Friday 13 of December, for the occasion of the end of CURA.’s 10th years celebrations, BASEMENT ROMA presents a long night event party. An evening of performance and live-music, also displaying unique artist’s books and editions by Patrizio Di Massimo, Than Hussein Clark, Athena Papadopoulos, Yves Scherer, Anna Franceschini, Caroline Mesquita, Gianni Politi, Emiliano Maggi and more.

Special guests:
Colin Snapp, Panorama, 2013, 37’’
and live soundtrack
Nico Vascellari, Orlok, 2019
Anna Franceschini, Villa Straylight, 2019

Dj set
Open bar
(7-9 pm)
Homemade pasta by Cacio&Pepe will be served
(9 pm)
We would very much love to see you!

Everyone is welcome

YVES SCHERER. Les Bains Douches


For years, Swiss artist Yves Scherer (b. in 1987, lives and works in New York City) has made celebrity culture the subject of his artistic practice. But where his work used to focus on individual stardom and the obsession of the public eye with on one particular being, this scope has shifted. In his latest body of work, an interest with a broader universal truth has surfaced: the human condition revisited through the defragmentation of celebrity culture.

It is a contemporary triptych that greets the visitor of Yves Scherer’s latest show Les Bains Douches at BASEMENT ROMA. A small basin, filled with water, a photographed portrait intersecting with architectural imagery, two deeply intertwined figures, cast in plaster. The two bodies, melted together in white plaster, show cracks within their surface. While they clearly bear resemblance to classical sculpture per se, it is the imperfection and the fragility of their natural state that immediately touches the viewer’s gaze. The male body rests on the abdominal region of the female figure, holding on to her in an almost child-like state, while she gently caresses his head. Where the original image of this encounter depicted Kate Moss and Johnny Depp in a photograph by Annie Leibovitz, Scherer’s sculpture has lost this direct reference. Transforming into a different medium and body the Pygmalion-like idealization has become a more universal image of the most primal and ideal state of a relationship. Obsolete of social norms and convictions –such as male dominance and female submission– the artwork has been stripped down to the most basic interpersonal needs for love and care-taking.

On the picture on the wall, a man is faced sideways, a photograph lenticularly layered with the modernist architecture of a house and pool. His likeness is the one of French actor Vincent Cassel, a charismatic man, who certainly portrays archetypical features: he seems strong, attractive, manly. Yet, his expression is pensive. It is a similar effect that we have witnessed before. Through Scherer’s lens, Cassel’s idealized image as a celebrity, that was devoid of any real and profound context to begin with, has become obsolete. Instead, the picture offers the interpretation of being a much broader comment towards manhood. While society has undergone an upheaval in regards to the standardized roles of men and women within the past twenty years, the individual male finds himself recalibrating his own place within society. The archetypical role is still demanded, yet it remains unclear, in what way. Scherer takes this intrinsic conflict, often witnessed within society today, and creates a correspondence within the two layers of the photograph. The architecture behind Cassel’s face is a depiction of the work of Mexican architect Luis Barrágan. Barrágan’s style has often been referred to as ‘emotional architecture,’ since it opposes the pure functionalism of architecture, thus challenging an archetypical view of modernism. Barrágan would often incorporate water as a counterpoint to the straight lines and edges of his colourful, modernist structures and the raw materials of his work, such as stone or wood.

It is exactly this interplay of lightness and gravity, of form and function, of archetypical and emotional states of existence, which occupy Yves Scherer’s practice and find their translation in the artwork’s context as well as in its formalistic aspects.

On the floor of the exhibition space, a water basin introduces this multi-layered interplay three-dimensionally. Functioning as a physical counterpart to the impalpable emotions and social notions within Scherer’s work, the basin formalistically opposes the cast’s gravitas with lightness and the state of flux, immanent to water at all times. The form of the bath also references the language of swiss mountain cattle trows while at the same time opposing this autobiographical notion in an alternative interpretation as an infinity pool. Again, a more archaic type meets contemporary culture. It is this clash, brought into form, which links towards the exhibition’s title, that draws inspiration from yet another beacon of celebrity culture.

Nowadays known as a legendary nightclub, the Les Bains Douches opened its doors in 1978 and marked the golden age of Paris nightlife. The club quickly became a temple for night culture and a place of freedom with an illustrious crowd. Mingling by and in the mosaic tile pool, partygoers and creatives celebrated amongst the likes of Jean-Michel Basquiat, Yves Saint Laurent, Mick Jagger, Johnny Depp and Kate Moss. But even though the vibe of the night club was certainly glamorous, it was not slick. An aspect, which again speaks to the interplay of oppositions within Yves Scherer’s work. It is the juxtaposition of the world of celebrities and glamour, next to the raw architecture of the former baths with its utilitarian identity, that finds its equivalent within the counterposition of forms and context in his show at BASEMENT ROMA. The artist incorporates the superficiality of glamour, the fleeting state of joy within the ethereal purity of his whitened exhibition space that at the same time remains a basement, with an underlying griminess it can never dispense of entirely.

In his survey of the individual’s state of being through the defragmentation of celebrity culture, Scherer discovers a collective sentiment within modern day culture, that reveals the individual longing for more existential profoundness in a rapidly changing society.

(Text by Anneli Botz)

Thanks to the kind support of
Cassina Projects

Untitled Association

All images:
Courtesy the artist. Photo by Roberto Apa

Basement in Lisbon! with Athena Papadopoulos

and proudly presents

Athena Papadopoulos
Holy Toledo, Takotsubo!

From May until August 2019, CURA. has been invited to take over the Kunsthalle Lissabon: its spaces, the exhibition programme as well as its entrance plaque, in an identity exchange and appropriation project. On this occasion, CURA. presents the continuation of its ongoing program at BASEMENT ROMA with a project on doubling as well as otherness.
The new space will open on May 14th with Holy Toledo, Takotsubo!, the first institutional solo exhibition in Portugal by the Canadian London-based artist Athena Papadopoulos.

Holy Toledo, Takotsubo! is a wordplay that refers to the cathartic, fear-induced and physical sorrow that psycho-emotional journeys can provoke. The title echoes the idea of ‘loving something to death:’ being so overly attached to something or someone to the point of becoming physically heartbroken. Takotsubo syndrome refers to a medical condition resulting from traumatic emotional distress—a break-up or the loss of a loved one—and weakens the heart, causing the person an unbearable chest pain.

In this exhibition, Papadopoulos focuses on the subjectivity-forming processes and allegorical encapsulations that incubate within a series of floating garments-turned-sculptures. Ghostly figures welcome the visitors into a spectral environment; a scenographic space where the artworks themselves become spectres of a play that mimics relational, psychological, and social dynamics, all imbricated and bound up with the artist’s personal experience.

These spectral figures seem to converse with one another while inviting the artist and viewers to participate in an introspective dialogue: they look to us to look into ourselves, to tell them who and what they are and where they came from. The eerie presence of these kinds of ‘energies’—which remain on earth haunting it as much as haunting personal souls—here are cartoonified with spindley gauze and wrapped protrusions in a living and tangible installation.

These sculptural paintings are comprised of repurposed bridal gowns imbued with the personal memories of those who have parted with them. The artist has surgically reconfigured them by transplanting elements of detritus – precious and toxic paraphernalia that act both as infection and cure – onto and into these bodies. Like a person suffering from Takotsubo needing to be rushed to hospital, Papadopoulos occupies the position of the surgeon, incising wounds and opening cavities, both treating and exacerbating the dis(eased) bodies at hand.

Equally, Papadopoulos performatively transforms herself into a fashion stylist, dressing the body, and finally assumes the role of a bird, scavenging for elements to add to the nest-like structures puncturing these surfaces. It is as if Papadopoulos performs these analogue roles to transcend her own experiences, bringing to life these unhinged characters acting out our ghosts. The titles of the works are taken from a list of extinct exotic birds and fused with the cartoonish birds typical of mainstream pop culture. In this context, the birds provide a vehicle to explore the more intricate manifestations of societal gender conventions as they come to operate within language: the use of metonyms and terms of endearment for women; the frequent characterisation of Disney birds as cute but dim-witted, annoying or embroiled in evil intrigues.

To accompany this series of works, Papadopoulos has collaborated with HP Parmely to create a whimsical yet haunting sonic composition entitled “Funeral for a Friend,” acting as a cinematic soundtrack bringing to life the characters of this show.

República Portuguesa
Coleção Maria e Armando Cabral

All Images courtesy the artist and Emalin, London
Photo: Bruno Lopes

A.I. The Artist’s Table


From Thursday 24 to Saturday 26, BASEMENT ROMA is happy to welcome The Artist’s Table, a project curated by A.I. Artisanal Intelligence.

For the occasion we’re also happy to show the work Resistance of the acclaimed Turkish artist Ali Kazma for the first time in Rome.

Please come to visit us!

with Andrea Anastasio
January 24
from  3.00pm to 7:00pm

with Paolo di Landro
January 25
from  3.00pm to 7:00pm

with Livia Crispolti
January 26
from  10.00am to 12:30pm

with Sorelle Antonini
January 26
from  3.00pm to 7:00pm


Thanks to Francesca Minini Gallery
Image © Ali Kazma


From December 3 until December 21 Basement Roma is opening its archive of art and editorial goodies for you to gift your loved ones (and yourself!)

Unseen artists’ editions, the entire collection of CURA.’s issues, precious art books, König Souvenir and Consume Cool sleek clothing lines and a collection of unusual objects will be on sale in our space Monday to Friday from 14pm until 19pm

Wednesday, December 12 (from 6pm until 22pm)

Come to celebrate with us for an evening of Christmas shopping and drinks

+ Secret exhibition



Augustas Serapinas. Where is Luna?


“Our inability to conceive a world without boundaries, our inability to imagine infinity, this is our basic illness” (Eugène Ionesco)

As the owner of Luna, I am amused to read that the latest craze in the sharing economy is ‘dog sharing’, i.e. the sharing of one’s dog, in addition to that of one’s car, home, work place or other material goods. This phenomenon, especially widespread in the United States, responds to the desire to own a dog only for short periods, without taking responsibility in terms of time and costs, unless shared with other owners.

On this paradox of the dog-object as on many other extravagances related not only to the consumerism of the pet industry but in general of the times in which we live, reflects the work of Augustas Serapinas, born in 1990 and raised in Vilnius who, on crossing the threshold of BASEMENT ROME, discovers Pretty Pets, the small pet salon next to the exhibition venue.

For the artist, Where is Luna? becomes the stage of a theater of the absurd, where, as an acute observer of other people’s lives, he places at the center of his research, finding a specific context, the people who dwell in it and the habits that regulate it, in a renewed orchestration of the banal daily life of a tiny pet salon.

This, like others, is the world that Serapinas analyzes in its multiple facets through the keyhole. As an acute, refined and attentive observer of other people’s habits, the artist has the ability to extrapolate from every context an otherly meaning, the metaphor of a society that he investigates with an anthropological approach and a sincere interest in places, people, relationships.

And thus the wall that divides the two places, BASEMENT ROMA and Pretty Pets, becomes for Serapinas a metaphor full of possibilities. What is behind that wall? What would happen if we decided to take it down? What would we find on the other side? Would we enter into more direct contact with our neighbors? Are the places really communicating?

In a historical period in which the idea of border is extremely present due to the management of migratory flows thwarted by the Western governments, the breach of that wall takes on a strong political sense. Looking at artists such as Gordon Matta-Clark and Gregor Schneider among others, Serapinas knows that the architecture of places defines relationships, distance, barriers and that by metaphorically knocking down that wall we enter microcosms that lead us to reflect more broadly on the world.

Thus, Pretty Pets takes us back not only to the “dog sharing” phenomenon, to the pet industry – games, special foods, garments, wellness centers, gyms and hotels for our little friends –, one with a 20% yearly growth and which has transformed dogs, cats, and other pets into status symbols but also, in a wider sense, into the representation of ourselves, of a social well-being to be shown off, flaunted, photographed and shared, called to deal with desires, expectations and ambitions.
(text by Ilaria Marotta)

APalazzo Gallery

Pretty Pets

Arch srl
Untitled Association

Augustas Serapinas. Where is Luna?
Courtesy the artist, Apalazzo Gallery and Emalin London
Ph. Roberto Apa



Nicolas Deshayes. Lupa


“Scientists do not know how life began on Earth. As a matter of fact we cannot know for sure what happened four billion years ago. It is largely accepted that life formed in a primordial hot soup of organic chemicals and that a bacterium is the common ancestor of all life. Mammals only appeared 200 million years ago. Our planet then offered an inhospitable, chaotic and hot environment. Heat, is an essential element for the formation of life itself.

