The Santa Maria delle Anime del Purgatorio ad Arco Museum Complex

Anime del Purgatorio ad Arco
Jota Castro, CAVE CANEM, 2018, installation view at the hypogeum of the Museum Complex Santa Maria delle Anime del Purgatorio ad Arco, Naples. Photo: Danilo Donzelli

Through our gallery, we have always sought out constant dialogue with the city of Naples, exploring along with our artists the co-penetration of spaces and distant times that Benjamin summarised with the term “porosity”. Walking along the historic via dei Tribunali, you feel like you are no longer able to distinguish between public and private, old and new, day and night, and then you come to the Santa Maria delle Anime del Purgatorio ad Arco museum complex: a church distributed over two levels, with a ground floor, for the church proper, and a hypogeum, for the cult of the souls in Purgatory. This cult, which hinged on the donation of offerings and prayers in order to shorten the stay of pezzentelle (poor little) souls in Purgatory, is a peculiarity of Neapolitan culture quite resistant to outside influences.

Anime del Purgatorio ad Arco
Church of Santa Maria delle Anime del Purgatorio in Arco, Naples. Photo: Luigi Spina

Nevertheless, constant dialogue with the Associazione Progetto Museo that runs the complex has made it possible for us to lay the groundwork for some of our artists to create works that interact with the tradition. Starting from an interest in the gestural aspect and the cult of collective and anonymous death, Luca Francesconi has given the souls a work that is at once both offering and prayer, a folk gesture that incorporates art, history and religion. Whereas Jota Castro has used the dimension of the Hypogeum/Purgatory to work the transfer of a few unresolved issues from the earthly sphere to the heavenly one.

Anime del Purgatorio ad Arco
Luca Francesconi, Senza Titolo_Anime del Purgatorio, 2017, installation view at the hypogeum of the Museum Complex Santa Maria delle Anime del Purgatorio ad Arco, Naples. Photo: Danilo Donzelli

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CampaniaNaplesReligious architecture