The Neon Hieroglyph at The Horror Show! A Twisted Tale of Modern Britain

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

Shani’s work – depiction of an enigmatic ghost, adorned with tears and lucky charms – had been originally located in the public fountain of Piazza Mercato in Spoleto. The installation is inspired by the artist’s research on psychedelia, feminism and myth and is part of the project The Neon Hieroglypha series of rPoetic 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 story has a strong connection with Spoleto, a place where his father died nearby.. “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 widened the field and the 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 critical issues as a continuous process of ‘transtemporal collaboration’. In the words of the artist “… 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 continually live with the debris of history and the ghosts that surround us

The Neon Hieroglyph also exists as film in nine episodes. 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.

Find out more about the exhibition.

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The Neon Hieroglyph at The Horror Show! A Twisted Tale of Modern Britain