When descending into the spaces at BASEMENT ROMA heat starts vamping, slowly, in waves. Venturing even deeper, we are overwhelmed by it. It is a little bit like stepping inside a body, a humid stomach perhaps. A circuit of low thin pipes connects the entirety of the gallery perimeter. There are no discontinuities, everything is connected. Like a mammals’ circulatory system, this is a closed scheme, where the carried fluid never leaves the network. The heat is generated via a boiler, which like a heart, pumps and regulates the temperature. The pipes enter three separate sculptures that define each of the exhibition rooms. One is larger than the other two, and looks like a separate trail, similar to an alternative infinite symbol or a worm eating its tail. Like organs or intestines, the sculptures are perfused with hot water, therefore also functioning as radiators.

The three works installed are the latest in a series of heated sculptures that the French-born, UK-based artist Nicolas Deshayes initiated in 2015 on the occasion of his first solo exhibition in Glasgow, Scotland.

The sculptures are made of expanding polyurethane foam that Deshayes mixes and pours on his studio floor to create amorphous organic shapes. The selected forms are later sent to an industrial foundry in Birmingham to be sand-moulded and cast with molten aluminium. Previous iterations of the sculptures were made in solid Jesmonite or cast iron.

The installation suggests a certain intimacy, an attachment even, and a sense of life running through the conduits. Although all the elements in the exhibition recall a living, perhaps even amorous creature, there is a strong industrial constituent in every work. It is a landscape of the uncanny: familiar yet distant, awkward yet caring.

The title of the exhibition hints to a different narrative altogether, one of a mythological loving act. One of motherhood par excellence. La Lupa is a She-wolf who nursed and sheltered the twin brother Romulus and Remus after they were abandoned in the wild and cast into the Tiber River. Romulus would later become the founder and first king of Rome. In the famous bronze sculpture from the 11th/12th century, the Capitoline Wolf, the two infants are drinking the milk from the eight generous breasts of the legendary creature. Deshayes homages this powerful moment with the work Lupa, a sculpture made of eight aluminium parts bolted together to create a totemic circuit board that is suspended in-between the rough, the engineered, the organic and the mellifluous.

We find ourselves inside the fictional animate creature with its warm milk that travels down ducts and feeds through the nipple while the hot water in the pipes, like blood, brings nutrients to the organs. The temperature in the rooms is in fact set to the normal temperature of a wolf’s body, at 38.3C.

Heat is a form of energy that can be transferred from one object to another (it can also be created at the expense of the loss of another form of energy). In February 2007 researchers have successfully generated electricity from heat by trapping organic molecules between metal nanoparticles, an achievement that could pave the way toward the development of a brand new source for energy. Heat also accelerates certain processes, such as corrosion, ageing and decomposition. Deshayes seems to acutely remind us that life happens in uncomfortable places.”

(text by Nicoletta Lambertucci)

NICOLAS DESHAYES (1983 Nancy, France) Lives and works in the UK.
Selected solo and group exhibitions include: Thames Water, Stuart Shave/Modern Art, London (2016); Battaglia Foundry Sculpture Prize Exhibition, Fonderia Artistica Battaglia, Milan (2016); Darling, Gutter., Glasgow Sculpture Studios, Glasgow (2015); Images Moving Out Onto Space, Tate St Ives, UK (2015); Production Show, Eastside Projects, Birmingham (2016-2018); Neither, Mendes Wood DM, Brussels, (2017) and Inhuman, Fridericianum, Kassel (2015).
He is currently included in Le Paradoxe de L’Iceberg, Frac Ile de France, Chateau de Rentilly, France and forthcoming solo exhibitions will be held at Pump House Gallery, London (2018) and Stuart
Shave/Modern Art, London (2018).

Fondazione Nuovi Mecenati

Stuart Shave/Modern Art
Pegler Yorkshire
Untitled Association

Nicolas Deshayes. Lupa
Courtesy the artist and Stuart Shave/Modern Art
Ph. Roberto Apa



Bisca Vascellari, a solo show by Nico Vascellari at BASEMENT ROMA, will take over the exhibition space for five weeks altering its opening hours, function and nature.

The exhibition, dictated by a precise scheme and based on the execution of games conceived by the artist, can only welcome 33 guests per night, throughout 4+1 evenings, once a week, from February 21 to March 21.

is a performing exhibition by Nico Vascellari
© Nico Vascellari

Photos by Roberto Apa
Portrait by Mattia Zoppellaro

Athena Papadopoulos shortlisted for Max Mara Art Prize for Women

Congratulations to our beloved Athena Papadopoulos, who has been nominated for the Max Mara Art Prize for Women!

The Whitechapel Gallery, Collezione Maramotti and Max Mara announced the six shortlisted artists for the seventh edition of the Max Mara Art Prize for Women: Helen CammockCéline CondorelliEloise HawserAthena PapadopoulosLis Rhodes and Mandy El-Sayegh.

Featuring artists that work across a range of mediums, the shortlisted artists were selected by a judging panel chaired by Iwona Blazwick OBE, Director of the Whitechapel Gallery, and joined by gallerist Vanessa Carlos, Carlos/Ishikawa, London; artist and previous recipient of the prize Laure Prouvost; collector Marcelle Joseph and art critic Rachel Spence.

The Max Mara Art Prize for Women was established by the Whitechapel Gallery in collaboration with the Max Mara Fashion Group in 2005. Its aim is to promote and support female artists based in the UK, enabling artists to develop their potential. The winning artist, announced in early 2018, is awarded a bespoke six-month artist residency in locations around Italy after presenting the judges with a proposal for a new body of work. During the residency, which is organised by Collezione Maramotti in collaboration with Max Mara and the Whitechapel Gallery, the artist has the opportunity to realise an ambitious new project which is presented in major solo exhibitions at the Whitechapel Gallery in London and Collezione Maramotti in Reggio Emilia, Italy.

Athena Papadopoulos (b. 1988) 
Using cosmetic, medicinal, and edible ingredients, Athena Papadopoulos stains layers of cotton bedsheets with red wine, lipstick, hair dyes, Pepto Bismol, and self­tanner. Drawings and photographs of women are layered into dense collages: Papadopoulos chemically transfers, cuts, and stitches her own photographs into and alongside imagery gleaned from literature, art history, and popular culture. Papadopoulos’ action of isolating and recombining images therefore becomes a way of thinking about the construction of subjectivity in general and femininity in particular.


At its best the gallery is an imaginarium, a place in which ideas can be fostered, modelled and tested. In this current juncture it feels art can cross its parameter line with more ease than before; accidentally or with intent finding itself in radically different contexts, being used in radically new ways.
It’s this capacity to cross lines, to bleed that is most interesting to me at the moment, it’s a point in which a work risks collapse, losing a certain vital plane of ambiguity in exchange for becoming real in someone else’s hands.
But perhaps another plane might be opening up at this point, a different register of ambiguity that seeds itself firmly in affect, however small that might be. Untethered from the object work becomes active, its contours, complexity and core registered in the trickle of thoughts and actions activated in the viewer, their groups and the structures they inhabit.
An idea is seeded, then taken up, then stripped back and repurposed for its new environment; but yet something still remains. This new form, a truly collaborative one flows back into the gallery with ease, a form that sits somewhere between the authentic and found and resonates with its interactions.
The gallery at this point has changed function, operating as a memetic platform, a place of exchange in which art is defined as proposition, that once realized can be deployed, held, felt, taken on or rejected.

SEED by Ed Fornieles
Through October 28

David Douard at RODEO, London


BLOOD O’ US is the first exhibition in the gallery by David Douard.
After a series of visits to London, in an effort of familiarizing himself with the gallery space and its surroundings, the rapid changes the area is going through became apparent. The surrounding never-ending construction became the center point as (in a space lled with windows looking out) it directs the psychological as well as physical processes that take place indoors. The windows become the luminous backdrop for the show, and David takes the space as material to mold softly and give it a new look. The view, a constant transformative performance that happens for the observer, is of workers destroying and rebuilding, machines that come and go and constant changes that if one forgets about the new urban dominating forms can seem to appear all of a sudden.

After spending a week in the space, a series of performances took place, and like a plastic surgeon the artist changed the usual look that is the identity of the gallery, an allegory for a constructed personality, an existing character. As an act of resistance to the ‘authority’ of the gallery, he cut and altered the paths and twisted the usual ways one expects a contemporary art space to be. What rstly looks like an emptied space is in fact a room that carries a series of about seven different variations, proposals for different identities (that have now vanished).

The show is composed of two main pieces, BLOOD O’ US, an installation where the model and actress Hari Nef, the only image in the show, appears on a low- screen attached on the window, a free standing construction wall and two sound works coming from different sources. South London singer Klein mixed with collected musical material from a recent exhibition and David’s daughter’s voice, resonate and echo in the space. The transgendered body becomes here a focal reference as the penultimate transformative position (man to woman, or vice versa), a pop idol in full blossom, the posture a reference to historical portraits from the history of art. Acte de Salon is a work that was created in the space and defines a new direction in David’s practice. Reflecting the architectural interventions, the composition is of found and made elements and by association transforms the gallery into a mask in itself, a proposition to see things differently even where things are invisible but end up revealing themselves; an act of a possible silent revolution.

BLOOD O’ US by David Douard
RODEO, London
Through October 8



CURA. is looking for a dynamic, enthusiastic and prepared figure to be included in the team as Editorial Assistant and Assistant Curator.

If you’re interested we invite you to send out your application, by Friday September 15th, to

• Contemporary art knowledge and concern
• Interest in international art publishing
• Italian mother tongue
• Fluency in written and spoken English (and French if possible)
• Knowledge of the international art system’s protagonists (artists,
curators, galleries, fairs)

• Enthusiasm, passion and curiosity
• Accuracy and reliability
• Relationship skills
• Organisational skills, especially for exhibitions, with previous experience
• Teamwork attitude
• Ready to branch out different commitments
• Problem solving skills
• Flexibility and willingness to travel
• Editing and writing basic skills, both in Italian and English
• Not first experience
• Knowledge of Microsoft Office / Indesign / Photoshop
• Familiarity with Sketch-Up
• Bachelor’s degree in Art History, Cultural Heritage, Visual Cultures and similar

• Field office in Via Nicola Ricciotti, 4 Roma
• One month trial period
• Mon-Sat afternoon part-time, with employment contract
• Fee to assess, according to the background
• Possibility of Full time

STARTING: Mid-October
CV submission
Cover letter (maximum 1500 characters)
Deadline: September 15 th

CURA. cerca una figura dinamica, entusiasta e preparata da inserire nel proprio team in qualità di Editorial Assistant e Assistant Curator.

Se sei interessato/a invia la tua application, entro venerdì 15 settembre, all’indirizzo email

– Conoscenza e interesse per l’arte contemporanea
– Interesse per l’editoria d’arte internazionale
– Madrelingua italiana
– Ottimo inglese parlato e scritto (e possibilmente buona conoscenza della lingua francese)
– Conoscenza dei protagonisti del sistema dell’arte internazionale (artisti, curatori, gallerie, fiere)

– Entusiasmo, passione, curiosità
– Precisione, affidabilità
– Capacità relazionali
– Capacità organizzativa di mostre con precedente esperienza
– Predisposizione a lavorare in team
– Disponibilità a diversificare il proprio impegno
– Attitudine al problem solving
– Flessibilità e disponibilità a viaggiare
– Competenze basilari di editing e scrittura in italiano e inglese
– No prima esperienza
– Conoscenza del pacchetto Office / Indesign / Photoshop
– Conoscenza base di Sketch-Up
– Laurea triennale in Storia dell’Arte, Management dei beni culturali e simili

– Sede operativa in Via Nicola Ricciotti 4, Roma
– Periodo di prova: 1 mese
– Posizione part-time. Tutti i pomeriggi dal lunedì al sabato con regolare contratto di assunzione
– Retribuzione da valutare in base all’esperienza
– Possibilità di full-time

Presentazione del CV e cover letter (massimo 1500 battute)
entro venerdì 15 settembre

Claudia Comte. La Ligne Claire

Curated by Samuel Leuenberger

BASEMENT ROMA is pleased to present La Ligne Claire, the first solo exhibition of Berlin based artist Claudia Comte in Italy since her residency at Istituto Svizzero in Rome in 2011. It was then that the artist formed some of her first architectural interventions – simple line drawings that were applied to the building’s classical columns and faux marble paintings that were inspired by St. Peter’s Basilica’s ornate floor. Onwards, Comte delved into a rigorous research practice based on reduction and simplification, which has come to define her signature hand-carved wooden sculptures, hard-edged and shaped canvases and digitally translated polished marbles.

In La Ligne Claire the gallery space is transformed into a grid of lines and patterns. In an overarching black and white arrangement, wall paintings are splattered, sprayed, painted and stencilled against all the available surfaces as if to test the limit of a limitless medium, breaking styles and temporal references, while two large-scale, diamond shaped canvases, concentric circles painted in a smooth monochromatic gradient hue,  partially cover these ambitious wall paintings. In sections, plinths prortrude outwards as if to cut out from the wall itself, extending the mural painting into a third-dimension; they act as sumptuous platters on which three starfish sculptures sit. These marine invertebrates are an exquisite predator, that have complex life cycles. While they  can reproduce both sexually and asexually, they lay here heavy, cast in marble – fullfilling simple axioms of geometry, rendering nature’sgeometric matrix visible.

