Magiae Naturalis

(Academy of Secrets)

Speculative dramaturgy workshop


Vieni da me     ti devo dire

una cosa          e non la so dire

una cosa che prende forma

una cosa con un nome nuovo

una nuova dimensione

un nuovo uso

una nuova illusione

è qui intorno        ed è nei tuoi occhi

una cosa lucida    una cosa solo per te

una cosa che non devo vedere

è nelle mie orecchie       una cosa molto risonante

una cosa che tu non devi sentire

una cosa solo per me

Mina Loy, da Songs to Joannes del 1917.


Everything is in everything, affirms Paracelsus, physician and alchemist, in his pantheistic conception of the universe, a world his populated with human beings studded with stars, whose organs converse with the planets, the sun, the stars, and every life carries within itself the firmament.

Everything is in everything, what is at the top as well as what is at the bottom; and human characters are not so dissimilar to those of animals, claims Giambattista Della Porta, who in 1586 published his ‘De humana physiognomonia’ in Naples, and then extended the analogies to the vegetable kingdom, publishing in 1588 his ‘Phytognomonica’ or Fisionomia dell’herbe, and again in 1603 ‘Coelestis Physiognomonia’, which is almost a book of astrology. A leading figure in Renaissance science, Della Porta is credited with important contributions in the fields of chemistry, optics and magnetism; he had relations with the greatest thinkers of his time, including Paolo Sarpi, Campanella and Galileo. Philosopher, alchemist, playwright, Renaissance scientific rationality and magic coexisted in his vision of nature.

Starting from Della Porta’s treatise on Phytognomics, a copy of which can be found in the Library of the ‘Cesare Bicchi’ Museum of the Botanical Garden of Lucca, and intertwining with other volumes by the author, the workshop is part of the reflections and questions of GIUNGLA.

The course is proposed in meetings during which the linguistic tools are gradually joined by a series of visual, vocal and performative explorations, in order to arrive at the composition of an initial Studio, which from reality leads to a narration in which research and narrative speculation, fictional writing and scientific data can coexist.

The workshop makes use of work on the construction of the physical space for the performance/narrative, and the use of photography. It is flanked by philosopher Luisa Muraro’s 1976 re-reading of the author in her ‘G. Della Porta, magician and scientist’, and Adalgisa Lugli’s studies in ‘Naturalia e Mirabilia; il collezionismo enciclopedico nelle wunderkammer d’Europa’.

A moment of restitution of the research is planned, open to the public, in the form of an installation or sound track.



Josse Renda (1994) is a visual artist. In his work, the practice of painting intersects with that of writing and collaborative research. He studied at the Brera Academy of Fine Arts.

In 2021, he presented the performance Mas Anjello en Holland, at Superstudio Più, Milan; in 2022, the study for Marsyas de Sybaris, at Palazzo Bronzo in Genoa, and the study on La vie merveilleuse de Gargantua et de Pantagruel in Antwerp.

He participated in the projects TU35, at the Centro Pecci in Prato, D’apres la Peinture, curated by Stefania Rinaldi and CUT Prato, Reperti, curated by Irene Panzani and Shared Office For the Arts-SOFA, former Psychiatric Hospital of Maggiano, Lucca, at De Pingendi Natura, Srisa Art Gallery, Florence, at Mnemosyne | Le Grand Tour, Reggio Calabria, and at cantiere sussidiario, Guilmi Art Project, Chieti.