Photography by Virginia Villari
Yesterday the group show “Re-generation” opened at MACRO Future in Rome, a former slaughterhouse turned into exhibition space, with incredible indooe and outdoor spaces that encourage large and spectacular installations.
Located in Testaccio, a historic and beautiful working-class neighborhood, it consist of of two large warehouses made of stone and iron, one still keeping huge hooks that were once used to hang animals’ carcasses.
Some years ago these buildings used to be a squat (or social center as they are called in Italy) which organized parties, where you could hang out, drink and eat for super cheap. I was a regular of that place, which still maintains the building on the other side of the huge outdoor space.
As an important piece of the city’s history, this venue is perfect to host an exhibition like this one: that gathers generations of Roman artists that have been crucial in forming the city’s latest innovative creative scene, along with artists from other parts of the world who chose Rome as their home base of inspiration and creation.
Among the over 50 artists on display I selected the ones whose works spoke to me the most.
Alessandro Piangiamore presented his wax paintings titled La Cera di Roma, in which the artist experiments with a material that recalls the Christian side of Rome (the candles in churches) and all the history and symbolism associated to it.
Paolo W. Tamburella’s work focuses on how political and social changes, especially in relation to globalization, affect our social and cultural identity. For this occasion he created a piece titled Gratta e Vinci (in english the gambling “scratch cards”): the artist transferred onto a huge black canvas a lot of used loser scratch cards that he found in the bar where he usually goes to have coffee. From a distance it looks kinda like a starry sky. But at a close look you could see the little numbers scratched in different ways by many people: some were precise, some others were aggressive and sloppy. It was impressive to see hundreds of frustrated hopes, the symptom and the result of the time of crisis we live in.
Pietro Ruffo created a game about slavery. in The Political Gymnasium he drew and wrote papers inspired by political, satirical prints of the 1860, which the artist found in the Columbia University’s archives. The sequence of big drawings exemplifies a path from slavery to apparent total freedom. Nonetheless such freedom is controversial and raises the question of how free we really are in modern democratic systems: what’s the real value of individual freedom?
Giulio Squillacciotti presented his documentary on the Roman hardcore-punk scene (which fyi had been a huge tho underground movement). RMHC-1989/1999 Hardcore in Rome accurately tells its story, whose music and lifestyle were very much inspired by American hardcore, It took Squillacciotti 5 years to put together an extremely detailed document made out of interviews, archival footage and original music, which is probably, as of now, the most exhaustive analysis of this phenomenon in Italy.
Pretty unique in the bunch the video by American filmmaker and performer Mary Raid Kelley. The Syphillis of Sisyphus is a black and white tale realized in the style of the mute films of the 20s, which stands on the verge of fantasy and reality. Thematically it reflects on women’s condition. The story takes place in a hypothetic 19thcentury Paris where a woman stages a monologue about the social and philosophical controversies that characterize our society, while walking through decadent streets at night.
In these days of constant worrying about money, jobs and politics; of wondering about the destinies of our nations and especially our own, going to see some intelligent and beautiful art definitely felt regenerating!