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Art in action lights up Bait Muzna

15 Jul 2023 looking glass By HUBERT VAZ

Italian artistic duo, Dr Luca Moretti and Dr Lucia Oliva hosted a theatrical presentation of art – Through the looking glass – at Bait Muzna recently to get people to appreciate the nuances of art in an interesting manner

Not everyone talks about art in a way that makes one sit up and smell the coffee… And when Dr Luca Moretti and Dr Lucia Oliva, an accomplished Italian couple in Oman (who love, live, and celebrate art every single day of their life) do it, the response from viewers is always overwhelming.

The artistic duo, who are well known in Oman for their offbeat presentations at every art exhibition hosted by them, took an elite audience of select invitees on a theatrical journey at Bait Muzna last month (June 20) wherein they seamlessly blended literature and poetry to convey the essence of an explicit exhibition of mesmerising optical effect artworks – sculpture-paintings with mirrors.

Through the looking glass was a perfect key to tune into the artist’s peculiar expressive philosophy which enhances the reality of the work of art beyond its tangible aspect,” explained Luca, adding, “The profound value is what is captured by crossing the confines of the ‘looking glass’.”

The chief guest for the evening was H H Basma al Said and the guests of honour were Siham Ahmed al Harthi, Co-founder, Siham Development and Invesment, and Cinzia Farise, CEO, Oman Cables who took keen interest in the theatrical presentation by the artistic duo as well as in the artistic activities of the evening.

The focus of the evening was an interactive presentation of art through its different languages, including literature and poetry in line with the theme, chosen by Luca and Lucia along with Leila al Hooti, director of Bait Muzna.

“We don’t stop playing because we grow old, we grow old because we stop playing,” Lucia said, quoting George Bernard Shaw, receiving a thunderous applause from the audience which lapped up the message of creativity that needs to be fed with child-like fantasies.

Also, at the outset, when Luca quoted a paragraph from Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland – about how Alice passed through the mirror into the ‘looking glass room’ – it heralded an evening of lucid literature in motion. And since the hosts themselves were in action on the floor, the invitees, too, were sporting enough to enjoy the various tasks handed out instead of being mere spectators.

Luca and Lucia have been doing interactive art events that engage their audience for the past two decades and this was yet another aspect of educating viewers as they set out to appreciate art for what it is. The artistic duo shared some frank insights about their task:

How well was the concept ‘Through the looking glass’ executed?

This concept perfectly connected to the philosophy of Lucia Oliva’s works which were chosen to involve the audience of VIPs and esteemed art lover guests in an ‘out of the ordinary’ atmosphere, elegantly playing with art and culture. The theme from Alice in Wonderland, incredibly rich with many deep meanings, riddles and puns, was an invite to cross the normal vision of daily reality and dedicate a proper space to imagination and fantasy, as children do while often adults don’t. The chosen novel contains several famous quotes the stress this point – ‘Imagination is the only weapon in the war against reality’, ‘The only way to achieve the impossible is to believe it’s possible’

What activities were the audience involved in?

The event was conducted with theatrical moments combined with cultural games and riddles – right from the moment of cutting the ribbon, they were invited to ‘cross the line’ between reality and fantasy, as if they were at an opera. All the guest enthusiastically participated in the games which included engaging negotiations with cards with literary cues, riddles, and a quiz on what they observed around.

What type of artworks were on display?

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There were 16 artworks on display, many of them include optical illusion – a distinctive characteristic of Lucia’s art. The titles included Welcome, The mother, Light, Lights and flavours of a souq, Into the light, The power of hope, The majlis, Mirror of the soul, The holy moment, The hidden treasure, Door to Eden, They met at the fountain, Hands in hands – the kiss, From pain to light, Life under, and Heritage ladies’ glance – Through the looking glass.

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What literature and poems were touched upon?

The choice of poems and quotes was conceived with the aim of creating bridges between different cultures and countries. So, apart from a rich range of quotes from Carroll’s novel, many other poems by Rumi, Coelho, Gibran and Dante Alighieri played an important role in the evening, besides G B Shaw’s emblematic quote.

Why do you always mix visual arts and performances?

Sometimes artists are very confident in one discipline only but it is not rare to have artists who can dance, sing, paint, recite, compose, etc. Our experience taught us that audiences like cross-over art activities. Those who do not know us are surprised; the others, on the contrary, expect the surprises.

What was your key message?

Our message was to let people appreciate culture and art in a joyful, not ‘ordinary’ way. And this time, too, it worked out beyond our expectations.

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