Hortus Nocturnus

xhibition by Martina Cioffi

Curated by spazioSERRA

Reflection by Camilla Marraccini

On display from 30/05/2024 to 30/06/2024

Opening Thursday 30/05/2024 at 19:00

Lancetti railway station, Milan

Hortus Nocturnus is a site-specific exhibition by Martina Cioffi, part of suMISURA, the exhibition season where selected artists analyze spazioSERRA, both as content and container. Here, the rules that constitute it are daily emphasized, exploited, deformed, remodeled, and sometimes annulled. The exhibition is on view from Thursday, May 30 to Sunday, June 30, 2024, at Milan’s Lancetti railway station.

Cioffi expresses herself through a plastic language that combines sculpture and installation. Her research stems from a fascinated observation of the transformative and resilient capabilities of plant organisms, which she then reinterprets through a symbolic reading of the landscape and our indissoluble bond with it. Her imagery aims to evoke an ancestral connection with a powerful, creative, and fertile nature, still imbued with its magical enchantment.

The hortus conclusus, the enclosed garden, emerged as a green oasis within medieval monasteries, a sacred enclave where the land was tended with devotion. Enclosed by high walls that protected it from the outside world, it was much more than a simple cultivation area: it was a sacred place where monks tended plants for both food and medicinal purposes. At the center often sprang a fountain, symbolizing Christ and the living water that nourishes all life. The hortus conclusus reflected the lost paradise, where nature itself seemed to weave its most secret patterns.

Cioffi draws inspiration from the aesthetic canon of the hortus conclusus, characterized by order and measure, but in Hortus Nocturnus, nature frees itself from human dominance, and the imagery and symbolism of the medieval garden are overturned: while this traditionally represents a composed nature controlled by man, Cioffi’s nocturnal garden intends to remind us, even within the same order, that the omnipotent superiority our species claims is merely an illusion.

A harmonious succession of pointed arches defines the boundaries of a space hosting eight plant-like sculptures made of ceramic and wrought iron. A central continuously cycling octagonal fountain seems created from lava stone. Shapes, colors, atmospheres refer us to an unexpected imagery, that of darkness: the cycle of sculptures relates to the uncanny world of nocturnal, dark, and mysterious nature, to flowers that bloom at night, to moths, to bats, to poisonous plants, to chthonic depths. Camilla Marraccini writes in the reflection accompanying the exhibition: “One glance is enough to realize that the colors and creatures of this nocturnal garden have little to do with the ethics of geometry and the mathematics of control. The visual impetus of the ceramic and iron vegetation, globular and angular, with metallic and bipolar colors (black and white), unleashes an imagery belonging to the world of the unconscious. Whether real or metaphorical, the creatures of the night inhabit the enclosed (or perhaps imprisoned) unconscious of spazioSERRA’s Hortus Nocturnus.”


Saturday, June 15, 6:00 PM @ spazioSERRA

In-depth talk on the exhibition with the artist, Martina Cioffi, the author of the reflection, Camilla Marraccini, and professionals from the fields of botany and horticulture.

Hortus Nocturnus
30 May, 24
30 Jun, 24
Martina Cioffi
via Maloia, 1 Milan