Last weekend in Verona there was the opening of Grenze Arsenali Fotografici, an international photography festival that every year reflects on a different aspect of photography through the works of established and emerging artists who are invited by the artistic directors Simone Azzoni and Francesca Marra to exhibit their projects in various locations in the city of Verona. The extensive program of this fifth edition is dedicated to the theme of the false, understood as a methodical doubt on the alleged truth of the image and as a tool for investigating the fate of photography based on the assumption that “fiction is not the opposite of reality, but a bridge to understand it”. As usual, the exhibition proposals are accompanied by an accurate programming of collateral events, conferences, workshops, laboratories and the awaited appointment of portfolio review, in which established professionals (this year Yvonne de Rosa, Valeria Lureano and Paula Sunday ) offer their feedback to aspiring photographers and young artists.
The beating heart of the festival is the Veronetta district, one of the most lively and multi-ethnic in the city, which hosts the exhibitions of Francesco Amorosino, Susi Belianska, Joan Fontcuberta/Pilar Rosado, Thania Petersen, Klaus Pichler, Sethembile Msezane, Ruben Torras Llorca, Kai Yokoyama and Sonja Žugić at Bastione delle Maddalene, a sixteenth-century bulwark that runs along the left bank of the Adige river. In the same district we find the exhibitions of Sara Munari and Lina Pallotta (at Grenze | Galleria d’Arte Contemporanea, in collaboration with Isolo17) and those of Valeria Laureano and Paula Sunday (at Spazio Alva), while the OFF section, which involves works by Silvia Barp, Chiara Bruni, Alessandro De Leo, Janowska Jadwiga, Nahid Rezashateri, Stefano Zancan and Chiara Zuanazzi, is hosted at Lazzaretto in Porto San Pancrazio, a complex built at the behest of the Republic of Venice as a hospital for infectious patients and as quarantine place for travelers from the North.
In this articulated schedule, the DÉJÀ-VU project by Fontcuberta/Rosado, which explores the homologies of the artificial and human creative unconscious deserves a special mention. The series on display was born from the scanning of the entire database of digital images of the Prado Museum’s paintings using a deep learning software, designed to train artificial intelligence, which through a GAN (Generative Adversarial Network) algorithm samples the most recurring visual patterns to reproduce them in the form of separate works of identical size. The alienating gallery of figurative stratifications generated by this experiment, in which our memory unsuccessfully tries to identify precise stylistic references, plunges our gaze into the abysses of the uncanny with its indissoluble blend of familiarity and strangeness, at the same time arousing a reflection on the stereotypes of visual culture through a systematic questioning on the heuristic scope of the categories of imitation, analogy and identity.
If the Spanish duo’s project highlights the lability of the boundaries between homogeneity and difference, Ruben Torras Llorca‘s work, produced by the partner festival Panoramic in Barcelona (directed by Fontcuberta), is based instead on the collision of real and imaginary worlds that come amalgamated by digital reworking. The Road Moview film was born from the superimposition of views taken from Google Earth and characters from cult films, in a single fictional setting that refers to the aesthetics of video games and the surreality of the metaverse. The three-dimensional Google maps and the cinematic narrative appear here united by the same suspension of space-time limits, aimed at offering the illusion of an integral experience starting as much from an as objective as possible replication of reality as from a declared fiction. The collision of elements triggered by Torras Llorca generates an unexpected coincidence of opposites that almost prompts the viewer to wonder what could happen if he happened to also meet himself in the frames of the artist, next to the drughi of A Clockwork Orange, to Edward Scissorhands and other random passersby.
The project by Francesco Amorosino also refers to the indistinguishability between real and imaginary landscape and to the conceptual contradictions of objectivity. Fantastic Voyage documents an evocative journey between galaxies and remote universes by framing pulps and skin of vegetables and fruit at a very close distance, revealing their unexpected beauty. The surprising analogy between micro and macro highlighted by these shots induces the intuition of how much beauty escapes the human eye, harboring visual levels that are forbidden to our sensory perceptions.
The day you were born, I wasn’t born yet is a poetic series of images in which Kai Yokoyama reconstructs his relationship with his elderly mother through photographs taken from the family archive and indistinct shots of landscape details, which become a metaphor for thoughts and repressions. With a powerful yet intimistic approach, the artist puts in place a process of building memory that proceeds by fragments, elisions, premonitions and dreamlike amplifications. The reworking-reinvention of memory, this time collective and cultural, is the fulcrum of Sethembile Msezane‘s work, who in Kwasukasukela – Re-imagined bodies of a (South African) proposes iconic interpretations of the African woman through a dialogue between statuary bodies enhanced by mythological attributes, colonial architecture and abstractly white skies. The design of identity returns in Paula Sunday‘s Diario di una doppia, uso singola, visual notes on self-representation that seem to decline the enigmas of Cindy Sherman’s early works in Lynchian atmospheres. We conclude this excursus by recalling Lina Pallotta‘s investigation into the “marginal” world of the transsexual / transgender movement through a series of engaging black and white portraits of subjects who seem to seek a painful balance between intimism and the desire for self-affirmation.
Grenze Arsenali Fotografici
1/09 – 26/09 2022
Joan Fontcuberta y Pilar Rosado, DÉJÀ-VU, 2022, courtesy Festival Grenze Arsenali Fotografici
Ruben Torras Llorca, Road Moview, 2021, courtesy Festival Grenze Arsenali Fotografici
Francesco Amorosino, Fantastic Voyage, 2018, courtesy Festival Grenze Arsenali Fotografici
Sethembile Msezane, Kwasukasukela – Re-imagined bodies of a (South African) 90s born Woman, 2015-2016, courtesy Festival Grenze Arsenali Fotografici
Graduated in art history at DAMS in Bologna, city where she continued to live and work, she specialized in Siena with Enrico Crispolti. Curious and attentive to the becoming of the contemporary, she believes in the power of art to make life more interesting and she loves to explore its latest trends through dialogue with artists, curators and gallery owners. She considers writing a form of reasoning and analysis that reconstructs the connection between the artist’s creative path and the surrounding context.