ear Readers,[br]
It is time – from June 3rd in the Museum of Paestum you can visit the exhibition “The Invisible image. The Tomb of the Diver on the 50th anniversary of its discovery”. The exhibition, which includes archaeological materials from Magna Graecia and modern works, from Guido Reni to Canova and De Chirico, is open until October 7th.[br]
With this exhibition, Paestum pushes the concept of archaeological exhibition in contexts which, to the best knowledge, have never been dealt with before. It is not that there have never been exhibitions which compared ancient and modern works. But, substantially, they fall within two types.[br]
One entails the thematic comparison. In some cases, such as in the exhibition Pompei@Madre, the result is fascinating, in others it risks to be arbitrary and superficial.[br]
The other type is centered on the “luck” of the ancient. It is the type that, generally, archaeologist are less reluctant to accept, maybe because it reaffirms the centrality of the ancient in the determination of the. Basically, it is based on the importance of archaeology.[br]
What does not emerge from the exhibitions of the type “The luck of…” is the way in which the present determines the past. And I do not simply mean the state of knowledge, which obviously varies (in theory, in the increasing direction, even though I am not completely sure it is always thus), but also to the questions and ideologies which condition the way in which we “question“ the past. New times, new questions. And new answers, obviously.[br]
The exhibition on the Diver shows exactly this: how the present conditions our perception of the most famous tomb of Magna Graecia. It is the first archaeological exhibition, as far as I know, which radically flips the relationship between ancient and modern (which in the field of studies is already rather common: Gadamer’s hermeneutics, which argues exactly this, is by now a classic and has become a heritage of all human sciences). The exhibition, therefore, does not tell “the luck of the past” in the present, but the luck of the present in the past.[br]
One thing it does not do is give easy answers, even though I obviously have an idea of the meaning of the image of the Diver. But it would be banal to organize an exhibition on my opinion of it. I prefer putting the visitors in the condition of forming their own [br]
And thanks to the “piece of the month”, i.e. some materials from the – extremely poor– necropolis of Ponte di Ferro, contemporary to the Diver, the visitors can also form an idea of the social differences in the world of the Diver. While the latter was surely a member of the local élite, the deceased buried at Ponte di Ferro seem to be part of a subordinate group, maybe servants but anyway excluded from the dominant classes of the era.[br]
Enjoy your visit![br][br]
Director of Paestum Archaeological Park