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07 Oct 2020

Underneath the Arches presents Adrian Melis

Adrian Melis, 'Terra asciutta'.
Photo by Antonio Picascia

Adrian Melis | Terra asciutta
Underneath the Arches


Curated by Chiara Pirozzi and Alessandra Troncone In collaboration with Associazione VerginiSanità Opening with performance: September 26, at 11.30 am From 27 September to 15 November 2020


+39 328 1297472

Acquedotto Augusteo del Serino
Via Arena Sanità, 5
80137 - Naples

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Underneath the Arches, the program for contemporary art that takes place at the archeological site holding the remains of the Acquedotto Augusteo del Serino in the area Borgo Vergini – Rione Sanità in Naples, announces its third exhibition. Under the artistic direction of Chiara Pirozzi and Alessandra Troncone, and in collaboration with Associazione VerginiSanità, Underneath the Arches presents a site specific intervention by Adrian Melis (Havana, 1985), titled 'Terra asciutta' (Dry Land).

Adrian Melis' artistic research is based on the analysis of specific socio-economic contexts, starting from Cuba, his homeland, and moving to the European countries where he has worked in recent years. Using themes and dynamics related to work, Melis creates mechanisms that exploit initial scarcities as a possible productive force, in some cases creating real production lines that involve third parties in achieving his objectives.

With his project titled 'Terra asciutta', created specifically for Underneath the Arches, the artist analyses and reveals the gap between the 'active' and necessary function that the Roman Aqueduct had in the past, and the 'passive' and conservative role that the same structure has nowadays. Through a strongly symbolic action, Adrian Melis triggers a new process, capable of restoring vitality and functionality to the place, thus transforming the archaeological heritage into a productive rather than just contemplative site. The artist reactivates the original flow of water by recruiting a workforce in the Vergini-Sanità area and through the experimental use of Foley art techniques. The poetic enterprise, which is even vain in its fleetingness, involves the audience in an immersive experience, both on the occasion of the opening, when a performative action will be underway, and during the exhibition, through an environmental installation conceived site-specifically by the artist.

Underneath the Arches aims to activate a dialogue between archeology and contemporary art, and to establish a relationship between the local material and immaterial culture and the artistic research of international artists. Its main objective is to promote both existing cultural heritage and new production in contemporary art. In the fascinating space of the ancient Roman aqueduct, discovered in 2011 and located underneath a historical building called Palazzo Peschici Maresca, international artists are invited to create temporary and site-specific installations in dialogue with the space itself and the surrounding area.

This project is created with the contribution of Regione Campania, under the Matronage of Madre Museum / Fondazione Donnaregina per le arti contemporanee of Naples, and under the patronage of the Academy of Fine Arts in Naples. It is kindly supported by Fondazione Morra and MANN - Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Napoli.

Adrian Melis was born in Havana, Cuba, in 1985. He graduated from the University of Art in Havana, Cuba. He is a former resident at the Rijksakademie of Amsterdam (2014/2015). Selected solo shows include: '2768. 23,53. 8. 1958. 57%. 1000', Pori Art Museum (2020), 'Selective Memory', Adn Galeria, Barcelona (2018); 'Absolute silence does not exist', Fundación Cerezales, León (2018); 'Surplus Production Line', Adn Galeria, Barcelona (2015); 'STOCK', MAS – Museum of Modern Art, Santander (2013); 'New Production Structures', Adn Galeria, Barcelona (2012) which received the GAC Award for Best Exhibition in a Private Gallery in Barcelona; 'The Value of Absence', Kunsthalle Basel (2013). Selected group shows: 'After Leaving | Before Arriving', 12th Kaunas Biennale (2019); 'Hors Pistes', Centre Pompidou, Paris (2015); 'Bread and Roses', Museum of Modern Art of Warsaw (2015); 'Atopolis', Manège de Sury and WIELS contemporary Art Centre, Mons (2014); 'How To Work', Kunsthalle Basel (2012); 'FGAP', Pinchuk Art Center, Kiev (2014); 'Untitled (Two Takes on Crisis)', de Appel Arts Centre, Amsterdam (2016); 'Artlab', Queens Museum of Art, New York (2014); 10th Shanghai Biennale, Shanghai (2014). His works are in private and public collections, including: MAS - Museo de Arte Moderno y Contemporáneo de Santander y Cantabria (Spain), MACBA - Museu d'Art Contemporani de Barcelona (Spain), Collection Alain Servais (Belgium), Collection Lemaître (France), Collection A. de Galbert (France), Collection Teixeiras da Freitas (Portugal).

Discovered in 2011, the tract of a Roman aqueduct found underneath Palazzo Peschici Maresca in Naples, owned by the Arciconfraternita dei Pellegrini, represents a key archeological find to tracing the entire trajectory of the ancient construction. The aqueduct was built in 10 AC and was an extraordinary work of hydraulic engineering at the time. It was more than 100 km long and supplied water to the most important cities in Campania, such as Neapolis, Pompeii and Herculaneum. Over the centuries, its bridge-arches were buried due to the rise of the planking level. They were then used as a base for new constructions, as the city expanded beyond the walls of ancient Neapolis, leading to the rise of the Vergini-Sanità area. The spaces delineated by the old arches, now underground, served as wine cellars, as a bomb shelter during the Second World War, and as a dump.

Opened in 2015, the archeological site is currently managed by Associazione VerginiSanità. In collaboration with the Arciconfraternita and other cultural associations in the area, it is working on a whole project for its restoration, promotion and reception titled AquaAugusta. In 2017, the site was included in EXTRAMANN, a project of collaboration between the MANN Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Napoli and other institutions devoted to promoting cultural heritage.