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Italian contemporary art on view in Seoul

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Published : 2014-05-13 20:38
Updated : 2014-05-13 20:38

Installation view of the exhibition of Italian contemporary art at SongEun Art Space in Seoul (SongEun Art Space)
Besides the rich artistic history of the Renaissance, Italian art, especially contemporary art, has been rarely introduced to the Korean audience in depth.

This month, an exhibition of 22 Italian artists offers a chance for Koreans to understand Italian contemporary art. The event is part of the project by SongEun Art Space that introduces contemporary art from various countries that has yet to be spotlighted.

The exhibition, co-organized by the Italian Cultural Institute in Seoul, presents artworks by young Italian artists that explore personal and social issues. The artists are aged between 30 and 49. Some of their works do not only deal with universal themes, but also those close to Italian identity and society.

The exhibition borrows its title, “We Have Never Been Modern,” from French sociologist Bruno Latour’s publication on modernity.

“Showing the modernity of Italian art is a challenge, but we start by creating a dialogue between artworks and audiences,” said Maria Rosa Sossai, one of the curators of the exhibition at a recent press preview in Seoul.

For some artists, modernity is in line with the past. One of them is Ettore Favini, who presents a symbolic installation of his life. The “Cantra” is made from the trunk of the tree planted by his parents the day after their honeymoon. Favini connects different colors of threads to the tree trunk as symbols of vulnerability and the unpredictable nature of life.

Moira Ricci takes inspiration from the life of her mother, who passed away in 2004. The artist collected 50 photographs of her mother and edited herself in them. The artist seeks to enter and learn about her mother’s life by positioning herself next to her in important stages of her life as well as in daily life.

Art can also be the most effective tool in solving personal issues.

Francesca Grilli presents a film work featuring an interview with her father, whom she hadn’t talked to for nearly a decade. In the interview, her father tells a story from his childhood, when his mother forbid him from listening to music. The artist also traces the meaning of her name through the conversation with her father.

The artists also reflect certain aspects of Italian society.

Valerio Rocco Orlando points out how government policies have a huge impact on personal lives, through his neon light installation that reads “Personale e Political (Personal is Political),” a slogan from Italy’s women’s right movement of the 1960s and ’70s. The handwriting of the phrase came from a student who attended the artist’s education workshop.

Elisabetta Benassi criticizes the current political situation in Italy through her 1 lira coin sculpture. She has sculpted the coin into the shape of the Italian geographical map. The map has never appeared as an image on either coins or bills under the Italian lira currency and will never be used under the euro system. 
“Untitled” by Paola Pivi (Massimo De Carlo, Milano/London)

Paola Pivi seeks to push the limit of contemporary art with an unusual performance in which 84 goldfish in glass bowls are passengers on an airplane. The artist conducted the performance on March 21, 2009, in an airplane flying over New Zealand. On display in the exhibition is the photograph of goldfish bowls placed on a row of airplane seats.

The exhibition runs through Aug. 9 at SongEun Art Space. For more information, visit www.songeunartspace.org.

By Lee Woo-young (wylee@heraldcorp.com)

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