04 feb. 2021 — 30 jun. 2021 Extended until 20 sept. 2021
The audiovisual installation in this exhibition is a project by Irene Alison and Lorenzo Castore, music and sound design by Emanuele de Raymondi, realized in Naples in 2013 (10 minutes).
“Sogno #5 investigates bipolarity, a mental disfunction typical of our contemporary society. I decide to represent such issue asking bipolar patients to go back and perform – improvising a physical script on the grounds of an emotional rewriting of August Strindberg’s The dream – into the spaces in the past devoted to internment and psychic therapy and today abandoned to negligence and attacked by the force of nature. Like in a game of mirrors, mental disorder and the collapse of the public space reflect in each other.
Almost thirty years after its official closure, the Leonardo Bianchi Psychiatric Hospital remains perched with its immense mass right in the heart of the city of Naples. 220.000 square meters of pavilions, corridors and rooms that from 1897 to 2000, when the last patient was dismissed, have turned into the locus of stories relating to largest mental hospital in the South of Italy. Today the Hospital, totally unused, stands as a huge repository of past remembrances, closed to the public and unknown to the inhabitants of the city”. (L.C.)
There is a ghost town within the city of Naples. Almost thirty years after its official 1983 closure, the ‘Leonardo Bianchi’ Psychiatric Hospital remains perched with its immense mass on the hill of Capodichino, right in the hearth of the city.
220.000 square meters of pavilions, long corridors, dispensaries and rooms – that from 1897 to 2000, when the last patient was dismissed, and six years after the final implementation of the 1978 law establishing that mental hospitals were to be shut down throughout Italy – have turned into the locus of stories relating to largest mental hospital in the South the country. Today, the scraped walls and rusty gates, the unruly and wild nature of the gardens, the dusty silence of the closed rooms, keep their memories as an iron-clad secret. Unused, the ‘Leonardo Bianchi’ Hospital stands as a huge repository of past remembrances, unfortunately closed to the public and totally unknown to the inhabitants of the city.
The ‘Bianchi’ is a maze. It’s a mystery. A vertigo between past and present. It is an occult kingdom, where the sun, unhindered by screens, comes in to flood the voids and draw sharp boundaries between light and shadow. From the fascination for this place and for its complex story our strong desire to reinterpret it artistically was born. But how to bring back to life these empty spaces? How to find a non-linear correspondence between the immanence of the present and the evocation of the past? How to make the walls talk?
Our answer passed through the creative re-occupation of the asylum and through its reinterpretation by an acting group composed of psychiatric patients who have put into it their experiences and their ability to represent them.
The actors improvised a physical script on the grounds of an emotional rewriting of August Strindberg’s Ett drömspel, “A dream play”: the lines of the text helped us emphasize tensions and memories and create new interactions with the space, telling it with a gesture, with their presence, with the dialectics that was established between their bodies.
Lorenzo Castore’s photographs, which expressionistically documented the theatrical action, created a new territory, where renegotiate the boundary between real and surreal, between bodies and spaces, translating states of mind and emotions into lights, shapes, colours, thus building a story about love and discovery, about research and about memory.
The composer Emanuele De Raymondi recorded the sounds of the actions: breaths, laughter, shouts, steps, and whispers. It is an arrangement that works as the vision’s connective tissue, thus enriching the reading of the project. The project’s texts trace back to such a meta-documentary approach, too. In Strindberg’s A Dream Play, a gallery of archetypes are met in the rooms of the same castle; they symbolically represent the complexity of the human condition. Along the lines of Strindberg’s play, and in a similar way, we have decided to meet and listen those who witnessed the life within the walls of the Bianchi institute. Their stories are the outcome of Irene Alison’s interviews to the doctors, nurses, patients, and nuns, the protagonists of the theatre of the hospital.