Simeon Nelson, Professor of sculpture at the University of Hertfordshire wrote: ‘Pattern can be discerned at all scales that exist between the infinitesimal and the infinite. We humans oddly seem to occupy nearly the mid point in this scale, which has been commented on as a new type of anthropocentrism. Humans (and to varying extents other living creatures) have an inborn and intense predisposition to perceive, represent and create pattern to make sense of a perilous and confusing world around us. We have a primordial awareness of pattern to make sense of our place in the scheme of things and to make meaning and purpose out of our finite and limited existence. Pattern is both a function of our perception and an attribute of the world. The entire cosmos could be said to be an eternally unfolding sequence of patterns.’

Comte’s work evidences a dynamic mutability between two-dimensional and three-dimensional space as exemplified in her ever-evolving lines and patterns and immersive site-specific installations. For La Ligne Claire, Comte introduces new meaning to Formalism, sourcing original uses for geometric and organic forms which continuously challenge the limits of abstraction. It is worth bearing in mind that Comte’s line isn’t concerned with tracing the custom of form in an art-historical context, but performs more like a vector, transiting through linear, bi-dimensional and tri-dimensional space. The mutable quality of the line defuses the tension between high sincerity and low lightness.

Pro Helvetia
Istituto Svizzero di Roma
Collezione Agovino Napoli

Overdrive art

Claudia Comte. La Ligne Claire
Courtesy the artist and König Galerie
Ph. Roberto Apa



Francesco Arena, Paolo Canevari, Patrizio Di Massimo, Daniele Milvio, Andrea Sala, Francesco Simeti, Nico Vascellari

Curated by Ilaria Marotta and Andrea Baccin

“Gone to explore my father’s kingdom, day after day I’m moving away from the city and the news that get to me are getting rarer. Though leaving light-hearted – far more than I am now! – I was concerned about being able to communicate, during my trip, with my dear ones, and among the knights of my escort I chose the best seven, to serve me as messengers.”

Through breaking into the mythical imagination described by Dino Buzzati in the story by the same name, seven messengers offer the spectator a magic land, a mysterious kingdom, a polyphonic stream of past, present and future experiences.

Seven Italian artists – Francesco Arena, Paolo Canevari, Patrizio Di Massimo, Daniele Milvio, Andrea Sala, Francesco Simeti, Nico Vascellari – embody the seven characters of a story/exhibition embedded in the narrative cracks of the original story.

 (Dino Buzzati, I sette messaggeri, in La boutique del mistero, Mondadori, 1942)

Via privata Rezia, 2 – Milan

Marselleria, Milan
Photo: Sara Scanderebech


Curated by João Mourão & Luís Silva

Mythologies are dead, they have always been. But even as corpses, they’ve been used as political strategies to manipulate fiction and facts. Fictional narratives have defined culture, its historicity, its legacy. Drama. Goosebumps visible in our skin. Chills. The amplification of the voice. The soundtrack of the film. Attitudes change. Behavioral patterns change, adapting to new forms of recognition. The stream of our social media accounts translated by ignorant algorithms. Liquid and opaque forms of identity. The movements of the body. The most superficial of all gestures can never be taken lightly, even if it tries hard to be disguised with bright colors, with feathers and fumes.

A year ago, exactly on the same date of the opening of this exhibition at BASEMENT ROMA, I arrived in Los Angeles. I had never been to the city, and to me L.A. represented the geographical point of the production of what is called the spectacle, a sort of dead-end or end point of Western civilization. The amount of fiction written for films, tv and all sorts of shows that come from there, generates an overproduction of narratives that intend to alienate the spectator while mixing and re-creating personal and historical moments. The entertainment business is a form of capitalist production that alters our perspective on the events happening around us. For example, the way politics is represented in fiction is, in many cases, deprived of ethics. And it continues to do so through an ever growing network of mythologies.

If we think carefully on the process of how narratives and mythologies travelled from Ancient Greece, re-interpreted through Rome, we can analyze the process of how culture in the West has been produced, how philosophy, fiction writing, poetry, music and the visual arts, have transformed themselves as part of a capitalist machine. The mass production of images, the representation of the human body, the representation of nature on Western culture changed quite drastically since early capitalism. Under forms of appropriation and colonization, our interactions within the available communication systems are surveilled and monitored. Our exchanges are now translated into big data.  And data has now surpassed oil as the most valuable resource in the world, and we are all contributing with different types of content.

The goal of fiction today is to pretend that there is a continuation, that the grand narrative never dies. Season after season of endless stories that colonize our lives. Our brains have been programmed to accept Trump as president via Frank Underwood in House of Cards. Our imagination was colonized so we could accept that type of person as a political figure.

The title I gave this exhibition, Sequel, refers to the disbelief of Western traditions of narrative and representation in the moment we’re living. But I need to ask myself and you: how can our imagination resist? How can we stop our imagination from being colonized by these myths? What can art and thought do facing these forms of fictional politics? What is left for us to write? Are we supposed to resist this endless present of small narratives that hide the big narratives of capital? Should we think about an ecology of production of data, an ecology of immaterial labour?

In her book, The Responsibility of Fiction Writing in Neoliberal Capitalist Societies (Duvida Press, 2014), writer Leonora Jones talks about the necessity of awareness in the growing use of text in our communications, specially in the interactions in social media, and how data is used, transformed and profited by capital, as it manifests the exposure and altered states of subjectivity produced within a neoliberal post-capitalist society. Along with the growing abstraction of value and human interactions, new forms of passivity, of spectatorship and consumption require a response to new models of action and community. The apparent fluidity of circulation and distribution are represented by a materiality that is not fixed. Jones asks: “How can we represent a state of constant transformation, if it changes shape at any moment, like an ecosystem needs to adapt and mutate to the surrounding environment?” And she continues: “We should act in a form of conscious resistance, not as passive spectators”. Jones mentions Naomi Klein’s NO LOGO (Picador, 1999) and her take on Milton Friedman, who Klein claims to be “the architect of the global corporate takeover”. Jones underlines her idea with the fact that Klein illustrates this chapter of her text with footage of two members of the activist group Biotic Baking Brigade, who threw a pie at Milton Friedman, when the economist was leaving a corporate conference in San Francisco in 1998.

República Portuguesa | Cultura
Direcção-Geral das Artes (DGArtes)

Fondazione Giuliani Roma
Untitled Association

Courtesy: the artist
Photo: Roberto Apa

Pedro Barateiro (b. Almada, 1979) lives and works in Lisbon. He had solo exhibitions at REDCAT, Los Angeles; Museu Colecção Berardo, Lisbon; Kettle’s Yard, Cambridge; Parkour, Lisbon; Kunsthalle Lissabon, Lisbon; Kunsthalle Basel; Lumiar Cité, Lisbon; Museu de Arte Contemporânea de Serralves, Porto; MARCO – Museo de Arte Contemporánea de Vigo; Pavilhão Branco – Museu da Cidade, Lisbon; Spike Island, Bristol.
His work has been included in exhibitions such as the 29th Bienal de São Paulo; 16th Syndey Bienalle; 5th Berlin Bienalle; Palais de Tokyo, Paris; Fondazione Guiliani, Rome; Firstsite, Colchester; ngbk, Berlin; MHKA, Antwerp; SESC Pompeia, São Paulo; Crac Alsace, Altkirch; Museu de Arte Contemporânea de Serralves, Porto; CAM – Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian, Lisbon; ar/ge Kunst, Bolzano; Le Plateaux – Frac Île-de-France, Paris; Centro Galego de Arte Contemporânea, Santiago de Compostela.
His performances where presented at Teatro Rivoli, Porto; ZHdK, Zurich; 98Weeks, Beirut; Théâtre de la Ville, L’école nationale supérieure des beaux-arts (ENSBA) and Fondation Ricard, Paris; M HKA/ Cinema Zuid, Antwerp; Centro Cultural São Paulo and Galeria Vermelho, São Paulo; Teatro São Luiz and Teatro Praga, Lisbon.



Curated by Samuel Leuenberger

Belladonna’s Muse is a portrait or more likely even, a state of mind. Like a dreamscape that draws itself into a physical space, characters appear in forms of soft sculpture. The lively objects use as a point of departure personal experiences that belong to Athena Papadopoulos’ way of storytelling. Cut and paste images drawn from the artist’s archive are sewn together and laid over volumes of bulging materials. One gets the impression he or she is reading the artist’s diary, somewhere describing her life with an aggressively lyrical tenure while having accepted a somber state of dystopia. Belladonna’s Muse suggests beautiful and elegant women who might convene, spend time together and inspire. The title is however, an oxymoron: at once, it suggests a degree of adoration from one person to another, while at the same time belladonna is also a deadly nightshade plant used as a sedative; when consumed in large quantities, it is poisonous. The plant received its name via its homeopathic application by women in high society, many years ago, since the cherry extract, once swallowed, widens the pupils – a desirable effect for many. The exhibition at BASEMENT ROMA is entered through an intestinal pink tunnel, sickly sweet like the artificial taste of Pepto-Bismol: one is lead through different interpretations of the fictional and non (physically and mentally speaking), incorporating a series of gangrenous leg sculptures, an abstract portrait of the artist’s grandmother and objects ranging from disembodied yet sexy legs to amputated, putrid and supersaturated ones.

The space is a floater for disconnected limbs and thoughts. They are surrounded by a group of “Grapevine” pieces which like a wall of hunting trophies, or a kind of obsessive wall in a teenager’s bedroom, suggest a modern day shrine, or an analogue version of an FB feed. Images and materials that are amputated from their contexts, together drape the walls as overtanned, leathery skins, meticulously quilted together.

On one side of the exhibition space, new objects are being assembled by a group of elderly Italian women. A club of like-minded women who pretend to run a gift-shop create souvenirs, small mobiles that have a strange resemblance to an octopus, dancing in aspiration to be part of the festivities.

This setting of small workshop production interrupts the dreamy environment of the exhibition. It allows the viewer to revert back to a moment of creation which lays not in the past but in its instantaneous unfolding of. The audience finds itself among one or several women. These grandmothers, as in any Italian family, become Athena’s substitute of her own Greek family, grandmothers who stand for a matriarchy that represent a manifestation or quasi-portrait of the different life-stages where self-admiration turns into self-indulgence (versus self-despising moments of doubt and fear).

The hands and the sofa legs in this exhibition become a mirror of Papadopoulos’ own studio practice, an extension of her own hands, the hands of these belladonna women turn the showroom into a living room, a sewing circle, traditionally a setting not only for gossiping but an undercover for political conversations between women.

The artist’s oeuvre of painterly and sculptural works use as their point of departure autobiographical sources such as the debaucherous life of her diabetic family that she then exaggerates and transforms using literary, historical and pop cultural references that relate to her vision of her life as an artist living and working today in London. Papadopoulos’ works are densely layered surfaces featuring imagery that are at once of a seductive and repulsive nature; they use photographic and hand-drawn elements, t-shirt transfers and textile elements and other materials to create collages that are made using performative gestures such as spitting medicines and wine, scratching, splashing and staining the surface with cosmetics and bleach. Papadopoulos creates environments that could be home to a dream-like, hedonistic cast of characters who are celebrating being alive every second but who cannot help but relish in the larger, darker and more complex meanings of life. (SL)


Overdrive Art

ATHENA PAPADOPOULOS was born in 1988 in Toronto and she lives and works in London. Selected recent exhibitions include: Natural Instincts, curated by Samuel Leuenberger, Les Urbaines, Lausanne (2015); Metaforms, curated by Nicholas Baume, as part of the Public Sector of Art Basel Miami Beach 2015; Rancho Rat-King-Cougar, Supportico Lopez, Berlin (2015); Zabludowicz Invites, Zabludowicz Collection, London (2015); Bloomberg New Contemporaries, London and Liverpool (2014). Her work is on view at DRAF as part of the group show Streams of Warm Impermanence (2016).

Courtesy: the artist and Emalin
Installation views Belladonna’s Muse, BASEMENT ROMA, Rome
Photo: Roberto Apa
Portraits: Gabriele Malaguti


“If art still exists, it is where we least expect to find it.”
(Robert Musil)

A cycle of interventions by Rome-based Italian and international artists, aimed at creating a temporary collection of site-specific works, mainly new productions, will take in the Settembrini venues – the bar, bistro and restaurant traditionally open to international collaborations and paying close attention to the contamination between food, wine and other practices.

The project, which takes place over the months, aims thus at offering a new dimension to the work of art and its audience, redesigning the layout of the Settembrini venues. Une promesse de bonheur, which reverses the relationship between artist and visitor, “between uninterested spectator and interested artist” (Giorgio Agamben, L’uomo senza contenuto [The Man Without Content]). On the partnership model established between artists and places of various kinds, which over time have become landmarks and meeting places for the international art community, Settembrini, with the artistic direction of CURA., starts a new challenge and commitment for the support of contemporary art.

