The 146th year of residence and artistic production of the Spanish Academy in Rome ends with the exhibition Processes 146. Just take a tour of the halls of the exhibition to have an interesting and successful cross-section of what contemporary art is today, bearing witness to the fact that the Academy has an important and consolidated history, hosts the Tempietto del Bramante and frescoes by Pomarancio, has breathtaking gardens and views but is also a forge of contemporary culture. José Ramón Amondarain, Taxio Ardanaz, Itziar Barrio, Igor Bragado, Andrea Canepa, Nicolás Combarro, Isolina Díaz-Ramos, Lara Dopazo Ruibal, Silvia Fernández Palomar, María Ángeles Ferrer Forés, Pablo Fidalgo, Pedro G. Romero, Jorge Portillo Galán, Begoña Huertas Uhagón, Julia Huete, María Moraleda Gamero, Marta Ramos-Yzquierdo, Estibáliz Sadaba Murguía, Fernando Sánchez-Cabezudo, Borja Santomé Rodríguez, Anna Talens, María del Mar Villafranca Jiménez, Tono Vizcaíno Estevan are the 23 resident scholars of this last cycle and to decide which are the most interesting artworks is really a difficult task.
“For me it is impossible to think, select, choose among the 966 women and men who have passed through here who were the most "important" and for this reason every time a journalist or simply a curious person tries to identify success with fame, prestige with fame, I explain to them that the whole is undoubtedly the essence of the Academy. The sum of efforts, shared moments and above all complicity," says Ángeles Albert, Director of the Academy of Spain in Rome. I think that in these few words there is the secret of so much wealth and above all a vision that goes far beyond the "divisions" that normally corrode not only the world of art but society in general.
José Ramón Amondarain with his project Pentimenti (lo posible) uses reflectography and X-rays to reveal the different layers that the works hide under the surface, shows us the "secrets" of artworks known to all as Judith and Holofernes (Palazzo Barberini, Rome) and the Crucifixion of St. Peter (Santa Maria del Popolo, Rome) by Caravaggio. "Images intended as pentimenti; images between the radiograph and the error of the photocopy that reveal and show alterations in paintings to all known; different layers in the different representation systems. From the appearance that the images of the radiographs offer, the painting ends up revealing its artifice and forces the observer to question truth and verisimilitude; the real and its representation, in order to articulate our memory.”
Remaining in the field of painting Taxio Ardanaz in his project Roma interrotta proposes an approach to the current Rome using the strategies of the analogous thought of the architect Aldo Rossi “to develop a pictorial work based on the multiform image of a city built by the addition of dissonant and conflicting fragments of his past.” Thus the graphic and monumental remains of the Fascist period coexist with places of memory, of the Resistance, of the post-war period.
With Itziar Barrio we enter the world of performance and cinema. Started in 2010 and realized in different moments and cities (Bilbao, New York and Bogotà), The Perils of Obedience project reaches its final stage in Rome. Transdisciplinary approach to the seduction of power and inspired by the 1961 psychological experiments by Stanley Milgram The Perils of Obedience "dissolves the dividing line between person and character, between fiction and non-fiction, placing in the characters, in carefully selected and iconic scenes, in historical events of the past, fragments of posters and narrative interpretation of their lives.”
Igor Bragado's practice focuses on the urban impact of social phenomena such as the beauty industry and the cult of the body, death, blogging and vigilance. His gigantic sculpture placed at the entrance of the Academy welcomed visitors to the exhibition. It is a contemporary rearticulation of commemorative buildings. “Recent cases of online funeral memorization through the practice of fitness have brought to the surface a relationship (between the cult of the body and the outsourcing projects) now extended historically, as evidenced by a wide range of cases ranging from the practice of athletics in the Etruscan funerals up to the development of the modern fitness culture as a direct response to the existential crisis of the nuclear threat in the United States.”
In his Oro alla Patria Andrea Canepa explores the use of rationalist architecture by the Italian fascist government in the construction of an imaginary that favored colonialist plans in Africa. In other words, the project aims at understanding the role that architecture can play in the construction of nationalistic discourses through the Italian case.
The Sotterranei Intervenciones lumínicas project by Nicolás Combarro reveals the underground spaces of Rome and Naples through light interventions, i.e. light projections with geometric shapes. Combarro identifies, documents, photographs underground areas hidden from regular visitors such as cisterns, quarries, aqueducts. Projecting the light on these surfaces creates organic forms that reveal part of the architecture and create a bridge between the present and the past.
"The period at the Academy allowed me to continue my line of research developed in recent years relating to the conservation and enhancement of local built heritage, with particular attention to the study of the original color of historic buildings," says Isolina Díaz-Ramos who in her project The invisible city aims to bring to light "the original pigments with which the facades located near calle Perojo in the city of Las Palmas of Gran Canaria were painted in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, at which time it was demolished the wall that enclosed the neighborhood of Triana and the extension of the city towards the current port was carried out with the recent construction of the Muelle de la Luz and Las Palma.”
Lara Dopazo Ruibal has written a poetic essay (La ciudad y el sueño) in which she mixes stories, mythology, art, architecture ... "I came to Rome to talk about life and suddenly I found myself talking about death and what death leaves behind, of light. I had to cut up into little pieces the project with which I arrived at the Academy, because I didn't need it anymore. With those pieces I wrote a new one, perhaps not so different, but more consistent with my here and now, more real; a book about presences and absences, love and terror, power and identity, transit in this city anchored to a river, with its seven hills with open doors, where it never stops whipping the wind.”
