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Tai Shani’s work ‘The Neon Hie okroglyph’, produced for the Festival in 2021, was included in the exhibition ‘The Horror Show’


The Carla Fendi Foundation collaborates with Mahler & LeWitt Studios for contemporary art projects. This synergy stems from the will of Maria Teresa Venturini Fendi, President of the Foundation, to make a contribution to the precious activity of the Studios in the city of Spoleto, financing the production of works by contemporary artists and a long-term residency program for young artists and designers.

Produced by the Carla Fendi Foundation and Mahler & LeWitt Studios, The Neon Hieroglyph, a sculptural installation originally created for the Spoleto64 Festival dei Due Mondi by the British artist Tai Shani, winner of the Turner Prize, has now been rearranged for ‘The Horror Show! A Twisted Tale of Modern Britain ‘at Somerset House in London: a large group exhibition that from 27 October 2022 to 19 February 2023, through the works of some of the most important and well-known exponents of contemporary art, explores the way in which the “horror”, transcending gender, has influenced the last 50 years of the work of the most nonconformist and rebellious British artists.

Shani’s work – a depiction of an enigmatic ghost, adorned with tears and lucky charms – was originally placed in the public fountain in Piazza Mercato in Spoleto. The installation is inspired by the artist’s research on psychedelia, feminism and myth and is part of The Neon Hieroglyph project, a series of poetic reflections on the history of ergot, the fungus from which LSD derives. Before industrial milling, ergot was sometimes grown in wheat crops across Europe. In The Neon Hieroglyph, the ergot and ghost stories it inspired create appearances of apocalyptic anxieties and utopian aspirations: pain and discord circulate through the same interconnected web of ecstasy and empathy.

“It struck me that Tai’s personal history has a strong connection with Spoleto, a place where his father passed away.” says Maria Teresa Venturini Fendi. “I also believe that the atmosphere of the Sacred Wood of Monteluco, the sanctuaries and in general the spirituality of all of Umbria, rooted in centuries of mysticism and esotericism, have broadened the field and sensitivity of his research “.

To accompany the exhibition, Mahler & LeWitt Studios have released the full conversation they commissioned between Shani and former curators in residence Hana Noorali and Lynton Talbot. Drawing on a range of topics, including medieval mysticism, science fiction and anarcho-communism, Shani discusses the ghost as a radical and transformative figure with the ability to transcend hierarchical narratives and to propose history, culture and criticism as a continuous process of ‘transtemporal collaboration’. In the artist’s words “… there are these points of contact that you can connect together, creating a story … I think we live among ghosts, don’t you think? We live continuously with the debris of history and the ghosts that surround us”

The Neon Hieroglyph also exists as a nine-episode film. Episode 7, which refers specifically to the Umbria region, was presented in the contemporary art gallery of the Museo di Palazzo Collicola, as part of the ‘Exploring Art’ exhibition project conceived by the curatorial team of Guyr Robertson of Mahler & LeWitt Studios and produced by the Carla Fendi Foundation, main sponsor of the Spoleto Festival dei Due Mondi.

Spoletonline.com | From Due Mondi to London