journey through the numerous narratives found in its Collections, this first show focuses on text and language in the art of the nomadic Tuareg people of the Sahara Desert and four countries they inhabit: Algeria, Libya, Mali and Niger.
With the rise of globalization and advances in technology, diverse issues related to communication are increasingly more complex. Sahara: What is Written Will Remain sheds light on the written and spoken word as a token of memory and identity, exploring its different uses across calligraphy, typography, literature and other media. Going beyond a romantic vision of the desert, exhibiting artists from the Sahara region such as Rachid Koraichi, Nadia Kaabi-Linke, Zoulikha Bouabdellah, Hadia Gana and Zineb Sedira reveal the variety of creative possibilities influenced by language. At the same time, the collective Jürgen Kleft (Austria) and Esmeralda Kosmatopoulos (Greece/France) – both working on notions of nomadic life, collective memory and daily rituals – present interactive, site-specific installations that converse with the architecture of the space and its history.
The exhibition expands across the two floors of Gallerie delle Prigioni. Imago Mundi becomes the starting point for new interpretations and a forum of experimentation. Contemporary art (the selected Imago Mundi Collections together with a series of external works, some already realized and others as special commissions) are juxtaposed with ancient manuscripts, maps, travel documents as well as Tutto è scritto, the new documentary by Marco Pavan situated in Timbuktu. The legendary city of Timbuktu in Mali lies where the southern edge of the Sahara meets the banks of the Niger River. Founded in the 11th century, the city was a global center of trade, scholarship, and manuscripts. Displayed across the art space, the contemporary works highlight how calligraphy and manuscripts are enduring remnants of the Sahara’s rich cultural exchange.
This diverse selection of artworks investigates wider contemporary social, cultural, and political contexts through sculpture, textile, video, installation, photography, and performance. Displayed together, the exhibition becomes a testament to the power and inspiration language has on art from the Sahara region and beyond. Gallerie delle Prigioni will also host events such as film screenings, meetings with artists, workshops and educational programs to accompany the exhibitions.
Sahara: What is Written Will Remain brings new insights into historical, material and ontological qualities of language, and reflects critically on communication in modern society. Throughout the exhibition visitors are called to respond in toto to the artwork, the literary and architectural stimulants, and to face their own personal experiences and boundaries.