alessandro cheula - castelli-fantasmi-leggende

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"Fantasmi senza nome" Alessandro Cheula
The project "Castles, ghosts, legends" by the artist from Brescia


The ghost of the castle not as a hostile alien or a disturbing presence but as a hovering "genius loci" that rescues, defends and protects its descendants.  Like the "White Lady" of the castle Salvadego of Padernello (restored to his ancestral beauty by the tireless efforts of Gian Mario Andrico) stealthy evanescence of a fleeting but perpetual sequence. Perpetual because ghosts are eternal, they survive even the stones among which their legend originated. So much so that we can say that, as the myth befits a castle, the ghost befits both. That is why they are mythical and magical, enchanted and fairy.

Salvatore Attanasio, creator of the itinerant exhibition "Castles, ghosts, legends" that from October 2020 to the end of 2023 will be hosted in the castles,of Lombardy in Scotland would find approval and sponsors. In the homeland of ghosts, where every ancient castle has adopted one that, alongside the heraldic coat of arms, represents it not only in history books but also in tourist guides, Attanasio would be a successful character, an artist contended for by the descendants of noble families who boast not only saints, heroes, poets or navigators among their ancestors but also benign immaterial presences or subtle virtual fades. The travelling exhibition that will bring to each of the host castles of the Lombard provinces 15 chiaroscuro images of ghosts of as many medieval manors - presences referring to real characters or handed down by legends over the centuries - is not an expedient for a seance to evoke restless souls from the afterlife, but a pretext to restore warmth and colour to the noble residences through the re-enactment of the protagonists who really lived in local legends.
There is no castle without legends, as every legend has a castle to which it owes its birth. Like the Castle Averoldi di Drugolo restored to its ancient splendour by Baron Lando Lanni della Quara.  The intriguing idea of Attanasio starts from this axiom. And legends are often born around characters who became ghosts after their earthly life. Ghosts who "survived" the death of the body to whom they belonged.  Ghosts are fleeting shadows,  latent footprints  images of a deadevoked by an hallucinated fantasy and considered as real. They are therefore a "ghostly" apparition, a "sublimation" of the person in which he or she were previously incarnated. History is full of ghosts, and literature without ghosts would be less than half of what it is. The same can be said of the theatre. Without ghosts many of Shakespeare's masterpieces would be no longer such: if Ophelia did not exist, Hamlet would not exist either, if King Lear did not appear to his daughters in a dream his ghost could not ask for justice. Dante would be less "divine" than he is. The cinema itself would be less attractive: ghosts are the protagonists of countless films of the fantasy-visionary genre. Even the legends of castles would be less fascinating and less evocative than they are. More fleeting and less evocative. And not even J. K. Rowling could have written the eight books of his Harry Potter saga. Just as the great Tolkien could not have become the father of all fantasy literature with his "The Lord of the Rings". We owe a lot to ghosts,  not only in stories but also in art, poetry, literature . Like "The Phantom of the Opera", archetype of all ghosts, like Poe's tales or the legends of Transylvania.
In short, there is a causal almost necessary relationship between legends and ghosts. And therefore between ghosts and castles. This is why every famous castle has a ghost roaming its austere rooms, a ghost climbing the ancient staircase every night. The shadow of a suicidal lady of the castle appears every full moon among the battlements of the towers, or the shadow of a betrayed lover, of a missing child, of an innocent victim, of an heroic martyr. A lot of ghosts always appear in the stories of every time in every country. Attanasio turns them into the actors of his sequences of interiors in black and white. But they are elusive transparencies, fleeting fades, airy appearances. They are projections of our unconscious. Oneiric presences, "spiritual" reminiscences. Ghosts, like legends, are immortal. They come from a remote and ancient past. Some from the mists of time. This is why they haunt castles, the most lasting human dwellings. They are a way to compensate void. They are the elaboration of a mourning, the exorcisation of a loss, the evocation of a vacuum, the focusing of a nuptum. Volatile and virtual.

But there are also stories of ghosts less tragic than a tradition that wants them at all costs testimonies of gloomy dramas or gothic tragedies. This is the case with the legends of Attanasio set in the castles of Brescia, Bergamo, Cremona, Cremona, Mantua and the surrounding area. Here the home of the ghosts is not darkness but the dimness of cloisters. Not the light but neither the darkness. They are children of shadow, not of darkness. They are born at sunset and set at dawn. That is why they dress in black and white and appear in chiaroscuro. They come from the "mists of time" but every night they are reborn and reappear. Silent, it is we who speak through them. They too, like Freud's dreams, are the fulfilment of a desire, the appearance of an aspiration. The negative of a frame. The photograph of the soul. Attanasio's images are backlit, that is why the special effect in darkened environments is particularly suggestive. Attractive and hypnotizing. Because they too, the ghosts, are the result of hypnosis, but not of an optical hallucination like mirages but of a topical (and tropical) emotion. In this sense the ghost that roams inside castles and behind legends is the shadow of the author. The alter Ego of the artist. The footprint of Attanasio, who leaves his mark on the ancient staircases, in the austere rooms, among the ancestral battlements of the turreted castles... mythical and magical, enchanted and fairy...

Not only without glory but also without history. Attanasio wishes to give back to the ghosts a "glory" worthy of the history of the castles where their name was born. To give them back the dignity of an epic, the identity of a legend. Bring them back to the light, not to the light of day but to the semi-darkness of the cloisters. The ghosts in fact are children of the culture of the shadow, the cloister, not of the culture of the sun, the capital. They are more suited to profane civilisations than to pagan ones. But being mysterious othernesses they are also esoteric entities. Hence their fascination, their "sacredness" daughter of an afterlife of which they are involuntary messengers and unwitting mediators. They are not zombies. They are the ineffable breaths, the caressing breaths, the soul filled with winged messages. Spiritual essences of past absences.

Brescia, september 30,  2020 - Alessandro Cheula
official website of the project castles, ghosts, legends from an idea of salvatore attanasio
copyright © 2020, any reproduction, even partial, of text or images contained in the site is forbidden
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