La camera: Sulla materialità della fotografia (La Camera: On the Material Nature of Photog-raphy) is the third installment in a broader exhibition program, curated by Simone Menegoi and ti-tled The Camera’s Blind Spot, which explores the relationship between sculpture and photography. The first two parts of the project (The Camera’s Blind Spot I and II) were respectively held at MAN – Museo d’Arte della Provincia di Nuoro in Sardinia (2013) and at Extra City Kunsthal in Antwerp (2015).
The exhibition La Camera: Sulla materialità della fotografia, produced in partnership with Banca di Bologna, will open on Friday, January 29 at 6:30 PM at Palazzo de’ Toschi (Piazza Minghetti 4D) in Bologna, and remain open to the public through February 28, 2016. It will present works by a sizeable group of international artists: Dove Allouche, Paul Caffell, Elia Cantori, Attila Csörgő, Linda Fregni Nagler, Paolo Gioli, Franco Guerzoni, Raphael Hefti, Marie Lund, Ives Maes, Justin Matherly, Lisa Oppenheim, Johan Österholm, Anna Lena Radlmeier, Evariste Richer, Fabio Sandri, Simon Starling, Luca Trevisani, and Carlos Vela-Prado.
The show is among the exhibitions planned for the 4th Art City Bologna, an initiative sponsored by the City of Bologna and by Bologna Fiere to round out the annual Arte Fiera with a program of high-profile exhibitions and cultural events, strengthening the ties between this major art fair and the city’s own cultural fabric.
Exhibitions about the overlap between sculpture and photography often limit themselves to a more classic view of this relationship, with photography used to revisit and document pre-existing three-dimensional works. This is a formula that originated with photography itself, and took an extraordi-narily creative turn when sculptors like Medardo Rosso and Costantin Brancusi, at the turn of the century, shouldered cameras and began photographing their own works in varying conditions of light and space. The Camera’s Blind Spot not only tries to trace the most recent developments in this trend, but to take other equally important possibilities into account; first and foremost, that the material aspect of the photographic image can be accentuated to the point that the latter becomes an object. This is a challenge to what has been the technology’s “blind spot” from the outset: the im-possibility of rendering a three-dimensional object on a flat surface.
The third installment in the series, titled La Camera: Sulla materialità della fotografia shifts the center of this investigation towards the photographic medium. An exhibition setting created within the main hall of Palazzo De’ Toschi (the title of the show being a play on words between the English meaning of “camera” and its Italian one, “room”) will house works made with the rarest and most unusual photosensitive techniques currently used by visual artists and photographers: from Evariste Richer’s daguerreotypes to Paul Caffell’s platinum prints, and from Attila Csörgő’s spherical photographic scans to Justin Matherly’s “inkjet monoprints”. A collection of photographic eccentricities, archaisms, and hapax legomena, its aim is to subvert viewers’ usual assumptions about the medium and make them experience anew, for at least a moment, their nineteenth-century ancestors’ awe at an invention that revolutionized visual culture and our relationship to reality itself. This is not a challenge to the digital realm per se (digital techniques like scanning or 3D printing are even at the core of some works in the show) but to its absolute hegemony; to the notion that since its advent, all other photographic techniques have become obsolete and can only be abandoned.
Lastly, sculpture. The other key theme of The Camera’s Blind Spot turns up in the third part of the project as well. At times, in the subjects: the Roman statues photographed by Paolo Gioli through a process of his own invention, involving phosphorescent film; or the stalagmites and stalactites, na-ture’s own sculptures, which Dove Allouche captures on glass with the nineteenth-century tech-nique of ambrotype. More often, sculpture re-emerges through the physical presence of works that are based on photographic techniques, yet which one hesitates to call “photographs”: for instance, Johan Österholm’s Structure for Moon Plates and Moon Shards (2015), an assemblage built from old greenhouse glass, coated in photosensitive emulsion and then exposed to moonlight. In an era when the photographic image tends to be dematerialized, the individual “photographic objects” in the exhibition present themselves as true sculptures.
Exhibition partner Banca di Bologna is a bank with close local ties both to the city of Bologna and to the area around it. Its many initiatives have included refurbishing Piazza Galvani, restoring the Oratorio dei Fiorentini and Bologna’s city gates, recovering and upgrading Piazza Minghetti, and renovating Palazzo de’ Toschi. It has also been involved in the restoration of the Basilica of San Petronio and its Chapel of the Archangel Michael, with the famous fresco by Calvaert. This year, the bank organized a series of lectures on “art and food” for the occasion of Expo 2015, with emi-nent scholars and critics helping to explore how artists have approached this theme over the centu-ries. In addition, it recently presented a photography exhibition in partnership with Collezioni Alinari: L'industria bolognese, un DNA riconosciuto, with many images on view for the first time. These ac-tivities will continue in 2016, starting with the exhibition La Camera: Sulla materialità della foto-grafia, organized at Palazzo de' Toschi in conjunction with Arte Fiera 2016.