Il Serpente di Pietra, first international art slaves market show, Gavoi, Sardinia

After 14 month of pre-production,  Il Serpente di Pietra (the Serpent of Stone), as the first international art slave market show in contemporary art history, to be held from 1 to 4 July, in Gavoi, Sardinia, within an 8.000 years old megalithic sanctuary site, was presented on 30 June of 1987, at Teatro in Trastevere, in Rome, one of the historical player of the 1978 LIACA cultural slaves market event.  The Plexus Serpent event was organized as a 4 days of art and science, made with a cast of 160 artists from all arts fields, coming there as art slaves from 23 different countries to celebrate the freedom of art from the art world market control. The Plexus presentation in Rome was introduced by Willem Brugman, Miguel Algarin, Arturo Lindsay, Gianni Villella, Armando Soldaini, Paolo Maltese, Maggie Relley, Shalom Newman, Luc Leuroge, Carlo Cusatelli, and Pino Licastro.  Sandro Dernini, by stressing the role of the artist in the first person as the producer of the Plexus art co-opera, presented the Plexus strategy against the slavery of art from the market. Giovanna Ducrot, former national secretary of the L.I.A.C.A. (Italian League of Alternative Cultural Associations), recalled the Italian radical political background of the 70s, when the L.I.A.C.A. organized in Rome a provocative cultural slaves market show for freedom of expression. As closing act, a serpentine procession happening was run by participants crossing the alleys  of Trastevere visiting the space Il Cielo of Romano Rocchi where in 1979 was held the L.I.A.C.A.’ cultural slaves market show. The day after, before departing to Sardinia, Lorenzo Pace helped Arturo Lindsay ritually in buried his sculpture The Ancestral Messenger in the garden of Gianni Villella. It was part of groups of ritual art performances that Arturo Lindsay had planned as the ancestral messenger of Plexus. Almost 100 artists departed on their own expenses from the harbour of Civitavecchia in Rome, making then an unexpected happening on board of the ferryboat.

Dedicated to the 100 Years Celebration of Heinrich Hertz’s invisible electromagnetism, from the radio station board of the ferryboat, then symbolically transformed into the Electra ship of Guglielmo Marconi. A radio message for freedom in art communication was transmitted by Franco Meloni at the University of Cagliari and to the Carnegie Mellon Dax Group in Pittsburgh. After their arrival in Cagliari, at the workshop of Pinuccio Sciola in San Sperate, a Sardinian welcome lunch was hosted by Alberto Rodriguez and Mariangela Sedda, with the presence of the Hon. Mario Melis, president of the Sardinian Goverment that financed the event.  Then, the voyage continued by bus to Gavoi, on top the mountains at the centre of Sardinia.

Mariangela Sedda got the support of Salvatore Lai, mayor of Gavoi, to host the Plexus event with the purpose to break the cultural isolation and loneliness of that area, very hard to be reached, by promoting the entire area of the Sardinian Barbargia as an open laboratory for innovative intercultural dialogue and experienced international arts exchanges. At that time, Sardinia was known mostly only for the presence of the exclusive Aga Khan’s Emerald Coast and the Barbagia area was known instead in particular as a dangerous zone of banditos. At the City Hall of Gavoi, the Mayor Salvatore Lai, Mariangela Sedda and the librarian Gristolu, welcomed the artists and presented them to the local community forehanded their move to the sanctuary of Sa Itria, few miles outlying from the village, where it was staged the Plexus Event. There, it was also arranged a friendly hospitality for all artists who lived participating and working freely together, in an uncontaminated natural environment of unique harmonic beauty. Sa Itria is an ancient Stone Age site; on its centre stands an actual megalithic Menhir stone. It became a Christian sanctuary in the VI century. There is a little catholic church dedicated to the Madonna of SA Itria which once it was the place where local people used to meet for celebrate their traditional events and horses’ races. And so for this Event, the magic scenery of the wild mountains of Sardinia and the magic stones of Sa Itria interacted by times-spaces of so many artists who spoke different languages codes, fashioned a unique creative collaborative aesthetic environment where all artists felt finally free to express themselves without critics and art curators.  There, over 4 days stage, 160 artists from various art fields and cultures, worked and lived together to celebrate the Serpent’s metaphor. All over the open environment of Sa Itria, there were artists working on the deconstruction of the serpent myth. Local people were very friendly in helping artists to get materials for their artworks. It was a truly collaborative joint art effort, art co-opera, where artists’ interpretations on the serpent theme were, without restraint, expressed and placed with nobody giving them an art direction for it.  Plexus interactive and creative art environment was made possible by hundred artists from different art disciplines, working night and day, with local people moving in and out from the Sanctuary.  Many people from the entire Barbagia area arrived to see what were happen there.  For the Sardinian people, very proud of their sense of hospitality, any occasion then was, as an opportunity to offer to the artists their water that exquisite taste of Sardinian traditional food. It seemed like an open ongoing party, everybody felt this atmosphere.  The participants, from 23 countries,  were:

