Fold and Unfold is the fourth chapter in a piece of curatorial research on the most experimental contemporary forms connected to the use of photography as a medium. The exhibited artists go beyond the traditional confines of photography, freeing the image from the limits of the two-dimensional.
Letha Wilson transforms flat images into sculptural objects combining photographic prints, metal and concrete in hybrid creations. Color photos that evoke the wild nature of the American landscape are cut, pleated and immersed into layers of viscous cement. Her photography installations are as much connected to sculpture as photography and they blur the boundary between the two mediums to reinvent the image of landscape photography. The final textures refer to natural terrains through the manipulation and exploration of color and form. The abstracted forms explore our complex material relationship to landscape.
Kate Steciw, on the other hand, interrogates the relationship between reality and virtual representation. Her digital photographic collages combine her own images with visual material found online, often promoting mass-produced products. The images collected are extrapolated from their context and reimagined as the pieces of an abstract mosaic, repeated in clippings and layers. Through a process that is both digital and artisanal, Steciw explores the production, consumption and manipulation of the contemporary image. By reflecting on the saturation of digital images which are meant to convince us to consume, she creates an artificial aesthetic reality in a reimagined space.
The Malaspina Foundation, a new experimental platform for research on contemporary photography, inaugurated its exhibition activities with a group exhibition curated by Alessandro Dandini de Sylva.
Qualsiasita [translator’s note: term used by Cesare Zavattini to indicate the ordinary or mundane aspects of everyday life] features ninenty nine works by the Italian master of photography Guido Guidi and the artists who attended his lessons in Ravenna and Venice at various times and frequented his home and studio in Cesena, including Cesare Ballardini, Cesare Fabbri, Jonathan Frantini, Marcello Galvani, Francesco Neri and Luca Nostri.
The projects developed over the years, independently or commissioned, have given rise to an in-depth exploration of the landscapes of a circumscribed geographical area extending from Cesena and Ravenna to Bologna, including Faenza, Lugo and Massa Lombarda, the birthplaces and homes of the photographers. The documentary style of the photographs on display allows them to offer an accurate and anti-rhetorical description of places considered marginal by the official iconography. It is an Italian geography that, just a few years later, is already of inestimable historical value due to the rapidly changing landscape.
The aim of the exhibition is to re-establish a link between photographic practices and genres, which critics and historiographers have long kept separate – such as “documentary” and “research” photography – thus offering an opportunity to continue to examine the conceptual and figurative dimensions of the Italian territory.
The title chosen for the exhibition is loosely based on a quote by Cesare Zavattini, a multifaceted figure and voice of Italian Neorealism. The “qualsiasità” of the eye is translated into a photograph of the day-to-day, attentive to the minor aspects and immediate vicinity of the land. The democratic eye that places each aspect of the visible world on the same plane, the narration of that which is unfinished, and the accumulation of signs that man leaves in the landscape are the elements that continue to transform their photographic practice into an existential approach that questions the act of looking and the traditional hierarchy of vision.
“As documentation of a finished work of art is posted to the Internet, and then dispersed and multiplied via likes and shares, online viewers become the overwhelming majority of an exhibition’s audience. All works, regardless of their material constituents, are flattened, scaled down to several hundred pixels and the digital image is supplanting the art object” (Loney Abrams, Flatland, The New Inquiry, August 12 2013).
Rachel de Joode explores the role and aesthetics of the gallery space in relation to the vast circulation of contemporary art online. Her work explores the relationship between the three-dimensional piece of art and its two-dimensional virtual counterpart, blending the techniques of photography and sculpture in a constant play of surfaces and materiality.
For Rachel de Joode, photography is the perfect tool for flattening reality and transforming its sculptures into surfaces, then sculptures once more and then surfaces again. The sculpted object is reconfigured through the two-dimensional lens only to return to the three-dimensional world. The initial photograph is manipulated, mixed with others and printed in order to continue its journey as a new photograph or sculpture. A long experimental process that brings digital images back to the galleries, where they discover a new physical space.
Organic materials, skin, stones and clay: nothing is what it seems. Rachel de Joode’s sculptures generate a sense of dissonance that modifies our expectations of materials and surfaces. Multiple references are interwoven into a single piece that, just like the Internet, offers a fascinating collage of non-correspondent information. Rachel de Joode’s work belongs to our age, drawing on themes such as technology and isolation, and it blurs the lines between the physical and virtual worlds. What remains are questions about the existence and perception of the image in the digital age.
