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Seven years after the “Maninarte” exhibition, the SCU8 group re-invigorate the inside of the Essearte gallery, which they founded, with a project which celebrates 20 years of activity. Twenty years of ideas, projects, of sacrifices, stretched between the burdens of tradition and the need for innovation,between art and craftsmanship,the dimensional restraints of the workshop and the chaos of the street,always being careful to read and interpret the daily vicissitudes of the latest news, and the dynamics of contemporary life.
It is a journey which is condensed into the great “collage” Ventennio, composed mainly of fragments of terracotta-legs, arms, hands, horns and antlers, saintly busts and demonic heads, masks and other wacky personages which puts one in mind of their “Mostro……il Diavolo” hosted in 2003 in the Church of San Severo al Pendino. Also “Pulcinellarifavola” which,in 2004 recounted the daring adventures of a desperate Pulcinella seeking his stolen mask, then up to “SCU8 Manimarte” held at the Castel dell’Ovo in 2009, a farsical lecture on the contemporary artistic scene.
It is a story modelled in clay, made of terracotta, their preferred material, which gives form to the depths of their imagination, moving between history and myth, fantasy and reality.
So, they dedicate their eccentric “room of marvels” to the clay and the earth,but it is more apt to say to horrors, full as it is of pictures, both persuasive and fascinating, filled with torments and anxiety.
Evolving from the Medieval workshop, the Room of Wonders, or in German, Wunderkammer, represented in the XVIth century,especially for the nobility, the place where private collections could be displayed, with the intention of displaying a chaotic, semi-theatrical microcosm of the world.
Here, through nature and artificiality, with natural finds and works of man’s ingenuity, it was possible to find objets d’art, precious stones, books, exotic fruits, fish teeth, butterfly wings,shells,narwhale horns,dried crocodiles and snakes, foetuses, skeletons and moreover maps, scientific instruments, all designed to create awe and curiousity. So it was, on entering the Camerino of the paintings of Alfonso 1 in Ferrara, that of Francesco 1 di Medici, and certainly closer to ours, of the farmacist and naturalist Ferrante Imperato and of the Prince of San Severo,aroused by scientific and alchemic curiousity.
In their own way, the Scuotto brothers fall back on their rare and precious ability for artistry to create a space halfway between a room of wonders and a house of horrors,where we find an apocalyptic vision of the world, a deliberately chosen sarcastic and paradoxical approach. Facing up to the drama of our difficult times, the incapacity to control the influx of immigrants, the cause of the rise of far Right sentiments and xenophobia, global terrorism in the name of Isis,the poverty and destruction of the landscape, urban chaos and violence towards women and children, the war of homophobia,reacting-suggested Luca Beatrice at the “Manimarte” exhibition-with a farcical spirit,typical of they who have “la commedia dell’arte” in their DNA, without, however, suppressing a mixed sense of anger and disquiet.
Watching the news-at the disastrous effects of earthquakes and tsunamis, terrorist attacks in European capital cities, the death of immigrants undertaking their terrible voyages across the Mediteranean and the wicked bombings in the Middle East, right up to domestic violence against women and children-the Scuotti brothers, in collaboration with Alfonso Alfano,put on show a real drama which follows the image of a city, obviously Naples,which has been destroyed in less than a minute by an incredible cataclysmic event.
“There could be over a million dead caused by this cataclysm which has wiped Naples from the face of the earth-plus a large part of the surrounding area-a violent tectonic movement accompanied by terrific explosions which has spewed out soil and sub-soil for kilometres, drawing to the surface rivers of magma and clouds of gas. Patrols of the army are on standby around the edges to forbid access. There is radioactivity present in the air and further seismic events are expected. The Ministry of Health has declared a critical state of emergency ,due to the huge amount of corpses which are beginning to emerge from the sea and around the edges of the crater. Corpses and mangled remains,caused by the rocks then burnt by the gas.Horrific.”
This is the news which the visitor learns on looking at the giant reproduction of a page from the daily paper “Il Mattino”,with the headline “Too Late”,which clearly refers to the highly acclaimed work by Andy Warhol after the 1980 earthquake.A page,conserved like an heirloom around which explode images of death and illness, an imprint of a post apocalyptic scene,in the style of the Chapman brothers,which takes its form as a provocation towards a world becoming less and less humane,more virtual, getting further from the needs of humanity, with interests which can be likened to the Pil-measured in gains and losses, a society ever more unbalanced and intolerant.
We dive therefore through a path of sardonic and violent visions,which are inspired by the papers like a world of comics or some dystopian cinema, becoming moments of reflection on the fragility of our lives and the world in which we live. Facing is “Esplose”, whose drama moves between images of death,broadcast daily by the news media and our pathetic grimaces for “Un compianto sul Christo morto” by Guido Mazzoni for the Chiesa di Sant’Anna dei Lombardi, rather than the tattered figures of an Augusto Perez.Dramatic heads, crowded together, as if they were bricks,rise furiously upwards to form a Tower of Babel, while the closed hand of a migrant, index finger clearly raised,rises from the water,sending to Hell the ‘civilised’ Western world.All taken by a Narcissus/Cyclops, which continues to live deadpan in the protective glass case of a Smartphone where it rests.
The city of Partenope becomes a de facto image of a chaotic and unbalanced world,peopled by strange beings, hydrocephalus with wierd horns and sharp teeth as a result of exposure to radioactivity and genetic modification, unclassified, successful, yet threatening our well being.
Only the powers of a SuperPulcinella,who, as a result of the disaster,by foolish and fearful servant,acquires the handsome body and disdainful air of a Batman,seeming to hold the power of a glimmer of salvation.
But, will this really happen? Will it really be too late?

Pasquale Ruocco

PHOTOS by Cesare Abbate