16th ART QUADRIENNALE

“Altri tempi, altri miti”

After eight years the Art Quadriennale is returning to the Palazzo delle Esposizioni in the autumn and winter of 2016 with an exhibition entitled “Altri tempi, altri miti” [Other times, other myths]. The exhibition places itself within a great historic tradition, revitalized by innovative production formulas and unconventional exhibition features so as to effectively carry out its mandate: mapping out contemporary visual arts in Italy.

 

FOCUS

An unmissable event for art lovers and everyone interested in the latest trends in contemporary culture.

The 16th Quadriennale presents 99 artists and 150 artworks, mapping artistic production in Italy post-2000. A visit to the exhibition represents a journey through the imagery of our age, described by means of a multiple narrative entrusted to eleven of Italy’s best curators. Spectators can decide their route on this stimulating journey, choosing from which of the ten exhibition sections to start.

Each section explores a theme, an approach, or an atmosphere that characterized the start of the new millennium, with a series of references that the public will grasp during their visit thanks to a crescendo of suggestions. This is because the Quadriennale is not a thesis-style exhibition, but an all-encompassing experience that invites spectators to create their own “tag clouds” in an attempt to decipher the characteristics of our time.

Different keys to reading the exhibition emerge from the various sections. They include the temptation of slow living, far from the big cities, albeit in a hyperconnected dimension such as the present one, which however often eludes us. Or the ability to say “no” in order to break the mold or question established models. And there is more: the sense of community, of interpersonal relationships. The work in progress, dialectic as a means of approaching reality. The quest for new spaces where the rules that govern our way of living can be rethought. Reusing materials as a form of practical regeneration. The extraordinary wealth of pictures we see when we close our eyes, in another dimension where we can construct new meaningful relationships. Without ever losing sight of the great themes associated with public matters.

 

FIGURES

Two promoters and organizers. Eleven curators for ten exhibition sections, selected by an external panel of five interdisciplinary experts. Ninety-nine artists. One hundred and fifty works, including sixty new pieces, almost all produced within the last two years. One programme of fringe events around the capital, focusing on contemporary Italian art and involving twenty-five museums, foundations and private galleries, already underway. One international panel of museum directors. One overseas roadshow which will start by visiting the Berlin Biennale and Art Basel. A budget of two million euros, half of which is self-funded.

These are the starting figures for the Art Quadriennale, the only institutional exhibition devoted to Italian contemporary art. It has been relaunched thanks to a plan put into place by the Minister for Cultural Assets and Activities, Dario Franceschini, and will include some highly innovative features introduced by the Chairman of the Fondazione La Quadriennale di Roma, Franco Bernabè.

The exhibition is a Fondazione La Quadriennale di Roma and Azienda Speciale Palaexpo co-production. The two promoters and organizers have worked together to establish the main objectives for this year: to make a significant contribution to identifying and promoting the most innovative and original expressions of Italian art from 2000 onwards, to give a voice to multiple different languages and to release the potential of the new generations. Another key objective will be to raise awareness of Italian contemporary art in schools through intensive educational activities.

THE CURATORS

The 16th Quadriennale confirms the tradition of entrusting multiple curators with the task of looking at the artistic present, but also introduces new exhibition construction methods.

The main innovation regarded the method for selecting the curators, which took more than six months. A broad-spectrum Call for project on a national level, assessed by an external interdisciplinary panel, replaced the traditional curatorial committee appointed by the Board of Directors.

The Call, launched in early September 2015, was targeted at 69 curators who made their debuts and became established after 2000, and who are therefore of a similar age to most of the artists involved. The decision to entrust the 16th Quadriennale to curators mostly in their 30s and 40s was accompanied by the decision to involve production companies established in the 2000s in the visual communication, catalogue and documentation, thus producing a coherent account of the style that marked the start of the new millennium.

The curators were not only selected on the basis of their curricula, but above all on the basis of an analysis of the exhibition projects developed specifically for the 16th Quadriennale.

In late January 2016, the panel comprised of the writer Marco Belpoliti, the architect Nicola Di Battista, the art historian Mariagrazia Messina, the artist Giuseppe Penone and the art critic Angela Vettese, picked the following curators from among the thirty-eight projects received: Simone Ciglia and Luigia Lonardelli, Michele D’Aurizio, Luigi Fassi, Simone Frangi, Luca Lo Pinto, Matteo Lucchetti, Marta Papini, Cristiana Perrella, Domenico Quaranta, and Denis Viva.

