Matera 2019

Ars Excavandi is the opening exhibition in the programme of Matera European Capital of Culture 2019. This outstanding international event is the first exploration of the art and practices of excavation that have given rise to architectures, civilizations and rupestrian landscapes throughout the centuries. From a contemporary perspective, it proposes a new approach to rupestrian art, from the early use of natural cavities and rock carvings to caves, dwellings, monuments, canals, cities and villages carved out of the rock.

The exhibition covers the time from the Paleolithic era to the present day and also explores the most innovative future trends. The exhibition aims to communicate with the general public through an immersive sensory pathway in specially set-up rock-hewn dwellings. Its primary objective is to spark emotions and raise questions.

Why did someone first dig underground? Initiation, sexuality, ritual:  what is their connection with the underground world? Is the thought and art of caves still valid today? Which was the first temple? Can we work out from rupestrian carvings that in Prehistoric ages skis, wheels and sunglasses had already been invented? Fullness and emptiness, earth and water, darkness and light, silence and sounds: can we learn all this from caves? What is the relationship between a well and a tower? Can we find the symbols, the food and the art of prehistoric ages in contemporary myths, religions, cuisine and realities?  Is there an explanation in the rupestrian world for Nazca rock carvings and the mysterious “key-hole” shaped mounds and monuments of the desert? Since when have we been painting icons and searching for connections? What comes first, underground or surface architecture? Can the shapes of bread and cuckoos reveal to us the origin of the universe? Which is the most ancient city in the world? Where can we find the greatest rupestrian architecture? Was the UNESCO agreement on Cultural Heritage signed for the preservation of a rupestrian site? Can the rupestrian heritage be a model for bio-architecture and the sustainable city of the future? What do you mean by resilient city? Is it possible to re-design Petra and other cities considered archaeological sites based on the experience of Matera?  Which techniques and know –how are required to face life on extreme planets?

The exhibition allows the visitors to find answer to these questions through a journey made of pictures, sensations and analogies. The narration takes place in the crosscutting of powerful exhibition sites such as Ridola Museum, Lanfranchi Hypogea and Piazza Vittorio Veneto Hypogea with a number of selected themes. From this interweaving, emotions and connections will reveal the true meaning of the exhibition.

Entering the pathway through the Ridola museum will be an initiation to the caves, visitors on an immersive journey along a time-space tunnel through an augmented and multisensory reality. Inside the hypogea multimedia panels will present both the city of Matera and the most amazing rupestrian ecosystems on various continents. Along pathways through the exhibition, visitors will see  places both in Matera and in far places and countries.

There are further outlines creating new plots, identified as icons on the web, and showing new itineraries and journeys on the territory, identified with tags/beacons. A visit to the exhibition will be a learning labyrinth, starting in the museum and spreading out across the city and the territory with the aim of covering the whole world with its narrative.

Analogies constant through time will be illustrated through works of art, craftwork, traditions, folklore, music, rituals and cuisine. The linear and chronological framework can be used as a useful learning reference, even if the conceptual paradigm is that all civilizations are current and that all ages are contemporary.

Realized in co-production by Polo museale della Basilicata

Location and Date:

Matera, Ridola Museum, Lanfranchi rock-hewn dwellings and the rock-hewn dwellings of Piazza Vittorio Veneto from 20th January to 31st July 2019

curator Pietro Laureano