Allegories and symbols of the Mediterranean tradition
Installations by Navid Azimi Sajadi
23 October 2020 - 6 January 2021


The exhibition “East and West. Allegories and symbols of the Mediterranean tradition.
Installations by Navid Azimi Sajadi”, is organized by the Palermo Superintendence for Cultural
and Environmental Heritage, in collaboration with the Archdiocese of Monreale and
MondoMostre. The exhibition connects two extraordinary monumental works of Sicilian
Arab-Norman art, UNESCO World Heritage sites the Monreale Cathedral monumental
complex and the Zisa.
The exhibition opens on 23 October 2020 in Monreale. Curated by Lina Bellanca and
Alessandro Carlino, it brings together stories and symbols carved onto the capitals of the
Benedictine Cloister and the Duomo’s chapels, along with photographs from the
Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florenz-Max-Planck-Institut archive, site-specific installations
by Iranian artist Navid Azimi Sajadi and a special App dedicated to the exhibition with
music by Pinuccio Pirazzoli.
Inspired by the iconography of the monumental complex, works by artist Navid Azimi Sajadi
are being exhibited in the Monreale Cloister, the halls of the Diocesan Museum and the San
Benedetto Chapel in the Duomo, sparking a modern-day dialogue between Middle Eastern art
and the Western Mediterranean. Navid Azimi Sajadi’s art and poetics refer to these very same representations.                                                                                                                      Much like William II, King of Sicily – known as “William the Good” for
re-establishing a climate of peace and inter-religious coexistence, who had a dream and
dedicated the Church in Monreale to the Madonna and Child (the pivotal, coordinated image of
this exhibition) – today, looking on this architectural wonder, the artist has ventured on a
dreamlike inner journey through allegories and symbols, signs and anthropomorphic
evocations of the different cults hidden within the capitals.

Navid Azimi Sajadi LIST OF WORKS:
1. Installation - Cloister: In the first installation the geometric shape of the panels is
inspired by the geometries of the Palatine Chapel, the shapes made up of “star-” and
cross-shaped” ceramics. The ceramics affixed to the golden structure are gilded,
inspired by the stories, shapes and drawings of the Cloister capitals (Mithra, Peacock,
Phoenix). The ceramics prepared for the exhibition are based on two techniques,
Mediterranean and Persian. The first of these techniques refers to Roman sub-
crystalline sgraffito; the glaze technique is of Persian origin.
2. Installation - Cathedral: Inspired by the Seraphim and Angels in the Cathedral Dome,
the work the artist is creating for the Cathedral chapel interior consists of two pieces of
wood fitted together. The shape of the polystyrene blocks represents the cathedral in
stylized form. The interesting thing about this work is its subtle line of indirect
storytelling, recounted in a highly-minimalist style and with a cold, industrial look.
Obviously, the citation and reference here is the capital on which King William is
shown donating the cathedral to the Madonna and Child.
3. Installation - Diocesan Museum: This work refers back to Greek funereal masks. The
culture of Sicilian vases in terms of muqarnas geometry at the Palatine Chapel,
references to art history and stylistic combinations that we find at Santa Maria
dell’Ammiraglio. References and direct citations of the Cathedral’s Arab-Norman art