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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 a People's emotional Life."
— Aurelio Caminati (1924–2012)
Aurelio Caminati largely remains an obscure figure in the European avant-garde—and, perhaps more unfairly, in the field of psychology, where he hovers in the margins much in the way that Walter Benjamin did vis-à-vis Freud. Today especially—with pharmacies unable to keep hand sanitizer on their shelves—someone like Caminati seems someone worth remembering—having re-enacted Manzoni's Plague-ravaged Milan, upon a barge slowly pushing down the city's main canal in 1976.
In this context, the present cache of archival materials—much of which descends directly from Caminati's estate—provides an unique opportunity to confront his ambitiously therapeutic project: merging, as he did, the forms of painting, theatre, photography/film, performance, and anthropology to explore the delicate coiling between collective Memory and well-Being. The materials in this collection, which cover the years 1975-1978 in real depth, are either unique or largely-absent from North American and British institutions.
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Price for full archive (described here): 6000 USD

Full terms below.
PART 01
MUSEO DI MONTEGHIRFO : MUSEO ATTIVO DI ANTROPOLOGIA (1975)
Offered here: a rich group of archival materials, documenting the activities of the Museo di Monteghirfo, a collaborative work by the Ligurian artists Aurelio Caminati and Claudio Costa. A seminal moment in both the performative and anthropological turns in the 1970s neo-avant-garde, this work has received renewed attention in recent years through a solo exhibition at the Museo d'Arte Contemporanea Villa Croce (Genova, 2018) and upcoming 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 art galleries and museums—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 Italian countryside in the 1970s—and proceeded to catalogue the furniture, tools, and objects that they found in this house and the surrounding area, and to then "curate" these once-again-historical objects into the Museo di Monteghirfo, preparing labels for each of these objects in the local dialect. Here, in a hand-made photo-book that purported to document a day-in-the-life of the Museo (i.e. Indagine su una cultura. Monteghirfo, 4 ottobre, 1975), we find preserved a series of long-vanished views from that Museum's walls.
"Specialized science has restricted the space of things. All we need to do is give space back to things to see what they were once like: the field will be a field and not land for property development. The river will be a river, and fire will burn once more, instead of becoming just a source of warmth and the heat for the winter of Man" (Claudio Costa, Evoluzione e involuzione, 1972; one of his 1977 assemblages appears below, recycling photos and objects from the Museo).
In keeping with the anthropological style that Costa had been developing in the early 1970s—especially with his photographic works in Morocco and New Zealand—the Museo also engaged the local community, executing formal inquiries into its historical practices, beliefs, and culture. In communiqué no. 5 of the Museo—bound within in the prospectus 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 apparently published by the Museo as an envelope of eight blown-up colour prints (see above); the present envelope numbered as 2 of 10. Much like other photos present here, Costa would recycle a number of these into one of his later assemblages.
 
Also performed at Monteghirfo was Controprocesso (above) which would become the first of Caminati's series of trascrizioni 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 texts that Caminati read from 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.
 
PART 02
TRASCRIZIONI ANIMATE (1976–1978)
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 certain early-modernist paintings; choreographing actors in their staged settings, as he would otherwise brush through paint. Present in this archival grouping: 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); staging the performance for the passers-by, but also for a series of documentary cameras, which would produce content for a printed edition / catalogue—and also for a theatrical adaptation that was mounted with the same actors in a local theatre the following week (Teatro della Tosse).
 
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.
 
PART 03
EXPERIMENTAL THEATRE
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 in context of his peers, and an invitation to a 1978 solo exhibition on the specific subject of the trascrizioni. 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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TERMS
 
For a full description of this archival group, click here. For those in Manhattan for Rare Book Week (NYC), items from this list will be on view at the two-day Satellite Fair, at the booth of Jason Rovito, Bookseller (#102). Prices are listed in USD. Items are guaranteed to be described and delivered to the collector's satisfaction; returns are accepted within 10 days of receipt, with notice. Reciprocal terms are extended to the trade; institutional policies are accommodated. For North American purchases, please email jason@paperbooks.ca 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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