Untitled (2016)

Gabriele De Santis offers several keys to his door. His work, neo-pop conceptual, brings him to surf between mainstream, romance, short circuits of meaning, language processing, compositions of letters, words and figurative elements, with a certain satisfaction from the banal, as if to emphasize the obviousness of everyday life or the elementariness of the messages that are constantly offered us in complex and elaborate ways. The neo-pop component of Gabriele’s work is instead focused on ease of access and an immediate understanding of the work of art.

Arriving in a semi-hidden alley in a metropolis (what metropolis?), in one of those sequences where of course it’s raining, the story is coming to an end and the two main characters are about to engage in a long, passionate kiss. And a lighted sign is flashing because the rain gets to the live wires: an enigma, a rebus: rain, rain, rain, rainBOW.”

The fumes of Chinese take-away fried food, fashion bloggers sitting at Starbucks with their Macs, cafeterias with colored eco-leather seats, Gloria Gaynor’s voice resonating, caressing the friendly local venue: “You’re just too good to be true / Can’t take my eyes off of you.” A collective dwelling, where all find their place in a more or less frenzied way.

An espresso or an Americano?

Cities that were born in the middle of nowhere, and which are magnificent and pompous. “Las Vegas is to the Strip what Rome is to the Piazza,” “The casinos and lounges in Las Vegas are ornamental and monumental and open to strollers.” A comparison resulting from the unrealistic 1977 project by Robert Venturi and John Rauch, who wanted to restore Rome following the aesthetics of the American capital of gambling.

And then multiculturalism, panem et circenses, monumental size, kitsch, neon lights and smog. And realize day by day, with surprise, that ultimately they are as welcoming as our living rooms.

#02 NICO
Tombola! (2017)

Nico Vascellari superstitiously has chosen Friday the 13th, 2017, for his Tombola!, during which the players are invited to trying their hand throughout the evening. The artist, who orchestrated the action with the help of an exceptional auctioneer, intervenes on the central wall of the club to each extracted number.

The interventions of Nico Vascellari, known to be unsettling, disruptive and often disturbing, turn themselves into an accommodating parlor game, bringing the art community and some extemporary adventurers together, literally invited to get in the game, whose most eligible prize is an artwork.

Looking for a hiding place, a place where no one can find them, the two lovers take refuge in a suburban bar, with the mosquito nets that own the solemnity of the widows’ black laces, slightly worn. There are some black and red murales on the partially open shutter: the usual tags, some genitals, some blasphemies, but mostly numbers. Once they walked in a television hanging from a black metal arm in a corner dominates the room. On air a generic sitcom episode, where unbridled recorded laughter comment the show and its all happens in a room with cream-colored wallpapers.

Can we smoke in here? Can we play?

‘Of course!’ slurs the landlady, who forgot what year is it, or rather she doesn’t care. The lipsticks had been accurately applied, and the wrinkles around her mouth crack the pink cosmetic, the apron is dirty, but not much, and the yellow gold rings give her authority and malice. She’s just like the colorful slot machines, the light bulbs without lampshades and the soft pornographic postcards hanging on the wall, with tape and pins.

It’s really hot. Only the moths are interested in getting close to the blue-neon electric insect screen, sloppy and bulky like the rest, and bequeathed a burst like a stroke of a whip, a puff of smoke and a slight burning smell.

The inhabitants of the district come here on Sundays, bored with the long summer days, to play tombola,  cursing at every drawn number and trying their hand… It doesn’t matter if it’s Friday… It’s Friday the 13th… Does it bring luck? We heard a rumor that the tombola prize will be extremely cool this week…

Glass Editions (2017)

“But is decadence really over?”, I ask myself in the shady courtyard of this restaurant in the center, a short walk from the Natural History Museum, while my throat burns with yet another glass of Magrod.
I have no idea, I am here, my feet wrapped in soft Egyptian cotton socks, to reflect. The sounds of the city reach my ears through a diaphragm of oleander and jasmine.
The shuffling outside remind me of an insect with large colorful wings, the noises are nothing more but rain falling and hummingbirds flying and the metro roars like a puma approaching its meal.
My meal! I am not hungry. I do not remember the last time I had lunch.
It would be scary to find out that it’s all a hallucination. But that waitress is so kind, the colors so mellow and warm, so real.
I wonder what the girl languidly lying on the chair is thinking. She has her arms draped along her body, a small mirror in her hand and her skirt slightly ajar.
A rooster wanders among the tables. It reminds me of a pagan trophy, a magic animal painted with violent brushstrokes.
The tapestry hanging on the wall at the entrance features an atlas, each country has its flag, each flag its country. And the nations, hand sewn, starkly stand out against an overly blue sea.
From the window I see the shadows cutting obliquely across the square, the monument at the center looks like a puppet, a tailor’s dummy, a disturbing muse on top of a colored cube.
The stones are suspended in mid-air, as if they were clouds.
Men are pouring down.
This is not a story.

Via Settembrini 21, Rome

* The stories cycle that embraces each intervention, creating a kind of storytelling of imaginary characters, is edited by Leonardo Caldana, assistant curator at BASEMENT ROMA.

Ed Fornieles. Truth Table

Curated by Ilaria Marotta and Andrea Baccin

Truth Table is the Montreal-based artist Ed Fornieles’ first solo exhibition in Italy.

Highly responsive to the movement of information, Fornieles’ work operates within the logic of immersive simulations, enacting change through constructed environments and events. His ambitious, large-scale projects often involve cultural, social, and infrastructural production, making interventions that reconfigure the viewer’s position and sense of self.

In Truth Table the gallery is converted into the provider of an experience: a new VR product that allows the viewer to occupy a changing host of bodies as they engage in a chain of sexual interactions. Within the cycle, the configuration of bodies constantly shifts, as does the viewer’s perspective. Variables are randomized, moving from familiar to unfamiliar, possibly aligning with a viewer’s own tastes and preferences, until inevitably drifting into the unknown and alien. In this experience, the user’s default assumptions of sexual taste are obfuscated and abstracted, resulting in a leveling out, in which each type and form is given equal emphasis.

Mechanically speaking, the installation is generated by a randomizing algorithm, distinct from the sorts of algorithms that shepherd users’ tastes in online social media platforms and content farms. Typically, these algorithms inspire an experience that has come to be known as the filter bubble: prior user choices are rendered into data, which are then analysed and used to predict what sort of content the user might enjoy being offered. The filter bubble is thus a space in which an individual’s views and aesthetic choices are compounded: their options are limited to those objects and opinions which already align with their taste. In this way, forms are reinforced and pushed to extremes as they avoid the friction of a counter point of view or disrupting image. The use of randomization in Truth Table pushes against this re-enforcing bubble; instead, equally distributed variables work to counteract expectations and predilections–the effect of which might at times feel jarring, as the rules that make up our image world are strippped back to reveal a mathematical model in its place.

In this sense, unlike simulations which aim at advancing psychological or scientific models, Fornieles’ installation instead offers users an experience more similar to a dream state, where scenarios play out as a disjointed version of their real world correlates, moving by their own momentum, while nonetheless implicating the viewer at each turn. Dormant phantoms lurk in the synapses, waiting to make themselves known.

Undergirding all of Fornieles’ work is an uncanny ability to tap into the deep structure of the human unconscious. The simulation on offer in Truth Table advances Fornieles’ trajectory, negotiating the psychosomatic forms of relationality implied by algorithmic content models, immersive virtual realities, and technologies of sexuality.

(Dorothy Howard)

ED FORNIELES (born 1983, UK) is an artist based in Montréal, using a variety of different media including the Internet, sculpture, performance, film, and social media. Fornieles merges sophisticated social manipulation with a formal approach to the Internet and pop culture. Among recent solo exhibitions and performances: Truth Table, BASEMENT ROMA (Rome, 2016); DO DISTURB. Festival non-stop, Palais de Tokyo (Paris, 2016); Hack your body, upgrade your mind, Schirn Kunsthalle (Frankfurt, 2016); Workland: the fence is a narrow place, Chateau Shatto (Los Angeles, 2015); Jupiter Ascending, Carl Kostyal (Stockholm, 2015); Modern Family, Chi- senhale Gallery (London, 2014); New York New York Happy Happy at the New Museum (New York, 2013); Pool Party Plays Itself, MOCAtv (Los Angeles, 2013); The Hangover Part II, Carlos/Ishikawa (London 2011). Selected group exhibitions include: Emotional Supply Chains, Zabludowicz Collection (London, 2016); Family State of Mind, Valentin (Paris, 2014); Meanwhile… Suddenly, and Then (curated by Gunnar Kvaran), 12th Biennale de Lyon (Lyon, 2012).

Courtesy: the artist and Basement Roma
Photo: Roberto Apa
Portraits: Gabriele Malaguti


19/02/2016 – 19/03/2016

Sean Raspet, Emanuel Röhss, Sean Townley, Amy Yao, Zoe Williams

Curated by Ilaria Marotta and Andrea Baccin

Launching in the British culinary capital of London, ESPERANTO is the first multiethnic “Food of the World” restaurant chain founded by serial entrepreneur Mr. Bow. His vision for the start-up is clear: a unique blend of traditional fare and slow food. The secret sauce to its success? An innovative entrée of scented water for diners.

Mr. Bow’s other innovative move is the dining environment, which he chose in order to recreate the look and feel of a cutting-edge “Food of the World” restaurant. By setting aside corporate color schemes, steel surfaces, designer lamps and open-plan kitchens that so often characterize today’s international restaurants, his hope is that ESPERANTO will return us to the authentic flavour of local, family-operated venues of the past, replete with lacquered furniture, booth seating, plants and gargoyles.

ESPERANTO launches in collaboration with artists Sean Raspet, Emanuel Röhss, Sean Townley, Amy Yao and Zoe Williams, assisted by CURA.’s international team together with Rowing.

The artists’ culinary philosophies draw on past experience in the kitchen, but also on their personal tastes and a penchant for games and provocation. The spirited character of Mr. Bow, his confidence as a restauranteur at times bordering on arrogance, is perceptible in the unique dishes and approach of the ESPERANTO dining experience.

And if you’re still not convinced about this entrepreneur’s ambition, look no further than the array of upcoming restaurant openings he’s booked for Brussels, Rome, Paris, and New York!

A visit to ESPERANTO restaurant promises an unforgettable experience of the world of classic Chinese cuisine!

What will the risk-taking Mr. Bow offer up next?

Note by the curators
Reality is often manifested through representation. A frame, a screen, a narrative structure are the elements through which our perception of reality is activated. In this sense, the exhibition format enables us to recreate scenarios that are more vivid than reality itself. If the present remains impervious to the eye, and in the absence of a cohesive historical perspective, then fiction and reality become entangled across time and space; feeding into otherness. We can therefore imagine being here and elsewhere, now or before… We can also imagine the existence of a fictional character, the protagonist of our story. His name is Mr. Bow, and this is his story.

The tale of Mr. Bow
If Mr. Bow appeared in Italo Calvino’s “Cosmicomics,” not only would he be a fictional character, but, like the other bizarre, wandering dreamers of the story – beyond human. Mr. Bow, then, is the hero of a grotesque, paradoxical future, like a post-modern replica of the world we live in, recalled from a future where everything has already happened and cursed with an asymptotic “nostalgia for the present.” In such a scenario, Mr. Bow is a barker of dreams. Not because of his persuasiveness or insight, but simply because he is moved by a visionary fervor. Within the dystopian and disorienting future in which he lives – a chaotic and non-static world – Mr. Bow’s dream is finally realised. “The world is flat!,” He states one day… That is, flattened, static, with no shadings, no smells, no tastes. Especially with regard to food, water and air…

Food is low-quality and tasteless, gobbled up and globalised, as economists say, by identical big chains serving sterile fast food (by then Next, a slow-food chain and the future of McDonald’s, will have monopolized the planet).

This is where Mr. Bow’s dream begins.

In a constant oscillation between truth and fiction, Mr. Bow’s tale draws upon two spheres simultaneously, using a double language, the insider world of food bloggers and the visionary character of an overambitious entrepreneur who through his business sets out to achieve a retroactive dream.

A return to tradition, to individual identities, to flavors, through the opening of small restaurants, featuring old-time national and local cuisines. Mr. Bow thus begins his adventure and opens his chain of “Food of the World” restaurants.

Yet he can’t shake from his mind an old essay by philosopher Jean Baudrillard, read who knows when and where, on the Chuang Tzu chef: “there is no need to see the whole ox, but to work on interstices.” Therefore, Mr. Bow decides to start from absence to arrive at essence. Emptiness is a good canvas to start from. Everything is made from scratch, built as if it were true. But even truer than what we could ever have imagined, as “it is because they have already happened.” Hence, for the opening of Mr. Bow’s first restaurant, the characteristics of the place mingle with anomalies. He joins a dynamic team:  Sean Raspet, Emanuel Röhss, Sean Townley, Amy Yao and Zoe Williams. It does not matter that the philological reconstruction of the name does not work perfectly. The symbolic exchange does take place. We are in the midst of what James Berger has called a perspective retrospective. We are in a fiction, which seems more real than reality. It does not matter that the food is not what it used to be. We only know that in switching between fiction and reality we are always living in the two dimensions at once.