Although they all have different educational and professional backgrounds, they have all influenced the contemporary cultural debate in some way, and not just in Italy.

The panel opted for the projects that, together, seemed to offer the best vision of the expressive wealth of Italian art over the last fifteen years, while also featuring significant cultural references and an overview of the education of the Italian artists and curators of recent generations.

 

CONCEPT

The 16th Quadriennale focuses on visual arts in Italy post-2000 under the title Altri tempi, altri miti. Every era has its own symbols and narrations that pervade the imagination and shape individual and collective behaviour. The 2000s also comply with this dynamic, although the title of the 16th Quadriennale has a specific connotation.

Altri tempi, altri miti is an expression that the exhibition curators have borrowed from the writer Pier Vittorio Tondelli  (1955‒91), in order to summarize the content and structural conditions of this year’s event. Tondelli uses it in the summary of the collection Un weekend postmoderno. Cronache dagli anni Ottanta, published in 1990 and considered by many a cult work for the generations born during that period. The collection offers a fragmented account of Italy, a dizzying sarabande of journeys around the peninsula, whose innermost vibes are captured along with its more manifest characteristics.

Similarly, the 16th Quadriennale is conceived as a changing map of artistic and cultural production in contemporary Italy and is divided into ten exhibition sections, each exploring a specific theme, method, approach or genealogy that connotes the art projects. In the words of the curators: “The studies proposed in the ten exhibition sections are pervaded by the tension generated by the comparison between the institutionalized narratives of Italian art of the past and an examination of the present that is currently being defined and can therefore not be categorized as anything but other. Difference therefore emerges as an inevitable condition upon which this year’s Quadriennale is founded and is offered to spectators as a tool for reading the works, inviting them to interpret the exhibition sections as embodiments of artistic and cultural discourses that communicate with the past through strategies of critical re-reading, innovation and overcoming.”

Each section of the 16th Quadriennale is entrusted to a curator (or to two curators in one case) and puts forward suggested interpretations of our contemporary visual culture in relation to the international context, translating them with highly diversified writing solutions and display devices.

In I would prefer not to/Preferirei di no, Simone Ciglia and Luigia Lonardelli present a selection of artists who illustrate a widespread approach to art today, which can be traced back to a withdrawal and a resistance to codes of identification. With Hey, you!, Michele D’Aurizio presents portrait art as a language that can be used to explore the most recent events in our art because of its ability to convey a combination of the individual and social sphere. Luigi Fassi presents La Democrazia in America [Democracy in America], inviting us to examine certain aspects of contemporary Italian history by re-reading the thoughts of Tocqueville. In Orestiade Italiana [Italian Oresteia] Simone Frangi turns his eye to the cultural, political and economic aspects of our country, with an analogical and choral rewriting of certain parts of a film by Pasolini. Luca Lo Pinto probes the subjects of time, identity and memory in  A occhi chiusi, gli occhi sono straordinariamente aperti [With Your Eyes Shut, They’re Wide Open], interpreting them in constant metamorphosis within the relationship between the individual and society. In De Rerum Rurale, Matteo Lucchetti focuses on rurality as a real and speculative space in which to describe and reimagine the system of relationships between the natural and man-made environment, even in its historic depth. Marta Papini proposes an installation in progress in Lo stato delle cose [The state of things], in which the rotation of highly diverse artists establishes a dialectic space between the individual studies and between them and the public. In La seconda volta [The second time] Cristiana Perrella identifies a group of artists brought together by an interest in the use of materials packed with past histories, which they reinterpret in unexpected combinations, in keeping with an ethos of transformation. Domenico Quaranta analyses the impact of digital media on various aspects of life, experience, imagination and story-telling in Cyphoria. Lastly, in Periferiche [Peripherals] Denis Viva identifies polycentrism as an original structural condition of our territory, which also permeates our visual culture.

Works by ninety-nine artists will be on display, many of whom became established in the 2000s. They will be accompanied by pieces from a number of artists from previous generations, deemed to have influenced the development of some of the most interesting expressive trends in existence today.

The exhibition layout does not require visitors to follow a specific itinerary.

Starting from the central Rotonda, which during the exhibition will play host to performances, meetings and screenings that form an integral part of the exhibition projects presented by a number of curators, visitors are free to begin their visit in any one of the ten exhibition rooms.

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