The term Refugium peccatorum – the Christian title given to the figure of the Virgin – designates icons and sacred places to which sinners can address invocations for the salvation of their souls condemned to eternal suffering. In common parlance, the Latin locution refers to any context and condition in which men end up securing some form of escape and redemption from their misfortunes, representing an opportunity for indulgence.

From this suggestion arises the collaborative work of Pierluca Cetera and Maurizio Di Feo, curated by Roberto Lacarbonara, exhibited at the Rifugi Antiaerei (Anti-Aircraft Bomb Shelters) in Monopoli, from 5 April to 31 August 2023, conceived and promoted by the Monopoli City Council Culture Department in collaboration with Pino Pascali Foundation of Polignano a Mare.

The two artists interpret the long hypogean corridors and cavities carved into the rock as a place of salvation from sin and from conduct that is not always mirrored. With an unprecedented site-specific intervention, Cetera places several pairs of human and animal bodies – sculptures painted on metal silhouettes – caught in ambiguous postures, between the act of prayer and masturbatory behaviour, highlighting the undecidable and double character of those damned.

Di Feo’s intervention, in full integration with the sculptures arranged by Cetera, instead uses plastic inserts and fluid solutions, through the application of ampoules and small tubes that contain an obscure, inscrutable liquid, both organic and lymphatic but also mortal and exhausted, producing an energetic and vitalistic connection between the bodies.

The exhibition alternates between “positive” and “negative” figures: a meaning that refers both to the technical choice of showing the silhouettes of the figures together with the voids cut out in the flat surface, and to the character and moral connotation of the characters inserted in the long narrative plot that winds through the Refuges.

The animal figures, which accompany the human ones, allude to a complex symbolism of vices and virtues – debauchery and bestiality of impulsive behaviour, or wisdom or temperance – transforming the entire exhibition into an ironic and grotesque moralizing picture, as in the medieval tradition of bestiaries and in the Flemish painting of Hieronymus Bosch.

The entire “dramaturgy”, thus conceived, is oriented towards a final outcome, that of the great hall / cistern, where the artists gather dozens of characters as in an orgiastic and Dionysian feast that represents the last, extreme refugium peccatorum.

Tickets and reservations available at the Info Point in Piazza Garibaldi, 24 and online at the following link: 

Free of charge:

– children under 18

– disabled persons and accompanying persons

– accompanying teachers of school groups

– accredited journalists


For further information:

+39 080 414 0264




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