The show is curated by Ilaria Marotta and Andrea Baccin, CURA.’s directors.



Zachary Armstrong, Petra Cortright, Gabriele De Santis, Trenton Doyle Hancock, Ryan Gander, Marc Horowitz, Oliver Laric, Helen Marten, Takeshi Murata, Oliver Osborne, Marco Palmieri, Grear Patterson, Eddie Peake, Cameron Platter, Jon Rafman, Francesco Simeti, Martin Soto Climent, Kyle Thurman.

Curated by Ilaria Marotta and Andrea Baccin

From the unique and privileged point of view of a metaphoric Ferris wheel, that provides a kaleidoscopic perspective on the artworks, WONDERWHEEL explores the aesthetic, symbolic and expressive territory of a new generation of contemporary artists who, rather than playing with ludic concepts, shapes or linguistic structures, are revisiting childhood imagery in their work.

The show features video, painting, sculpture and installation by international artists, some of whom have been presented recently by the Depart Foundation including Petra Cortright, Marc Horowitz, Grear Patterson, Gabriele De Santis, as well as Zachary Armstrong, Martin Soto Climent, Trenton Doyle Hancock, Oliver Laric, Helen Marten, Takeshi Murata, Oliver Osborne, Marco Palmieri, Eddie Peake, Cameron Platter, Jon Rafman, Kyle Thurman and special projects by Francesco Simeti and Ryan Gander.

WONDERWHEEL occupies the length of Nautilus’s lobby perimeter wall, creating a skyline of works, that punctuate the space with unexpected visual interjections of neo-pop, graphic imagery, playful visual texts, pop-cultural impressions and fantasy frameworks.

The exhibition features stylized or “grotesque” masks, monsters, cartoons, characters and caricatures. The use of deliberately naive drawings, stylization, modularity and repetition of signs and shapes, mythological and epic presences, dream worlds and virtual reality, represent what could be defined in the words of the late English art historian John Shearman, “a world of incredible, pleasant and obvious fiction.”

The show is curated by Ilaria Marotta and Andrea Baccin, CURA.’s directors.

New Permanent Space

Beauty Codes (order/disorder/chaos) ACT II

#kunsthallelissabon, Lisbon

ACT II: Lili Reynaud-Dewar, Haris Epaminonda, Luca Francesconi, Jacopo Miliani, André Romão, Daniel Steegmann Mangrané

At the origin of modern thought there is a contrast between order and disorder, “contrasting impulses and tendencies, the modular combination of which produces in every epoch the work of art.” Taking Friedrich Nietzsche’s The Birth of Tragedy as a point of reference, the exhibition Beauty Codes (order/disorder/chaos), is a collaborative project between three international art spaces, BASEMENT ROMA, Fondazione Giuliani and #kunsthallelissabon, which unfolds over a six-month period, in three consecutive legs. Loosely constructed around the narrative codes of Greek Tragedy, the exhibition begins with a single voice, then shifts – through the work of twelve international artists – to a gradual process of layering and accumulation, which disrupts the original order with multiple viewpoints, fractured boundaries and subverted roles, finally transitioning to a subsequent subtraction with a new set of objects and traces of previous actions. The complete exhibition cycle is a trajectory from a state of order and harmony, to disorder and chaos, leading to the formation of a new order and quietude.

The project’s Prologue took place in CURA.’s space with the installation Why Should Our Bodies End At The Skin? (2012) by Lili Reynaud-Dewar, a work which serves as the link between the three parts of a play performed on three separate stages, and which was present in a different form in Act I, the group exhibition at Fondazione Giuliani, which also included works by Pedro Barateiro, Pablo Bronstein, Haris Epaminonda, Fischli/Weiss, Jacopo Miliani, Amalia Pica, Alexandre Singh and Daniel Steegmann Mangrané.

#kunsthallelissabon is generously supported by Secretaria de Estado da Cultura/Direção Geral das Artes (DGArtes), Teixeira de Freitas, Rodrigues e Associados and by EDP Foundation.

The show is curated by Ilaria Marotta and Andrea Baccin, CURA.’s directors, Adrienne Drake, director at Fondazione Giuliani Rome, Luis Silva and João Mourão, directors at #kunsthallelissabon, Lisbon.

PROLOGUE: Lili Reynaud-Dewar

ACT I: Pedro Barateiro, Pablo Bronstein, Fischli And Weiss, Haris Epaminonda, Jacopo Miliani, Amalia Pica, Lili Reynaud-Dewar, Alexander Singh, Daniel Steegmann Mangrané
Fondazione Giuliani, Rome


Beauty Codes (order/disorder/chaos) ACT I


ACT I: Pedro Barateiro, Pablo Bronstein, Fischli And Weiss, Haris Epaminonda, Jacopo Miliani, Amalia Pica, Lili Reynaud-Dewar, Alexander Singh, Daniel Steegmann Mangrané

At the origin of modern thought there is a contrast between order and disorder, “contrasting impulses and tendencies, the modular combination of which produces in every epoch the work of art.” Taking Friedrich Nietzsche’s The Birth of Tragedy as a point of reference, the exhibition Beauty Codes (order/disorder/chaos), is a collaborative project between three international art spaces, BASEMENT ROMA, Fondazione Giuliani and #kunsthallelissabon, which unfolds over a six-month period, in three consecutive legs.

Loosely constructed around the narrative codes of Greek Tragedy, Beauty Codes begins with a single voice, then shifts to a gradual process of layering and accumulation, which disrupts the original order with multiple viewpoints, fractured boundaries and subverted roles, finally transitioning to a subsequent subtraction with a new set of objects and traces of previous actions. The complete exhibition cycle is a trajectory from a state of order and harmony, to disorder and chaos, leading to the formation of a new order and quietude.

The project began at BASEMENT ROMA with the installation Why Should Our Bodies End At The Skin? (2012) by Lili Reynaud-Dewar, a work which serves as the link between the three acts of a play performed on three separate stages, and which will be present in a different form in the exhibition at Fondazione Giuliani. As in the classical tradition, the narrator is called upon to introduce the stage action before its actual beginning, to explain the events and consequent actions that cause a reversal of roles, the multiplication of forms and perspectives, disorder, and finally the (never truly orderly) rearrangement of the previous situation.

The work of Reynaud-Dewar, which consistently focuses on the relationship between body, language, literature and identity, is part of the mise en scène of the exhibition, the deus ex machina of ancient memory, the narrative voice that supports the complex unfolding of the entire performance.

Daniel Steegmann Mangrané’s / (- \ (2013) heralds the beginning of Act 1 at Fondazione Giuliani. Upon crossing the threshold into the Foundation’s exhibition spaces, the viewer passes through four aluminium curtains, as if crossing the proscenium of a stage. This relational demarcation of space and movement confounds the distinction between stage and audience, actor and viewer, and creates anticipation for what is to come.

Upon crossing the proscenium, the viewer finds himself centre stage, observer and participant in a juxtaposition of different artistic practices and display. Works by Haris Epaminonda punctuate the exhibition space like notes of a spatial composition, both centering the setting of the scene of action, while dismantling conventional modes of exhibition display. This space of action is observed by the bronze busts of Bullen, Dandy and Strumpet (all 2013), themselves characters from Alexandre Singh’s The Humans, a 3-act play about introducing chaos into an otherwise orderly cosmos, itself modeled after the comedies of Athenian poet Aristophanes.

Yet rather than creating a singular narrative logic, Act I builds a disorderly juxtaposition of artworks in which different narratives link or intersect freely to generate a superimposition of storylines. Any straightforward trajectory is further dismantled by a stratification of interventions, a tumbling together of performances that reorganize the role of the actors and viewers. Works by Amalia Pica, Pedro Barateiro and Jacopo Miliani particularly reconfigure the space with performative sculptures. With Plans for the Construction of Paradise (2010-2013), Barateiro disrupts the division between author and spectator by both interacting with the public and activating the traditionally passive role of the viewer. An allusion to games, rituals and riddles, the work’s myriad possible abstract patterns indirectly dialogues with Amalia Pica’s A∩B∩C (line) (2013), both installation and performance that is activated by the continual reconfiguration of multi-shaped Perspex elements, and metaphor of the different meanings, function and interpretation of personal and collective communication. In the works of Jacopo Miliani, whose research is primarily based on an investigation of teatrality, sculptures become moving physical bodies. Through minimal actions, refined gestures and simple materials, the spaces of the Foundation become the stage where chaos both takes shape and leaves residual traces.

In the video by Pablo Bronstein, Young man spills cremated remains onto the floor I (2012), exhibited to the public for the first time, a highly stylised mise-en-scène portrays a single male figure whose theatricality suspends him between the representation of a Classical Greek sculpture and of a Baroque courtier. Finally, Fischli/Weiss’s iconic film, Der Lauf der Dinge (1987), transforms everyday objects into agents of motion. A journey of action and consequence, precarious moments of balance and stability, transmutation and collapse, the connection between cause and effect leads the viewer to metaphysical questions about the world, about the way things go.”

The show is curated by Ilaria Marotta and Andrea Baccin, CURA.’s directors, Adrienne Drake, director at Fondazione Giuliani Rome, Luis Silva and João Mourão, directors at #kunsthallelissabon, Lisbon.

PROLOGUE: Lili Reynaud-Dewar

ACT II: Lili Reynaud-Dewar, Haris Epaminonda, Luca Francesconi, Jacopo Miliani, André Romão, Daniel Steegmann Mangrané
#kunsthallelissabon, Lisbon




Artie Vierkant, Vanessa Safavi, Bunny Rogers, Alessandro Piangiamore, Abinadi Meza, Cynthia Madansky, Adam Kuby, Corin Hewitt, Elias Hansen, Keith Hennessy, Francesca Grilli, Carin Goldberg, Martino Gamper, Anna Franceschini, Luca Francesconi, Andrea De Stefani, Gabriele De Santis, Tomaso De Luca

When Allen Ginsberg, writer and poet of the Beat Generation, photographed his friend Harry Smith – painter, archivist, anthropologist and film-maker – in 1985 at the Breslin Hotel in Manhattan attempting to turn milk into milk, he portrayed in a concise image an entire generation called to face major changes and struggles, through the subversive gesture of an impossible alchemy. At times, the impact of an artistic action can assume its own revolutionary force, even if only transitory, fleeting, light. According to Bachelard, poets and alchemists are those who translate into images the spell that the image itself casts on the psyche – a spell that becomes stronger with the poets and alchemists’ deepening knowledge of the basic elements that determine moods, and the ability to manipulate, process, transmute them.

Under this reverie of alchemical connections, milk revolution brings together the work of fellows from the American Academy in Rome and that of a selection of non-resident international artists, outlining an unsystematic, anti-narrative, fluid path, an open device, which contravenes the common sense of a concise thought and amalgamates temperaments and moods associated with changes of state, metamorphosis, the temporal span of the work, in an anarchical opposition of elements pitted against approval and control. In the abstract dimension of the exhibition space, the mutant and regressive process acts as a counterpoint to an aestheticized, timeless and suspended ambivalence, probing whims of resistance, autonomy and escape, but also empathy and unpleasantness, fascination and revulsion for the elements.

The exhibition therefore aims at defining a microsystem in which the mutation of matter, the flow of a dripping, the unpredictable path of wax, elements in a perpetual state of flux, the liberating gesture of a repetitive brushstroke, the impalpable transparency of tulle, the unexpected patterns of faux marble, the frenzied sound coming from a remote place, a wild raptor acting instinctively become a representation of an imagination called to explore the hidden folds of the human being and the “fragile nonsense of always being oneself, constantly becoming something else.”

The show is curated by Ilaria Marotta and Andrea Baccin, CURA.’s directors.

Athletic Valentin Paris


Ei Arakawa, Annabelle Arlie, Gabriele De Santis, Mike Goldby, Anthea Hamilton, Daniel Keller, Jack Lavender, Federico Pepe, Billy Rennekamp

Installations, sculptures, ready-mades, anthropomorphic figures, graphics, useless machines, sounds and videos representing the production of nine international artists – Ei Arakawa, Annabelle Arlie, Gabriele De Santis, Mike Goldby, Anthea Hamilton, Jack Lavander, Daniel Keller, Billy Rennekamp and Federico Pepe – are devices for the conversion of the exhibition space of the gallery into the gymnasium setting of Athletic Valentin. The collective project looks at a long and influential tradition of artist works and curatorial projects aimed at manipulating the exhibition space to turn it into a place meant for a different function.

