Odyssey within a Lost Town

 Il Folle Volo, La Città Perduta
Il Folle Volo, La Città Perduta (click any image for full size)

La Città Perduta (The Lost Town), the arts venue curated by Akilae Gant and Sivi Kelberry, and which is modelled after a run-down Italian town, is currently home to a marvellous installation by Giovanna Cerise entitled Il Folle Volo, or The Mad Flight, which opened on Thursday, October 28th.

The exhibit takes as its central theme Odysseus‘ journey home to Ithaca, as told in Homer’s Odyssey, although it also touches upon his role in the Trojan War, as told through the pages of the Iliad, and takes its name not from Homer’s work, but draws it from Canto XXVI of Dante’s Inferno, although even within this, there remains an echo of Odyssey.

Three of the pieces on display are hard to miss, as they tower over the The Lost Town. In the main piazza, close to the landing point, a great, multifaceted horse rears into the air – a reference to the Trojan War, and Odysseus’ role within it, the stone of the piazza beneath it symbolically stained blood-red.

 Il Folle Volo, La Città Perduta
Il Folle Volo, La Città Perduta

Close to the town’s church stands the imposing figure of the cyclops Polyphemus, whom Odysseus and his crew encounter after being blown far off course in a storm while attempting to return home following the war. The imposing figure, as tall as the church itself, is made of multiple, shard-like pieces both light and dark, which give it a magnificent dynamic feel.

On the edge of the region sits the titular piece, Il Folle Vollo, drawn from  Dante’s Canto XXVI, and seen in part at the top of this article. The Canto tells of Dante’s journey through the eighth circle of hell, Fraud, where he and Virgil, his guide, encounter Odysseus alongside Diomedes, both caught within flames in the eighth Bolgia, their punishment for perpetrating the deceit of the Trojan Horse. Here Odysseus tells Dante of his final adventures (Dante’s own creation), in which he met his end in a great vortex.

 Il Folle Volo, La Città Perduta
Il Folle Volo, La Città Perduta

Here, the vortex itself is represented by a swirling mass of prim-like cubes, each rotating on its own, giving rise to a shifting pattern of light and dark as the mass spins about a central axis, and through which faces rise and fall. This piece also has echoes of Odysseus’ encounter with another vortex, that of Charybdis, the great whirlpool, which Odysseus faced along with the six-headed monster, Scylla, while attempting to reach Ithaca.

The final two elements in the piece, which represent Odysseus’ encounters with Circe and with the Sirens, are more subtle in nature. C  in particular make take a little finding – although the teleport disks located close to each piece should help those who want to visit each element of the installation directly rather then exploring the town.

 Il Folle Volo, La Città Perduta
Il Folle Volo, La Città Perduta

Part of the beauty of this installation is the manner in which each of the pieces is perfectly suited to the environment in which it sits; the blending between them and the default windlight over The Lost Town and the architecture of the town itself, is superb. The multifaceted nature of the pieces not only aid in creating this blending of art and setting, but it also reflects the fact the Odysseus’ legend is also one of many literary facets, both in terms of the telling of the encounters within it, and in the manner in which they are portrayed by Virgil, Homer, Dante, and others down through time.

This multifaceted symbolism is reflected – and extended – in Giovanna’s own description of the exhibit, in which she says, “The work presented in Lost Town is freely inspired to some events in which the man with the multifaceted appearance will prove its capabilities. Odysseus and his journey becomes the symbol of the journey of all men who refuse to be trapped by dogma ropes, conformism and fear and prefer to go further, risking. Everyone can be a Ulysses, when we are ready to take ‘il folle volo’. Is always right do it?”

For lovers of art and mythology, this is an exhibit that is not to be missed.

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