Please Come Back

9 Feb — 29 May 2017 at Maxxi in Rome, Italy

Please Come Back, Exhibition view. Courtesy of Maxxi
Please Come Back, Exhibition view. Courtesy of Maxxi
15 APR 2017

The exhibit is named after a piece by the Claire Fontaine collective (founded in 2004 and based in Paris), namely a neon sign – many versions of which have been produced since 2008 – reading Please come back. The piece stems from the authors’ understanding of the labour market as a prison, the coercive power of which goes beyond its very walls.

The result is «a partial exploration of work as the inside of the prison, and of the prison as the outside of work». Work is the reverse of the prison/productive machine, and the prison/ punishing machine is a consequence of the rebuttal of the logic of remunerated labour and the economic logic in general. Such considerations paved the way for the Please Come Back project, which focuses its attention on the concept of prison, thereby analysing both its physical dimension and its metaphorical meaning, especially as far as contemporary society is concerned. The exhibit is divided into three sections, all revolving around symbolical walls: Behind the walls; Outside the walls; Beyond the walls. The last decades have seen the western world undergo a quick, sometimes violent transformation, resulting into the transition from a positivistic understanding of politics to the fall of historical paradigms. Any kind of political philosophy based on social and urban commonality seems unfeasible in such scenario. One of the first consequences was the increased use of control measures and disciplinary methods within communities.

The idea of surveillance has been implemented in new, unsettling ways due to the paradigm shift caused by the digital revolution and new technologies. Cells, cages and prisons therefore symbolise a world where free forms of expression have not kept pace with the exacerbated sharing to which the internet has made us grow accustomed, thereby resulting into an ever-growing lack of privacy. Please Come Back shall try to answer the following question: what do we want to retrieve from the lost paradise of modern age?