From the recent settings hosted in the Frieze pavilions in New York, which saw the re-enactment of historic sites of artist-run places such as FOOD, the restaurant founded by Gordon Matta-Clark in 1971, or the tribute to Al’s Grand Hotel which, reflecting the legendary project carried out by Allen Ruppersberg again in 1971 in Los Angeles, saw the reconstruction of the original hotel lobby. Or even the Secret Bar, designed by the American Lyzz Glynn, which the public could only reach through a secret key that was getting passed around during the days of the fair like in a treasure hunt. Going down memory lane, the transformation of an exhibition space dates back to those early attempts by artists to make the visitor not simply a passive element of fruition, but an actor functional to the success of the project. In his iconic essay Inside the White Cube, Brian O’Doherty identifies the transition between the two-dimensional space of the painting to collage, i.e. between representation and real life, in some of these moments and writes: “with the tableau, the gallery impersonates other spaces, becomes a bar (Kienholz), a hospital room (Kienholz), a bedroom (Oldenburg), a living room (Segal), a “real” studio (Samaras).”

In Athletic Valentin, the nine artists involved are called to destroy and rebuild, cancel the dimension of the original space and activate the conversion of space into another space. All this brings back to memory the projects, spanning his entire lifetime, developed by Gregor Schneider (“a wall in front of a wall, a window in front of a window”), but also the various interventions aimed at transforming places normally open to the public into art pieces, from the sculpture-bars by Tobias Rehberger at the Venice Biennale in 2009 – conceived after the Hotel Americano in New York – up to many other places that would be too long to list here. Here we are in front of, or rather within, a space in which the original meaning of the gym, linked to the classical concept of the gymnasium, is lost to make room to a homologated, aseptic, anonymous space, addressed solely to the care of the body according to the well-known standards of beauty, health and lifestyle imposed by today’s media and adverts. The transformation process that until now has often led the viewers to immerse themselves into a different space – not only display but also environment – in this context paradoxically goes back to being display. The circular path that has brought us here has gone one step further. ‘Display’ understood in its most current meaning, a middle ground between real and virtual, or between real and fictional, the shadow area normally absorbed through the filter of a screen appears not real but almost. The process thus arrives at a further stage of its development, partaking in the creation of a scene, in which the elements involved come close to the real world, they brush against it, deceive the viewer, and only on closer inspection one recognizes the scam. Like on a movie set, of which every detail has been recreated, the scenes have been set up, the extras are ready to enter the scene, but we realize that the backdrop is made of cardboard, the carpet is not fitted, the extras are motionless mannequins. The advanced model, born in the wake of previous attempts to turn an environment into another environment, intentionally leads us into a third hemisphere, the one closest to our age, which turns fiction into the reality that we want to see, where behind a watching big brother’s mirror, a morbid public is ready to swear that it is real. And thus, stereotyped patterns, based on identification-ambiguity-recognition-estrangement-involvement rules resurface, a plastic world where we are viewers/players/viewers (again).

The camouflaging of the environment starts from the “visionary” installations by Anthea Hamilton, featuring John Travolta, whose Portrait of John (Rubbernecking II’) (2014) – still tied to the vintage imagery of the first films – is isolated and duplicated as the image-symbol of a static aesthetic will, which is non-narrative and definitely iconic. This huge wallpaper is completed by the catatonic movement of the video Yogic Travolta Screensaver and Clock (2012), which instead sees the actor floating in a rarefied environment, designed in relation to space and time, with an emphasis on the relationship between the art piece and the surrounding environment through the mechanics of the human body. The weightlessness of an artifact space in which the tension between space and time comes loose is also found in the static presence of the piece by Ei Arakawa (Smell Image A (Navasana I)) (2012), both a sculpture and a scenic element. Movement, here only alluded to by the tension suggested by the dummy in the yogic Boat Pose, is the element through which the artist’s interest focuses on the performance of state and motion changes of the human body in relation to the public and the surrounding environment. Even the sports equipment exploited by Billy Rennekamp highlight the gap between object-function-fiction. The artist’s endless quest for installation options of objects and images belonging to the sphere of game and sport reinvents their function in a process of transformation of sense. Here, three steel-tubing sculptures evoke the typical structure of the ball trolleys found in high school gyms, although the visitor ultimately detects the sham. Object related with games, sport and sportswear, are central to the work of Mike Goldby and Jack Lavender. The first works with sportswear in a pictorial sense, investigating the structure of the concepts of trend, promotion and branding, in their interchangeable role within the definition of socio-cultural codes. In the artist’s Stretch (2014) series, the crude materialism of a sports brand becomes an experimentation exercise on the power of a trend and the recognizability of a brand through newly configured forms. On the contrary, Jack Lavender, with the attitude of a collector, gathers found objects and posters, depriving them of their symbolic value, which is given back to them only at the end of the artist’s intervention. The artist dwells effortlessly within the gap between reality and deception, because “the important thing is the way the object, either fake or real, influences the viewer and the space around it.” The element of unreality thus takes over when real objects are used, manipulated, and re-elaborated by the actors in play. Gabriele De Santis plays on this subtle fil rouge, offering the public flasks of energy drinks, typically used in sports training. Here, a spatio-temporal transition between fiction and reality occurs when the mixture concocted by the artist with alcoholic beverages is also the drink he normally offers visitors during the opening of his exhibitions. The viewer is thus called to identify with the actor in a play, in the mise en scène of a comédie humaine, thus ending up playing two roles at the same time. Elements which bring fiction immediately back to reality are the graphic works by Federico Pepe, who soars over the boundaries of genre to announce the opening of a new gym in the heart of the Marais, or the sound that invades the spaces of Athletic Valentin, where Daniel Keller replaces the aerobic pop normally used to motivate and boost fitness addicts, with a mix of two ‘EP’ tracks named after the book Exit, Voice and Loyalty, by the economist Albert Hirschman. According to Hirschman, among company and organization staff there are two types of human behavior, which can be classified as ‘exit’ or ‘voice’ analogous to ‘flight’ or ‘fight.’ The first indicates submissive attitudes of desertion and escape – but also a closed way of life like fitness, meditation or Hikikomori NEET can induce –, while the second indicates the ability to react and show disapproval. Thus, Keller reflects on opposite human reactions, offering a literal description of them rather than exploiting the emotional element of sound. And thus we come to the last details – the most important in a scene – prior to the opening of the curtain for Athletic Valentin. These include a pair of sneakers forgotten in a corner. This is Amitié au soleil d’argent (sample) (2013), a piece by Annabelle Arlie who, with a touch of lightness, leaves the trace of a passage – maybe of a majorette training…

The show is curated by Ilaria Marotta and Andrea Baccin, CURA.’s directors.

Dreams That Money Can’t Buy

MAXXI National Museum of the 21st Century Arts, Rome

Adrien Missika, Andrew Norman Wilson, Anna Franceschini, Daniel Gustav Cramer, David Douard, Francesco Arena, Gabriele De Santis, George Henry Longly, Haris Epaminonda, Ian Cheng, Ian Tweedy, Ingrid Olson, Invernomuto, Jack Lavender, Jimmy Limit, Luca Francesconi, Luca Trevisani, Maria Loboda, Martin Soto Climent, N. Dash, Neil Beloufa, Nico Vascellari, Nicolas Deshayes, Parker Ito, Per-Oskar Leu, Raphael Zarka, Riccardo Benassi, Richard Sides, Salvatore Arancio, Sara Cwynar, Tilman Hornig, Timur Si-Qin and Tomaso De Luca

On the occasion of the first edition of THE INDEPENDENT, the special project organised by MAXXI Museum of XXI Century Arts in Rome and devoted to the independent actors of the international scene, CURA. presents DREAMS THAT MONEY CAN’T BUY, a group show featuring interventions of 33 international artists, devoted to the building of a partial ‘encyclopedic atlas’, recalling Warburg.

The show is expression of a caothic universe in which images, videos and activities, illustrated works, objects, quotes and real life merge, become active in space, in a replacement device of the artwork. The image replacing the work expresses a tension towards the drafting of a shared imagination, in which classical forms and new languages come together in the flow of time. From the collage wall, pop-up screens – the extension of printed images – randomly project, over a few months, a selection of videos. The project thus sums up the tension between the eye and the viewer, between surface and collage, between the two-dimensionality of the support and three-dimensionality of the inhabited space (Brian O’Dorothey) but also between image, value, object, presence and absence. The dematerialization of the artistic object in the printed format reflects chaos rather than imposing its own order (Lucy Lippard) longing for an exhibition place other than the phsysical space (Seth Siegelaub).

The exhibition is finally referred to the ongoing project of a “curated” encyclopedia of the themes covered in the five years since CURA.’s birth, by a selection of almost 32 international artists and the display of books, DVDs, sources and excerpts.

The show is curated by Ilaria Marotta and Andrea Baccin, CURA.’s directors.

The Time Machine


Mark Barrow, Ian Cheng, Nicolas Deshayes, Dexter Sinister, David Douard, Haris Epaminonda and Daniel Gustav Cramer, Andrea Kvas, Margaret Lee, Jimmy Limit, Billy Rennekamp, Torben Ribe, Timur Si-Qin and Gundam Air.

Through rapid synapse, irony and ease of access to an open-source turbo image archive the production of an emerging generation of international artists converges towards the construction of a new imaginery, in which – quotes and outcomes of the past being digested, and new frontiers of communication, information technology, internet, and the aesthetics of swirling hypermarkets and immediate consumption channels being mastered – outline an archeology of the future, focusing on gargantuan assimilation and the giving back of the ongoing virtual or physical change. A product of such a mutation, art seems to no longer have a form, or to have many. Teleportation, dematerialization and re-materialization. Bodies and objects disembodied, reduced from molecules to pixels, from substance to image. Video, painting, films, sculpture, installation codes and formulas are exchanged in a common primordial soup into which the image streams which cross the current everyday life end up, producing new form, a new place and a new time.

From Mark Barrow’s Re-productions, in which painting seems reduced to its basic codes, we go to Torben Ribe’s installation abstractions, passing by Andrea Kvas’s unstructured conformations paintings or Nicolas Deshayes’s ‘resins’, intended to return animal fossils. The moving image undergoes endless transformations, like in the work of Ian Cheng, who detects in a future primitivism the scenario ahead of us. Or, like In David Douard’s case, insists on the relationship between real and virtual dimension. It is instead reduced to pure language in the video story by Dexter Sinister, in a paradoxical contemporary iconoclasm. The everyday, familiar and domestic object, appears like the leftover of a distant time in the past or in the future, the trace of a moment unconnected to reality: this is the case of Margaret Lee’s installations or Billy Rennekamp’s assemblages, the results of metamorphoses generated by the flowing of time. Or the result of genetic contamination, like in Jimmy Limit’s still lifes. The idea of the musealization of an endless book collection can be found in the work of Haris Epaminonda and Daniel Gustav Cramer, who reflect on the cataloguing of an image database to be preserved in the future; Timur Si-Qin further insists on the idea of a past that will be rebuilt through new platforms, when the origins of the world will not remain but in small traces. This scenario is finally resolved in a utopia of the present in the project of Gundam Air, an artist who, in his folly, dematerializes his present being to talk with works projected in a future dimension.

The threads of time are interwoven with no apparent order, just like the spatial coordinates are muddled, giving rise to an entropy of references and allusions which leads the eye and the mind into a time machine out of control.

The show  is curated by Ilaria Marotta and Andrea Baccin, CURA.’s directors and supported by BASEMENT ROMA.

MM – Mundus Muliebris

Than Hussein Clark, Patrizio Di Massimo, George Henry Longly

Collaborators and Designers: Accademia Costume e Moda and STUDIO G.A.N (Gaia Fredella and Federica Anne Ducoli), Antica Manifattura Cappelli and Patrizia Fabri, Benedetta Bruzziches, Marini Calzature, Fabio Quaranta.

In his posthumously published book “Philosophical Investigations” (1953) Ludwig Wittgenstein gives his best-known explanation of the concept of Family resemblance. The Austrian-British philosopher argues that some words do not have a single essence that encompasses their definition. The word ‘game’ for instance does not have a definite meaning and no single aspect is common to all its uses. Not all games are played for recreation; games like football or tennis are played professionally, and some casino games are played out of addiction. The ways in which we commonly use and understand the word ‘game’ does not relate to a common feature of reality or to the thoughts behind them. In a similar way family members resemble each other not through a specific trait but a variety of traits that are shared by some, but not all, members of the family. In other words family members have a combination of common, or related, features rather than a rigorous single feature that appears in each member. For instance, four siblings in a family can be said to resemble each other, even though only three may share the same hair colour, three may share the same eye colour, only two may have similar facial structures and so on. No single feature is common to all members of the family, so the family cannot be defined as “having a green eyes” nor “having brown hair.” I can apply the family resemblance to MM, and particularly to the ways Than Hussein Clark, Patrizio Di Massimo and George Henry Longly individually chose to work collaboratively.

