Monumenti, the site-specific work, is an art exhibition of the Made in Cloister Foundation, which opened to the public on 8 December. And it will stay open for public until March 21st inside the small cloister of the Church of Santa Caterina in Formiello, the headquarters of the Foundation. The founders of the foundation- Rosa Alba Impronta and Davide De Blasio have been grafting art, culture and social fabric for years to give new life to the entire district of Porta Capuana.
Curated by Demetrio Paparoni, the Monumenti consists of 23 monumental structures about 2 meters high like large ceramic pedestals, hand-painted by the master decorators of Ceramica di Vietri Francesco De Maio on which are sculptures of migrants who have travelled all over the world and come to Naples where they now live and work. The twenty-three subjects are immigrants who live and work in the multi-ethnic village of Porta Capuana, perfectly integrated into the community. Liu Jianhua met them during two stays in the city.
At the centre of the cloister is a paper-mâché sculpture depicting a mother and a child — life-size statues depicting authentic people all made by the artisan Carlo Nappi, an expert in traditional paper-mâché processing that unites the earth from Campania to China.
The theme of the work is the migration that is addressed by the Chinese artist Liu Jianhua calling in support of three ancient artisan techniques of the Campania tradition: the Capodimonte porcelain, the Nola paper-mâché and the Vietri ceramics.
The bases of the monument are in monochrome ceramic covered with 13x13cm majolica. Each facade has a different colour for a total of 92 shades: orange, light blue, blue, yellow, grey, lilac, black, red, green, purple and so on.
Columns like majestic ancient mosaics are widely used in Naples in the 18th century to embellish the old churches and private homes of the nobles and then declined by the artist to authoritative decorative elements as a symbol of nobility in support of an indigent social class.
All around the installation, 2,000 white porcelain flowers of Capodimonte, whose delicacy evokes the fragility of the lives of migrants, created by the artist in the workshop of the artisan Pasquale De Palma and then produced by the students and the master potters of the Rare Institute of Ceramics and Porcelain Porelli- De Sanctis, continuators of the handicraft tradition of the Real Porcelain Factory in Capodimonte.
Monumenti is the result of a meeting and a relationship - just as happens to the communities as a result of the migration - between the artist and the famous and multi-ethnic district of Porta Capuana. During his stay in Naples in January 2018, Liu Jianhua met the migrants who have been living for years and culturally hybridize this territory, and with the local ceramic and paper-mâché artisans.
Hence, this exhibition is itself a contamination, just like the theme assigned to it: real bodies and bodies realized in papier-mache, video and performance, social and private themes, oriental and local culture intertwine, generating an invasion of lives and memories that cross the entire exhibition space.
Liu Jianhua raises his Monumenti a complex work that speaks decisively to the present, in which knowledgeable and artisan traditions unite worlds and cultures, just like the migrants, who are the protagonists. A look that is both political and intimate, which reminds us of the priorities and reverses the hierarchies.