Conversation Piece — Part IV (Giant steps are what you take)

Fondazione Memmo

Via della Fontanella di Borghese 56, Roma


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17 December – 18 March 2018This exhibition is now closed
Wednesday to Monday 12–7pm
Closed on Tuesday
Opening: Saturday 16 December 2017, 6pm
Free admission
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Conversation Piec — Part IV is a new appointment for a cycle of exhibitions, curated by Marcello Smarrelli, dedicated to Italian and foreign artists who are temporarily present in Rome or who are closely connected to the city in some way. The exhibition will be open to the public from the 17th of December 2017 to the 18th of March 2018 and six artists have been invited to exhibit in it: Yto Barrada (Mary Miss Artist in Residence at the American Academy in Rome for Autumn 2017), Eric Baudelaire (fellow at the Academy of France in Rome – Villa Medici), Rossella Biscotti, Jörg Herold (fellow at the German Academy Rome Villa Massimo), Christoph Keller (fellow at the German Academy Rome Villa Massimo) and Jakub Woynarowski.


Giant steps are what you take – the subtitle of the exhibition – is taken from Walking on the Moon the 1979 hit song by the British band The Police, in order to express the idea that the act of walking, or the taking of steps, seen as a philosophical exercise, is the inspiration for Conversation Piece | Part IV. In fact every artist can be metaphorically considered as a “walker” who explores different paths and walks along them. These paths represent the multiform theories and research each artist engages in, that are manifested through studies, artworks and exhibitions, and that take shape through several changes of state, which tend, as if in an alchemical process, towards the liberation of light, towards a revelation and towards a meaning. Each of these aspects constitutes a “step” that helps us to enter into the artist’s thought and poetic vision.

The theme of “steps” has been examined in an absolutely personal way by each artist: the works of Yto Barrada (Paris, France, 1971) appear to be maquettes, or the intermediate stages in the production of a series of works that will be presented at a forthcoming solo exhibition by the artist in London, at the Barbican; the video of Eric Baudelaire (Salt Lake City, USA, 1973) is the result of a genuine promenade in the centers of various European cities, in which he highlights the unprecedented and intrusive presence of soldiers brandishing weapons typical of urban warfare, but who are progressively blending into our daily cityscapes; the sculpture of Rossella Biscotti (Molfetta, 1978) reproduces the twelve steps that the artist had to take during many months of physiotherapy, and they thus have an autobiographical relevance; Jörg Herold (Leipzig, Germany, 1965) proposes an environmental intervention that, starting from the 99 names attributed to Allah, evokes an initiatory process, and an ascending spiritual path; the installation of Christoph Keller (Berlin, Germany) subtly reflects on the nature of the moment that precedes the act of creation – nothingness – by means of a discreet and yet effective presence; and finally Jakub Woynarowski (Cracow, Poland, 1982) creates – on the windows of Palazzo Ruspoli overlooking Via del Corso – an atlas of the signs and symbols that have recurred at different times in history, thereby delineating an artistic and historical pathway consisting of unexpected and mysterious correlations that question our usual historical periodizations and the disruptive role of avant-garde movements.

All of the works on display have either been created especially for the exhibition or have been adapted for the exhibition spaces of the Fondazione Memmo, thus making them, to all intents and purposes, previously unexhibited works.

Conversation Piece – the project

Conversation Piece was born from the desire of the Fondazione Memmo to constantly monitor the contemporary artistic scene of the city and, in particular, the activities of academies and foreign cultural institutes, where they traditionally complete their formation new generations of artists from all over the world. Through these exhibitions and other initiatives, the Memmo Foundation wants to become an amplifier for the work of these institutions. The title of the cycle is inspired by one of Luchino Visconti’s most famous films, Conversation Piece (1974), a clear metaphor of confronting generations and relationships of hatred and love between ancient and modern; Conversation Piece was also a diffuse pictorial genre between the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, characterized by groups of people conversing among themselves or educated in family attitudes. In addition to representing an opportunity for dialogue and dialogue with Rome, the exhibition offers a moment of discussion between different artistic personalities in order to bring together different energies, knowledge and methods into one single event.

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