Piazza del Duomo, 20 - Treviso - Italy
“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that”, Martin Luther King. On 4th April 2018, 50 years after the assassination of this great humanitarian, civil rights leader and Nobel Peace Prize winner, Imago Mundi, the non-profit, global project promoted by Luciano Benetton, inaugurates the Gallerie delle Prigioni in Treviso, a new exhibition space for contemporary Art, open to dialogue, to contaminations, to the beauty that unites the peoples of the world.
Created from the regeneration of the ancient Habsburg prison, discerningly restored by Tobia Scarpa, the new complex is transformed from a place of detention, closure, darkness, into a vibrant laboratory of ideas, perspectives and inspirations designed to encourage experimentation, knowledge and integration. A platform open to the world, where every discipline involved in researching creativity - from visual anthropology to sociology, from philosophy to ethnography – come together in a convergence of knowledge, connecting art with geography, history and politics.
The Gallerie delle Prigioni are now home to Imago Mundi, with its kaleidoscopic, unique patrimony of human identities: artistic experience expands and becomes an opportunity to embrace distant geographies, discover remote cultures and traditions, in the belief that a deeper knowledge of the rest of the world, whatever this may be, can lead to mutual understanding and sow the seeds of a peaceful coexistence.
The works of over 25 thousand artists, masters and young talents from more than 150 countries and native communities around the world, make this possible. The collections in the project will be the starting point for a series of exhibitions that will present paintings, sculptures, installations, photographs, performances and videos created by international artists, including both established and emerging names. The exhibitions will be accompanied by educational and research programmes, meetings and seminars. Diverse inspirations and aspirations for unprecedented visionary journeys, to overcome territorial, political and ethnic boundaries in the name of Art.
Following an extensive restoration, the Gallerie delle Prigioni have regenerated Treviso’s historic Habsburg prison. In the wake of the great upheavals that shook Europe in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries (from the French Revolution to Napoleon, to the Restoration), Treviso, with the whole of Lombardy-Venetia, fell under Habsburg domination. The construction of a court and a prison were part of the process to urbanize the city. Thus, in 1835, the first stone was laid for the new prison, which remained in use until the 1950s. After years of neglect, the nineteenth-century building is now being returned to the city in its rediscovered beauty, enriched by a successful interaction between the ancient and the contemporary, further enhancing the cultural activities of the city of Treviso.
The Gallerie delle Prigioni open with the exhibition ‘Sahara: What is Written Will Remain’, dedicated to the art of calligraphy and its cultural heritage: on show are the works from the Imago Mundi collections from Algeria, Libya, Mali, Niger and the Tuareg peoples of the desert. 700 works that will dialogue with artwork created by twelve international artists, with a series of maps, manuscripts and travel documents and the documentary film ‘Tutto è scritto’ that tells the story of the ancient libraries of Timbuktu in Mali, a World Heritage Site (hundreds of thousands of tomes) endangered by fundamentalist obscurantism and saved by the city’s population.
Imago Mundi’s first journey in its new Treviso home will, therefore, lead visitors to discover the unexpected visual potential and the evocative power of writing and typography, it will invite us to immerse ourselves in the cultural and architectural environment of the exhibition and stimulate the creation of connections between the content of the exhibition and our personal experiences.