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A Glimpse Into The PhMuseum Days 2023 Opening Weekend
Published28 Sep 2023
Artists, book publishers, and photography enthusiasts were in Bologna to kickstart the 3rd edition of our festival, sharing a program dense with exhibitions, guided tours, talks, workshops and events.
Spazio Bianco at DumBO, the festival’s main location, opened its door on Friday 22 September with a guided tour of the exhibitions circuit run by the artists. The walk started from West of Here by Leonardo Magrelli, a series of deceptively classic, fine-art framed prints leading to a monitor where the videogame Grand Theft Auto 5 can be played - a hint to the context Magrelli’s images actually originate from. Next to it is Daniel Everett’s Security Questions: from an out-of-scale print recalling the typical “I am not a robot” captcha test, through a path of metal-gridded structures, to images of security cameras gazing at one another, Everett's work provides us with an analysis of the way we look at machines, and the way they look at us. After Chloé Milos Azzopardi’s dreamlike and humanistic Non-Technological Devices, an installation where images of organic cyborgs are displayed next to rudimental, science-fictional artifacts, we headed to the last room. There, a suddenly darker and immersive atmosphere binds two shows together: Another Online Pervert by Brea Souders and Out of Order by Penelope Umbrico.
Souders’ performance turned the room into an auditorium: in front of backlit, personal photographs from Souders’ archive, the artist was accompanied by Alice Moretto as they read her dialogue with a female chatbot, the starting point of Another Online Pervert. The intimacy of their voices echoed over Penelope Umbrico’s work, where a different kind of closeness can be found: zooming on the screen of a tablet, visitors can explore her collection of photographs showing TVs sold from Craigslist. In each of them is the unwanted, ghostly reflection of the screen’s owner, inadvertently welcoming us into their house. With visitors lying on the ground, looking up at the hanging video installation Screen Sun, Umbrico's tour of Out of Order traced the lines of a decades-long practice of digging in the web as a social archive.
Walking back towards the entrance, two final works addressing the physicality of the Internet were presented: Known and Strange Things Pass by Andy Sewell, a constellation of fine-art prints portraying the ecosystem of underwater Internet cables bringing connection from the UK to the US, and Flyin’ High by The Cool Couple, an immersive simulated flight from Rome to Milan. Its carbon emissions as an NFT are paradoxically equal to those of a real flight, the italian duo explained: with airplane seats, safety guides, flight assistants' recorded voices and a perfect reconstruction of the earth flowing underneath, Flyin' High blurs the divide between reality and its simulation.
Other highlights of the weekend included the tour of all off-site exhibitions, starting at Archiginnasio where curator Rocco Venezia guided visitors and artists through the open-air, collective 40-image installation I Don’t Know How to Respond to That . Built out of scaffolding pipes and textile see-through prints, the structure brings the festival’s theme to a monumental scale, carrying a peaceful and meditative feeling. Walking forward, Appunti per un’Orestiade Africana - A Democracy in Fatigue was presented by Gloria Oyarzabal in front of the billboards in Via dell’Abbadia, now showing her collages. Before being re-converted to art by CHEAP, the billboards were owned by the Municipality of Bologna: there where power once used to speak, we can today look at Oyarzabal’s visual counter-narratives, questioning concepts - such as democracy - that we take for granted.
The tour proceeded with an impactful example of public art - Illusions by Namsa Leuba, whose representation-related thematics are in close touch with the work of Cassero LGBTI center, hosting the installation. Last, visitors could appreciate Felicity Hammond’s Deposits, a show in collaboration with Gallleriapiù where photography and sculpture are at one: the gallery's articulated space is inhabited by wooden structures, plastic sheets, and photographs looking at mineral extraction. Waiting for Spazio Bianco to welcome you again this Friday, all the shows around town are now open to the public, including Sara Bastai’s surprising installation RAM_4.0 at PhMuseum Lab, and Martina Giammaria’s Dream of a Blue Garden at Condominio, in Milan.
From Friday 29 September to Sunday 01 October, guided tours of Spazio Bianco will take place every day, along with talks, panels, and book presentations: not to be missed are Luca Massaro’s talk, which will take off from his 14-meter tall photographic installation Captionthis to reflect on the relationship between images and words, books presentations by Francesco Merlini and Luca Santese, plus panels and talks with guest speakers. Among those are Ti amo, Je T’aime, Yo También, I Don’t with Karla Hiraldo Voleau and Luis Cobelo, and Cronosocial: the unsustainable speed of social media with Irene Ferri, Elisa Roman and Manuela Limonata in conversation with Federica Fiumelli.
Find tickets and the complete program on phmuseumdays.com