Wednesday, May 22, 2013

What is Contemporary?

Curated by Domingo Milella and Bacarelli Botticelli
Exhibition dates: 24 May – 6 July 2013

Brancolini Grimaldi announces a group exhibition of contemporary photography and works of art from the past. Curated by photographer Domingo Milella and antiques specialists Riccardo Bacarelli and Bruno Botticelli, the show will place work by Dan Holdsworth, Clare Strand and Milella alongside antique sculpture, painting and artefacts, asking us to think outside of proscribed categories of art, to re-evaluate boundaries imposed by time and place to investigate what is contemporary.
The exhibition aims to bring art from different periods into a single span of time, into a continuous dialogue between now and then. What relationship does a funeray monument of the Duchessa Bona di Savoia from the 15th century have to a photograph by Clare Strand? How does the monumental landscape photography of Dan Holdsworth relate to a piece of marble represnting the Crucifixtion from a Byzantine altar? What does a painting from the front of a cabinet showing a wedding procession from 1400s Perugia tell us about Domingo Milella's photograph of the tomb of King Midas in in Frigia?
When viewed through the long lens of the history of art, photography is still in its infancy. It has only been in existence for around 150 years and its use by artists as a means of expression is an even more recent development. It may seen that photography is a more contemporary medium than say painting or sculpture. A photograph can be dated and fixed to a time period in a way which other media can escape. So how can it relate to artforms of the past and can it escape its contemporary nature?
The Italian philosopher Giorgio Agamben has explored many of these ideas in his essay, What is the Contemporary? Agamben describes being contemporary as "like being on time for an appointment one cannot but miss." He goes on to say, "...the key to the modern is hidden in the immemorial and the prehistoric. Thus, the ancient world in its decline turns to the primordial so as to rediscover itself. The avant-garde...also pursues the primitive and the archaic....the entry point to the present necessarily takes the form of an archaeology; an archaeology that does not, however, regress to a historical past, but returns to the part within the present that we are absolutely incapable of living."
It is these ideas and concepts that the exhibition aims to explore through bringing contemporary photography into dialogue with an unexpected and thought-provoking range of art from antique and medieval times through to Renaissance and more recent periods.