Cagliari’s City Museums present The Cave, a project by artist Cristian Chironi which opens the new exhibition venue Cartec – Cava arte contemporanea – Contemporary Art Cave. This cave was dug in the Middle Ages as a stone quarry; during World War II, it served as an air raid shelter, and at the end of the war it was used for some time as a makeshift dwelling for people whose homes had been bombed. Today, it has been turned into an exhibition space for contemporary art exhibitions and public art projects.
The Cave project has turned this space into an underground construction site, a workshop and art studio, a maze of passageways to be crossed in several directions, where several creative languages and media come together: installations, sound, performances and visual art.
The idea was to turn both the interior of the cave and the space around it into a temporary living space: to create a new – yet ancient – stopover point, a meeting place for tracing connections, exchanging ideas and musing on some of the most topical issues of our times: protection; reception; integration; housing.
A sort of digging process, made day after day. Four months of work in progress, which the artist chose to spend on site. In the first phase of the process, the artist interviewed the older people in the neighbourhood, jotting down their memories as sources of inspiration for creating his works and rewriting the history of the place. This was followed by a workshop with the “young” people of the city, conceived as a process of joint ownership.
In parallel, and up to opening of the exhibition, the cave served as the artist’s studio, where one could talk to him and witness the development of his artwork. A long period of construction – at times solitary, at times with people coming in – with scattered public events presenting videos, documents and performances, plus conferences and seminars on several themes: architecture and landscape in wartime; curatorship as a form of reception; the ways in which historical events transform spaces; exchanges of ideas and reflections on the concept of integration; and contemporary housing.
Cristian Chironi carved out in the cave his personal research path through his interpretation of witness accounts: every evening he brought back home with him the atmosphere of the cave and some fragments of the anecdotes he had heard from the cave visitors.
The Cave experimented with a form of reception: visitors played an active role in the project, by moving freely in this “parallel” space while maintaining free use of their own.
Cartec – Cava Arte Contemporanea, Cagliari, Italy
15/4/2016 – 15/07/2016