Against Indifference. Popolo Nuovo at Casa Gramsci

Against Indifference. Popolo Nuovo at Casa Gramsci

Today, to generate critical thinking, we need relationships that condense. There is a need to regain one’s symbolic perception against communication without community[1]. “We need”, as Leonardo T. Manera asserts “someone who has already had our same ideas. The deception of the new taste will make us forget where it came from”. We need a “New People”, a people ready to express its voice; to come together by unhinging the egoic logic of a narcissistic hyper-subjectivity in favor of a horizon of social meaning, since “Cry what change even to make oneself better”, Pasolini would say (“Le ceneri di Gramsci”), where the protagonist is the contemporary itself and its elusive being. The homonymous group show (Salvatore Scarpitta, Nicùs Luca, CCH and Edoardo Manzoni), inaugurated last 8th November in Turin, curated by Lunetta11 and Niccoli Arte Moderna from Parma, with a shout awakens an atomized hyper-connected and dazed society, whose eyes are now dormant by the yoke of indifference. With the active and direct collaboration of Fondazione Istituto Gramsci and NH Collection Torino Piazza Carlina, Lunetta11 opens the doors of Casa Gramsci offering not only a tribute to iys memory and to those who believed in its ideals, but a place and a manifesto where to rethink the contemporary imaginary and where the only spokesperson is the Art itself. The room made red and redesigned by artist Alfredo Jaar with the site-specific work, collects, through the other artists’ works, a reflection on the ontology of the symbol as a fetish object, messenger of archetypal cultures. Jaar would smile and exclaim “Antonio Gramsci è vivo” (2020) in reviewing how his “Infinity Cell”, a reproduction of Gramsci’s isolation cell already exhibited a few years earlier at the MAXXI, in Rome, has been metaphorically opened as an escape route of which the exercise of thought, coming from creative processes destined for immortality, is flourishing.

“Popolo Nuovo”, exhibition view, Casa Gramsci, Torino, 2022. Ph. Virginia Mingolla, courtesy the artists and Casa Gramsci

Walking along Via Maria Vittoria, the user sees in the distance a red flag that moved by the wind reveals his deception. Political symbol and party recognition of the Twentieth-century ideals, now far away, the red flag (“Più o meno”, 1997) is reinterpreted by Nicus Lucà by stripping it from its original sign, from its workers’ meaning, replacing the hammer and sickle with the symbols “+” and “-”, the same ones whose usefulness and function are canceled with irony merged into a single object which is impossible to hold (“Falcemartello”, 2000). If Lucà, by assembling the two objects, whose ideal symbolic attribution marked the history of the Italian Twentieth century, has altered its original meaning, in the same way in order to imagine a different elsewhere, Lunetta 11 pays homage to the artist Salvatore Scarpitta, by exhibiting his work “Feticci d’albergo” (1991), where domestic objects, now memories of almost forgotten customs and habits, become instruments of a distant future.

Salvatore Scarpitta, “FaceTrap n.5 (Starla)”, 1991. Courtesy the artist

The value of historical memory, in its deepest facets, from the visual and literary one to the personal and cinematographic one, flexes and curves in the sculptural work by CCH, where the collective imaginary of a sword set in the rock, takes on a new form: a luminous tubular inserted in the concrete that deceives the visual perception of the viewer, radicalizing its form by loading the principles of tension, balance and ambiguity. Using History, mother of a now distant past, Lucà, Scarpitta and CCH imagine a different ontic nature of those symbols and fetishes, an alternative potential imaginary that undermines its pre-established and stereotyped value. Differently, Edoardo Manzoni, a young artist from Cremona, starts from the almost contemporary technological tools, made of industrial surfaces, acrylic and small coins. “Da queste parti” (2017) is a miniature architectural structure that rests solid and monumental on that table which Jaar designed in honor of Gramsci. Manzoni reflects on the role that the amulet assumes today, leaving elements of a distant archetype between the labyrinthine structure of the envelope. A post-industrial city without humanity, alien and forgotten, a divine temple protagonist of alternative rituals. The illusory granite perception of the polystyrene monument, later painted by Manzoni, materializes for the viewer with the work “Era Pistoi” by Lucà, dedicated to the gallery owner Luciano Pistoi, a reproduction of an ancient book made of fossil material that the user can touch.

Edoardo Manzoni, “Da queste parti”, 2017. Ph. Virginia Garra, courtesy the artist

Gramsci, Alfredo Jaar, Lunetta11 and the “Popolo Nuovo”, gathered at the table, evade the hinges of temporality, breaking the comparative logic between past-present and past-future, since “There is no passage, but contemporaneity”[2]. The group show recalls the need on the part of the observer to regain their symbolic consciousness and, paraphrasing Gramsci, to create a new culture by “socializing” truths already discovered[3], the result of past rituals to transform them. But if “Art only legitimizes itself by itself. It comes like an atomic ritual celebrated by a generation that has neither beginning nor end” (Manera), then its political role does not consist in falling into a rhetorical telling of an imminent politics, made up of striking performative gestures typical of a society of the spectacle, but rather in becoming a promoter of diversified values that together create the selves that compose it.

“Popolo Nuovo”, exhibition view, Casa Gramsci, Torino, 2022. Ph. Virginia Mingolla, courtesy the artists and Casa Gramsci

“Popolo Nuovo” transforms time by dividing it and unhinging its logic. The artists observe the contemporary by providing history with a new interpretation, quoting it, paraphrasing Agamben, according to a need that does not come in any way from their egoic presence, but rather from a vibrant and collective resonance to which they cannot fail to respond[4].

Giulia Pontoriero 


various artists, Popolo Nuovo
curated by Lunetta11 and Niccoli Arte Moderna
with Fondazione Istituto Gramsci and NH Collection Torino Piazza Carlina
8/11/2022 – 4/12/2022
Casa Gramsci
via Maria Vittoria 28Q, Torino

[1] Byung-Chul Han, La scomparsa dei riti. Una topografia del presente, saggi, nottetempo, Milano, 2021

[2] Piero Gobetti, La Rivoluzione Liberale – Saggio sulla lotta politica in Italia, Cappelli editore, Bologna, 1924, pp. 85-87

[3] Antonio Gramsci, Quaderni del carcere, Nota IV, Einaudi, Milano, 2001

[4] Giorgio Agamben, Che cos’è il contemporaneo e altri scritti, saggi, nottetempo, Milano, 2008


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