Last Thursday the American Academy in Rome inaugurated its 2014 edition of Cinque Mostre, five individual exhibitions in discrete locations of the McKim, Mead & White building, grouped under the collective title Time & Again. These exhibitions were conceived and organized by current Rome Prize Fellows with Italian critic Christian Caliandro. A persistent light rain did not prevent the opening reception from attracting a sizeable turnout and the show remains open to visitors until March 2.
Concrete Ghost, curated by Christian Caliandro and on view in the AAR Gallery, brings together work by Rome Prize Fellows Anna Betbeze, Hamlett Dobbins, Dan Hurlin, Thomas Kelley, Catie Newell, Reynold Reynolds, and Catherine Wagner with Italian Affiliated Fellow in the Arts Giuseppe Stampone, and the Italian artists Nanni Balestrini, Tony Fiorentino, and Marco Strappato. The selection was guided by an idea drawn from an article written by Giorgio Vasta, currently an Italian Affiliated Fellow in literature, in which he characterizes the Italian present as an embodied ghost whose elusive condition is defined as an immateriality that adopts concrete form only in our imaginations. The artists’ experiment with visualizing the ethereal in a variety of media including photography, video installation, collage, sculpture, and painting.
Dance Macabre is a contemporary meditation by Joseph Brodsky Memorial Fellow in the Visual Arts Diana Machulina upon the city of Rome’s dual identity as an epicenter of La Dolce Vita and a cultural mausoleum. Footprints along the corridors of the Academy atrium, library, salone, stairwell, and even the paved surface of via Angelo Masina, retrace the dance between life and death that inevitably echoes a universal human struggle. The artist describes the piece as a readymade farce that proposes a reinterpretation of Andy Warhol’s Dance Diagrams of the 1960s.
Found Realities, an installation by Rome Prize Fellows Peter Bognanni, Thomas Kelley, and Catie Newell, proposes an imaginative encounter with unreal realities. At the exhibition opening visitors were led down a candlelit walk to a fictional archaeological workshop where a bizarre collection of invented objects were on display. These objects are elaborated within an imagined witty narrative that recounts the life work of the fictional archaeologist Ignatz Von Eckhart and thus prompts us to reflect on the accountability of history and the elasticity of truth.
Curated by Lindsay Harris, History Recast, brings together artists Antonio Biasiucci, Marco Delogu, Milton Gendel, Leonora Hamill, Mimmo Jodice, David Maisel, Sara VanDerBeek and Fellows Catie Newell and Catherine Wagner to examine the relationship between photography and Roman sculpture. The artists use photography as a creative contemporary medium to reanimate historic icons with present-day significance.
Situated in the Cryptoporticus, Lumen, is a multi-disciplinary immersive installation by Fellows Catherine Wagner, Thomas Kelley, Eric Nathan and Loretta Gargan that recontextualizes the act of spiritual contemplation in terms of a multi-sensory artistic experience. Active spectatorship is a key component of the piece as people are able to kneel in a space that recalls the church pew to meditate on light, sound and scent.
A finissage and presentation of the catalogue, edited by Christian Caliandro and published by Posa Edizioni, will bring the Cinque Mostre to a close on February 27 at 18.30. The remarkable exhibitions on display at the Academy are each thematically distinct and powerfully expressive in their own right. Yet they also foster a common conversation about the diachronicity or intertextuality of contemporary art practice. These artists make visible our negotiations with cultural history and our ever-evolving perceptions of the past, thus reflecting the American Academy’s commitment to learn from the past in order to project new futures. The initiative demonstrates the Academy’s continuing support of innovative artists, writers and scholars living and working together in a dynamic international community characterized by interdisciplinary dialogue.