Discover the museum's exhibitions

16 July 2011 - 18 September 2011, Heleneum - Lugano

The Golden Bough

‘Within the sanctuary at Nemi grew a certain tree of which no branch might be broken. Only a runaway slave was allowed to break off, if he could, one of its boughs. Success in the attempt entitled him to fight the priest in single combat, and if he slew him he reigned in his stead with the title of King of the Wood (Rex Nemorensis)’. This is what was written in 1911 by one of the fathers of Ethnology, Sir James George Frazer (1854-1941), in the first of twelve volumes composing his monumental work, The Golden Bough. He founded a school of thought on the metaphor of the transgressive value of the creative action, which influenced all of the twentieth-century cultures. The MCL team and the maestro Pier Daniele La Rocca (an artist from Veneto who has been working in the Ticino for many years) studied this metaphor and enriched this great visual documentation with the ethnic artworks belonging to the Collezione Brignoni. As many generations of Western artists, Pier Daniele La Rocca was impressed by the original expressive power of unknown artists belonging to the traditional cultures of Borneo, New Guinea, and the Melanesian area. Through the shapes of those sculptures provided him with a surprising sense of inner and outer "wholeness". He travelled the world in search of this extraordinary emotion, and gradually created that his own version of the The Golden Bough.

Foto gallery

The Project

The MCL research project and scientific seminars lasted two years, and the team accompanied La Rocca throughout his research. They therefore had the opportunity to explore the ideological mechanisms of the process of appropriation pertaining to the languages of ethnic art. This pivotal feature aids to overcome Western realism, and permits Europena art to escape the tight constraints of truthful representations. The golden branch broken off the tree in Nemi’s forest has become a wooden stick, sceptre and geomantic wand. It is an efficient artistic and anthropological tool to go beyond the boundaries of knowledge that Frazer viewed in terms of a ceaseless repetition of similar phenomena. These affirm a cohesive human phenomenology. Today, we can conceive this in a more modern fashion as the intersection of various disciplines and sciences, in order to build a platform which enables us to develop an open, multicultural and cosmopolitan dialogue. 

The Exhibition

Visitors will find 23 works created by the maestro La Rocca and three works from the ‘Collezione Brignoni’. The latter were chosen because they have emblematically influenced the development and the outcome of the research with their anthropological and artistic values. The exhibition catalogue/art book contains pictures of all the exhibits as well as an essay by Francesco Paolo Campione. The exhibition is the first step a cycle of temporary exhibitions, entitled ‘Artàbasi’. This is dedicated to the aesthetic reflection of various artists without limits of origin, style, or languages. They agree to debate the anthropological view of creativity in an open dialogue with the MCL team.

Il ramo d'oro

Pier Daniele La Rocca
Grafiche Morandi, Fusignano 2011
Chf 500.-