Utopia Distopia: il mito del progresso partendo dal Sud
Curated by: Kathryn Weir
9 July 2021 – 21 February 2022
Sun: 10:00 – 20:00 Mon, Wed, Thu, Fri, Sat: 10:00 – 19:30

Conceived in relation to the collection of Madre, Utopia Dystopia: the myth of progress starting from the South intends to investigate, through the works of fifty-five Italian and international artists, the contemporary practices that have responded to the massive social changes of the last half century: urbanization, industrialization, creation of new urban peripheries, emptying of the countryside, struggles related to freedom and restrictions of the body.


The exhibition proposes an analysis of utopian hopes compared with the dystopian experiences of the modern era, with particular attention to Southern Italy, as well as the representation of the substantial failure of the often violent logics that move the ideology of progress - failure also of a system that has become overloaded, of which we experienced the demonstration during the last year of the pandemic. From Mimmo Jodice's sharp observations of urban peripheries, industrial architecture and landscapes in southern Italy between the 1960s and 1970s, to Antonio Biasiucci's photographic tributes to abandoned villages and pastoral life in Campania, to Raffaela Mariniello and Ibrahim Mahama's investigations of the industrial space of Bagnoli with its powerful and toxic beauty. Through six sections - Urban Space, Rural Space, Peripheral Space, Industrial Space, Extraterritorial Space, and Body Space - the potential of artistic intervention to open up transformative spaces within dystopian realities, and to create alternatives, is also explored. Joseph Beuys wrote on the poster for his 1971 Naples exhibition (created based on a photographic work on display here): The revolution is us.


The modern ideology of progress affirms the ability of human beings to reshape their lives and environments with the help of technology and science, creating new infrastructure and providing access to medical services, education, and wage labor. New choices and freedoms were the prospects of marginalized or economically disadvantaged women and individuals. Many of them found themselves isolated in the suburbs, in small households and with precarious, poorly paid and often dangerous work. Opening spaces for exchange and artistic experimentation in the suburbs has been one of the great utopias that have animated various artists in the Neapolitan context since the late sixties. Exemplary was the work of Riccardo Dalisi, who collaborated with the artisans and young people of Rione Traiano. In the same period, Tomaso Binga interpreted, through his works, the dominant media vision of the woman as a sexual object, far from the independence and respect declared by a society that proclaimed itself progressive.A large number of artists sought a way out of an apparent dead end, questioning, from a historical perspective, the established order and commonly accepted norms.


From the period of the unification of Italy, often experienced as the undue imposition of a northern economic and social system, the existence of a devalued and exploited south was reinforced, as Giulio Delvè's work in the exhibition, Viva il Brigantaggio, reminds us. Progress and the economic system of capital growth require constant expansion, cheap labor, new resources. The Bianco-Valente artists work with various communities on the effects in the Mezzogiorno of this system, which has led to the expropriation of land, migration to the north and the big cities, with the consequence of the loss of roots, cultural identity and memory. French sociologist Pierre Bourdieu has defined neoliberalism as "a program of destruction of collective structures capable of obstructing the logic of the pure market" (Le Monde diplomatique, December 1998). In spite of this, the south asserts itself as a territory where these structures and values are preserved and where the extreme beauty and fragility of existence is still collectively celebrated: a territory where another future can be imagined.


Artists: Francesco Arena, Betty Bee, Joseph Beuys, Monica Biancardi, Bianco-Valente, Antonio Biasiucci, Tomaso Binga, Eduardo Castaldo, Tonino Casula, Patty Chang and David Kelley, Danilo Correale, Riccardo Dalisi, Alexandre de Cunha, Giulio Delvè, Maria Adele Del Vecchio, Romina De Novellis, Baldo Diodato, Salvatore Emblema, Bruna Esposito, Cherubino Gambardella, Eugenio Giliberti, Didi Gnocchi, Goldschmied & Chiari, Gruppo XX, John DiLeva Halpern, Rebecca Horn, Michele Iodice, Mimmo Jodice, Kiluanji Kia Henda, Désirée Klain and Matteo Antonelli, Maria Lai, Ibrahim Mahama, Domenico Antonio Mancini, Lina Mangiacapre, Umberto Manzo, Raffaela Mariniello, Margherita Moscardini, Raffaela Naldi Rossano, Temitayo Ogunbiyi, Catherine Opie, Giulio Paolini, Athena Papadopoulos, Perino & Vele, Felice Pignataro, Giulia Piscitelli, Paolo Puddu, Annalisa Ramondino, Justin Randolph Thompson, Francesco Rosi, Mathilde Rosier, Rosy Rox, Melita Rotondo, Roxy in the Box, Franco Silvestro, Eugenio Tibaldi.

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Via Luigi Settembrini 79, 80139, Napoli , Città Metropolitana di Napoli, Italia