On Sunday March 24th at the National Gallery of Modern and Contemporary Art in Rome an event happened that it would be right to include in the list of those good things that more and more rarely make their appearance in the Italian museum context. They are positive things because they bring back genuine forgotten practices of art society. For example: to hold a symposium with many intellectuals, in a museum, on that museum. It is exactly what Cristiana Collu has decided to do for the presentation of the long-awaited catalog of Time is Out of Joint, the new radical set-up of The National Gallery of Rome, protagonist of a long and thorny debate that since 2016, date of the inauguration continues to sow pros and cons. Just like the curatorial stance, the presentation of the catalog proved to be an equally (positively) drastic choice, perfectly in line with the new point of view taken by the Museum.
The unhinging of the times – literally “out of joint” from the quote from Shakespeare’s Hamlet – is based on heterogeneity as the guiding principle of everything. The twenty-four scholars called to discuss in the Gallery in fact come from the most heterogeneous cultural fields: philosophy, art history, literature, cinema and new media, comics, anthropology, sociology, didactics, museum curatorship. Time-limited hinges – the round table in fact lasted without pause from morning until early afternoon – and thematically. Both characterizations are extremely fundamental in the conception of an art that is truly intertwined with the lines of the reality we live and of the authentic and interdisciplinary culture that has no watertight compartments. Also unusual is the invitation to the site-specific discussion that follows a dual direction: not only that aimed at being listened by the public – in fact on reservation it was possible to attend the debate – but, above all, the most important, that of the interrelation between those present.
Each intellectual was called to intervene in order to stimulate an openness to intersubjective dialogue; it was not a matter of frontal interventions with a “conferential” style but of dialectical exchanges in the most authentic perspective that the word dialogue brings with it. On Time is Out of Joint, numerous themes emerged, mainly focused on the issue of the perception of present time in its conception of contemporaneity and in its relationship with the pure aesthetic experience. Stefano Velotti – one of the speakers, professor of Aesthetics at La Sapienza University in Rome -reiterated- “The pure aesthetic experience reacquires its density to be brought back to the forefront not in the sense of aestheticism but in all its fundamentality […] at the bottom of every perception there is the contemporaneity of different times. The exhibition allowed us to go and review where we play time, in the perspective of a contemporaneity that does not coincide with the present but is a reshuffling of temporal dimensions.”
Time is Out of Joint is therefore the beginning of a “laboratory of perception” (Velotti) that not only calls into question the notion of the time of art but re-casts the concept of perception of the work of art, placing it, even through dialogue, in that universal intersubjectivity of aesthetic experience of which a philosopher like Immanuel Kant had already deduced all the importance.
For all images: Time is Out of Joint. Ph courtesy La Galleria Nazionale d’arte Moderna e Contemporanea, Roma
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