Paul Graham delivers us The Present as the final instalment in a trilogy hereto comprising American Night and A Shimmer of Possibility. In the earlier series, Paul Graham formally explored the social fracture of America by intentionally overexposing the images to create “blindingly white scenes and render near invisible the dispossessed people and landscapes”. In A shimmer of possibility he examined “the compression of time in photography” by depicting in-between moments, intermediate places, people in transition. In its vivid depictions of New York’s inhabitants, The Present now questions our very consciousness of the world.
In contrast to the tradition of street photography of the 60s and 70s, in which one shot contained all essential formal elements, Paul Graham investigates the nature of this genre and its own limits by taking two, sometimes three pictures, a few seconds apart, varying them in point of view and focus. When viewed together, they mimic our own visual experience, in which our concentration continually shifts from one object to the next. Little by little, the viewer becomes aware of the actual subject matter: it is the photographer’s eye, its wanderings and explorations of its surroundings, its change of focus from one figure to another, from foreground to background.
Paul Graham’s interest in “breaking down the decisive moment, not allowing life to become this single frozen shard, trying to reflect something of the flow of time” brings us to film and the obvious tension between these two media. But the artist refuses the “tyranny of narrative” and storyline imposed on film. In his view, photography is “much more an accurate reflection of the way life comes at us, unbidden and without perfect little narratives”. In his pictures, people pass by and move on. We are witnesses to the flow of time that continues in “jumpy, erratic and elusive progression”.
The theme of the 14th edition of FOTOGRAFIA is the present. In a world of constant and sudden acceleration, photographic practice – whose mechanisms of production and distribution are now almost immediate – presents itself as art. It is one that is privileged to fix and define the present, and to observe and delimit its boundaries. Defining the boundaries of the present is to separate it and to abstract it from the time restrictions that threaten it, which have been heavily investigated already. Now, our gaze turns to that endless moment capable of self-representation and self-determination. FOTOGRAFIA at MACRO Contemporary Art Museum of Rome features the following exhibitions and events.
Il Presente, a group show of Italian photographers curated by Alessandro Dandini de Sylva and Marco Delogu, including Olivo Barbieri, Fabio Barile, Federico Clavarino, Nicolo Degiorgis, Stefano Graziani, Allegra Martin, Domingo Milella, Francesco Neri, Sabrina Ragucci, Giovanna Silva and Paolo Ventura.
The Present by Paul Graham curated by Alessandro Dandini de Sylva. The contemporary nature of Paul Graham’s work draws from the American tradition of street photography. The images of The Present are seemingly spontaneous images of the streets of New York, however every moment is accompanied by its double. The images are shown in pairs, taken from the same location but separated by just a few moments in time. Thus, the present is no longer a rigidly frozen moment of life, but rather a continuum between the before and after, between what comes in and what is leaving. It is a provisionary present that is fleeting and free of precise definition.
The thirteenth edition of the Rome Commission carry on the tradition of an exclusive portrait of the city of Rome (inaugurated with Josef Koudelka and continued with Olivo Barbieri, Anders Petersen, Martin Parr, Graciela Iturbide, Gabriele Basilico, Guy Tillim, Tod Papageorge, Alec Soth, Paolo Ventura and Tim Davis) with the new projects Eur and Aqua Claudia by Hans-Christian Schink and Sevla by Paolo Pellegrin. Paolo Pellegrini’s images are based on the plethora of odd names of Italian cities and neighborhoods, Rome included. Rome, the capital of Italy, also means gypsy. Thus, Pellegrini’s images are of a gypsy family living in an unrecognizable Rome, confusing what the meaning of the word has traditionally meant. Furthermore, he rejects the western disintegration and creates images of his own understanding of life around him. Hans-Christian Schink puts the two archaeological pasts of Rome into dialogue through two series of images. The first follows the aquaduct Claudio from Ager to the city center, and the other investigates the metaphysical forms of Rome’s EUR district, built during fascism. Moreover, the images reveal the way in which architecture dominates the skyscape and defines nature.
Metabolism by Rachel de Joode curated by Alessandro Dandini de Sylva. Rachel de Joode is a Dutch multimedia artist who redefines the limits of photography and sculpture through sculptural photography and photorealistic sculpture. Her works alters traditional forms, and explores the materiality and our perception, giving a new life and look to bodies and objects. Wall on Wall by Kai Wiedenhöfer features photos of the walls and barriers that divide eight nations and cities in five different continents. there are images of Berlin and Israel, but also Baghdad, Ceuta and Melilla, Cyprus, Mexico and the two Koreas.
Little big press: The book's space, curated by 3/3. This work focuses on seven books published between 2014 and 2015, in order to investigate the photography book. Works of different media are arranged on horizontal and vertical planes, which creates a dialogue between the photographic subject, the book designer, and the photographer. The exhibition is accompanied by a transcript of short interviews with photographers and designers, as well as various objects. The inclusion of covers, inserts, first dummies and inspiration emphasizes the process of creating a photography book, as well as its collaborative nature.
