The exhibition " Clément Cogitore, Ferdinandea " opens at the Madre Museum in Naples from 24 June to 12 September 2022 .
In 1831, in the middle of the Mediterranean waters extending between Sicily and Tunisia , an island emerged that soon attracted the attention of European powers, overwhelmed by the desire to reclaim its strategic position. The new corpus of works by Clément Cogitore, Ferdinandea, investigates, through 16 mm films, videos, photographs and historical documents, on the emergence and sinking of this ephemeral volcanic island. It was given many names: “Île Julia” in France, “Graham” in England and, in the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies, it took the name of the reigning sovereign, Ferdinand II of Bourbon. Today, sleeping eight meters under the waves, Ferdinandea could at any moment re-emerge with a resumption of seismic activity, thus triggering new geopolitical maneuvers. Cogitore orchestrates premonitions, observations, metaphorical insights and fictions to consider what this story can tell us about our current situation and our possible future.
The rocky crest of Ferdinandea Island rose up to 65 meters above sea level following an underwater volcanic eruption caused by the pressure of the Eurasian tectonic plate on the African one. Although the geological event had aroused fear among the sailors and the inhabitants of the surrounding coasts, the new territory quickly became the target of European imperial aspirations and several expeditions were organized with the intent of colonizing this terra nullius. Within a few weeks, the island was claimed by Great Britain, France and the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies. However, this competition was short-lived: the newly formed island sank again under the waves of the Mediterranean only six months after its first appearance.
The exhibition opens with a selection of 19th century illustrations, maps and letters produced by geologists and cartographers, sent by competing nations with the intention of documenting the island's formation and establishing their own sovereignty. The archive materials reveal a cartographic impulse inherent in a European paradigm of territorial expansion and control. Upstream of these imperialist expeditions, the first to tell the signs of the emergence and the volcanic activity that had produced it were the inhabitants of the adjacent coastal areas. Cogitore reconstructs these strange events and warning signs in an evocative 16 mm film.