coma consciousness

The Light of Darkness. Italy

Curated by Gabi Scardi and Katherine Desjardins

Award-winning project-Italian Council National Award (2020)

In partnership with Centro Itard Lombardia srl (Milan)


Oct. 1, 2021 – Feb. 25, 2022. Fondazione Baruchello, Roma

Oct. 26 – Dic 19, 2021. Palazzo Barolo, Torino


A series of events related to the project The Light of Darkness by artist Emilio Fantin, winner, eighth edition, Italian Council National Award (2020).




Exhibition consists of the installation of the Integratore and the organization of some sessions by appointment during which it would be possible to invite coma survivors to participate.


A series of videos and images regarding interventions, stories, dreams, poems that ex-coma patients have created during their experience in the Integrator, in the presence of an audience, will be exhibited .


These exhibitions are be part of a series of different events–always context specific–that would take place in Chicago and Italy.


The project can involve relationships and synergies with scientists, experts, artists, theorists with the public, through the organization of panels, workshops, performances and an exhibition. These moments are necessary to give a complete view of the artist’s research and lay the foundations for a fruitful exchange with artists, scholars, researchers and members of the public who are interested in the theme of consciousness.


A series of videos, drawings, photographs, as well an idea for a film have resulted from the high-intensity experience of the Integrator’s dark, labyrinthine spaces.









Emilio Fantin’s The Light of Darkness can be considered a reconnoiter of consciousness. In the artist’s work, the relationship between consciousness and the unconscious emerges constantly as a theme, expressed through differing forms.

This project deals specifically with the deep state of coma, and involves a number of coma survivors “almost all of whom retain the consequences of tragic traumas–from disfigurement to total paralysis. These subjects express an unthinkable life force. In their eyes one catches a glimpse of a new horizon, as if they have awakened to a new life.”

Among the central themes of Fantin’s work, therefore, are the relationship to one’s body, living with anomaly, and the possibility of constructing a second existence for oneself after a radical life-change.

Fantin first developed the project by creating a device, the “Integrator”, installed inside the Luca De Nigris Awakening House (Casa Dei Risvegli Amici di Luca)–a wing of the Bellaria Hospital in Bologna dedicated to patients recovering from deep coma.The “Integrator” takes its name from the idea of ​​integrating different states of consciousness. Within this structure, coma survivors (assisted by trained guides) are offered the opportunity to recount their experience to a single participant, without the two being able to see each other directly. In this one-to-one relationship, patients are afforded the possibility to reveal their expressive potential; engaging while attempting to make the most of their condition, be it due to the problematic articulation of language, difficulties with speech, memory or depression–common among many survivors of coma. This exchange can lead to an intensely therapeutic moment.

“In many of my interventions – declares the artist – the aspect of ritual is alive. Rituality takes shape through the devices I create. The participants with their presence embody the rituality and catalyzing the powerful evocations. I am very grateful to the Luca De Nigris Awakening House, to Fulvio De Nigris and to all those who live or work there for the opportunity they have offered me. The events that can be imagined in this place are, from an evocative point of view, extremely powerful. Hovering here is an awareness of a meeting point between conscious life and a different consciousness, provoking movement toward symbolic value of the threshold as reiteration of the constant mystery of life. “

This project addresses personal odysseys of individuals who, having gone through labyrinthine situations, find themselves sometimes painfully, alive. The focus on ulteriority and return, on the often unpredictable links between states of consciousness; the dilemmas that arise in serious situations and of ungovernable complexity together with the harsh and uncompromising visionary nature of the The light of Darkness project leads the curators to consider the possibility of proposing a series of events in which different aspects of this project are evoked and made explicit.





Photos  Carlo Favero

Camera Manuel Montesano

featuring Claudio Calabrò Alessandro Bergonzoni