Hakin Abbaci, Lello Albanese, Miguel Algarin, Albino Angioi, Fakher Al Koudsi, Artemis, Anagnostopoulos, Roberto Annechini, Stefano Asili, Gianni Atzeni, Isabelle Baeckeroot, Fabi Bandini, R.M.Barbarosa Rabaga, Rudy Barboncini, Fabrizio Bertuccioli, Nyal Binclixen, Andrea Boldrini, Graziano Bracale, Marco Vella Brega, Bruce Breland, Willem Brugman, Joelle Brun Cosme, Gaetano Brundu, Luisa Brunetti, Antonio Caboni, Danna Call, Giovanna Caltagirone, Dino Candelo, Giovanna Canevari, Andrea Cao, Annamaria Caracciolo, Alex Carmeno, Paolo Col angeli, Luigi Concu, Carmine Conte, Nanni Cortassa, Graziano Crecale, Carlo Culatelli, Mattia Culatelli, Dax Group, Giovanni Delogu, Giovanni Maria Denti, Sandro Dernini, Antonello Dessi, Diagonale Espace, Giorgio Di Mauro, Alessandro Di Todaro, Pierluigi Di Todaro, Robert Dunn, John Edwards, Karin Eggers, Marco Fabiano, Daniela Fantini, Leonardo Fava, Vittorio Fava, Alessandro Figurelli, Jocelyn Fiset, Marcello Frajoli, Bernard Francois, Liliana Franquelli, Galavision, Paolo Gallina, Augusto Gandini, Marzia Gandini, Margherita Gelfi, Khalife Ghada, Massimo Ghiani, Valerio Ghiani, Elvio Ghirigozzi, Didier Gokart, Rosanna Granata, Stefano Grassi, Guileme Marie Greco, Antonio Grimaldi, Gristolu, Gruppo Polmone Pulsante, Randi Hansen, Hannette Holdensen, John Howard, Regina Hubner, Massimo Iovinella, Berit Jansen, Faramarz Janhangir, Vito Lella, Renata Leoni, Luc Lerouge, Mario Lido, Arturo Lindsay, Gabriella Locci, Luis Lopes, Sabina Maccuri, Grazia Magnani, Paolo Maltese, Lamberto Manganello, Giampiero Maoddi, Claudio Marani, Giuseppe Marini, Luigia Mastelloni, Luigi Mazzarelli, Assane MBaye, Loredana Melis, Gianfranco Melis, Franco Meloni, Valeria Meloni, Susanna Micozzi, Carlo Moi, Jean Claud Monnier, Elisabeth Morcellet, Marco Murgia, Maurizio Murgia, Wanda Nazzari, Shalom Newman, Carla Nurchis, Franco Nuti, Tony Occhiello, Orange, Antonello Ottonello, Albertino Pace, Lorenzo Pace, Alessandro Pallotta, Augusta Passatelli, Marco Vinicio Passatelli, Massimo Pietrucci, Raffaele Piras, Bruno Pittau, Alfonso Pizzoleo, Riccardo Polimeri, Andrea Portas, Claudio Prati, Karen Pritchett, Gianfranco Quadrini, Cesario Rachador, Elvi Ratti, Maggie Reilly, Vittorio Rella, Giuseppe Rizzutto, Salvatore Rosello, Phil Rostek, Tuna Marcia Rostek, Anna Saba, Graziano Salerno, Angela Sanna, Salvatore Sanna, Gino Sanpaolesi, Grazia Santi, Basilio Scalas, Mariangela Sedda, Piergavino Sedda, Andrea Selis, Micaela Serino, Greco Shyslaine, Hilla Simonitto, Britt Smelvaer, Armando Soldaini, Tore Soru, Laura Squarcia, Teatro degli Opposti, Susanna Talayero, Francoise Tesmoingt, Cristophe Thibaudeau, Aliki Thrumulopulos, Saverio Ungheri, Vincenzo Valentino, Verrieres Association, Gianni Villella, Silvie Zampolini, Massimo Zanasi, Massimo Zucchi, Salvatore Zurru, Rajo Wurns.

On July 2, in the church Madonna of Sa Itria, a Barocco classic music concert was performed by Marco Brega, Rudy Baroncini and the singer Sabina Maccuri, followed an art performance of Claudio Prati and Tita Leoni.

