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Revisiting the Decameron - Exclusively Online



Revisiting the Decameron - Exclusively Online

We are pleased to invite you to Revisiting the Decameron, an online exhibition curated by Laura Gascoigne, inspired by Boccaccio's Decameron with the description of the plague that ravaged the city of Florence in 1348. At the Flowers Gallery, online until 9 August. 

During the first days of the lockdown, I found myself remembering the introduction to Boccaccio’s Decameron with its description of the 1348 plague that killed 100,000 people in Florence. The echoes of our own experience were uncanny: how “one citizen avoided another”, people “died without a single witness” and few were “the bodies accompanied to church by more than ten or twelve neighbours”. The setting for this collection of a hundred stories, which Boccaccio imagined being told on a secluded estate outside Florence by a group of self-isolating young people, suggested another parallel: they were the Renaissance equivalent of Netflix.

Designed to relieve melancholy, The Decameron is essentially escapist. Over the centuries its stories have inspired artists from Botticelli to Holman Hunt, and I was curious to see whether their pungent mix of morality, brutality and bawdiness, with its invitation to subversive reverie, would resonate with contemporary artists under lockdown. When I floated the idea of a Decameron-themed show to various artist friends, the response was immediate and enthusiastic. This exhibition is the result.

Each artist has brought their own perspective to the stories. Jiro Osuga relishes their bawdy humour and gives it a contemporary spin, while Tim Shaw finds echoes of fertility rituals designed to keep us from harm. Lisa Wright focuses on the stories’ connection with nature, Shani Rhys James and Susan Wilson on the way they play on our deepest fears. Mick Rooney and Freya Payne reflect on isolation, Marcelle Hanselaar on personal loss, Stephen Chambers and Ken Currie on sickness and death and Tom Hammick on love. Tai-Shan Schierenberg highlights the tension between Christian morality and freedom, while Nicola Hicks celebrates the sheer thrill of storytelling. In different ways they have all brought the stories alive, casting new light on our experience of this pandemic and reminding us that, in the span of human history, it is far from unique.

When I first had the idea for this exhibition, I couldn’t find my copy of The Decameron and I went to my local branch of Waterstone’s. The assistant had never heard of Boccaccio and looked at me blankly. I tried explaining that he was an Italian Renaissance author who wrote the first collection of short stories in European literature. She looked unimpressed. “Could you spell that?” She checked on her computer and told me the book was out of print.

Boccaccio would not be surprised at this neglect. “I confess that there is no stability in the things of this world and that everything changes,” he writes in his Conclusion. But he might be gratified to learn that, in the midst of instability, his stories can still inspire artists seven centuries on.

Laura Gascoigne, Curator


Data: Da Lun 27 Lug 2020 a Dom 9 Ago 2020

Ingresso : Libero


online, organizzato dalla Flowers Gallery