Francesco Cavaliere and Leonardo Pivi
30 mila Anubis Serpent Swan
until May 10th, 2019
Monday – Friday, 10 am – 6 pm
30 mila Anubis Serpent Swan is the mosaic manifestation of an episode from the performance Il Cavaliere Leonardo, a reading of the gaps and missing imagery of the Mosaico di Anubi (the archaeological artefact that was on loan to Gluck50 until 28 March 2019).
This new mosaic, almost identical to the Roman fragment, presents a new figure whose head emerges from the body of a sphinx, a sort of cross between a serpent and a swan. The metamorphosis is triggered by the throwing of tiles and stones by Pyrrha and Deucalion.
At the opening of the exhibition Anubis vs Baboon, Cavaliere and Pivi bring to life a mysterious character, a stone storyteller, a terracotta warrior whose voice reverberates from inside an amphora, recounting the possible hidden connections in the lacunae of the Roman fragment.
Among the interwoven plots, the two survivors of one of the great floods of Greek mythology, Deucalion and Pyrrha, throw their stones in an attempt to fill the gaps and missing figures of the ancient mosaic. Each stone and tile corresponds to a metamorphosis. As such, the narrator, as if imprisoned inside Pandora’s vase, generates a series of overlapping demonic figures that fill the gaps of the Roman mosaic.
Anubis vs Baboon
In 1948, an ancient mosaic was discovered in Rimini, beneath the pavement of a restaurant at via Fratelli Bandiera 16. This exotic and esoteric mosaic had formerly belonged to a bourgeois home in the Roman Empire around the 2nd century A.D. It depicts a scene that has long defied iconographic interpretation: amidst a desert landscape punctuated by plants, a jackal-headed shepherd gazes over a flock of wild and fabulous animals, including a sphinx, a giraffe, and what appears to be a large genet.
Scholars have long disputed the identity of the central figure, who has most commonly been seen as a version of the Egyptian god Anubis (but also, exceptionally, as a baboon). If these conjectures are true, however, the god has been divested of all of those traditional iconographic attributes that identify him as a god. It is as though, for almost two millennia the divine psychopomp has been shepherding his strange flock, incognito, through time and space.
Just as a mosaic is composed of tiles, one could just as well say that this image is composed of enigmas. Aside from its uncommon protagonist, the creatures surrounding the shepherd are anything but typical herding animals. The giraffe and adjacent birds, the sphynx, genet and fox (not to mention the unidentified quadruped to the bottom left) seem to amble collectively westward, while the dog-headed guardian stands still and watches passively over them.
His posture, meanwhile, suggests something both more and less than shepherding, and some may see in his upraised ears and focused gaze the contemplative mien of a guide to the kingdom of the dead. But how did Anubis – the ancient Egyptian patron of mummification and the protector of graves – wind up in a province of the Roman empire in the 2nd century A.D. in the first place? As the god of the afterlife, he himself led multiple afterlives in the ancient Mediterranean. In some cases he survived through merging with his Hellenic double, Hermes. A statue of a so-called “Hermanubis” in the Vatican Museums, for example, depicts the syncretic deity wearing the customary tunic of the Greek shepherd, with Anubis’ crescent moon atop his head and wielding Hermes’ signature caduceus.
The figure in the Rimini mosaic, on the other hand, bears no such telltale props; only his canine physiognomy distinguishes him at all from an ordinary bucolic herdsman. He is, as it were, a god at the degree zero of recognition, a rune exposed to the silence of time. His animals (if they are indeed his) studiously ignore him; the nearby Nilotic plants reach out as though to slowly engulf him. The very mosaic tiles of which he is composed threaten to disperse into identical atoms, without ever divulging their secret.
What would the psychopomp say, if it could speak? What tales would it tell of its journeys, from Egypt, via the underworld, to Emilia-Romagna?
text by Matthew Vollgraff
Francesco Cavaliere (b.1980 Piombino, Italy) is known for the sensitivity with which he combines sounds, materials and space, showing a highly particular taste for the most diverse forms of exoticism. His works are capable of enlivening his listeners’ inner states in an imaginative journey populated by ephemeral presences, phenomena generated by glass, minerals and voices recorded using analogue and digital technologies. Author and interpret of the Gancio Cielo audio stories, Francesco works and lives between Siena and Berlin.