As a free art communication serpent, The Serpent of Telema, a 150 metres’ long rolled coloured collective serigraph artwork made by Luigi Mazzarelli, Gaetano Brundu, Gabriella Locci, Annamaria Caracciolo, was displaced among individual installations. All the Sanctuary was full of activity and creative energy. The mythological theme of the Serpent of Stone and the aesthetics of its ancient Nuraghic culture of Sardinia had facilitated the establishment of an alternative channel of art communication with many artists that were came from non-Western cultures.  Their refused aesthetics control of the Western Art World so celebrating together the first art slaves’ market show ever never organized in the history of contemporary art. Arturo Lindsay buried a second Ancestral Messenger statuette to be retrieved in the future as an historical witness of the Plexus art slaves journey. 

On July 4, USA Independence Day, the remote Gavoi became worldwide connected through an experimental academic computer system, with artists experimenting art exchanges in Kassel, Sidney, Vancouver, Wien, Wales, New York, and in other places. It was managed by Bruce Breland and Robert Dunn of the Dax Group from the Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh and Franco Meloni of the Physics Dept. of the University of Cagliari in Sardinia.

As a scales of the Plexus Serpent, a slow-scam digitised interpretations of the theme which linked artists and scientists around the world. Free deconstructions of the metaphor of the Serpent of Stone were exchanged and transmitted to Gavoi to celebrate the freedom of art and its independence.

In the night, in a ritualistic performance, followed by a serpentine parade played by artists, Lorenzo Pace as the shaman moved around all installations to awake the spirit of art to celebrate the closing of the Serpent Event. Willem Brugman with John Howard performed the reading of the poem Body Bee Calling from 21st Century by Miguel Algarin translating in Italian by Alessandro Figurelli, as second voice.

From Body Bee Calling from 21 Century by Miguel Algarin:

After transplanting/repairing body organs, at what point is self-still of woman born? After becoming a beehive of transplants, grafted parts, after replacements is there still a self from woman born? After biological break down and up to date repairing, will self be a patch-work-of-spare-part?

2019: Synthetic membranes introduced to repair stomachs, intestines, kidneys.               2021: Fluorocarbon liquids/ base for artificial blood /patented in 2008/ will with synthetic polyvinyl hydro-gel replace natural vitreous liquids.

2034: Chemical muscles: still shunned by body engineers developing techniques to force the body into regenerating its missing or damaged parts.

2045: Techniques for grafts to brain area controlling physiological processes are in daily use/all work on cerebral cognitive thought areas is advanced though performed selectively. 2050: Alien tissue ruled accessory graft receiver retains the I original/foreign tissue subdued and acclimated by self of woman born still risking to persist.  After body, after repairs, after transplants, after self, after beehive of organs, after grafts, after patchwork replaces self of woman born, after after, after that! What and where?


Assane Mbaye, who arrived from Dakar and chosen by Kre MBaye, Langouste MBow and Mangone NDaye as their representative, invites all participant artists to go to Dakar in December 1988 to continue the Plexus art slaves’ journey to the House of the Slaves of Goree. As closing act, like in a modern sacrifice, Sandro Dernini performed with Paolo Maltese and Assane MBaye a ritual of burning his clothes as a symbolic ending of his image as artistic director of Plexus. It was dedicated to Bruce Richard Nuggent, honorary chairman of Plexus and black pope of the 1986 art slaves’ ship, who died few months before. Sandro’s performance was an intentional action in opposition to the tentative by some of the main players to establish in Plexus an internal artist’s star system that was the central core of the art system that Plexus art slaves’ voyage was refusing. The ending of the image of the Plexus artistic director was performed as a celebration of the artist in the first person, creator, producer, and consumer as well as the final product of the Plexus art co-opera. Then, Arturo Lindsay as the ancestral messenger set on fire an art box containing all participants’ signatures. Assane MBaye invited all participant artists to continue the Plexus voyage towards Dakar in 1988.  A traditional Sardinian dance from Gavoi shape the serpent movement was performed by audience and artists together, closed the event.

The beautiful natural environment of Sa Itria had produced a high creative energy among all artists’ participants, but, at the same time raised up a strong confrontation among the Plexus main players about two different interpretations of the Plexus art co-opera’s concept.  The first position conceived the Plexus art co-opera made by the co-authors of a Plexus anti-libretto, as a unitary and compressed presentation of synchronized collective deconstructions of the Serpent. The second one conceived the Plexus art opera made by the authors of the libretto as a modular and selective construction of individual art-works on the Serpent.  Beyond strong art confrontations, personal conflicts, economic difficulties and organizational problems, the presence in Sardinia of so many artists coming from different places, free to have an open and critic dialogue with their work of art, it was a positive confirmation for Plexus to continue its art voyage to the House of the Slaves of Goree-Dakar.

