Hidden & Forbidden Identities | Venice (Italy)
In a Society made of Images
In the prestigious spaces of Palazzo Albrizzi in Venice started Ruoli Segreti e Ruoli Proibiti / Hidden & Forbidden Identities, an international videoart festival and photography exhibition which opened the doors on February the 11th with a musical interlude by Enzo Caroli and Simone Rocchi. Fifty-one video artists and twenty-eight photo artists from thirty different countries has been selected to be part of this project. The project has been curated by Luca Curci and Elis Saint Juste and organized by International ArtExpo and The Seven.
“Carnival is over. The screens are switched off. The public experienced some moments of transgression. A joke of identity: masked identities, forbidden identities in a society of images. The topic of the contest which was presented online some months ago, has found a fertile territory among artists all over the world and a special interest in declining the cultural paradigm of identity, rooted in various sections such as geography, ethnology, religion, psychoanalysis, sex. Very different proposals which I assembled above all to create a narrative structure, materialized in five different spaces at Palazzo Albrizzi, a 16th century building seated in Cannaregio, Venice, and venue of the German-Italian Cultural Society, with an intense exhibition program, including frequent Biennale shows.
What does it mean to design a photo exhibition about hidden and forbidden identities in a site like this? It is a particular challenge of adapting artistic visions to multidisciplinary contexts concerning the relationship between places and their history. Venice has its own unbeatable architectural and artistic identity which we can only enhance by working on the cultural continuity between the past and the future.
Palazzo Albrizzi, a fragment of Venetian identity, offers a unique chance to the artists selected to coexist with a historical and cultural heritage which represents the ideal basis for the contest’s request. Giacomo Casanova is still alive behind the arcades, on the search of an everlasting Carnival to ennoble his pathological features. Prestigious palaces, facing the Canal Grande, evoke the memory of magnificent luxurious masquerades which still come to life at least for one month a year. Our artists’ works are immersed into this atmosphere, contaminated by the invisible denseness of past lives and the composition of the photo show reflects the need to be narrated, to be linked to other stories, to add unpredictable layers to the pre-existent ones.
The exhibition itinerary is based on the architectural contest of Palazzo Albrizzi and evolves entirely on the first floor. By crossing two sumptuous halls with ceiling frescos where the weekly Saturday concert of classic music takes place, the visitor gets into the part of the so-called “Galleria” which is destined to temporary exhibitions. Curiosity is the motor of any kind of creativity, so I imagined the screen shot of the well known film by James Allan Mangold, Identity, written in white characters on a black background, making tremble the audience with fearful premonitions.
In syntony with Carnival’s expectations, our photo story starts with Emanuela Sartoro‘s “I sognatori” facing Dietmar Hochhauser‘s profound “Self Portrait” and “Sylvan Spirit”. The environment is a private noble atrium which leads to another space, the Sala Neoclassica, a small architectural jewel for his ceiling fresco. This is the ideal site for Thomas Redl‘s works “Palace on Memory”, a collective cultural archive with fragments of Pierre Bourdieu in Algeria, and Marcella Gallotta‘s black and white photographs “Staurosmachia Urbana” about Socrates in the Parthenon of Athens, both stories about lost cultural identities.
In the big white room near by, several international authors are connected with each other not only by means of my paradigmatic way of dressing an exhibition, but also by splitting diptychs and triptychs of photo compositions with the intro-mission of an extraneous photo into the wall. I applied this method in the case of J. Mayer H. Architects‘work “Wirrwarr”, the metaphor of a tale hidden in an envelope which the visitor’s look can open in order to find another story hidden inside, Gê Orthof‘s work “Me as a jew as an arab”. The same method was used with Elio Germani‘s diptich “Delete me #1 / Delete me #2”. It is Penka Mincheva‘s “Untitled” eyes that dialogue with the photos in the neighbourhood. The other photographs in the same ambience build up stories about collective social problems anchored in individual identity, like human restrictions, religious wars, social solitude and namelessness, among them Gianluca Bronzoni, Preben Van der Straete, Maciek Wojciechowski, Peter Westman. Some authors instead stress fantasy, love and affection as the only real remedy against menacing destructive mechanisms: Kate Mc Donalds and Giò Martorana with his De Chrico like photo “Gli Amanti”.
A series of works is dedicated to female identity and the gap between appearance and being: Satu Kiuru‘s “SecondHand Fashion Show”, Ester Naor‘s declinations of “Self-Portrait”, Shqipe Jonuzi‘s “My hidden memories”, Mimmo Morizzi‘s choreographic mises en scène “Sublimazione di Venere” and “Enigma del Sogno”. So this is the world we get involved in a tiny living room with a sofa, a very intimate plot about women portraits and their way of masking, dominated by the intriguing look of a stranger in Kellyann Geurts‘ “Oscillogram”, a surprising photo for its technique.
The itinerary ends up in a room that hides the most difficult posers. On the ethical level and on the practical one in every day’s life. What is authentic and what is false? We have reached the top of technological progress and are able to create artificial life. Lais Pontes and Naomi Devil are the ideal exponents of a generation that seems to be born “nowhere” except by means of computer techniques. “Courtney Born Nowhere, Debra Born Nowhere, Stacy Born Nowhere” are Pontes’ protagonists, characterized by a soulless look. Naomi Devil’s creatures instead are virtual showcase mannequins who live unfortunately among us. Both accuse the continuously increasing dictatorship of media, advertisement and publicity. Not far away from their statements Robert Sherer‘s “Extreme Measures” focus on the problem of censorship and prohibited artists’ identities. The circle closes with photos by Anel Pala, Diana Nikolowa, Diana Martin Lapena and Salvio Capuano. The last two authors open a tragic chapter of human history, religious freedom and sexual identity, both persecuted through centuries. The martyr’s skull, a famous Neapolitan relic, shot by Salvio Capuano, narrates the same violence like Diana Martin Lapena’s “Not guilty”.
In the course of a month, the exhibition was visited every day by many international visitors and Venetian citizens who appreciated the current significance of the argument. Above all the variety of expressions with which artists from different continents copy with identity. A show like this should be a wake-up call from lethargy. An invitation to save ourselves, our ideals, our belief, our freedom of expression, our actions.” Elis Saint-Juste Gluckstein, 2012
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Contaminante – For the Upcoming Thought is the provoking title of a project, conceived and curated by the TheSeven, which represents a contemporary story in twelve chapters situated in twelve different sites in the City of Venice and in its Lagoons. The connection of all these places is a manual for an intriguing alternative travel into literature, into the world of fairy tales which get materialized through art, design and architecture. The updated map of Contaminante offers permanent site specific art works realized by international artists in ten sites throughout 2012.
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