Kemet: at the origins of time


‘For many centuries and to many peoples, Egypt and its culture have signified something mysterious and incomprehensible. ‘Kemet’ follows the steps of an unrepeatable and unique human experience, which still leaves us amazed. When and how was this civilisation with its unique cultural, artistic and religious features, born? The exhibition tackles one of the least-known and most complex aspects of Egyptian civilisation: that of its origins. All civilisations, as we know them, have developed in history, from the Neolithic age to the most culminating moments of their culture, through more or less gradual stages, without interruption. What we witness is basically a cultural evolution which can only rarely be pin-pointed to a limited and precise chronological ‘point’, especially for the most ancient eras. This is strikingly different if we look at the Egyptian civilisation. The “Mystery of Egypt” has a precise feature: the passage from the Neolithic to documented history happened very quickly, in the space of a few decades. The concepts of royalty, state, religious life, economics, business, art and science, all sprang up suddenly, and almost from nothing. A mature civilisation with brand new characteristics was born in just a few decades. The cultural trajectory followed by the exhibition shows the evolution of the Egyptian cultural experience, from the pre-historic age until maturity. The Neolithic (4400-3000 BC), with its Badarian, Amratian and Gerzean cultures, was almost like a forge where various artistic ‘attempts’ were made. Then suddenly, around 3000 BC, something ‘triggered the explosion’: it seems like the move was from pre-history to the future, without going through an intermediate age. The Old Kingdom (from the III to the IV Dynasty, 2686-2184 BC) is the background for all the new and sudden expressions of human creativity. The Protodynastic (I Dynasty, 3000-2890 BC; II Dynasty, 2890-2686 BC), was a decisive historical moment: Upper and Lower Egypt were unified by the legendary King Menes. And with the presence of the king, of the Crown, of the God over two lands turned into one, the history of Egypt made an unprecedented leap forward. In the following era, the institutions and the Crown were consolidated and became completely intertwined; architecture and art acquired a ‘classical’ typology. This was the period in which the great, majestic Pyramids were built. The exhibition – a journey through time to the real origins of Egyptian culture, art and literature – is co-ordinated by Barbara Adams, Sergio Donadoni, Anna Maria Donadoni Roveri, Enrichetta Leospo, Paolo Pasini, Sylvia Schoske, A. Jeffrey Spencer, Francesco Tiradritti, Dietrich Wildung.’


03 Gennaio 1998 - 28 Giugno 1998


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