Incontri di Fotografia is a new series of lectures and conversations with photographers including Sally Mann, Hans-Christian Schink, Paolo Pellegrin, Francesco Jodice, The Cool Couple and Pietro Paolini.
The digital image no longer shares the basic functions of photography aimed at documenting experience. “Its transgressive effect is similar to that of the Trojan horse: infiltrate between the walls of credibility to strike the final blow” (Joan Fontcuberta, I knew the Spice Girls, 2005).
The photographs by Asger Carlsen document a visionary world where the grotesque, absurd and surreal take on the features of the ordinarily normal. At first sight Wrong appears as a collection of banal daily moments, vernacular portraits or documents of minor news events. We recognize the context of these images as familiar, but the persons and creatures which live in this distorted reality are anything but familiar. Obscure hybrid and genetically flawed presences, characters with roughly homemade prostheses for limbs, mutants with two heads and strange unnatural shapes: these are just some of the hallucinations which populate the dystopic world of Wrong.
Yet the deep sense of unease caused by the vision of these images has another origin. Even if the bodies are recognizably imaginary constructs, their existence is within the reign of the possible. This is because photography has a penetrating power superior to that in painting, sculpture or drawing. Despite the reservations of our critical mind we are forced to assume that the object depicted really exists.
Carlsen represents a generation of artists who aggressively exploit the editing potential of digital images in their creative processes. The mise-en-scène and the retouching allow the creation of optical illusions with invisible scars. The hard and direct lighting of the flash and the grey scale of the black and white add a touch of authenticity. Asger Carlsen's artistic fiction does not concern truth or falseness, but our ability to believe.
The 13th edition of FOTOGRAFIA is dedicated to the portrait, understood not only as the genre which has been a part of the history of photography from the start, but also as a means of analyzing contemporary society. The theme of the portrait is to be tackled by reconstructing its historical development and its role within contemporary art, literature, and cinema, emphasizing the interdisciplinary aspects which link photography to areas of anthropological, philosophical, sociological and semiotic studies. FOTOGRAFIA at MACRO Contemporary Art Museum of Rome includes the following exhibitions and events.
Portrait, a group show of artists selected by international photographers, curators, critics, and directors of museums. In particular Maria Alicata (curator), Antonio Biasiucci (photographer), Francesco Cataluccio (philosopher, writer), François Cheval (director of Musée N. Niepce), Alessandro Dandini de Sylva (photographer, curator), Stefano De Matteis (philosopher), Franz Koenig (publisher), Per Lindström (curator), Giuseppe Lisi (documentary filmmaker, writer), Danilo Montanari (publisher), Gil Pasternak (photography historian), Sandra Philips (director of SFMOMA), Bartolomeo Pietromarchi (director of Fondazione Ratti), Carolina Pozzi (curator), Leo Rubinfien (photographer, curator, writer), Hans-Christian Schink (photographer), Marta Sironi (curator), Alec Soth (photographer), Valentina Tanni (curator) and Paolo Ventura (photographer) selected Antonio Biasiucci, Piergiorgio Branzi, Martin Bogren, Asger Carlsen, Alexandra Catiere, Doug Dubois, Bernhard Fuchs, Ingar Krauss, Zanele Muholy, Antonia Mulas, Arthur Patten, Jon Rafman, Thomas Roma, Assaf Shoshan, Guy Tillim, Andrea Ventura, Paolo Ventura and Oleg Videnin.
The twelfth edition of the Rome Commission, Luce attesa by Marco Delogu, carries on the tradition of an exclusive portrait of the city of Rome (inaugurated with Josef Koudelka and continued with Olivo Barbieri, Anders Petersen, Martin Parr, Graciela Iturbide, Gabriele Basilico, Guy Tillim, Tod Papageorge, Alec Soth, Paolo Ventura and Tim Davis).
Asylum of the Birds by Roger Ballen, curated by Marco Delogu. Blurring the lines between truth and fiction, photos of a group of shacks on the outskirts of Johannesburg harbor a motley assortment of inhabitants, where a remarkable number of birds fly free. Birds symbolically move between earth and sky, hell and heaven, and even life and death. Through the use of this analogy, nature is used to confront our understanding of reality.
Beats by Larry Fink, curated by Peter Benson Miller. These photographs were taken by Fink in 1958, when he was 17 or 18 years old. They are portraits of writers, musicians, and artists, who he identifies as the second generation of beats, calling them “the princes of expressive freedom.”