Sandro Dernini and Willem Brugman brought to the island of San Pietro, on board on the Elisabeth boat,  the Nuraghic warrior statuette and some other records and relics from the Serpent Event to be placed together with the Don Cherry’s little Buddha and the other Plexus historical relics already on board to set  the Plexus voyage to Dakar.

In the fall, thanks to Gaetano Brundu, Antonello Dessi, Luigi Mazzarelli, and Anna Saba for giving some of their paintings as a donation to the collector Franco Girina, owner of the Editions Celt, it was possible to print the booklet Passport for Plexus Serpent which was conceived by Sandro Dernini in support of the Art Slavery journey. Its graphics were made by Gaetano Brundu with photos from Gavoi by Stefano Grassi.


In the Passport for Plexus Serpent, it was outlined a six years Plexus strategic plan, with short (1985-87), medium (1988), and long terms (1989-90) of realization, through a marketing mix plan in which promotion, production, price, replacement, might be all integrated together in a single vision. The Plexus strategy route was designed like a big apple to be eaten by the Serpent. On its top, an ancient Sardinian Nuraghic tower was the Plexus Serpent rising up from the modern rite of the Plexus art slaves market.  The Serpent was conceptualized as the mythological commodity symbol to attack the art market system that was built on the trade for art money just as a commodity symbol.



From Passport for Plexus Serpent, Celt Editions, Cagliari, 1987:

Passport for Plexus is a travelling paper to fly from Purgatorio to Paradise, with

PLEXUS Art Slaves Ship, sailed in 1986 from New York City, with “Eve”, Plexus Art Co-Opera N.3. It will land in Dakar in 1988. PLEXUS, on July 4 1987 (American Independence Day), during its art journey between history and mythology, presented Plexus Art Co-Opera N.4 The Serpent of Stone, the First International Art Slaves Market Show, produced by the artist in the first person.

It was performed by 160 artists and scientists in the megalithic sanctuary of Sa Itria in Sardinia, at the center of the Mediterranean Sea, the ancient cradle of Western Culture.  In the Plexus Serpent Passport, there was the idea of The Horse of Troy, a Plexus quarterly newsletter, conceived by Paolo Maltese as a strategic communication tool to facilitate the circulation of Plexus ideas and projects towards the creation of an international art community credit line for Plexus and for the artist in the first person.


From An Infinite Serpent by Paolo Maltese:

Einstein once stated, “The most beautiful experience one can have is the mysterious. It consists of fundamental emotion, the cradle of true Art and Science.”  And the poet, Mario Luzi said, “Science accepts the idea of mystery rather then repel it.  For a poet, the mysterious is a place from where to return to rationality, and from which doubts stem.”

If today, philosophers have been beaten, artists continue to fight the mysterious, while great thing are happening in Science, as pre-Socratics, once used to do, following E. Zeller’s time-scale. Mystery-Reason:  the artist at the confluence of these ever-changing words. PLEXUS is therefore a metaphor in which observations, analyses, discussions, reflections, actions, pilot-shows, stretched to encourage the continuation of research, all come together, and like an infinite serpent rising up to tree of knowledge, renews unity and consistence to self-conscious and common research. In this way, by adventuring into mists of metaphor, myth and archetypes, one is brought closer to the mysterious since the metaphor is enemy of appearance, is the damp earth, and is the roots. Behind it lays the mystery of the future, the continuation of imaginary threads still be defined and fully elaborated, as Plexus looks for. Thus, Plexus project does not set itself easy objectives, so in an Event of such vast size as that of Gavoi (Sardinia), and based on very ambitious goals, (but also still very uncertain), the danger of rhetoric, indefiniteness and superficiality continually remain a possible trap. At this point Cicero springs to my mind, which used to ask him, how soothsayers managed not to laugh when they met each other.

