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Deportatio in Insulam - Certosa

Winning work of the Zucchelli Prize 2019, Bologna



White corner, shaped and engraved sheet of galvanized iron, bovine blood.


DSC_3162 2 copia copia copia-compressed.

Roman criminal law provided, with the Deportation in insulam, that a person found guilty of certain crimes was punished with a forced stay in an outcast place or on an island; it also resulted in the loss of Roman citizenship and the total or partial confiscation of property.


Well, what is a cemetery if not a place on the edge of the city, an island surrounded by walls so that its inhabitants do not flee?

As soon as a man dies, just for having committed the 'crime of dying', he is deported to the place set up to house the 'exiles', he is removed from his home where he can never return with his body.

His property is no longer his own, but that of the heirs, or worse still, of the State. His citizenship no longer has any value.

What is a Corpse if not an exile in the cemetery island, driven away together with those like him from the life of the living?

All this happens in contemporary Western society in which the Dead - escaped to the logic and dynamics of Capital - are no longer useful: they no longer consume, no longer carry money and are therefore excluded, thrown away, disposed of by this Hera del Frivolo, as waste.


The Certosa Island (the largest cemetery in Bologna) is set in a corner to give it a sense of depth and exclusion from the body of the spectator.


The small streets, obtained from the official mapping of the cemetery, are engraved and hollowed out in the galvanizing of the slab which is then scratched along these lines and filled with Blood. 

The zinc of the work recalls the zinc used to coat the coffins, so that they can contain the gases and liquids of the bodies.

Reinforced, armored coffins, which reveal the fear that modern man feels at the thought of a possible return of the Dead.

 The cemetery folds 90° on itself with the favor of the Angle and each slab, for the reflective property of the galvanizing, reflects part of the other, closing a circle not only formal, but also substantial. It becomes an unexposed cemetery, a place of exclusion for the living.

A cemetery that denies itself, showing only the conventional lines that draw the mapping useful for visitors to orient themselves inside. Nothing more is revealed, because if we exclude the Corpses, we must not forget how much in life we are all excluded from the Great Mystery of Death.


Maria Chiara Wang

The work was exhibited at the Zucchelli Foundation on the occasion of the exhibition

Arte e Mondo
a Cura di Carmen Lorenzetti
Bologna, 2020

The island of Certosa, the main cemetery in Bologna, is shaped on a slab of galvanized iron according to the perimeter of its walls and set in a corner to give it a sense of depth and exclusion from the body of the spectator...

Carmen Lorenzetti

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