Mirabilia @ CasaCava

exhibition design, built, Matera, 2020

Mirabilia @ Casa Cava is a collective exhibition produced by the curatorial project ANTILIA Gallery: visionary cities translated through architecture, sculpture and design models. The contributors, from Italy and abroad, speculated with a contemporary gaze on the cities described in Calvino’s book, Invisible Cities. A seminal piece of writing that heavily influenced readers and scholars, of different disciplines, all over the world.

The cities described by Marco Polo to the emperor Kublai Khan are suspended between the real and the imagined dimension. They uncover memories, dreams, and images of a Venetian traveler.
The interpretations shown in Mirabilia elaborate on the relationship of space and written word, creating original languages to communicate the immaterial. The model is the designer’s fundamental research tool, which is the abstraction of an anticipated reality, either realistic or utopic. The show invites you to get lost through the doors and archways, catching surprises of golden fragments, and glimpses of the sky as specular reflections of water move with the breath of the wind.

Retracing the journey of Marco Polo to the court of the Great Khan, the exhibition space is ideally transformed into a chessboard made of objects and merchandise set up on a tiled floor in front of the emperor’s eyes to show every corner of the kingdom, even the most remote and unknown.

“Kublai was a keen chess player; following Marco’s movements, he observed that certain pieces implied or excluded the vicinity of other pieces and were shifted along certain lines. Ignoring the objects’ variety of form, he could grasp the system of arranging one with respect to the others on the majolica floor. He thought: ‘If each city is like a game of chess, the day when I have learned the rules, I shall finally possess my empire, even if I shall never succeed in knowing all the cities it contains.”

Each model is placed on its pawn: rook, horse, bishop, queen and king. Five pawns for fifty-five cities that put the visitor before his own empire. Each pedestal, associated with a geometric profile, is made of polystyrene, on a 30x30cm square base, shaped by a 5-axis CNC cutter. 

location
Casa Cava, Matera
area
200 sqm
curators
Fabiana Dicuonzo, Giuseppe Resta, John Gatip
design
biro+, PROFFERLO architecture
sponsor
New Coming | ecodesign factory
partnership
Università degli Studi della Basilicata
Onyx Jazz Club Matera
ICoRSA | International Consortium of Research Staff Associations
graphic design
M-I-R-A-G-E Design Studio