William Kentridge places eleven newly made monumental tapestries, sketches and drawings on original documents and maps of the Kingdom of Naples and small sculptures in bronze, all designed especially for the exhibition.
The works are linked to the series of the Horse and Nose tapestries, the ideal continuation of the Porter Series, a group of smaller works which present a procession of shadows projected onto maps, made by the artist beginning in 2001.
“While the first series,” says the artist, “depicted ‘porters’, this one is equestrian. They are antiheroic equestrian figures, in a hopeless crusade through history, riders and horses in a search of a promised land, rather than the Promised Land”.
In the Nose tapestries explicit reference is made to Gogol’s short story The Nose, written in 1836. In Gogol’s story, the nose abandons its owner and rises to greater authority and prestige, trying to become an equestrian hero. The story describes the attempts by the state councillor Kovalèv to trace and regain possession of his organ and the parallel solitary adventures of the nose along the streets of St Petersburg.
Besides the “biblical map” of Egypt and Palestine, ten or so engravings depicting the city of Naples and the surrounding region represent the “background landscape” of the adventures of the “Nose” in the guise of an equestrian hero. This confirms the strong link of the artist – already director and set designer of the “Magic Flute” at the San Carlo Theatre in October 2006 – with the city of Naples which has, over the centuries, been the land of conquest and injustice but also a picturesque and disturbing muse for the arts and culture.