Wrong by Asger Carlsen, curated by Alessandro Dandini de Sylva. Asger Carlsen documents a visionary world where the grotesque, absurd, and surreal take on the features of the ordinarily normal. His artistic fiction does not concern truth or falseness, but our ability to believe.
Portraits from the Trevisan Collection, curated by Mario Trevisan. The collection is presented as a constantly growing encyclopedic corpus. It consists of photographs of nineteenth-century experiments, up to works from the twenty first century. Today, the collection includes works by over 200 artists, from which some of the most significant photographers are exhibited at the Festival, with a selection dedicated to portraiture.
Incontri di Fotografia, a new series of lectures and conversations with photographers, critics and curators, including Roger Ballen, Didi Bozzini, Larry Fink, Peter Benson Miller, Francesco M. Cataluccio, Thomas Roma, and Tod Papageorge.
A new generation of artists are dedicating themselves to still life photography, renewing its language. The definition of the photographic medium is continuously changing. The studio based practice, with its static elements and controlled conditions, has become the perfect breeding ground for experimenting and creating new aesthetics.
Fleur van Dodewaard constructs her own visual language in order to question the role and nature of photography as “an imaginary medium”. For the artist, the medium of photography is no longer a transparent glass through which reality can be seen, but an instrument whose properties can be manipulated and put into dialogue with other media. The work of Fleur van Dodewaard is made up of a series of compositions created in studio that explore the evocative nature of geometry and color. It involves materials and shapes that alternate between abstraction and representation and refer to different subjects in art history, such as Landscape, the Nude and Still Life.
The artist constructs all of her photographed objects manually as part of the creative process, including sculptures, paintings, and layouts. This process is a performance that allows Fleur van Dodewaard to approach the work/object/image that she creates from different points of view. The result is a photograph of a static sculpture that, in addition to showing the perspective of the artist, leaves the viewer free to dwell on what can be seen and what can only be imagined. The photographs of Fleur van Dodewaard, at first so simple and essential, are unexpectedly complex, leading the viewer to question what he's looking at. By means of these images, the artist accentuates the illusionary aspects of photography and draws attention to our perception and to the subject and its countless representations.
After Futurespective, Motherland and Work, the twelfth edition of FOTOGRAFIA explores the theme of the Vacatio, or the absence and the suspension in photography, in an era of profound institutional, economic, and social uncertainties. Reasoning on this issue is to think strongly and patiently on the act of photographing, the specificity of the medium in relation to new technologies, is to understand how far can get the subtraction and reason on the border between photography and other arts. At the same time it means watching the world go by, the Chinese invasion of Africa, Africans migration toward the old continent, the regimes of North Africa in perpetual instability, the transversal crisis of the values of politics and economics.
FOTOGRAFIA at MACRO Contemporary Art Museum of Rome features the following exhibitions and events.
Vacatio, is a group show curated by Marco Delogu, which includes works by Luca Campigotto, Aline Diépois & Thomas Gizolme, Elger Esser, Patrick Faigenbaum, Gaston Zvi Ickowicz, Guy Tillim, and Jeff Wall.
The eleventh edition of the Rome Commission curated by Marco Delogu, is Quinto Quarto, in which Tim Davis has found a new paradigm for himself as an artist. It is made up of a series of pieces rather than a body of work, that has allowed Davis to play and provoke in ways he hasn't always been able to as a photographer.
A New Map of Italy by Guido Guidi, curated by Inge Hennemann in collaboration with the PixSea Award. The first PixSea Award is an Oeuvre Award, which has been awarded to the Italian photographer and architect Guido Guidi this year.
Wounded Citiesby Leo Rubinfien, curated by Joshua Chuang. Wounded Cities is acclaimed photographer Leo Rubinfien's exploration of the "mental wound" that was left by the terror attacks in New York in 2001, and in cities around the world in the years before and after.
Foresta Bianca, curated by Francesco Zanot in collaboration with Gerry Badger, Sandra S. Phillips and Sujong Song. The exhibition presents a critical reading of the Foresta Bianca project, conceived in 2012 by the artist and curator Matteo Balduzzi and the sociologist Stefano Laffi.
A Number of Angles by Fleur van Dodewaard, curated by Claudia Caprotti and Alessandro Dandini de Sylva. The exhibition features a series of photographic works made in studio, where the artist depicts a series of compositions that oscillate between abstraction and representation.
Trolleyology in Rome, curated by Hannah Watson. The exhibit presents prints, books, dummies, slideshows and interviews from the first ten years of Trolley Books, and especially the unique vision of Trolley's founder Gigi Giannuzzi. The exhibit also features new work by Adam Broomberg and Oliver Chanarin, which is a forthcoming publication. Scarti revisits their first book with Trolley ten years ago, Ghetto.
