There is a magical place in Rome that has been contemporary for 147 years. Here every year artists, researchers, figures from the world of culture arrive to spend a period of residence during which they create the project they proposed when they applied. This process is continuously renewed every year regenerating the Academy itself and thus allowing it to remain always contemporary, always young. This year has been very particular, because of the epidemic. I believe however (we must see the glass always full) that has given them the opportunity to live a significant historical moment that will have a powerful influence on their future artistic practice.
I met the 2019/2020 residents at the presentation we organized at the Academy auditorium on 25 October 2019 on the occasion of the third edition of RAW, Rome Art Week and then, a month later, on 16 November at the MACRO, Museo di Arte Contemporanea di Roma. I was very curious to visit the open studios in March before the Processi 147 exhibition, but the epidemic, as I said, has changed all our projects. So in June, like every year, they inaugurated the exhibition and in this article I want to tell you about residents and projects.
José Ramòn Ais in Alberi per strade, imperi e paradisi (Trees for roads, empires and paradises) has developed a photographic project on the landscape. In particular, the artist analyzed the socio-political and cultural history of a city, in this case Rome, observing the use that has been made of the different tree species. For example, the use of pine owes its massive presence to the Mussolini program that sought to link the image of the regime to the splendour of the Roman Empire.
Carla Berrocal has created a biographical comic book, a project inspired by the life and works of Concha Piquez. Doña Concha: la rosa e la spina (Doña Concha: the rose and the thorn) mixing fiction and documentary/journalistic comics runs through the life of the Valencian artist from her childhood to the consecration as an icon of the Spanish folk song.
Antonio Buchannan with his project Collina n° 8 brought us into the world of fashion. Inspired by Testaccio, one of the first forms of "landfill" in history, and therefore by its stratification, Buchannan incorporated the idea of memory and archaeology substrates into the garments by superimposing canvases of different origins, patterns of different eras, etc. Each layer is as if it were the imprint of a moment or a place, of personal experiences or references that we have stored.
In the Il retablo project Ana Bustelo was inspired by the retablo and in particular by its ability, its relation to a sequential narration so contemporary by analyzing its links with contemporary comics. "Starting from the conclusions obtained thanks to theoretical research and formal analysis, I aim to create a series of works aimed at being shown in an exhibition format by playing with supports, materials and graphic techniques and combining the two and three-dimensional languages that characterize the physical dimension of the retable.”
Joana Cera's project, a sculptural project, has two elements related to writing at its base (the project is entitled Scultura, scrittura (Sculpture, writing)). On the one hand the sculpture with particular reference to the talking sculptures of Rome and on the other hand the beeswax, an element that is connected to the Roman wax tablets used for writing. "In this project Pasquino and tabula cerata talk about the same thing: the current and urgent need to make a clean slate."
With Tipografia/spazio/identità (Typography/space/identity) Jorge Cubero proposed to "condense in a typographic system, characteristic features of the visual culture of southern Italy to claim its identity and relevance in the panorama of European design". That is, it enhances an autochthonous graphic production (colour, composition, typefaces, etc.) against the hegemonic one coming from continental Europe. It is therefore interesting to see how cultural evolution and cultural relationships also pass through the use of graphics.
Federico Guzmàn takes us into the world of painting. Le muse selvagge (The wild muses) is a pictorial project divided into three parts: the first is initiation (through the poem of Parmenides of Elea), the second is transformation (with Homer's hymn to Demeter), the third (the myth of Muse and Apollo) is dedicated to the energetic consciousness that animates every form of life.
Susanna Inglada has developed a research project based on the study of the gestures of bodies in classical sculpture. Her installation includes graphic works inspired by current events of contemporary society, mixing classical and current Roman iconography with iconographic connections with the Spanish graphic tradition.
The subject of Montse Lasunciòn's project was the reproduction techniques of monuments in the 19th century. In fact, in this historical period, full-scale plaster reproductions with educational and training purposes become very popular for those who cannot visit the places where the originals are live. Very often the techniques used have been lost due to the appearance of new materials or processes and this is very important for a restorer to know which materials the original has interacted with and how these affect its state of conservation.
Roma post, ritratti della post-ideologia (Rome post, portraits of post-ideology) is Jana Leo's project based on the analysis of bureaucracy in our daily lives. "The state, paternalist of assistance, incapacitates and subtracts more than giving. At Corviale the architecture is magnificent and the views are spectacular. But management and services are nonexistent. [...] In the ‘village of solidarity’, in Via di Salone, there is no architecture or landscape. The state destroyed the private homes that the gypsies had built and moved them to containers in the middle of nowhere. It must have been six months but they have lived in those tin boxes for eight years."
Finally Jorge Luis Marzo in L’iconografia nell’era dell’algoritmo (Iconography in the era of the algorithm) develops research on the relationship between iconography, nineteenth-century anthropometry and the dominant algorithmic system in current communication. How has the way we perceive and understand images changed and what is their role in our social life? These are some of the questions that will be answered in the book that March will publish by the end of this year and which will gather the reflections and research that he has matured in this period of residence.