The Neapolitan Cult of the Dead: An Illustrated Lecture with Chiara Ambrosio
Observatory (543 Union St., Brooklyn)
Naples is a unique city in which the sacred and the profane, Catholicism and paganism, beauty and decay blend and contrast in intriguing ways. No practice illustrates this tangle of ideas better than what is known as “The Neapolitan Cult of the Dead” in which devout Catholics–generally poor women–adopt anonymous skulls found in charnel houses and clean, care for, and sometimes house them, offering up prayers and offerings to shorten that soul’s time in purgatory before reaching paradise, where, it is hoped, it will assist its earthbound caretaker with special favors. The macabre artifacts of this cult can be seen in the Cimitero delle Fontanelle (see above) and the crypt of the church of Saint Mary of Purgatory.
In tonight’s illustrated lecture, Italian artist and filmmaker Chiara Ambrosio will elucidate this curious and fascinating “Neapolitan Cult of the Dead” and situate it within a the rich death culture and storied history of Naples.
Chiara Ambrosio is a visual artist working with video and animation. Her work has included collaborations with performance artists, composers, musicians and writers, and has been shown in a number of venues including national and international film festivals, galleries and site specific events. She also runs The Light & Shadow Salon is a place for artists, writers and audience to meet and share ideas about the past, present and future of the moving image in all its forms.
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