The Third Paradise combines art and cure: South Africa launches the digital exhibition “Cure”
The online exhibition – a proposal by UJ Arts & Culture in Johannesburg – has involved 17 artists who have interrogated and explored through their works possible processes leading global civilization to a new level of responsibility. The participants have elaborated the contents drawing inspiration from Michelangelo Pistoletto’s sign-symbol, referencing to a balance between nature and artifice, and to the curing qualities art can have in society.

Poco dopo l’annuncio del lockdown nazionale in Sudafrica a fronte dell’emergenza Covid-19, la UJ Arts & Culture – una divisione della Facoltà di Arte, Design e Architettura dell’Università di Johannesburg – ha lanciato The Pandemic Project, un progetto interdisciplinare sulla piattaforma online dell’Università di Johannesburg. L’iniziativa si presenta come un’opportunità per riflettere sul Coronavirus, ma anche per supportare gli artisti dando loro uno spazio per realizzare e mostrare nuovi lavori. Nonostante le criticità date dalla pandemia, da settembre a ottobre la UJ Gallery sta ospitando e ospiterà la mostra online CURE, organizzata nell’ambito del The Pandemic Project. Il titolo dell’esposizione digitale – curata da Annali Dempsey, curatrice della UJ Gallery, e dal curatore ospite Johan Myburg – non è un’allusione a un’eventuale cura per il Covid-19, ma si riferisce alle qualità curative che può avere l’arte, colmando il divario tra natura e tecnologia, come messo in luce dal Terzo Paradiso di Michelangelo Pistoletto. Il riferimento non è casuale: la mostra, nei suoi contenuti, si ispira ai messaggi veicolati dal segno-simbolo del maestro biellese.

Shortly after the announcement of the national lockdown in South Africa due to the Covid-19 emergency, UJ Arts & Culture – a division of the Faculty of Art, Design and Architecture at the University of Johannesburg – launched the interdisciplinary project The Pandemic Project on the University’s online platform. The initiative represents an opportunity to reflect on the Coronavirus, but also to support artists by providing them with a space where to create and show their works. In spite of the problems caused by the pandemic, the UJ Gallery will host the online exhibition CURE for the months of September and October, as part of The Pandemic Project. The title of the digital exhibition – curated by UJ Gallery’s curator Annali Dempsey and guest curator Johan Myburg – doesn’t intend to hint at a possible cure for Covid-19, but at the curing qualities art can have by bridging the gap between nature and technology, as symbolized by Michelangelo Pistoletto’s Third Paradise. The reference is not a coincidence: the contents of the exhibition are inspired by the message conveyed by the Biellese artist’s sign-symbol.

Paolo Naldini, Cittadellarte’s director, during his speech.

CURE has involved 17 South African artists, who have interrogated and explored through their works possible processes leading global civilization to a new level of responsibility, an essential element to guarantee the survival of the human race. This concept is clearly visualized in Labirinto e Grande Pozzo by Pistoletto, an installation that the founder of Cittadellarte has exhibited since 1969, presented at Fabrica in Brighton in 2016 (see video below) as The Third Paradise: The Labyrinth and the Well.

The walk-through work ‘asks’ the visitor to reach the well with water, represented by a mirror located at the centre of the installation. The heart of the labyrinth is in fact “the well of contemplation and reflection – we read on the press release of the exhibition – where we can carefully determine what we have done, what we have become and the path we can possibly follow in the future”. On the mirror is a representation of the Third Paradise made of coins from all over the world. This symbol is an allegory of a possible future in which the first and second paradise, i.e. nature and artifice, are not in conflict anymore, but in a harmony created by art.

The Third Paradise: The Labyrinth and the Well by Michelangelo Pistoletto (Fabrica 2016)

This marriage between art and cure is the key to the development of the exhibition CURE, “focusing on our passage through the world, on reflection and reconciliation between the natural and the artificial, following the interdisciplinary nature of The Pandemic Project”, we read on the press release of the exhibition. In parallel with CURE, the Department of Industrial Psychology and People Management will host a seminar investigating the relationship between nature and technology – also in reference to the trinamic symbol – at the UJ College of Business and Economics.
Every day, a new contribution is published on the exhibition website: please click here to see them.

* * The participating artists are Eric Duplan, Paul Emmanuel, Kieron Jina, Donna Kukama, Songezile Madikida, Senzeni Marasela, Kagiso Pat Mautloa, Hannelie Coetzee, Blessing Ngobeni, Nhlanhla Nhlapo, Lwandiso Njara, Zolile Phetsane, Jan Tshikhuthula, Hentie van der Merwe, Jaco van Schalkwyk, Jake Singer and Minnette Vári.
See below the first video-contributions of artists and curators.