Another Country by Paolo Pellegrin, curated by Annalisa d'Angelo. Paolo Pellegrin's gaze is directed to the constant and daily violence of the American society, which tries to fill a huge void through the craze of control.
Incontri di Fotografia, a new series of lectures and conversations with photographers, critics and curators as Adam Broomberg & Oliver Chanarin, Jean-François Chevrier, Tim Davis, Patrick Faigenbaum, Guido Guidi, Michael Mack, Leo Rubinfien and Hannah Watson.
A three-days focus on photobooks, curated by Alessandro Dandini de Sylva and Saverio Verini. It will include numerous publishers, authors of self-published publications, independent publishers and international libraries, who have distinguished themselves in recent years to the high quality of their productions: Chopped Liver Press, Danilo Montanari Editore, Documentary Platform, Drago, Loosestrife Editions, Lugo Land, MACK, Monospace Press, One Room, Osservatorio Fotografico, Postcart, Quodlibet, s.t. foto libreria galleria, Trolley Books.
The exhibition of the artist Enrico Boccioletti entitled Palinopsia is the second event curated by Alessandro Dandini de Sylva in his role as 2013 curator-in-residence of the Pastificio Cerere Foundation.
Palinopsia presents a selection of recent works that pose questions about the state of the art of photography and visual culture that has come to be dominated by the Internet. New technologies have greatly influenced photographic practice, expanding its vocabulary and the scope of its development and applications. Graphical elaboration by means of computer software has now become the principal means for the production for images. Exploring the digital image is an ongoing process at work in the sector of contemporary photography, which has led to a blurring of the boundaries between manual interventions and digital effects, as well as between reality and its manipulation. Nevertheless, in Boccioletti's work the process of creation of the image becomes transparent, the digital intervention is clearly visible, and the language of photography is irrevocably revolutionized.
In this exhibition, two series are put into dialogue with each other. The first called Content Aware is based on a collection of found digital images from the Internet. Boccioletti transforms fashion images by completely removing any traces of the figure, including the face. The result is the background environment, replaced with photo software. The digital manipulation uses advance software that allows the user to select the figure, and then automatically apply preset features. The result is a process in which technology shapes the final result of the image. Guided by technology, a website called fakenamegenerator.com randomly assigns names to the images, which Boccioletti uses as titles. Not only does the series question the meaning of content, it also deals with assumptions of identity and gender.
The second series is called Retina. Boccioletti takes abstract images from the monitor screen of a computer and manipulates the images several times. The final image is a result of processes, using both technical and physical manipulations. After physically manipulating his images, Boccioletti takes photographs of them and then digitally manipulates the images again. The appearance of the finished works are like images on top of each other in a monitor screen. Boccioletti represents the confused reality of the digital age, which falsely presents itself as a period of immense clarity and simplification.
Late night conversations is the first in the series of exhibitions curated by Alessandro Dandini de Sylva in his role as the 2013 curator-in-residence at the Pastificio Cerere Foundation. The exhibition presents a new series of works by the artist Stefano Graziani, which are centered on the meaning of representation and on the physical action of seeing, as well as working towards defining photography as a language.
In Late night conversations, every photograph is an encounter. Unlike in the day to day reality, Stefano Graziani's compositions allow us to see only one subject at a time. Eliminating any spatial or temporal markers, and constituting a kind of taxonomy, his images individualize a series of elements that articulate a process of knowledge and interpretation of the world.
In this new series of photographs, as in the preceding Under the Volcano and Other Stories, Stefano Graziani extracts the image from its denotative context and subtracts its original use, transforming the photographic document into a powerful instrument for stimulating the imagination. It becomes one for poetic regeneration. In a conversation with Rene Gabri, the artist describes his work as a looking around oneself with a different light: an "atmospheric fog" envelops his images, offering new visions and making new things visible, engendering a condition in which every time is the first time.
The photographs have a reflective quality similar to mirrors, as an instrument in which we can observe ourselves and unceasingly investigate differences. The title of the exhibition suggests a strong link to the unconscious: a time of doubt, of wonder, of phantasms, dreams and strange occurrences. Conversazioni notturne uncovers a different history of photography, here understood as self-analysis, as an instrument that allows us to view ourselves. In his essay on the artist Culto dei morti, lo spirito dei pappagalli e l'anima, Anselm Franke introduced the concept of "geological imagination", a delirium that awakens dreams of tribes and sinking kingdoms, through which the most extreme past and the most distant future merge back into the same thing.