Ariadne’s Labyrinth

Ariadne’s Labyrinth is a monumental installation designed by Italo Lanfredini for the Fiumara d’Arte Park. A large door in the shape of a vagina leads to an obligatory path with no possibility of getting lost, at the end of which is an olive tree. An installation with a strong symbolic character that invites reflection and rebirth.

Labyrinth of Ariadne: work description

The Labyrinth of Ariadne is a long coil that forms a spiral and follows the downward course of the ground. The material used is patinated concrete that has taken on a typical terracotta color over time. The entrance to the labyrinth is through a highly symbolic door in the shape of a vagina. Lanfredini’s labyrinth is of the “classical” type, i.e. there is only one possible path that leads to the center and from there, in the opposite direction, to the exit. The walk inside this spiral leads to an olive tree that occupies the center of the artwork.

Interesting fact: The Labyrinth of Ariadne is the most expensive work ever created for Fiumara d’Arte. In fact, the last part of the road leading to the site is very steep, which forced the concrete mixers carrying the concrete to travel at half load.

Ariadne and the myth of Minos’ Labyrinth

The name Ariadne’s Labyrinth recalls two very famous myths from the Greek world. The first is that of Daedalus and Icarus, who built a labyrinth for King Minos, and the second is the myth of Theseus and Ariadne.

The construction of the Labyrinth of Knossos

Minos, son of Zeus and Europa, was king of Knossos on the island of Crete. One day he commissioned the architect Daedalus to build a labyrinth to imprison the Minotaur. The Minotaur was a creature, half man and half bull, born of the union of Pasiphae, the wife of Minos, and a bull. When the work was completed, the king had Daedalus imprisoned in the labyrinth with his son Icarus, who knew the way out. However, the brilliant architect constructed wings of feathers held together with linen threads and secured with wax. Before taking off, Daedalus warned his son not to fly too close to the sun or the wax would melt. Icarus did not heed this advice and fell into the sea. Daedalus, however, escaped and was welcomed back to Sicily by King Cocalo.

The Myth of Theseus and Ariadne

Also in Greek mythology, Minos declared war on Athens after its king, Aegeus, killed Androgeus, the son of the ruler of Crete. After defeating the Athenians, he imposed a blood tribute on the city. Every nine years he was to send seven boys and seven girls to Crete to be fed to the Minotaur. These sacrifices continued until Theseus arrived on the island. Ariadne, daughter of Minos, fell in love with the young Athenian and, to help him out of the labyrinth, gave him a thread of wool, called “Ariadne’s thread,” with which he could easily find his way out. Theseus killed the Minotaur and managed to get out of the labyrinth, escaping with Ariadne to Athens. However, after putting her to sleep, Theseus abandons her on the island of Naxos. When she wakes up, the girl is in despair, but soon the god Dionysus arrives and comforts her and decides to marry her. In another version, it is the same god who asks Theseus to leave Ariadne because he is in love with her. In the third version of the myth, which has survived to the present day, it is Dionysus who asks the goddess Artemis to kill the girl on the island. Finally, in another version, Ariadne wakes up, realizes that Theseus has abandoned her, and kills herself by throwing herself into the sea.

The meaning of Ariadne’s Labyrinth

Ariadne’s Labyrinth, designed by Italo Lanfredini, has a very different purpose from that of Minos. In fact, its purpose is not to trap its visitors or make them feel lost, but rather to lead them to a path. The shape of the gate symbolizes the return to the mother’s womb to be reborn. The olive tree, which represents the end point of the path within the labyrinth, is not accidental. In ancient Greece it was a symbol of knowledge and wisdom. Lanfredini wants to invite the visitor on a path of reflection. To think, first of all, about the great theme of the relationship between man and the environment, the element that unites all the Fiumara d’Arte installations. Significantly, the walls of the spiral are just high enough to barely see the distant peaks of the reliefs.

The artist: Italo Lanfredini

Italo Lanfredini was born in Sabbioneta in 1948. After studying at the Accademia delle Arti in Florence and then at the Accademia di Brera, he met the sculptor Francesco Somaini, who invited him to work in his studio. Soon, however, Lanfredini decided to separate himself from Somaini, so as not to be too influenced by the master, and moved to Monza in the 1970s. The series of works that date from this period are: Encounters, Source of Life, Gods, Venuses and Broken Columns. From the 1980s, Lanfredini’s sculptures took on a new dimension and began to enter into a dialogue with the place where they were placed. The artist also changed his technique, moving from the ductility of lead to the malleability of clay. In 1987 he sent a terracotta sketch entitled Ariadne, which won the competition announced by Antonio Presti, the founder of the Fiumara d’Arte. In 1996-97 he created the Garden of Regenerating Forces in Pradello di Villimpenta and in the same year he opened the home studio “La Silenziosa”.

Where to find Ariadne’s Labyrinth and how to get there

The Labyrinth of Ariadne by Italo Lanfredini is located in the territory of Castel di Lucio. To reach it, take the A20 Palermo-Messina highway and exit at the Tusa junction if you are coming from Western Sicily or at Santo Stefano Camastra if you are coming from Eastern Sicily. From here take the SP 113 and then the SP 176. This is the road that connects the coast with the various mountain villages where the Fiumara d’Arte works are located. Also in the territory of Castel di Lucio are two other installations: Una curva gettata alle spalle del tempo by Paolo Schiavocampo and Arethusa by Piero Dorazio and Graziano Marini.

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