Belgian artist Emmanuel Muraille selected for the International Biennale of Contemporary Art Sacred of the religions of humanity 2018 (BIAS 2018) in Sicily.


He will present the project Villa Giulia. From the beautiful to the sublime. 15 photographic interventions, between April 22 and July 10, 2018 at the Museum of Contemporary Art of Sicily, at the Archaeological Park of Selinunte and in the Crypt of the Church of San Giuseppe dei Tetatini in Palermo.

The exhibition will take place at the same time as Manifesta 12 and Palermo – Italian Capital of Culture 2018.

A preview of the exhibition will be held on Monday, March 12, 2018, from 6 pm to 8:30 pm at Galerie Champaka 27, rue Ernest Allard in Brussels in the presence of the artist, as well as the philosopher Frank Pierobon and the art historian Justyna Gajko-Berckmans who have been closely involved in the development of the project.

Villa Giulia. From the beautiful to the sublime. 15 photographic interventions.

« The Villa Giulia in Palermo is the oldest public garden in Italy. Designed in 1778, it has suffered greatly: of the twenty-two busts adorning the central place, fifteen have been decapitated. The very concept of the garden as a work of art is thus disrupted, tilting from the beautiful to the sublime in a way which I undertake through my own interventions to show that it may constitute a powerfully meaningful passage.

On a first level, every public garden is thought out as the reconciliation of architecture and nature, combining the reality of urban space to the ideality of idealized nature. For anyone strolling into the Villa Giulia, the walking tempo slowly settles down into a feeling of airy suspension. The leisurely peregrination subtly changes into an initiatory journey, prompted by pervading yet understated masonic suggestions of cosmic harmony. Visitors are unknowingly nudged out of their customary sense of spatiality to experience another dimension which is all passage and no definite destination. The ideal garden offers invisible gateways leading both to experiences of inner peace as well as outer vistas where art and nature resonate together in harmony. This is the essence of Kant’s judgement of the beautiful, i.e. the harmonious operation of the mind’s various faculties as it judges at the occasion of an aesthetic experience.

However, at a second level, the mutilation of the Villa Giulia statues constitutes a horrific sight which exiles the ideal of beauty into the sublime as it ruptures the very harmony of faculties; this, according to Kant, must necessarily produce some spiritual meaning beyond the first shock and demise of the mind as it confronts the irreversible.

My intervention, i.e. staging the decapitated busts to let the sublime significance unfurl, is essentially an artistic statement. The wounds and stigma do remain as they are, unadulterated, while they may be apprehended in a reconciled perspective drawn from the vantage point of the intact and the ideal. »

Emmanuel Muraille

This work benefits from the collaboration of the historian of art Justyna Gajko-Berckmans and of the philosopher Frank Pierobon. It has been the subject of a publication in French.

About BIAS

BIAS 2018 is organized by Wish (World International Sicilian Heritage), as side event of the 57th Venice Biennale. With the patronage and collaboration of Politecnico di Torino, the Archdiocese of Palermo, the Sicily Region – Department of Culture, the Municipality of Palermo, IUAV of Venice and Aristotle College of Lugano.

Curator and President of Wish : Chiara Modìca Donà dalle Rose

The perspective of BIAS is a starting point for reflection, makes use of the comparison and mutual subsistence between ancient art and contemporary art, as well as the definition of exhibition spaces, the Pavilions, differentiable in relation to their beliefs (religious, philosophical or scientific) and their own project. Among the main pavilions of BIAS are: the Philosophical Pavilion, the Scientific-Darwinian Pavilion, the Pavilion of the Lost Religions, the Abramitic Pavilion (declined in the Hebrew, Christian, Orthodox, Protestant, Maronite, Islamic Pavilions), the Zoroastrian Pavilion, the Shaman Pavilion, the Hindu Pavilion, the Buddhist Pavilion, the Pavilion of African Religions, the Atheist Pavilion and the Syncretic Pavilion.

The theme of BIAS 2018 is THE DOOR. Porta itineris longissima dicitur esse. The famous Latin motto means “The passage from the door is the longest part of the journey”.


Emmanuel Muraille
T. +32 (0)477 51 62 95
Email :

Public Relations and interview request in Belgium:
Viviane Vandeninden
T. +32 (0)472 31 55 37
Email :

Artistic agent:
Justyna Gajko-Berckmans
T. +32 (0)499 16 22 46
Email :