Buried in the heart of the city, the Sanità quarter is an authentic borderland between the world of the living and the world of the dead. You only need to distance yourself from the hustle and bustle, from the megaphones of the fruit and vegetable stalls, the mopeds ridden by fearless street urchins darting between the cars, and reach the top of the area: here on the right of the church of Maria Santissima del Carmine, is the Fontanelle cemetery.
Situated within an ancient tuff quarry, the cemetery is an imposing underground cathedral, hovering between darkness and the swathes of light cutting through it.
Thousands of bones and skulls are piled up for all to see, the remains of at least 40,000 anonymous human beings. In this evocative and peaceful place, death is no longer insurmountable: the living and the souls of the deceased communicate with each other by means of the so-called capuzzelle, which embody the ancestral obsession with the skull as an icon of transcendence and the promise of eternal life.
Here the skulls are spoken to, touched, and cleaned. They are taken care of. Candles are lit, offerings are given and favours asked for in a do ut des of worship. This is the cult of the anime pezzentelle, abandoned and anonymous souls, in need of the compassion of the living to alleviate their suffering in Purgatory. The texts by Ivan Cenzi go back over the story and meaning of the Cemetery and explain the cult of the suffering souls in Purgatory, now almost completely abandoned. The scrupulous eye of Carlo Vannini plunges us into the enchanted atmosphere of the underground cathedral, revealing its gloomy charm and bringing us so close to the capuzzelle – bare or adorned with various votive offerings such as handkerchieves, little holy pictures, coloured rosary beads etc. – that their eyeholes seem to meet our eyes with a glance which is not less alive.
After the first volume about the Palermo Catacombs, this is the second book of the #BizzarroBazar series, edited by Ivan Cenzi. The object of this series, with texts in Italian and English, is to enhance and explore some of our peninsula’s hidden wonders and invite people to think about its artistic and cultural heritage. The series conveys to the reader the same sense of astonishment and delight that can be experienced when entering a Wunderkammer. The absolute protagonists of the book are the amazing images by Carlo Vannini, one of the most recognized art photographers in our country, which offer the reader a perfect visual guide.
The author and editor:
Ivan Cenzi is an explorer of the uncanny and collector of curiosities. Since 2009 he has been the editor of #BizzarroBazar, a blog that deals with anything weird, macabre and marvellous, which in a short time has become the Italian landmark for this kind of topics. Over the years #BizzarroBazar has been dealing with wunderkammer, anthropology of death, museums and anatomical collections, history of the circus and travelling fairs, the early days of science, classical and modern art, alternative sexuality and in general anything at the outskirts of culture. He combines his work as a writer, editor and blogger with and intense work as a lecturer and collaborates with international museums and universities. From 2019, he is a lecturer for the master in Death Studies and for the degree course in Psychology of end-of-life relations at the University of Padua. He has contributed to various newspapers, written several foreword contributions for contemporary art publications and organized cultural events.
His books for #logosedizioni are: La veglia eterna. Catacombe dei Cappuccini di Palermo, De Profundis. Il cimitero delle Fontanelle di Napoli, Mors Pretiosa. Ossari religiosi italiani, Sua maestà anatomica. Museo Morgagni di Padova, Il pietrificatore. La collezione anatomica Paolo Gorini, Paris Mirabilia (also available in english and french), London Mirabilia (also available in english) and Julia Pastrana (also available in english).
Carlo Vannini is the photographer of all “cultural” objects: artworks, archaeological finds, restoration works, architectural structures, city views, but also ordinary handcrafted artefacts permeated by a strong historical feeling. He was born in Reggio Emilia in 1956, where his uncle, a painter, and his father, a decorator, made him familiar with artistic materials. After a short amateurish experience, Carlo developed a strong passion for the professional reproduction of artworks, which has been leading him through exciting adventures while documenting restoration works. He has gradually developed a mastery of photographic techniques such as ultraviolet, infrared, skimming light, transmitted light and mirrored light. Since 1983 he has been creating illustrations for catalogues and still-life advertising photographs and is acknowledged as one of the leading Italian fine art photographers.
#DeProfundis #keeptheworldweird #BizzarroBazar #logosedizioni
|Author||Ivan Cenzi, Carlo Vannini|
|Dimensions||cm 17,3 x 24,0|
|De Profundis, al confine tra la vita e la morte||it.paperblog.it||www||16-05-2015|
|Meraviglie in serie, guarda e stupisci||Il Venerdì di Repubblica||11-01-2019|
|Bizzarro Bazar, il fascino indiscreto delle stravaganze||Italian Factory Magazine||www||08-07-2019|