Selected exhibitions and performances: Sea Urchin, Meakusma Festival, Eupen, 2018; Sea Urchin, Popfest, Vienna, 2018; Weather Imitators, RIBOCA1, Riga International Biennale, Jurmala, 2018; Raymond et des Palmes, Manifesta 12, Palermo, 2018; Green Music, CCN-Frac Normandie, Caen, 2018; Murales de Paysages, De Warande, Tornhout, 2018; Issue Project, solo perfomance, New York, 2018; Green Music, Cafe OTO, London, 2018; Arsenic, solo perfromance, Lausanne, 2017; Moods, solo performance, Zurich, 2017; HAU2 w/Green Music 3HD festival, Berlin, 2017; BOZAR “coro delle intemperie”, Bruxelles, 2017; INFRA festival Tokyo, 2017; Mediterranea 18, young artists biennale, Tirana, Durres, 2017; Akusmata Gallery, Helsinki, 2017; Himera Festival, Turku, 2017; Bang Festival, Saint John the Baptiste, Bruxelles, 2017; Gluck 50 residency, Milano, 2017; Raum, w/Green Music, Bologna, 2017; Empty Gallerie w/Green Music, Hong Kong, 2017; Cafe OTO w/ Sea Urchin, London, 2016; De Studio w/ Sea Urchin Antwerpen, 2016; Q-O2 residency w/ Green Music, Bruxelles, 2016; Soffio che Scotta, Marsèlleria permanent Exhibition, Milan, 2016; Gancio Cielo I, Les Urbaines Festival, Lausanne, 2015; Gancio Cielo I, Sviluppo Parallelo group show, Museum of Contemporay Art, Luzern, 2015; Capogiro deli Dei, EBM(T) at MOT, Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo, 2015; Squame Mosaico / Gancio Cielo I – II Live Arts Week IV Bologna, 2015; Sea Urchin, Fylkingen, Stockholm, 2015; Sea Urchin, Kraak Festival, Netwerk Center of Contemporary Art, Aalst, 2015; Sea urchin, Apiarystudios w Sculpture, London, 2015; Capolino, Opera in 3 Acts w/ Lieven Martens, MIRY Contemporary i.s.m. Robert Ashely Tribute, Ghent, 2014; Helicotrema Recorded Audio Festival, RAI radio 3, Milan, 2014; The Glowing Glove, Museum of Contemporary Art of Roskilde, 2014; Lancio Meta Meteo, Grimmuseum, Berlin, 2014; Gancio Cielo, Zeiss Grossplanetarium, Berlin, 2014; Set Mosaic, CTM Hau2, Berlin, 2013; Art Bruxelles, 2013; Musica Galvanica, Museum of Contemporay Art, Warsaw, 2013; Ram (Q.i Q.i) Les Oiseaux at Gaîté lyrique, Paris, 2013; Volta di Lame di Lune, Mercy at the Liverpool Biennial, 2012; Volta di Lame di Lune, Kinderhook & Caracas, Berlin, 2012; Guam! Alabaster Abacus, Museet for Samtidskunst, Roskilde, 2012.
Leonardo Pivi was born in 1965 in Cesena (Italy). He lives and works between Milan and Riccione. In 1988 he graduated in painting at the Academy of Fine Arts in Bologna. In the first Nineties he began his artistic path, working on his first sculptural installations of very small size.
From this first period two are most considerable personal exhibitions: the first one in 1992, titled “Anima mangia anima” at the historical venue of the Neon Gallery in Bologna (curated by Roberto Daolio); the second one in 1994, titled “Atto di preghiera” at the Analix Gallery in Geneva (curated by Gianni Romano).
Among his recent solo exhibitons: “Corpo estraneo” Galleria Astuni, Pietrasanta, 2004 (curated by Luca Beatrice and Marco Senaldi); “Upload” Marena rooms Gallery, Torino, 2010 (curated by Guido Curto); “Terra bruciata” Museo FAR, Fabbrica Arte, Rimini, 2013-2014 (curated by Marco Senaldi); “Platonic Love” Gluck50, Milan, 2014. He has been included in some important national and international group exhibitions: “Giro d’Italia”, Galleria Sargentini, 1997 (curated by Roberto Daolio); “Rentree”, Premio Marche, Ancona, 1993 (curated by Renato Barilli); “Vingt pieces fragiles”, Galleria Analix, Geneve, 1992 (curated by Gianni Romano); “Il marmo e la celluloide, arte contemporanea e visioni cinematografiche“, Villa la Versiliana, Pietrasanta, 2006 (M. Senaldi); “Cover teory”, Officina della luce, Piacenza, 2003 (curated by Marco Senaldi); “Figurazione e defigurazione” Galleria Civica di Bolzano, 1999 (curated by Letizia Ragaglia); “Generazionale” Basilica Palladiana, Vicenza, 2003 (curated by Beatrice Buscaroli Fabbri) and some biennals including: Biennale di Scultura a Carrara, 2007 (curated by Francesco Poli). From 2002 he teaches mosaico at the Academy of Fine Arts in Ravenna.