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"To recuperate the Unconscious of a collective. To reactivate it; to transcribe it through new languages and modes of expression. Such is to revive the anxieties of cultural history that silently structure the emotional Life of a people."
— Aurelio Caminati (1924–2012)
Still something of an obscure figure in the neo-avant-garde movement, Aurelio Caminati seems someone particularly worth remembering today, having re-enacted Manzoni's 1630 account of a Plague-ravaged Milan on a barge floating down the city's famous Naviglio Grande in 1976; engaged in both memory and prophecy. He started as a painter, impersonating Surrealism, hyper-realism, and Pop. Until he eventually developed a distinct aesthetic theory of sdoppiamento—i.e. of doubling; of cloning with a difference—and began to transcribe historical narratives, whether from literature or from painting, into present-day performances, via costumes, actors, choreography, and time. Such was the basis for his series of "animated transcriptions" (trascrizioni animate).
The present cache of archival materials, limited editions, artist statements, and rare catalogues, uniquely documents this rich experiment in radical performance and collective psychotherapy, which resulted in two dozen projects over a fifteen year period (1970-1985). These materials are either unique or largely-absent from North American and British institutions.

The full price for the group is $5000 USD.
Full description here
Additional images available upon request.
In this first section: a rich group of archival materials and limited editions that document the ephemeral activities of the Museo di Monteghirfo, a collaborative work between Caminati and the Ligurian artist Claudio Costa. Representing a seminal moment in both the performative and anthropological turns from the 1970s neo-avant-garde, this work has received renewed attention in recent years through a focused exhibition at the Museo d'Arte Contemporanea Villa Croce (Genova, 2018) and planned features at the Centres Pompidou at Metz and Marseille (2020).
If Marcel Duchamp laid down the gauntlet by submitting his urinal as artwork—and thus disrupting the sense of aura that otherwise sounds within the walls of the art gallery and the museum—then Aurelio Caminati and Claudio Costa wagered to move in the opposite direction; seeking to re-mobilize that aura at the level of everyday objects themselves: in situ. In 1975, the duo thus acquired the keys to the home of a recently-deceased peasant in Monteghirfo—in the still-largely pre-modern culture that dominated the Ligurian countryside in the 1970s—and proceeded to catalogue the furniture, tools, and objects that they found in this house and the surrounding area. From there, the duo proceeded to "curate" these once-again-historical objects into the "Museo di Monteghirfo," preparing labels for each of these objects in the local dialect. Present here: a hand-made photo-book that sought to document the opening day of the Museo (Indagine su una cultura. Monteghirfo, 4 ottobre, 1975), in which we find preserved a series of long-vanished views from within that museum's walls.
In keeping with the anthropological style that Costa had been developing in the early 1970s—especially with his photographic works from Morocco and New Zealand—the Museo also engaged the local community, executing formal inquiries into its historical practices, beliefs, and culture. In the duo's Communiqué no. 5—bound within the prospectus that's also present in this archival group—the artists announced to the local inhabitants that they were "in-search-of the objects & sentiments that will make us understand those objects and sentiments that are still-to-come."
As one of those inquiries, the duo documented the practice of local magic/witchcraft known as sperlengoëvia. Within the present group of materials, photos from this inquiry are reproduced both as a sub-section to the photo-book, as well as in a separate photo-edition, which was published by the Museo as an envelope of eight blown-up colour prints (see above); the envelope present in this group being numbered as 2 of 10. Much like other photos present here, Costa would recycle a number of these into later assemblages.
Also performed at Monteghirfo was Controprocesso (above) which would become the first of Caminati's series of trascrizione animate. In this performance, Caminati performed an anthropological version of the high priest, drawing-forth a procession of objects and rituals that he had collected over the course of the project, as a material transcription of the community—"in the voice of a humble magic that tries to save things and people from the wreckage of memory, thus recovering the apotropaic and symbolic values of everyday objects: the blessed olive tree and the sacred oil as amulets, the wooden crib as symbol of birth and purity, the iron bellows as symbol of work. These are flanked by disturbing modern presences, such as the three male nurses, 'symbols of violence against the mind'" (Solimano, 2000). The second-half of the prospectus in this group provides an inventory of this performance, along with excerpts from the text that Caminati reads at his makeshift altar; well-documented by 69 b&w photographs in the accompanying photo-book. Also reproduced in the prospectus: a handmade map that locates the performance 400 feet to the northeast of the local church.
Before experimenting with his new aesthetic—of the "animated transcriptions"—Caminati had flirted with a number of different painterly styles—e.g. Surrealist, hyper-realist, Pop; often in such exaggerated ways that he seemed to be positioned somewhere between analyst, plagiarist, and comedian. But, after Controprocesso, he developed a sustained aesthetic strategy of sdoppiamento (i.e. doubling), attempting to revive a selection of early-modernist paintings; choreographing actors in their staged settings, as he would otherwise move brush through paint. Present here: a cache of catalogues and artist statements documenting a number of these reconstructions: Caino e Abele (1976), I matti del Lissandrino (1976), La peste del 1630 (1976), and Sogno di Ossian (1978). Combined with Controprocesso, these represent five of the first ten of Caminati's trascrizioni, from a total of 25 identified in his most in-depth catalogue (De Ferrari, 1998).
"For me, it wasn't so much a question of quitting painting; of adopting another media. It was more about entering into painting's fullest depth; of going even deeper. I wanted to animate the painting [through its decoding]. To animate the characters, to make the colours live, to move through real space as though it were the space of a canvas."
Thus, with I matti del Lissandrino, Caminati attempted to transcribe the unconscious content of a painting of Alessandro Magnasco (known as Lissandrino), which documented the local practice of rounding-up community members suffering from mental illness, loading them onto a cart, and transporting them into the hills of the Apennines, where they were abandoned to die. (Hence the title of Magnasco's painting: Il carro dei matti; above). To animate this painting, Caminati hired and costumed a number of non-professional actors, and then choreographed their movements from the Salita della Misericordia in Genoa (the traditional departure point for these cart-rides). Their performances were staged for passers-by, but also for a series of documentary cameras, which would produce content for a printed artist catalogue, as well as for a theatrical adaptaion that was mounted with the same actors in a local theatre one week later, unfurling from a wooden crate (Teatro della Tosse, below).
As represented by the catalogues in this group, Caminati would adapt the same methodology to paintings by Il Grecetto (Cain and Abel) and Ingres (The dream of Ossian), as well as to the literary content of Alessandro Manzoni's narration of the 1630 plague of Milan, for which he costumed a number of actors (plague doctors and infected) and set them adrift on a slow-moving barge on one of Milan's central canals.
A final segment of this group concerns Caminati's work in the context of experimental media and performance at the end of the decade, with three catalogues placing him within the context of his peers, and an invitation to a 1978 solo exhibition on the specific subject of his trascrizione. Also present: a photograph of Caminati's story-boarding process, from an apparently unrealized transcription of Breugel's dystopian/utopian painting The land of Cockaigne; a remarkable window into Caminati's experimental methodology.

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For a full description of this archival group, click here. Reciprocal terms are extended to the trade; institutional policies are accommodated. For purchase inquiries, please email or phone +1 416 729 7043. Priority is given to first interest. To receive advance copies of future lists, subscribe to our mailing list. Specific wants are always welcome, from both new and established collectors.
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