From Purgatorio to Paradise, Sardinia-Senegal-New York, 1986

In early April of 1986, Sandro Dernini arrived in Sardinia in the little island of Carloforte, where there is the only Catholic church dedicated to the Madonna of the Slave (La Madonna dello Schiavo). On board the Elisabeth, the coral fishing boat of his brother Carlo, he placed the Don Cherry’s Buddha statuette, together with 1984 William Parker’s Open Call In Order to Survive and the Nuraghic warrior statuette from the Plexus Art Opera Eve. From there, he started to look for supports for the landing in Sardinia in the summer 1987 of the Plexus art slaves ship from New York City.

Then, he went in Dakar with Gianni Villella, a sociologist from Calabria,  to meet Mangone NDiaye, a close friend of Gianni who spent many years in Rome and in Paris. Thanks to him it was possible to meet many artists of the community of Dakar. The story of the Plexus art slaves boat was introduced to them to verify the Plexus idea to associate the concept of the slavery of art from the market  to the reality of the House of the Slaves of Goree and the tragic history of the market of slaves from Africa. Goree, an island off Dakar, is a sanctuary of the African Diaspora and an UNESCO world heritage site, and it is the most important historical slaves trade place in Africa. Mangone brought them in the Medina of Dakar to meet Kre MBaye and Langouste MBow, two artists very well respected in the community. They liked the Plexus journey of an art slave ship that was travelling through reality and mythology. Then, Mangone brought them in Casamance, a  southern region of Senegal, with a strong animistic tradition, to write in French a presentation of the Plexus mythological art slaves journey, to get a broader support towards the Plexus continuation to the House of the Slaves of Goree. In Casamance, the serpent came up as an universal mythology able to communicate through cultural separations. On May 15, in Dakar, the Plexus presentation Voyage of Art within the Universal Mythology: From Purgatory  to Paradise was held with Kre M’Baye and Langouste M’Bow, at the African Cultural Center Malick Sy, in the Medina. At the end of August, Sandro Dernini returned in Cagliari, in Sardinia, and gathered together with Gaetano Brundu and Carlo Antonio (Cicci) Borghi, two artists who had collaborated very actively with him in the middle of the 70’s at Spazio A.  It was the first experimental performance space in Sardinia, that he founded in 1976 with Marilisa Piga, Pietro Zambelli, Piernicola Cocco, Annamaria Pillosu, Paolo Cossu, Sandro Carboni, Paolo Salis and Emilietta.  In September of 1986, Gaetano Brundu, Carlo Antonio Borghi and Sandro Dernini  identified the stone as mythological symbol for the Plexus landing in Sardinia and they named Il Serpente di Pietra (The Stoned Serpent) the 1987 Plexus event. On September 1, they organized an exhibition performance Fire!! Il Serpente di Pietra, An Universal Mythological Art Journey announcing the Plexus Stoned Serpent arrival in Sardinia in the summer 1987, as a three acts event: New York-Dakar-Sardinia.

Sandro recalled how in New York he conceived the Plexus art slaves event. It came from his experience with the first cultural slaves market show of the LIACA (Italian League of Alternative Cultural Associations). It was performed in 1979 in Rome for the freedom of expression and Sandro was very much involved in it as representative of Spazio A..

Few days after, on September 4, at Magazzini Generali in Rome, Armando Soldaini who was an historical member of the L.I.A.C.A. managed  with Gianni Villella and Silvio Betti a Plexus presentation of the art slaves journey. Magazzini Generali was organizing a large art exhibition Africa Project Against Apartheid, conceived by Silvio Betti. Therefore many artists became involved in it became also interested in the Plexus Serpent journey against art slavery.  In October, in New York, at Frank Shifreen’s studio, Leonard Horowitz, Sandro Dernini, Helen Valentin, Arturo Lindsay, David Boyle, Mitch Ross,  Marcos Margal and Frank Koufman, started to organize Plexus as a multinational interdisciplinary recall network for artists in the first person. They launched the Plexus Serpent Open Call to participate in the summer 1987 at the Serpent of Stone as a traveling art coopera from New York to Rome, Sardinia and Dakar.

In Sardinia, Gaetano Brundu issued an open letter to the artists in the first person.


For Plexus by Gaetano Brundu, Cagliari 1986

The artists’ and intellectuals’ cosmopolitism is an ancient aspiration often mortified by poverty, by tiredness, by mistrust in humanity and by the melancholic condition of those live in island and little islands.  And yet the planet is today really a village. Communication networks more and more are becoming frequent and punctual: making to circulate our own ideas, our dreams, even in shape of work of art, of proposal, of questioning, is to day virtually easy and speedy. So, for artists in the first person, Plexus may become the net of which we little in despair far inhabitants of islands, can vibrate the yarns for radiate our creative messages, in hope that such messages don’t get lost in a desert of indifference. Plexus may become an important opportunity for those who feel themselves somehow creative and, as artists in the first person, feel the need to throw their message to this net; message that is going to be much more than a bottle entrusted to the ocean streams.