In 1974 Vittorio Lucariello, poet, painter, writer with a scholarly passion for film and theater, decided to open a true factory of the Warholian kind in downtown Naples. In Via del Parco Margherita he found a basement level comprising three separate and communicating rooms. After making structural changes, he converted it into a single space and chose an appropriate name for a venue that, in that particular historical and political period, was intended to offer greater freedom and a closer interconnection between various forms of artistic expression, with the aim of raising awareness in Naples to experimental and innovative theater. He called it “Spazio Libero.”
Lucariello had just returned from Rome after a long collaboration with Giuseppe Bartolucci, who had involved him in 1973 in the organization of the theater section of Contemporanea. The exhibition brought together the visual arts, architecture, cinema, theater, music, dance and photography through the work of international artists selected by different curators, including Achille Bonito Oliva, Giuseppe Bartolucci, Paolo Bertetto, Alessandro Mendini and Bruno Corà. The encounter with Bartolucci, however, was preceded by another friendship that was to be decisive for Lucariello’s future commitment to culture: in 1959 he met Renato Caccioppoli, who revealed the value of a multi-disciplinary approach to art, formulating the need for a fusion between different artistic languages.
On January 18, 1975, Spazio Libero made its debut: its first production, Lucky Strike, was directed by Vittorio Lucariello and featured Alba Primiceri, Serena Macedonio, Teresa di Maio, Francesco Liguori and Franco Silvestri. It took the audience into the symbolic world of dream, on a journey through the deep South “on a crazy horse.” The show was particularly successful with critics and Spazio Libero was confirmed as one of the most interesting Italian theatrical developments in the period, like those in Spoleto or Beat 72 in Rome, with which the director began a close collaboration.
Starting from that date, the new Neapolitan theater venue presented between four and six productions a year, with the participation of emerging players like Toni Servillo and Mario Martone, the gallerist Lucio Amelio, critics like Leo Aloisio, Achille Bonito Oliva and Filiberto Menna, and even the American artist Andy Warhol who, during a visit to Naples, inspected Spazio Libero to find a place to display his work.
In 1977 Lucariello staged the key spectacle of his whole artistic and poetic vision: D’altronde sono sempre gli altri che muoiono, a work wholly devoted to Marcel Duchamp and Dadaism, performed by Mario Martone, Rossella Baldari, Rossana Basile and Carlotta De Fusco. This was followed by Rose Selavy in 1978, simultaneously with multi-disciplinary activities, such as exhibitions of paintings and photographs, screenings of movies, the creation of installations and round tables, the last-named then being transferred to the event Informazione ’78.
In 1982 Lucariello was present at the Venice Biennale with Città Sahara, gaining a new critical success, thanks largely to the review by Enrico Fiore in Paese Sera. Beginning in the late 80s Lucariello increasingly focused on the fate of the contemporary world, in Prova generale del 2000 anticipating the economic, social and political conflicts of the turn of the century. His research was focused on the future, with a particular concern to support young writers and actors and deal with social issues and scientific discoveries.
The exhibition at the Madre presents for the first time previously unpublished material from the Archives of Spazio Libero. They have been chosen to constitute a series of visual counterpoints to the history of this venue understood as a theatrical experience in which the specifics of theater merge into a single project with the visual arts, photography, cinema and criticism, and by relating them to the context of the museum’s developing collection, puts into perspective the concept of the permanent collection with the dynamism, the performative nature and interdisciplinary cohesion of the artistic experiments that have always characterized, the cultural scene in Naples.
In particular the selection includes props and documents dealing with the three principal shows directed by Vittorio Lucariello between 1975 and 1982: Lucky Strike, D’altronde sono sempre gli altri che muoiono and Città Sahara, accompanied by the projection by unpublished photographs taken by Cesare Accetta, the most complete record of numerous productions, along with first two exhibitions of the work of Lino Fiorito, NA.NY.NA. (1980), which was part of the multidisciplinary event TEE Milano/Roma/Napoli held at Spazio Libero.
Particular attention has been devoted to the production D’altronde sono sempre gli altri che muoiono, staged in 1977 and based on a script by Achille Bonito Oliva, published the previous year, on the life of Marcel Duchamp. The stage for this theatrical event, which takes its name from the epitaph on Duchamp’s tomb, has been completely rebuilt, with the objects preserved in the archives of Spazio Libero, which together constitute a representation of Duchamp’s most significant and iconic artworks, like the bicycle wheel, urinal and cage, which, in the performance by the young actor Mario Martone, became true speaking protagonists of the event.