The Gavoi opportunity has been useful, useful because it allowed contacts and feedbacks between artists who came from different areas, and who did not know each other. Among these were the inhabitants of Gavoi, a town in the centre of the Barbagia of Sardinia that accepted what could be defined as being - for Gavoi - a challenge. It was an important occasion for the people of Gavoi to reflect on what to do in the future, just as for PLEXUS to find proof for an interdisciplinary dialogue, got out from the usual artistic contexts (and scientific). This is the point I should like to emphasise: that what happened in Gavoi could become “History,” in other words it could be the catalyst of reflections for everybody, for PLEXUS. Thoughts which in their turn produce more thoughts and future realities for everyone. All in a continual spiral (the serpent), towards a future growth which is “History.”--




From The Metaphor as a Travelling Factory by Sandro Dernini:

Plexus art co-opera use the metaphor as a multi-category framework, as a crossing over between knowledge and unconsciousness. Plexus uses artistically the mythology with metaphoric references to science and marketing that modernizes the myth as a ‘commodity symbol.’ Plexus art co-opera has specific forms in relation to the geo-political conditions in which it is produced, and the artist in the first person is not only the producer but also the consumer and the final product in this modern rite. In Plexus art co-opera n°3 Eve, the artists, as slaves to be sold in public auction to the art market, were handcuffed together with their art works on board of the art slaves ship, to refuse any  separation between artist, art, and art community, made by the art market.  It was made to protest against the dynamics of the art market, imposing production mechanisms coming from the general market that are not those of art. A hierarchic structure is more functional to the marketing control that is governing the world market of the contemporary age. Through critics, curators, and dealers the image of ‘the artist in the third person’ has been created, to respect the needs of the star system. Art should not be considered only as an exclusive ‘commodity symbol’ for commercial trade, but also as a ‘food’ for our nourishment, a compression of high ‘know how,’ not exclusive, not expensive, to fly with our body-machine outside limits and borders of rational worlds and controlled markets. The metaphor is an ultra-rapid integrated communication system. It works with nanoseconds (billionths of a second), the time-scale with which today our logic computers are operating.  One nanosecond is so fast that it exists before its rational thought.  The metaphoric language of art can let us cross the boundaries of specialist fields, working by concatenated structures.  Time-space, art, science, history, can only be compressed in a continuum in evolution, never consumed, only imperfectly perceived through their developments and jumps of discontinuity, as a serpent eating its tail act as self nourishment, which does not disappear consuming itself, but it transforms itself continuously, recycling its matter. Official history with its ages and schools is not the measure of reality. The human being has modified with culture the rules of history, of its own natural evolution. To know the future is also to look back to the past, at the sources of our common roots, where the game of the metaphor may contain the memory of our lost ancestors. The art metaphor can help us to see beyond the optical and rational horizon. Plexus may be considered as a mutant following its socio-biological evolution like a dolphin, member of our common class of mammalian that sees through its bio-electromagnetic sonar. Art is the nonsense gene of our evolution and Plexus is a researcher of the invisible, where however the invisible is a word and a world of modern science. The metaphor is for Plexus a travelling factory to develop its multi-lateral recall art co-operas. Plexus uses rational and a-rational methodologies in a coloured framework of global vision and relativity to try to discover in which panorama the art co-opera, at the same time object and subject, is moving.  

For the 90’s, Plexus art co-opera should be considered as a materialized metaphor. Art should be produced, consumed and loved as a dematerialised food for our evolution.


From Mail Computer Serpent by Franco Meloni:

A system which transmits information without intermediaries, conditioning, or censure by any power whatever, where a fact may be presented as it was intended by its conceiver, free from encumbering interpretative explanations – this is without a doubt the most productive weapon against the frustrating solitude of every author. And the system does exist:  a network of computers which connects the knowledge-producing centres of the whole world. It can be the most useful way to not only exchange data but to close the gap and make ties stronger between all those interested in culture-related work.

One of the most wonderful experiences during the Plexus Meeting in July was meeting artists already “met” through the electronic mail system – the VAX at Cagliari’s Department of Physics.  There were people from DAX – Digital Art Exchange of Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, along with poets who had transmitted ancient legends from Australia, while Kassel and Wales were on the line.  And all of this in Gavoi, Barbagia (Sardinia). The world can be smaller, not only in the field of Science, but, and perhaps with better results, in the field of Art as well.


From The Ningki- Nangka Serpent Open Call by Assane MBaye:

Plexus invites you to travel to Dakar through a journey of the mind into the fog of the metaphor, into the animism, the ancient Negro-African religion that is not by magic or by fetishism, but by an authentic African way to communicate to the Universe and to spiritual forces. This vital energy is only an emanation of the divine power and manifests the African inner sensibility to be able to feel animals, stars, the moon, the sun and everything in us and in the world fully in mutation.   Ningki-Nangka is a compression of time, space and of relativity, between East and West, South and North. It is a metaphor, a star of poetry, of epic song, of art, of music and of light.  “Un arc en ciel” coming from the richness of our soul built on the vital strength of our faith.  For the name of Winnie Mandela, of all oppressed, of all women, for all children, for love and peace. From the tam-tam the sun of the new world will rise.