Xanadu refers to the ancient summer palace of Kublai Khan in Shangdu, which was built in 1251 exactly according to the dream of the Chinese emperor. Like the ancient dream temples, Xanadu gathers the energies and experiences of its visitors specific to each place and time the work is shown. Jamain Brigitha, founding director and curator of Dream Amsterdam Foundation, curated Nikunja’s exhibition at Istituto Santa Maria della Pietà.
Since the early 1990s, Nikunja has put at the centre of his work the progressive energy of the artistic process. Every individual visitor will add and contribute to the content of Xanadu. This approach engages the audience in a form of open-ended poetry, similar to dreams.
The worldwide premiere of Xanadu consists of drawings, paintings, photos, videos and an interactive, multimedia installation. When visitors enter the exhibition, they are spectators, but they also become part of the artwork as performers. On special dates, the artist will be present to create new works of art in interaction with the individual visitors.
Nikunja did his research and created the works for Xanadu between 2011 and 2015 in Europe (including Venice), Mauritius and Reunion Island, where he started working at the end of the 1990s. Réunion (whose French name signifies an act and not a place) is an exceptional island that successfully unites cultural and social extremes.
Nikunja‘s work is in a constant flux of adaptation, mutation and transformation. The artist explores and values the nomadic, unknown intermedial space between existing media. He searches for hybrid beings or the “ultimate bastard” in the creation of his artworks. He is in continuous discovery of the in-between spaces where other elements may be born. “The condition of transgression and mutation fits perfectly well with the spirit of our current age: globalization, migration, transculturalism, the end of grand narratives, the fading of traditional values, and the steep rise of individualism. The dynamic postmodern plurality of contemporary society goes hand-in-hand with a fast-evolving diversity in contemporary art.”
- Xanadu by Nikunja, Dream, courtesy of the artist