Collaboration is a relational opportunity that can easily become not only sterile, but simply a disaster. Although collaboration is a very efficient marketing strategy because it upgrades brand image and cuts the marketing cost by creating a new target, product, brand, and promotion through successful partnerships, if we look specifically at collaborations between fashion and art (a bond that goes back to Paul Poiret and Raoul Dufy, and Elsa Schiaparelli and Salvador Dalí) we see three main typologies: a) Artworks that appropriate fashion objects or icons removing the wearability and adding a sense of purposelessness (David Lynch and Laboutin) b) An artistic imaginary applied on a wearable product (Yasumasa Morimura x Issey Miyake) c) A performative approach towards the relationship of the two (Merce Cunningham x Rei Kawakubo). In recent years these typologies have often been mixed so that artistic branding was carefully placed onto an existing brand: artists have translated their work into industrially manufactured and globally distributed products. Within MM all the above possibilities have been tackled and experimented. Ultimately, functionality and purposelessness play the game of offering each other the chance to get a more profitable way of existence through collaboration.

The capacity of someone’s collaboration is equally commensurate to his or her ability to give, and as such of bringing things into the world, producing images of the self. In a magnificent letter from 1990, Gianni Versace writes: “So many people hide themselves behind their clothes. The Mafioso dresses up as Signore with tie, shirt and a jacket. Others hide behind a cassock. So many people conceal their inclinations behind a fake façade. Each and everyone of us should instead be who he or she truly is.” The works produced for MM are products, telling a story of cheeky fantasies and desires in a context that makes them schizophrenic characters.

MM is the image of the acronym for Mundus Muliebris, which in Latin can be translated as ‘ornaments.’ When googling the word ornament the first definition that comes up reads: “A thing used or serving to make something look more attractive but usually having no practical purpose.” Which brings me back to that slippery relationship between art and fashion: purpose vs purposelessness. An ornament has both. That limbo of grace is precisely what the identity of our brand MM is.

Than Hussein Clark worked with the duo GAN (Federica Ducoli and Gaia Fredella) in the production of gowns dedicated to Tennessee Williams. Than also entrusted Marini a design of two pairs of shoes for Valentino and Renato Balestra. Marini is a historical shoemaker workshop and boutique founded in 1899, that has been doing hand made shoes for the likes of the king of Morocco Hassan II, Sergio Leone, Anna Magnani, Solomon Guggenheim. Valentino and Balestra’s well-known rivalry makes the designed shoes the alter ego of the characters, shouting at each other that taste isn’t cheap.

Patrizio Di Massimo walked on both a classic and an unconventional path. With bag designer Benedetta Bruzziches, he created new patterns and fabrics for her signature bag ‘Carmen’. Patrizio also continues his recent experimentations with ceramic, and produced unique, hand painted ceramic bags. Under the experienced and capable hands of Patrizia Fabri, hat designer and owner of the Antica Cappelleria in Rome, Patrizio transferred one of his most recognizable feature-object into a wearable sculpture.

George Henry Longly continues his long-term research in marketing, branding and museology and presents new works encompassing milled body parts and a specific use of industrial materials. He is introducing a new character: a mannequin, a convoluted machine, a contemporary disembodied relic that incorporates the minimal, exquisite and monochrome style of designer Fabio Quaranta.

The essence of an object gives meaning to the word used to name that very object, but what happens when the meaning is a relational scrutiny? The three artists are performing what Wittgenstein would call a family resemblance. For Wittgenstein, this is how ‘game’ and many other words have a consistent meaning. Common features of games, like recreation, scores, teams, rules, etc. are present in various games and not others, but the general overlapping mesh of these features is where the word gets its true meaning. Thus, the meaning of some words is a relation much like family resemblance. I wanted MM to be this kind of relation: my own family resemblance.

The show is curated by Nicoletta Lambertucci, curator at DRAF London, with the artistic direction of CURA.

Arts Council of England

Nicoletta Fiorucci

Courtesy: the artists and Basement Roma
Photo: Roberto Apa


“For a moment maybe a flicker of happiness, and the next moment, again the same despair and the same race for more.”

Produced across time zones and geographical borders, a chaotic growth of hypnotic gestures highlight the constant shift between identity and dissolution, fullness and emptiness, memory and impulses.

Yanyan Huang is no stranger to fatalistic shifts of fortune: born in China (in 1988 in Sichuan, China), she grew up in America and is perpetually split between places, cultures, and languages. Similarly, her work and presence map out a meandering quandary of geographies, models, identities, relational opportunities.

Unexpected impulses, intentions and chance, traditions and references, emptiness and acceleration, fate and desire, opposite trajectories are mixed in a process of accumulation and subtraction, appropriation and renunciation, pause and thrust, slowness and frenzy.

As it would be a fool’s errand to try to find distinct points or boundaries, one can only look silently for patterns and attempt to decode themes.

One must make an argument based on absence rather than presence.

Infinite gestures run to a single irreplaceable and non-erasable sign which the artist reads as that of an apple by Cézanne: “It might have taken one minute to draw an apple, but I had to draw a thousand apples in order to draw this one.”

The show is curated by Ilaria Marotta and Andrea Baccin, CURA.’s directors.

Born in 1988 in Sichuan, China. Lives and works in Beijing, Florence and Los Angeles.

Courtesy: the artist and Basement Roma
Photo: Roberto Apa


Anna-Sophie Berger, Paolo Chiasera, Marguerite Humeau, Marlie Mul, Michael E. Smith, Bunny Rogers.

In the frame of Secondo Stile – the nomadic canvas-based artist-run exhibition space, conceived and founded by Paolo Chiasera in 2013 – Anagramma is a group exhibition, curated by CURA. in dialogue with the artist, featuring works by Anna-Sophie Berger, Paolo Chiasera, Marguerite Humeau, Marlie Mul, Michael E. Smith, Bunny Rogers.

Through a series of conceptual maneuvers aiming at the possible identification of new linguistic sequences, the process of permutation from one word to another involves a complex combinatorial strategy within a circumscribed system of relations. Focusing on an established fact, the history of the anagram is the history of how this established fact has been variously recognized, and eventually called, and the function that it has been given each time. The conceptual relationship between works/objects/entities/characters in an artificial given space, avoiding the limbo of a single reading, activates a subjective and associative lateral logic and expands the possible fields of experience and understanding. If on the one hand the mimetic ability of the individual elements increases the possibility of misunderstanding and disorientation, on the other it invokes logical combinations which can be read in different ways.

The central element of this exploration is Paolo Chiasera’s double intervention, consisting of two painted rooms – a device implemented in space and time. The main work, URMUTTER, consisting of the intersection of three paintings depicting the interior of a bathroom, is at the core of the exhibition space. Public and private space merge, change roles and function, convert the two-dimensional nature of the painting into a three-dimensional space.

Thus URMUTTER, although relating to a long tradition of altering the exhibition space into environments of entirely different nature – in fact representing a traditional late nineteenth-century New York City public office toilet as furnished by Mott Iron Works, the company that also produced the urinal used by Duchamp for his iconic Fountain – presents yet another element. The environment here is prefabricated, painted, artificial, and converts its nature spread across the whole surface of the canvas into living space, a theater side scene aiming at the staging of the implemented representation, through which it embodies a tout-court exhibition space that welcomes and frames the work of other artists.

URMUTTER reconfigures the space of the BASEMENT, but not only. It even turns into a disturbing intervention. The unconventional space (a bathroom) becomes an exhibition room modulated on the proportions of a real exhibition space, which itself is already in charge of the function that the unconventional space claims the right for.

It becomes a scenic device, in conversation with the work of other artists – Marlie Mul, Michael E. Smith, Bunny Rogers, Marguerite Humeau, Anna Sophie Berger – each using such a device to hide in the apparent normality, that of objects living space through their ordinary function: Michael E. Smith’s bathtub; Marlie Mul’s ventilation grids; Bunny Rogers’s mop; Anne Sophie Berger’s bathrobes; Marguerite Humeau’s pervasive sound.

Every work has its own identity and strength, but when set against the others each is activated, triggering new meanings, different and layered readings. Different possible paths that the show does not intend to fulfil, but that are opened to the audience’s reasoning, which is too habituated to receiving information.

In this context, there is also another device deployed by Paolo Chiasera: MOTT, URMUTTER’s twin brother, another painting although actually smaller, a space, a crossbred bathroom both public and private.

URMUTTER is sedentary. MOTT is nomadic.
URMUTTER is the space coefficient. MOTT is the time coefficient.

Furthermore, if we thought of MOTT the canvas as of URMUTTER’s avatar, the latter could live in a virtual reality instead of a precise physical location. And this is how MOTT becomes a satellite space called to investigate themes that explore the complex philosophical, artistic, anthropological, literary and formal expressions of the graft.

Themes such as identity/otherness, nomadism/sedentariness, space/painting, work/object, are the focus of the discussion for a large group of Italian and foreign curators who, each reached in their city by MOTT along its route, will interact with the exhibition from a distance.



The show is curated by Ilaria Marotta and Andrea Baccin, CURA.’s directors, in dialogue with Paolo Chiasera.

with Cecilia Canziani and Antonio Grulli

with João Mourão e Luís Silva

Courtesy: the artists and Basement Roma
Photo: Roberto Apa

Michael Manning. Caesar Salad

So, in the 1920s sometime, nobody really knows honestly, this guy, Caesar Cardini has this restaurant in Tijuana, Mexico, and one night the kitchen ran out of ingredients for the typical menu items, so spontaneously Caesar uses some random left over items in the kitchen to create this theatrical salad. The salad is pretty much just romaine lettuce, so he comes up with this impressive presentation in the creation of the dressing, which is a weird mix of: parmesan cheese, lemon juice, olive oil, egg, Worcestershire sauce, and black pepper. No anchovies. Caesar was actually opposed to using anchovies in his salad. It turns out the reason anchovies are so common in Caesar salads is that his brother, Alex made a recipe for an identical salad called the ‘Aviator,’ which used anchovies instead of Worcestershire sauce.

The Caesar salad starts its history as  an unlikely amalgam of disparate ingredients, but  has since become a deeper cultural institution, persisting or preserved as a melange of different parts.

To start, the salad in its current form is identified as something distinctly American, but was created in Mexico by an Italian immigrant. In a sense the multi-cultural background of its creator  reinforces this idea of Americana and is even further  bolstered by the actual salad’s differing ingredients. Within America, although the salad is a staple of the steakhouse (its first official documentation is on the Los Angeles restaurant Lawry’s Steakhouse menu in 1946), its origin is mistakenly attributed to some sort of ancient Roman history, when its only speculative relation is through the ethnicity of its creator and perhaps his imperial namesake (to which we can only speculate). This misattribution is taken to such ends that large salad dressing brands lavish their bottles  with olive leaves, roman columns and even as much as a marble bust of Paul Newman imitating Julius Caesar, complete with golden laurel wreath.

To push things further the salad has evolved into directions where it is adapted to regional cuisines and cultures to take new forms. Health conscious Californians birth the Kale Caesar, spice conscious southerners create the Cajun Chicken Caesar, Mexicans have their own variation with a cilantro lime twist dressing, and then you have wraps, sandwiches and panini all pushing it into new shapes.

The salad, its origins, cultural  associations, geography, and mutating future forms are an anamorphic mirror for Manning’s solo exhibition. These displaced and discursive connections between Rome and California operate  as mismatched synapses — firing and missing, firing and hitting. The works taking shape so they exist as no one thing — a ball mounted to the wall, or printed in a photo, or sculpted from wax. Manning  pulls imagery from seemingly unrelated areas and  pushes them into a fluid format that feels distinctly Southern Californian, cohabiting between modes of representation. In this way the work is a salad, a Caesar Salad, born of necessity and its surroundings, misinterpreted, and constantly in a state of representational flux.

© the artist

Michael Manning (b. 1985) lives and works in Los Angeles. His work explores alternative approaches to producing and distributing traditional art objects using technology and social networking. Manning makes paintings, videos, and installations that stem from the internet and software, utilizing the crypto-materiality of computer technology in conjunction with his interest in punk counterculture movements.

The show is hosted by BASEMENT ROMA, under the artistic direction of CURA.

Thanks to Carl Kostyál, London.
Courtesy: the artist and Basement Roma
Photo: Roberto Apa

Beauty Codes (order/disorder/chaos). Lili Reynaud-Dewar

Lili Reynaud-Dewar (prologue)

At the origin of modern thought there is a contrast between order and disorder, “contrasting impulses and tendencies, the modular combination of which produces in every epoch the work of art.” Taking Friedrich Nietzsche’s The Birth of Tragedy as a point of reference, the exhibition Beauty Codes (order/disorder/chaos), is a collaborative project between three international art spaces, CURA., Fondazione Giuliani and #kunsthallelissabon, which unfolds over a six-month period, in three consecutive legs. Loosely constructed around the narrative codes of Greek Tragedy, the exhibition begins with a single voice, then shifts ­­– through the work of twelve international artists – to a gradual process of layering and accumulation, which disrupts the original order with multiple viewpoints, fractured boundaries and subverted roles, finally transitioning to a subsequent subtraction with a new set of objects and traces of previous actions. The complete exhibition cycle is a trajectory from a state of order and harmony, to disorder and chaos, leading to the formation of a new order and quietude.

