The fourth edition of the Festival that reinterprets design, art, photography, fashion and food has just ended in Ragusa Ibla. Curated by Roberto Semprini

The ‘Baroque and Neo-Baroque Festival’ in Ragusa Ibla is now in its fourth edition. For the 2024 edition, the kermis has moved forward from September to the three days from 31 May to 2 June (the installations in palaces and courtyards will be open to visitors until 28 June). Already Friedrich Nietzsche in the second half of the 19th century (a couple of centuries later) had read in the Baroque a sign of the modern, when in Human too Human he stated that ‘the Baroque is the anti-Renaissance because form becomes vitality of the emotions, intensity of self-representation’. With the Baroque, a new orientation of taste became apparent, which began to privilege the refinement of a rare and precious art, and which saw stylistic dissolution set against the rules of classical aesthetics.

Myth, magic, mysticism and dreams

As an art of excess and dis-measurement, in the 20th century Futurism also rediscovered in the Baroque a series of stylistic features such as the rejection of rules, the search for the new, the yearning for originality, movement versus staticity, and astonishment generated by unusual images and forms. This visionary aspect of reality through the irrational that draws on myth, magic, mysticism and dreams has been taken up for several years now by the ‘Baroque and Neo-Baroque Festival’ curated by Roberto Semprini and set in some splendid locations in Ragusa Ibla.

Design, art, photography, fashion and food

The term Neobarocco, an aesthetic-conceptual synthesis of the contemporary, is owed to Omar Calabrese, who in his L'età neobarocca (The Neo-Baroque Age) brings the decorative complexity and mysticism, pathos and illusion, extraordinariness and theatricality of the Neo-Baroque to life in the 1980s. From 31 May to 2 June, the Sicilian Festival staged, during its fourth edition, this continuous desire for originality, surprise, playfulness and experimentation with new languages and materials in a kermesse dedicated to design, art, photography, fashion and food.

Debates, exhibitions and performances

Roberto Semprini, in collaboration whit Comune Ragusa Ibla, organised debates, exhibitions, performances and collected opinions and discussions for ‘Barocco e Neobarocco’. On the ground floor of Palazzo Cosentini, projects by students from the Vanvitelli University of Campania in the Fashion Course, the Design Course of the Brera Academy, ceramics from the Academy of Timisoara (Romania) and graphic works by students from the Liceo Artistico of Ragusa were on display.

Rereading the Baroque aesthetic

Also at Palazzo Cosentini, but on the piano nobile, local and international design companies have created, in synergy with architects, designers and artists, objects capable of reinterpreting the exciting beauty of the Baroque: from Nigel Coates with ‘Echo and Narcissus’ a series of pieces composed of limited edition furniture and lamps, to sculptor Dario Ghibaudo who used recycled materials to reproduce sculptures with sinuous shapes, to Roberto Semprini who presented in collaboration with ViaTov the ‘Baroque Mirror’ collection of mirrors, to Maurizio Favetta with a striking installation that uses new technologies to excite, involve and seduce.



Fantasy and creativity

In the former Church of San Vincenzo Ferreri, fashion designer Alessandro Enriquez showed his latest collection full of colour, fantasy and creativity for ‘Barocco e Neobarocco’ as part of the exhibition A.M.O.R.E., while in Palazzo Nicastro, Angelo Sanzone set up ‘Analogic Light’, a highly suggestive lighting design installation. In the lobby, the public was welcomed by a large central steaming sofa with the emblematic name ‘O Vulcano’, a tribute to Etna curated by Roberto Semprini and produced by Giovannetti. In the manger, with a surprise lighting design, a large Pinocchio covered in Modica chocolate, created by artist Edoardo Malagigi, appeared.

Installations, debate and neo-baroque dinner

At the Donnafugata Castle, Salvatore Silvano Nigro, philologist and literary critic, presented together with Gianni Canova, Rector of IULM, the book Il Principe fulvo, an erudite and entertaining essay dedicated to Giovanni Tomasi di Lampedusa. Sara Ricciardi, artist and designer, presented ‘Under the Willow Tre’ in the Sala del Lucernario, with 5VIE Milano, an invitation to enter among the sound branches of a weeping willow, made with ancient trimmings and activated by the movement of passers-by. The highlight, on the terrace of the Castle, was the Neobarocca dinner organised by Claudio Ruta.

The festival's conferences

The festival's calendar of lectures is also rich, held in the setting of Piazza Pola, with talks by, among many others, Aurelio Magistà, journalist for the daily newspaper La Repubblica, Gilda Bojardi, editor of Interni, and Patrizia Piccinini, journalist for Architectural Digest.

Photos by Marcello Bocchieri