Padiglione Italia – Biennale Arte 2013

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Edition: 55. International Art Exhibition - The Encyclopaedic Palace directed by Massimiliano Gioni (1 June - 24 November 2013)
Titolo del Padiglione Italia: Vice Versa
Curator: Bartolomeo Pietromarchi
Commissioner: Maddalena Ragni
Catalogue: Vice Versa, 55. Esposizione Internazionale d’Arte La Biennale di Venezia, Padiglione Italia, a cura di Bartolomeo Pietromarchi, Mousse Publishing, Milano 2013


Bartolomeo Pietromarchi's exhibition project, conceived for the Italian Pavilion at the 55th International Art Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia (1 June - 24 November 2013), has taken up a concept theorised by Giorgio Agamben in his book "Categorie italiane. Studies in Poetics" (1996), in which the philosopher argues that in order to interpret Italian culture it is necessary to identify a "series of polar conjugate concepts" capable of describing its basic characteristics.


Binomials such as tragedy/comedy, architecture/vagance or speed/lightness thus become original keys to interpreting works and authors that are fundamental to our cultural history.


Inspired by this vision, "Vice Versa" proposed an exhibition itinerary composed of seven rooms, seven environments each hosting two artists in dialogue with each other, where the profound sense of this dialectical vocation was manifested in the works on display. The exhibition was an ideal journey through the Italian art of today and yesterday, an itinerary that recounts identities and landscapes - real and imaginary - exploring the complexity and stratifications of the country's artistic and anthropological history. This portrait of recent art is no longer seen as a contrast between movements and generations, but as an atlas of themes and attitudes that can be traced back to national history and culture, in a cross dialogue of correspondences, derivations and differences between the figures of recognised masters and artists of subsequent generations.


Fourteen artists were invited, including: Francesco Arena, Massimo Bartolini, Gianfranco Baruchello, Elisabetta Benassi, Flavio Favelli, Luigi Ghirri, Piero Golia, Francesca Grilli, Marcello Maloberti, Fabio Mauri, Giulio Paolini, Marco Tirelli, Luca Vitone, Sislej Xhafa.


The double gaze on the landscape, in which the meaning of place is suspended between vision and memory, emerged from the works of Ghirri and Vitone; the suffered and contradictory relationship with history declined between the personal and collective dimension was manifested in Mauri and Arena who addressed, through the filter of the body and the performative dimension, the unresolved holes of history. Again, the dialectical game and the continuous slippage between tragedy and comedy were found in the works of Golia and Xhafa, always poised between lived life and imagined life; a dimension that is also present in the works of Maloberti and Favelli, who have made the trespasses between autobiography and the collective imagination sensitive through references to popular culture and traditions. A dialectical propensity has always been present in the work of Giulio Paolini, who in the exhibition dialogued with Marco Tirelli on the theme of art as illusion, as a perspective glance: an invitation to enter a further dimension, forcing us to remain balanced on the border between reality and representation. The exhibition also found this game in the contrast between sound and silence, between freedom of speech and censorship, as in the research of Massimo Bartolini and Francesca Grilli, ending with the works of Baruchello and Benassi in that tension between fragment and system in which the human ambition to archive and classify clashes with impossibility and failure.


The exhibition presented works mostly produced specifically for the occasion: installations, sculptures, paintings, performances, sound and environmental interventions - inside and outside the Pavilion - returned to our recent art that vital complexity, made up of intuitions and contradictions, which, in the game of vice versa, finds one of its founding elements.