Silvia Fernández Palomar with her project MN6 breaks with the obvious and standardized use of objects by directly involving the user in the relationship with them, interacting with them, exploring them, discovering them. We find items such as stationery tires, rulers, triangles, etc. whose rules of use have been deactivated and it is the user who establishes the rules of use.
With María Ángeles Ferrer Forés we enter the world of Opera and music. A great music expert, her research focused on the publication of an unpublished essay on Spanish composers residing in the RAER between 1873 and 1888 (Ruperto Chapí, Valentín Zubiaurre, Tomás Bretón, Felipe Espino and Emilio Serrano) analyzing not only their musical production during the residency in Rome but also their contribution to the Spanish musical regeneration.
Pablo Fidalgo takes us into the world of literature and theater with his Qualcosa nascerà da noi that "looks like a work in the dark where a man goes through his life and runs out of possibilities to be something else, to live another love, to present oneself in front of the world in another way.”
Pedro G. Romero reflects on the sack of Rome in 1527 by Charles V to then extend it in a broad sense the concept to other types of aggression to the city from those of the barbarians to the Nazi occupation reaching up to Mafia Capital. In the performative action in which he transforms the Tempietto of Bramante into a stable and introduces the flamencos, he then brings the church back to the original idea of Christian poverty, while through a collection and rereading of textual, photographic and video documents it integrates the analysis by introducing the point of view of the gypsies, the Roma, the marginalized, the subordinates ...
The writer Jorge Portillo Galán wrote the novel El olvido y la sangre (Oblivion and blood), the Mesoamerican emigration to Italy, a novel focused on immigration and that characterizes two countries: El Salvador and Italy. A current, divisive, theme, with a strong emotional impact. Emigrants live far from their families and their culture, in a culture that they often do not know well and in which they move with difficulty. They start by escaping from violence with the idea of creating the conditions to call their loved ones by their side. But not always everything goes according to the wishes, according to the plans.
Always a literary project that of Begoña Huertas Uhagón. Her La mania de entender, * loosely based on Lucrezio's De rerum Natura, revolves around the theme of identity, duality body/mind, me me. "I am interested in the narrative voice adopting the richest possible approach: not only rational and reflective, but also sensorial and intuitive, with particular attention to visual, sound, tactile and olfactory stimuli. Finally, from this combination of reflection and memories, of the rational and emotional spheres, of the whole body/mind, I hope that a narrative will be born that explores the nature of the human being and his relationship with others.”
Julia Huete gives shape to narrow, light, imperceptible works, a hybrid representation between painting and poetry. "The theoretical spur of the project revolves around the essentiality of the poetic word, its character of unity from the multiple sense and its plasticity. In the same way and in parallel, the visual launch of the project also consists in going in depth with respect to the purest aspects of painting and drawing. Thinking about the relationship between word, art, poetry and representation in the city of Rome leads inevitably to the "myth.”
The project of María Moraleda Gamero arises from the scarcity of publications on history and on the theory of pictorial restoration unlike what happens for example in the architectural field. She investigates the existing treaties both in Spain and in Italy in order to compare them and highlight continuity and discontinuities, similarities and differences.
Marta Ramos-Yzquierdonel in her project Working - / Making + reflects on the concept of production, work and post-work starting from the artistic field. It was a hybrid project composed of two parts: a first one based on the historical research of independent political movements, such as Lotta Continua and Rivolta Femminile, and their relationship with artists, such as Pablo Echaurren, Grupo Enne or Archizoom; a second part based on a diary of meetings that has deepened the theme of the artist as a worker.
Estibáliz Sadaba Murguía reflects on women and domestic space. "Reinterpreting domestic space, thus seeking an equalitarian space that allows us to generate a new way of socializing. Making invisible work visible: and making it visible in social terms is bringing public light to the agora. A job that goes far beyond cleaning, cooking or keeping the house in order: it is also a question of performing a task of psychological, emotional and sexual management for those who instead earn a salary with their daily work."
Fernando Sánchez-Cabezudo collected the stories told by the inhabitants of Garbatella and made them interpret to Spanish and Italian actors and then upload them on a web platform geolocating those stories. The result is to walk virtually through the streets of the Roman quarter listening to stories actually lived. "Garbatella Storywalker will be a virtual space of the memory of the neighborhood in constant updating, in which the inhabitants will be able to upload their stories on the platform through audio testimonials."
Borja Santomé Rodríguez creates Joven y Carmen, the first stage of a new animation trilogy. It is a fiction in which a character who has just arrived in Rome experiences something shocking. "Working with the brush and the camera I realize animation projects trying to place myself between spontaneous painting and avant-garde cinema. I am interested in creating a tension between the story and the purely theoretical aspects simultaneously with the construction of the scenes, looking for a poetic meaning to the narrative structure and paying particular attention to the contrasts of urban life and its periphery.”
Anna Talens prefers a more spiritual and symbolic field of research by creating sculptural compositions that testify to the spirit of a place. "The intent is to work with the sacralization, taking as a reference the lararium, the small sacred altars that were found in the ancient Roman house, and whose purpose was to venerate the ancestors, making offers to the gods, to protect the families.”
María del Mar Villafranca Jiménez has set itself the goal of developing a travel notebook that retraces and reconstructs the journey of Torres Balbás in Italy. At the same time, the analysis was also based on the correspondences and divergences of practice with his Italian colleagues of the first part of the 20th century "as part of a common tradition within the Modern Culture of Heritage Restoration in Europe."
Tono Vizcaíno Estevan with his project SPQR now! Explore the imagery of classical Rome, of ancient Rome, of the past, of history in mass culture then in the streets, in art, in shops, in souvenirs, etc. "The past should not be understood as something inert, in the purest style of romantic ruin, but rather as something very alive and in constant dialogue with the society of the present.”