L EST WE FORGET, the message echoing around the San Francisco City Hall was clear: nobody should ever forget the Holocaust and the pain and suffer it...
A call to move between lights and sounds, an invitation to be embraced and inspired by different ways of feeling the body in a space, which can be real, cultural or ethereal. Follow Me…, the exhibition that opened last week in San Francisco, brought five artists and their works together, creating an experience of senses and sensibility thanks to moving images, light and colors and their movements in a space. Meris Angioletti, Alessandro Cardinale, Zoè Gruni, Laura Riboli, and Matteo Vinti are the contemporary Italian artists who used their video and light installations to represent the theme of embodiment and to encourage the viewers to gain awareness of their own bodies, of its beauty and preciousness and look for its appreciation in actual life, in rituals, and through mythology. Maria Francesca Palmerio, the art curator, took us on a journey around the exhibition, revealing what viewers’ only sight cannot catch.
First of all, tell us about the title of the exhibition..
The title refers to the journey onto which visitors embark when entering the gallery. The chosen artworks clearly point towards a number of themes. However, the show offers enough room for a personal interpretation. “Follow me…” is an invitation to discover the exhibition on your own, using subjective judgement.
How would you describe the exhibition to somebody who has not seen it?
At this point, I would rather try to convince who did not go to visit the show! We brought the video medium as an instrument to discover the body’s relations within a spatial context – either real or virtual – through visual languages that are keenly physical and sonorous. Video is an instrument close to our modern way of living, capable of engaging our senses, more than what we would expect. Five different forms of expression, in a single communicative space, where the path dedicated to the artworks’ discovery becomes the viewer’s personal interpretation. Each artist inevitably and simply analyzes the reality of the senses, with the presence of a living being in a given space – the presence of an individual who watches and narrates, or is watched and narrated.
What convinced five artists to get together in the same exhibition?
By studying the artists’ portfolios, we noticed a genuine concern that addresses the body and how we position and view it, through the lens of history and culture, through utopia and abstract imagination. It was important to create diversity and opposition and choose artworks that launch the body into a dynamic and critical dialogue: Zoè Gruni’s mythical and ritualistic approach, her inquiry into anthropology and legends; Meris Angioletti’s interest in psychology, and matching theatrically staged conversations with contemplative color projections; Matteo Vinti’s poetic and metaphorical explorations of death and ephemeral existence, expressed in a video sculpture and through prints; Laura Riboli, whose wonderfully crafted animations of dancing objects taken on human traits; and finally Alessandro Cardinale’s mesmerizing light installation - Memory fragments - that features silhouettes of people, once photographed and captured in a split of a second, that now live on uncannily contained in a beam of light.
Which message would you like to give to the viewers?
We would like to make easier for people to express their feelings, to help show themselves without any mask. Life comes and ends for all of us, what makes life interesting is talking about how everyone perceives it. These artists talk about their perceptions, each in his/her own way.
Which was the biggest challenge you faced by working together?
There were mixed types of experience: Anna Dusi is a “veteran”. I still have “fresh” eyes, because just finished my studies, and Katharina worked with the curators standing on the other side (she is a composer who works in art). So we had a melting pot of views, indeed the real challenge was the installation itself: playing with many sounds and lights in one place has not been easy. Katharina has been a keystone, she brought her sound experience as a composer and that helped a lot.
Will you exhibit somewhere else?
Yes! We would like to make of the exhibition “Follow me …” a traveling show and bring it first in the gallery of Building Bridges Art Exchange in Santa Monica. We are already fundraising for a second exposure. Here in San Francisco, the exhibition is at the Istituto Italiano di Cultura and also supported by the non-profit Building Bridges Art Exchange where Anna and I are active as - respectively - curator and assistant curator. We are not sure about the second round yet, but it will be a more varied one representing the Italian video art, because the larger space allows more freedom.
Any plan to work together again?
For me, the collaboration with Katharina Rosenberger has expanded my artistic knowledge because we have shared artworks and art; on the other hand, the artists have got the opportunity to deal with new and unknown artistic languages. A cognitive growth for both the curators and the artists. We should work more often through collaborations.
The exhibition will open until Saturday, April 18 from Monday to Friday (10am - 4.30pm) at Italian Cultural Institute (814 Montgomery Street, San Francisco).