The installation Why Should Our Bodies End At The Skin? (2012) by French artist Lili Reynaud-Dewar serves as the link between the three acts of a play performed on three separate stages. In a state of orderliness, harmony and quietness, the narrator-author anticipates the climax of the events to follow. As in the classical tradition, the narrator is called upon to introduce the stage action before its actual beginning, to explain the events and consequent actions that, through an unsystematic process, cause a reversal of roles, the multiplication of forms and perspectives, disorder, and finally the (never truly orderly) rearrangement of the previous situation.

The work of Reynaud-Dewar, which consistently  focuses on the relationship between body, language, literature and identity, is part of the mise en scène of the exhibition, the deus ex machina of ancient memory, the narrative voice that supports the complex unfolding of the entire performance. A solo voice addresses the public directly, introducing the succession of future proceedings:

Why Should Our Bodies End At The Skin?

Set in the Roman amphitheater in Arles, the video-performance develops a different reflection on the human body. Although referring to the Classical tradition, aimed at a harmonic and formal proportion of the sculptural corpus, through the unfolding of the action the artist speaks here of reiterated objects, breaching that very tradition and, by undermining the established order, announcing the ensuing events:

I think these convoluted figures, with their rather foolish poses, are a sort of fantasy, for which these very formal figures might suddenly start moving on their own, released from their role in society, and become transgressive (L.R.D.)

Figures, therefore, of a potential performance: about to move, dance, rebel against the static boundaries imposed upon them. Moreover, the fact that the scene takes place in an area of the theater normally occupied by the public, is a further promise of a subversion of rules and roles.

The reiterated objects, the body parts, emerge from the story and step into the exhibition space. They become sculpture, the protagonists of new scenarios; new actors, the stars of other stages. The materialized reproduction of the newly finished sculpted object, also witnessed in its making, brings to the stage a topos of art history: the representation in the same scene of consecutive moments of a single story. But also put in relation with the fiction of a frozen time, the before and after of the same action.

The show is curated by Ilaria Marotta and Andrea Baccin, CURA.’s directors, Adrienne Drake, director at Fondazione Giuliani Rome, Luis Silva and João Mourão, directors at #kunsthallelissabon, Lisbon.

ACT I: Pedro Barateiro, Pablo Bronstein, Fischli And Weiss, Haris Epaminonda, Jacopo Miliani, Amalia Pica, Lili Reynaud-Dewar, Alexander Singh, Daniel Steegman Mangranè
opening reception MAY 21, 2015

ACT II: Haris Epaminonda, Luca Francesconi, Jacopo Miliani, Lili Reynaud-Dewar, André Romao, Daniel Steegman Mangranè
STAGE: #kunsthallelissabon, Lisbon
opening reception JULY 27, 2015

Courtesy: the artists and Basement Roma
Photo: Roberto Apa

David Douard. SO

For his first solo exhibition in Italy, the French artist David Douard will present a site-specific work centered around a suspended sculpture. An anthropomorphic figure, of which we only get to glance two legs midair, caught in the moment of descending from above or jumping – but actually hanging – which the artist connects to the phenomenon of suicide, especially in adolescence.

The ambiguous image creates a state of uncertainty regarding the scene we are looking at, a hybrid device called to respond to the issue of language, the interruption of thought, but also to the possibility that word and knowledge are continually revitalized through an uninterrupted flow between the sphere of life and that of death.

Douard often works on gaps: visible and invisible, presence and absence, here and elsewhere. Whether referring to a microscopic universe, which he hints at like in many previous works related to food or water intake, and the pitfalls that they hide or, as in this case, to a space-time limbo in which different hemispheres incidentally touch, intersect, reveal themselves.

SO, the two letters which like the keys on a typewriter are printed on the soles of the hanging figure, convey such a sense of continuity. SO is the conjunction used in common language at the beginning of a sentence, as an expression which suggests the subsequent processing of a thought. But also emphasizes a break, a transition, a point between a before and an after. The artist relates in this way the physical presence of the sculptures in words, concepts, verses and poems that anonymous authors have put on the web, summarizing in an imaginary animist character the origin of thought and of all things, in the suspended sphere that inanimate objects trigger with respect to their ability to act when giving back an image.

Through the use of multiple media including video, sculpture, sound, text, collage, Douard confirms his penchant for creating gender hybrids, and shortens the distance between organicity and technology, between archetypal sedimentations – windingly remodeled, reformulated and projected in an imaginary future – and the intimate sense of the present, perpetually poised.

The exhibition is the first part of a larger project that includes a series of limited editions.

The show is curated by Ilaria Marotta and Andrea Baccin, CURA.’s directors.

DAVID DOUARD (1983) Lives and works in Paris. Recent solo show: Johan Berggren Gallery, Malmo, Sweden (2014); Mo’Swallow, Palais de Tokyo, Paris (2014); )juicy o’f the nest, SculptureCenter, New York (2014).
Group Show: Ernesto, CEAAC, Strasburgo, France (2014); L’Europe des Artistes, Astrup Fearnley Museet, Oslo (2014); The Great Acceleration, Taipei Biennial 2014, curated by Nicolas Bourriaud, Tapei, Taiwan (2014); Geographies of Contamination, curated by Vincent Honoré, Laura McLean-Ferris, Alexander Scrimgeour, DRAF, London (2014); Meanwhile… Suddenly And Then, curated by Gunnar Kvaran, 12th Biennale de Lyon, France (2013).

Courtesy: the artist and Basement Roma
Photo: Roberto Apa

Congratulations on Your Ugly Handwriting

Tom Humphreys, Allison Katz, Sara Knowland, Marco Palmieri, Jesse Wine.

A signature is always a snitch. Every flourish or blemish, whether rehearsed or unintentional, betrays a profile, a posture, a behavioural trait. I scrawl my signature now:

Two wavy lines, fluctuating dramatically and then flatlining, the whole affair containing only the faintest trace of an ‘R’ and an ‘M’. This new incarnation is the product of a looser grip, a holding on, but only just.

“To speak of style” wrote Sontag, “is one way of speaking about the totality of a work of art. Like all discourses about totalities, talk of style must rely on metaphors.” Style, then, is not an outer shell, but a spine dissolved throughout. Style is the quality which animates, producing a particular network of sensibilities; it is the body in the line, present in every action, whether squeeze, copy, smudge (or lack of).

This exhibition brings together a cast of-object characters: artworks in which the idiosyncrasies, habits and desires of the hand have been nurtured, so that they exist on the cusp of portraiture. Faces melt into torn and lumpen clay; marks and scrawls are isolated, then mutate; ticks and traits are foregrounded; personality is evidence left behind.

The title of the show is taken from a poem by Rene Daniëls, in which a body is stripped and then dressed again, within the continual rhythm of sentences and images building up and breaking down. Ugliness, here, is a lauded state between collapse and cultivation. The attitude of Daniëls’ approach, in which the tools and markers of communication are always upended by their visual presence, is a bright scrawl on the horizon of this show.

(text by Rosanna McLaughlin)

The show is curated by Rosanna McLaughlin and Marco Palmieri, with the artistic direction of CURA.

Courtesy: the artists and Basement Roma
Photo: Roberto Apa

B. Ingrid Olson. The Vases My Monitors Their Frames

B. Something Else
All the artists kept talking about their process All the actives kept talking about this process

Mask or mirror or Plexi perimeter
Americana in Roma, excitable-familiar narrative
Write & exhibit & summer & (latently or devastatingly)
And slurry color—not like pools like waves Breaking against metal frames Small B&W prints indicating the technological hand That might hold them, precision of that Narrative: its nostalgia, gender, figurative…

… kaleidoscopic season of interiors of moments Projected upon it, cool stain, late summer All the wars across the water…

…plexi pool that we fall into, once fabricated Woman with a camera shifting across the field, refracting…

…La Marinière not Italian but whatever Surface affects obscuring the story
A badly printed image haunts me, and it is the very reason for my being here at a table that otherwise gradually empties the more that summer gets closer.
The printer stopped working midway – leaving me with a halved image, an automatic mechanical response to a prior framing through cutting, juxtaposing and layering images. Onto what looks like a palimpsest of images – the reproduction of a painting, a line, corners of frames, all in a pinkish sepia tone that most probably the printer decided was the appropriate tint to give to this work – rest two close-ups of hands displaying objects. They both hold what appears to be a wire circle. One is also pinched by a medical tool, similarly thin, as if it were drawn in air. The hand and the circle might be reoccurring in the back: rephotographed, enlarged, suggesting that the current state of this work is temporary. A gesture, temporarily framed. Gestures. I find myself trying to hold onto glimpses that works offer to me for a possible conversation to happen, for if a common language is to be found, it is also true that there is a moment before you meet the artist, before you come to terms with a practice, when you are simply haunted by the presence of a work. It is a sort of seduction that ushers in the desire to see more. (A seduction that, one must confess, rests on recognizing something familiar, for the rule that we are attracted from what we know. Love is a sort of pre-cognition, ultimately)…

…collecting, presenting and then archiving. To continue.
make a picture rather than take one…

…not to take yourself so seriously all the time. have the pleasure of seeing someone you don’t know naked, visually, emotionally, etc, and not have it be weirdly exploitative. see yourself in a picture or a mirror and not feel self-conscious. see the person in a picture, in the mirror is really you, and not just some alienating representation of you…

…turn your car towards the horizon on crumbling asphalt and keep driving into the smear of sunsetting colors till you reach the end of night without ever leaving your home…

…make it more about the feeling of that tender reveal and the naked freedom of not being so cynically defensive and cowardly, of not being limited by how damaged you are. just own that being ‘damaged’ is so normal for everybody that damaged probably isn’t even the right word anymore…

…take out that weird middle at the origin of a “medium.” admit that the maker of the picture and the picture and the things and people in the picture and the thing the picture is printed on are not really separate, but coalesce into a single moment of perception.

The show is curated by Alex Ross in dialogue with CURA.
with contributions from Andrew Berardini, Cecilia Canziani, Quinn Latimer.

B. Ingrid Olson (b. 1987) lives and works in Chicago.

Courtesy: the artist and Basement Roma
Photo: Roberto Apa

Luca De Leva. Fiammetta Dixit

The magnetic butler of a gadgets’ world, a small basket of plastic bananas introduces the visitor to the exhibition, going largely unnoticed, hanging on the wall close to a corner like a magnet that has nothing hold. In BASEMENT ROMA.’s double exhibition space, Luca De Leva sets up a fragmented universe which veils and disjoints the body of his sister Fiammetta, after whom the exhibition is named. A jagged chimera combining her everydaynesses, affections, and games, Fiammetta speaks from a place that lacks any outfield. Faint and fragmented, her voice recites a Hail Mary from the middle of the room. The recorder that turns on intermittently is clad by a diaphram in the form of an amphora, as archaic as the cave of the Sibyl, as atemporal as Fiammetta, this younger sister born without the sense of time. From the amphora resting on the floor, Fiammetta quickly repeats the words of a ritual 
unknown to her: to most, a Hail Mary; to herself, a more familiar “Anna Maria,” her mother’s name, which tells of her only possible body in a sequence of disembodied words – the very prayer she recites. A voice dictating, she asking no questions, answering from a present that knows no anticipation or delay, made of the now and what dwells in its immediate vicinity.

Standing at the entrance, a wooden horse resembles a waterproof dragon. A rocking horse peeks from afar into the black hole of the amphora, through the green lace panties that wrap around its head. At their hooves, the pictures of the little girl riding a carousel, sitting on a beach in a bathing suit, and now being looked at from above by those viewing the exhibition. Hanging on the walls around the amphora which encapsulates and magnifies Fiammetta’s voice, emergency-colored inflatables constitute the partial bodies, waterproof in their own way, of a t-shirt-clad torso, of the body in the bathing suit performing a headstand against the wall, of legs clad in tight pink socks. It is from this forever-younger sister that De Leva seeks answers on the form that has yet to emerge in his drawings, obtaining from the girl replies of a sibillyne, arbitrary candor. The squirrels and dragons that Fiammetta sees running in the spaces left empty in the large frottage works, which her brother creates when awakening, are made visible by the varnish that gives them the perceived body. Kept standing on the wall by the same magnetic animals that look at what is before them with plastic eyes, they respond to Fiammetta’s drawing, which De Leva replicates and enlarges turning it into his own, counterpointing the row of small colored wooden owls that mark the space of what seems to be a temporary, minimalistic children’s garden. What Fiammetta ignores, the gesture retraces – the shape recalls.

(text by Chiara Vecchiarelli)

Luca De Leva was born in Milan in 1986. Selected solo shows are: “Fiammetta dixit”, BASEMENT ROMA, Rome 2014; “Ho perso gli anelli, ma mi restano le dita”, Room Galleria, Milan 2013; “Blarney 5×3”, Almanac Project, London 2013; “ThySelf Talk”, Zico House, Beirut 2012. Selected group exhibitions are: “One Thousand Four Hundred and Sixty”, Peep-Hole, Milan 2013; “Underneath the Street”, the Beach, Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo, Turin 2012; “Straight Up”, Family Business, New York 2012.

Courtesy: the artist and Basement Roma
Photo: Roberto Apa