Procida Island, where art frees body and mind

Teresa Scarale
Teresa Scarale
Read Time: 2'
A former prison formerly the Bourbon royal palace; a literary island; six international artists. Thus was born Sprigionarti, an exhibition event of Procida Italian Capital of Culture 2022, a symbol of regeneration. The words of curator Agostino Riitano
Palazzo d'Avalos was the prison on the island of Procida. It has not been since 1988. Today, thanks to the island's investiture as Italian Capital of Culture 2022, five cells of that prison overlooking the village of Terra Murata have become art rooms for an exhibition with the evocative name, Sprigionarti. Six artists are involved, all high-profile: Maria Thereza Alves (São Paulo, 1961), Jan Fabre (Antwerp, 1958), William Kentridge (Johannesburg, 1955), Alfredo Pirri, Francesco Arena (Torre Santa Susanna, 1978), and Andrea Anastasio (Rome, 1961).

Curated by Agostino Riitano in collaboration with Vincenzo de Bellis and under the matronage of the Donnaregina Foundation for Contemporary Arts 2022, the exhibition opened on May 27, ending on December 31, 2022. "We asked five major artists to imagine a relational perspective with the former penal colony, a symbolic place, and testimony to the social, political, and urban history of the island, to investigate new resonances of meaning between the historical dimension of imprisonment and isolation and the modern vocation of openness and sharing," Riitano himself explains.

"The idea behind the project is that a museum in the twenty-first century should be for everyone, capable of offering a personal experience of cultural growth, shared collectively as an essential identity value, open to cultural diversity, strongly rooted in the territory and, at the same time, oriented toward the national and international context," the Procida 2022 director continues.

"Significantly, this is then done in what was previously a prison. A place of imprisonment and isolation, it will be transformed into a place of physical and mental openness through contemporary art. The intention is to constitute a dynamic laboratory aimed at cultural production and open to the participation and direct interaction of the various segments of the public while maintaining its institutional function of research, production, conservation, and exhibition, capable of enhancing, and at the same time strengthening, its public mission, in a dialogic relationship with society and the dynamics of contemporary culture."

An approach indicative of the desire to regenerate and return to the island's inhabitants was a Bourbon royal palace that before became a prison. Before that, it had been a stately palace from the Renaissance, built by the d'Avalos family, which ruled Procida until the end of the 18th century. In 2013 the building and 5,000 square meters of surrounding estate were acquired by the City of Procida, which began work to upgrade and secure it. Nine years later, one of the symbolic places of Arthur Island is coming back to life in the highest way.

Editor-in-chief of Pleasure Assets. A professional journalist from Gargano, she holds a degree in Economic and Social Disciplines from Bocconi University in Milan. She writes about finance, economics, art, and luxury markets. Teresa has been part of We Wealth since its founding.


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