The grandiose halls of the piano nobile in Rome’s Palazzo delle Esposizioni are hosting the capital city’s 16th Art Quadriennale until 8 January 2017. The event’s leitmotif is «Altri tempi, altri miti» in conformity with the compelling concept that has brought 11 of the most illustrious curators under the age of fifty together to introduce 10 individual projects involving the presence of 99 artists. A choral enterprise for artists and curators which extends to the concept of difference while intensifying the exchange between the various contemporary expressions and the visiting spectators in order to offer the broadest possible perspective of the current circumstances of Italian art.
Simone Frangi is presenting the “Orestiade italiana” (Italian Oresteia) curatorial project. Beginning with Pier Paolo Pasolini’s Appunti per un Orestiade Africana (Notes Towards an African Orestes), key words such as identity, allegory, category and difference emerge; analysing the invention of “the other” and the contradistinction of such concepts as centre and margin, defeated and winners. The topicality of migration is the essence of the project: a catalogue of geopolitical terms, a flow of poetic conscience that the artists reveal through poetry and recorded history in terms of latent and imaginary conflict as well as the stagnancy in the Italian society. The artists have chosen to place diagrams by anthropologists Hildebrandt and Di Pietro by their works – works which are evocative of 20th century history, journeys and civilizations – to place ulterior emphasis upon the fact that «boundaries» are actually, all in all, an intellectual creation.
The hall dedicated to the “Cyphoria” project is a triumph of sounds and colours, a multi-faceted and vibrant element in which spectators are engrossed. It is alienating and familiar at the same time. The artists are already known for their work with new media – having carefully observed the digital generation and followed the flow of images and sounds. They selected several everyday items by drawing upon open sources such as Youtube (a never-ending point of supply for material) to reassemble this new digital legacy into new sets, linking it to history and art history. Notwithstanding the fragmentary nature of techniques and results, Domenico Quaranta’s project is introduced into the works by artists who attribute the many anomalies of the technological world to a legacy that belongs to the past but, above all, to the quest for a logical way to interpret the relentless predominance of digital phenomenon in our lives today.
If, on the one hand, we have a type of art which witnesses the contemporary world, there is another that «would prefer not to». I would prefer not to / Preferisco di no is also the title of the project by Simone Ciglia and Luigia Leonardelli,animated by the the unpredictable activities of artists who prefer to exhibit the volatility and uncertainty of the choices available in this new millennium with works that are unstable and unpredictable, yet free of scandal.
Then there is the kind of art that is resurrected by the use of pre-existing material. This is displayed in Cristiana Perrella’s project La seconda volta (The Second Time). She reconsiders one of art’s most important techniques – reuse and assemblage. The mute resistance of the past to the «excess of dematerialization imposed by the arrival of the digital era» (C.P.).
The past is brought to life once again by the artists summoned by Luca Lo Pinto for his «A occhi chiusi gli occhi sono straordinariamente aperti» (With Your Eyes Shut, They’re Wide Open). «Time, memory, identity in constant metamorphosis and challenged in terms of the individual’s relationship with the community”» (L-Lo P.).
Rome’s Art Quadriennale is striking for its wealth of voices and themes characterized by a quantity of works and techniques that shatter the panorama, enriching it with a thousand reflections. Examinations that are rational, disenchanted and desperate in their search for order –clanging and openly argumentative at times, mute and silently withdrawn to the craftsmanship of simple gestures like paper cutting at other times. What we can see over and over again in these projects on display is the urgency to resolve certain conflicts in Italian society, the reassuring connection to a legendary past and the use of digital material from global platforms.
The type of art that reflects when it decides to forgo taking action. However, it never truly avoids analysing current circumstances in its attempt to function as interpreter, warrantor and witness for the voice of humanity today. A multiplicity of intentions, ideas, materials and shapes that can only be seen as a wealth of resources and a historical footprint for posterity.
16a Quadriennale, Palazzo delle Esposizioni, Roma, 13.10.2016 – 08.01.2016
Images (cover 1) Giulio Squillacciotti e Camilla Insom. Archipelago. Spirits, Sounds and Zār Rituals in the Persian Gulf, Iran/Italia, 2016, still. Film HD, audio persiano, sottotitoli in italiano, 60′. Courtesy degli autori (2) Invernomuto. MALÙ – Lo stereotipo della Venere Nera in Italia [censored], 2015, still Video HD, 30′ Courtesy degli artisti, American Academy in Rome e pinksummer, Genova (3) BEFNOED, 2014, still Videoinstallazione. Dimensioni variabili. Courtesy degli artisti e Carroll / Fletcher, Londra (4) Paolo Cirio. Overexposed – James Clapper, 2015. Pittura acrilica su tela 106×91 cm. Courtesy NOME, Berlino (5) Rosa Barba – Still Anchored in One Point From Which They Emerge, 2013, veduta d’installazione, Gió Marconi, Milano, 2013. Pellicola 35mm, perspex, vetro, rulli guida, LED, motore programmato. Dimensioni variabili. Collezione privata, Bologna. Foto © Rosa Barba (6) Invernomuto. Motherland, 2014 Marsèlleria, Milano, 2014. Monitor LCD, poliuretano indurito 67×70×113 cm. Courtesy degli artisti, Marsèlleria Permanent Exhibition, Milano, e pinksummer, Genova Foto di Giulio Boem (7) Rä di Martino – Le storie esistono solo nelle storie, 2016, documento preparatorio. Courtesy dell’artista (8) Marcello Maloberti – Himalaya, 2012, fotografia di documentazione, Zero a Cento, Triennale di Milano, 2012. Stampa Lamba 150×100 cm. Courtesy dell’artista e Galleria Raffaella Cortese, Milano. Collezione Golinelli