Imago Mundi - The Art of Humanity, Pratt Institute, New York


Imago Mundi, the cultural nonprofit project part of the Luciano Benetton Collection, has landed in New York.

“The Art of Humanity,” a collection of around 3,000 works by artists from 14 countries, was unveiled at the Pratt Institute of New York this week. The works in the 3.9-inch-by-4.7-inch format were created by artists from regions including Australia, Afghanistan, China, Japan, Iran, Israel, Syria, Tibet, Italy, Chile, the Americas, Egypt, South Africa, and Tunisia. They are an extract of a global collection that has now passed the 100-nation milestone.

“We are interested in understanding the public, which is always different from one exhibition to the next,” Luciano Benetton told WWD. “We chose this creative university because the project targets young people and we want to understand what they think.”

Benetton was enthusiastic about the art world, which “is much more democratic — there are no discussions, no differences, no jealousy.” The arts and culture, he said, are tools to battle intolerance. “We aim to show the world as we would like it to 
be: colorful, in peace and without walls, building bridges between apparently conflicting ideologies and faiths.”

The choice of the exhibition, admitted Benetton, is “provocative” at a time when many countries are shutting their borders and politicians talk about building protective walls. “It is right to encourage dialogue, things are not worked out because there is little will to do so,” contended Benetton, the cofounder of the namesake Italian clothing and textile manufacturer, who left his role as chairman in 2012.

The exhibit is on until Saturday in New York at a time when Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee for president, is speaking of walling off Mexico. Benetton said, “The U.S. represents us all. I hope these are boutades [jokes]. After all, it wouldn’t be possible.”

A tireless globetrotter, Benetton was setting off to China to prepare the next Imago Mundi exhibition. “There are 55 minority groups in China,” he said, envisaging “an extraordinary period of work” spanning two to three years until each minority is represented. Imago Mundi exhibitions have traveled from Venice at the 2013 Biennale to Senegal, New Orleans and Vienna, to name a few.

“The Art of Humanity” marks Imago Mundi’s debut on the Google Cultural Institute platform, which houses the works of many museums and art projects around the world, allowing virtual visitors to have access.

On its web site, Benetton is also launching a creative competition to submit an ad campaign for Imago Mundi. Whoever is selected will develop the project at Benetton’s communication and research center Fabrica.

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