Fire in the mind: Dario D’Aronco, Paula Doepfner, Felix Kiessling, David Prytz, Sarah Ancelle Schönfeld

21.05.19 — 26.07.19

How could the universe arise from pure nothing? Are there really laws governing universe? Or is the order we see imposed by the prisms of our nervous systems? Are we missing something? If we looked at the points a little harder, graphed them in a different way, would a more elegant order emerge? But what if science is as historical a process as anything else, a labyrinth of branching possibilities? What if, at the end of many other twigs, there are equally valid - maybe better - ways of explaining the world? Why should be universe be made only by components that our eyes, aided by our instruments, are attuned to see? But why, for that matter, should the universe be comprehensible to us at all? Why does the universe seem to operate according to mathematical laws? What is consciousness? How, in a universe ruled by an inexorable tendency towards disorder, do you preserve structure amid randomness? What is map, what is territory? Why, against all odds, are we here, seemingly equipped with the neurological and mathematical tools to make sense of it all (or at least to give ourselves that illusion)? Where in a material world can something so seemingly ethereal as pattern exist? Can we find a way to separate the patterns we stamp on reality from the patterns that reality stamps on our minds?


George Johnson
“Fire in the mind. Science, Faith and the Search for Order” (1996)


Galleria Mario Iannelli is pleased to present “Fire in the mind”, a group exhibition that features new works by Dario D’Aronco, Paula Doepfner, Felix Kiessling, David Prytz and Sarah Ancelle Schönfeld.


In the book “Fire in the mind. Science, Faith and the Search for Order” (1996) George Johnson raised a series of questions about the structure of scientific knowledge to tracing the progressive development of those researches, which are always known to endeavour to give answers on the origin of life, on the nature of the human mind and its function in the universe.
Selecting the significance of the reality, withdrawing in collective and own shapes, it is a fundamental human activity as an inborn fire illuminating new territories searching other minds and burning in questioning to reach more connections and synthesis.

The invited artists reflect on this topic through artworks representing compressions of complexities and hidden symmetries measurements.


In his research on ancestral migrations and on genetics Dario D’Aronco traces a path made by symbols that man negotiated every time over time.

“Gatherer”, the title of the two works in the exhibition, defines the function of gathering and it is symmetric duplication of part of the artist’s face on which collects randomly various objects as a horn or a chocolate bar. These works follow the series of the first works shown in his solo exhibition in the gallery with the title” Internal Models”, and relates to internal models of our bodies that we can be visualised with our technological means, magnetic resonance and then 3D printing.


In Paula Doepfner works we can see something similar to a neuroscientist figure pictured by Frank Jackson that knows the physical aspects of color perception but without experiencing it. Those type of resonance can happen thanks to the almost scientific observance of the structure of the nature in which the artist is interested. Her drawing that starts from draft drawings of brains portrays a life that recapture these models which are often combined with elements of nature and pigments.

In them also encompasses parts of lyrical, musical and literary texts from Ungaretti and Anne Carson to Bob Dylan and Robert Musil, moreover even scientific treatises in particular neuroscience treatises.

The two artworks in the exhibition (“Carrie Lee, Carrie Lee, I wonder where in the world you can be”, II, III, 2018) are drawings combined with David Forster Wallace and Anne Carson texts transferred in small type which seems to see dense textures of synapses or neuronal maps.

As the latter we observed plastic brain's ability to modify itself, watching Paula Doepfner artworks, we witness the man's ability to change his consciousness.


Felix Kiessling deals with the men's leverage on a planetary scale. With his spatial experiments shows how the body, mind and matter are closely related producing effects on an infinite and cyclic time and, showing us the profoundly rare beauty of mathematic equation looking for a new symmetry.

In his works Kiessling makes use of calculations carried out by scientists.

“How the Earth shakes when I jump”, “Your map is not correct anymore” and “Endpunkt Europa”, where he practically picks extreme points of the globe of various sizes up to grains and scan it, search the concept of limit both in the sense of measurement and in the discovery of dimension belonging inextricably to the mankind tied indissolubly to his environment and the universe.

For the second project in Italy Felix Kiessling will perform one of his most recent works, the “Earth Piercing” ( also performed other projects about “Earth Tangents” ) and for a temporary period will be linked among two points in Italy and Chile. The performing of the first is expected to happen at the Torre Flavia Natural Monumental Oasis Swamp, situated between Cerveteri and Ladispoli, in the week before the exhibition opening.

In the photographic work shows the first part of the project, the two poles are virtually already connected.


David Prytz builds spaces as universe and theory are compared to the practice.

In the first exhibition, he realised “Tabula rasa, again”, a kinetic installation that seems to develop a cosmos or a nervous system made by raw materials.

In other works introduced in the gallery, Prytz investigated the concept of surface as a link of space-time points. In his geometric drawings entitled “Literal Geometry,” the elementary forms are repeated ad infinitum creating Euclidean and fractal structures at the same time, leaves visible the result of the spending of energy.

In the second solo exhibition at the gallery titled “Exocenter” he summed up the result of an exponential imaginary of something even greater in "A centre out of itself."

The new exhibiting work belongs to his work with kinetic and photography and is part of a work series in which he builds dark rooms, and it embodies a sort of a geometrically shaped pinhole camera that projects what is inside out.


The artwork material of Sarah Ancelle Schönfeld in the exhibition are eyelashes of conceptual artists that the artist used to recall the “make a wish” practice. “Score of wishes” is the artwork title.

In the evolution story described in “Microcosmos" by Margulis, the eyelashes were bacterial named spirochete were unified with prokaryotic bacteria providing locomotion, while expressing desires through the eyelashes would amount to a state of mind and means to propitiate "the not yet manifest" as in many traditional dances and rituals.

We might even end by quoting George Johnson about the Sarah Schönfeld’s work with a job last question: “and would aliens, who hold enough in common with the human race to enable them to reconstruct the codebook, recognize messages as messages, art as art, would they marvel at, signs of kindred minds, things that might be worth analyzing?".



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