Sacro Bosco Bomarzo, works by Niki de Saint Phalle, Portoghesi and Spoerri in dialogue with sculptures in the park

The Sacred Wood of Bomarzo presents the In Arte Vicino festival to mark the fifth centenary of the birth of the park's creator, Vicino Orsini. Sculptures from the Monster Park will be in dialogue with works by Niki de Saint Phalle, Paolo Portoghesi and Daniel Spoerri.

On the occasion of the fifth centenary of the birth of the creator of the Sacred Wood of Bomarzo, Pierfrancesco Orsini, known as Vicino (Rome, July 4, 1523 - Bomarzo, Jan. 28, 1585), the Sacred Wood presents the In Arte Vicino festival from July 4 to Sept. 15, 2023, with extraordinary openings, appointments, meetings and installations, curated by Antonio Rocca. The festival is promoted and organized by the Sacred Wood of Bomarzo, which is part of the Great Italian Gardens network, in collaboration with major contemporary art parks in central Italy: Niki de Saint Phalle’s Tarot Garden (Capalbio, Grosseto), Paolo Portoghesi’s Garden of Wonders (Calcata, Viterbo), Daniel Spoerri’s Hic terminus haeret (Seggiano, Grosseto) and Tomaso Buzzi’s Scarzuola (Montegabbione, Terni). In Arte Vicino has the patronage of the Accademia Nazionale di San Luca, the support of the cul tural enterprise Grandi Giardini Italiani, and an agreement with the Accademia di Belle Arti di Viterbo and the Tuscia Film Fest. The program takes place at the Sacred Wood of Bomarzo with special evening openings, lectures, guided tours and historical-artistic insights during the month of July 2023. On Saturday, July 1, the festival’s pre-opening will be held by Corrado Augias, who will introduce the figure of Vicino Orsini. On Tuesday, July 4, 2023, for the opening night, Silvia Ronchey, professor at the University of Roma Tre, and Claudio Strinati, secretary general of the Accademia Nazionale di San Luca, will debate the relationship between creator and creation, that is, between Vicino Orsini and the Sacro Bosco. On Friday, July 14, rendezvous at the Sacro Bosco for the Renaissance dinner, which will evoke with a 16th-century menu and a musical banquet the atmosphere and suggestions of the time when the Park was inhabited by the Orsini family. On Friday, July 28, Lina Bolzoni, a professor at the Normale di Pisa, will explore the theme of memory and gardens in the Renaissance. This will be followed by representatives of the Beverly Pepper Foundation, Giardino La Serpara and Sculture In Campo will dialogue on the concept of gardens in contemporary art. On Saturday, August 5, thanks to an agreement with the Tuscia Film Fest, there will also be a walk-narration with actor Stefano Fresi and festival curator Antonio Rocca to discover the figure of Vicino Orsini. This will be followed by a screening of the film Bones and all in an exceptional setting and a meeting with director Luca Guadagnino.

In addition, from July 4 to Sept. 15, 2023, an exhibition curated by Susanne Neumann, Lucia Pesapane and Antonio Rocca will place the monumental sculptures of the Monster Park in dialogue with some works by Niki de Saint Phalle, Paolo Portoghesi and Daniel Spoerri in a series of cross-references aimed at discovering the symbolic and artistic ideals that constitute the unique substrate to all gardens. It begins with Niki de Saint Phalle’s Fool, an arcane and at once a spirit who, through his wandering progress between earth and sky, transforms his own path into an itinerary of knowledge and salvation. The dislocation at the entrance of the park introduces the search for the sacred and dialogues with Daniel Spoerri’s work Eight Skinny Nightmares, composed of discarded objects that refer to primitive cultures and magical rituals, in a different articulation of the same archetype. Continuing on, at the Leaning House, one comes across White? Black? by Daniel Spoerri, an arcane that represents the chariot in the tarot. Belonging to one of the artist’s most recent series, the work echoes a tribal-country wedding. Spoerri has combined African reminiscences with memories of Naiv and European art. In conversation with Niki de Saint Phalle’s Fool, the work invokes the dimension of travel and yearns for a universal sacredness. Entering the Sacred Wood, along a path that turns from ritual to elemental, Niki de Saint Phalle’s Fountain of the Dwarfs is a work emblematic of the feminine spirit with which the Sacred Wood and the Tarot Garden are pervaded, in a call to primordial nature and universality. The dialogue with Proteus, a marine deity and figure of the protean becoming of being, is meant to refer to the fecundity of natura naturans.

Thesite-specific installation designed by Paolo Portoghesi echoes the similar installation created in his Calcata garden, returning the gaze to theOrc of Bomarzo with two polychrome eyes. With the Smiling Monster, Portoghesi intended to put up a dam against the chthonic forces of Etruscan spirituality, paying homage to Gaea, the luminous side of the Earth. It marks the end of the path The Great Devil by Niki de Saint Phalle, placed near the Temple. The element that connects the two works is fire: complementary to the equestrian dimension of the Fountain of the Nana and in opposition to the Fool, a figure of the pilgrim (from “per ager” one who advances through the fields, between Earth and Air), The Great Devil closes the circle of elemental forces that move the kaleidoscope of being. Inside the reception building, in a tribute to the recently deceased architect Paolo Portoghesi, a series of notebooks and reproductions with plans for the Smiling Monster will be on display. The special relationship between Paolo Portoghesi and the Sacred Wood, which he had visited and studied, among the very first as a boy, is illustrated with an unpublished interview in which the architect recounts his own connection with Bomarzo. A connection that has remained unchanged over the decades, such that it led him to give art history a “smiling” version of the Bomarzo creature in his own garden, in Calcata.

The festival program and tickets for attending the events are available at .

Image: Bomarzo, Bocca Tartare, Photo by Marco Paolini. Courtesy of Sacro Bosco

Sacro Bosco Bomarzo, works by Niki de Saint Phalle, Portoghesi and Spoerri in dialogue with sculptures in the park
Sacro Bosco Bomarzo, works by Niki de Saint Phalle, Portoghesi and Spoerri in dialogue with sculptures in the park

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