Sreshta Rit Premnath: Cadere/Rose
Cadere/Rose, Sreshta Rit Premnath’s first solo exhibition in Italy, proposes a constellation of relations between the Polish conceptualist André Cadere (1934, Warsaw – 1978, Paris) and the immigrant rose sellers of Rome.
The print Recto/Verso functions as a kind of cypher for the show. Here, photographs of the artist holding a bouquet of red roses are inserted into one page of a spread, which mirror the opposite page taken from the catalogue Documenting Cadere and featuring the last three photographs taken of Cadere before his premature death. Premnath proposes that Cadere’s round bar, which he is photographed holding, functions in much the same way as the flower seller’s rose, each object entwining contradictory symbolic and monetary values. Five folding rulers painted with rose extract, iron filings and green-screen pigment lean against walls, like tired bodies, but also like markers, pointers or indices. Titled Here, these objects continue Premnath’s use of folding rulers as bodies that both occupy and measure space. The three large Monochromes, printed on commercial vinyl, are photographs of anti police graffiti at Torpignattara, Rome, whited-out by the police. These prints build upon Premnath’s ongoing interest in erasure and redaction as a means of making things visible. Finally, the video Rosa Rosae, is a collaboration with the dancer and artist Kuldeep Singh who, trained in Odissi – a classical dance form from India – performs a series of structured improvisations based on gestures related both to the rose sellers of Rome and the rhythmic structures of André Cadere’s round bars.
This exhibition follows How to Live Together: The Common School, a workshop under the recommendation of the General Direction of MIBACT, conducted by ALAGroup and Rit Premnath with students at Istituto Einaudi, during his residency in Rome in January 2017. Copies of Ti Porgo Una Rosa, a zine produced by the students during the workshop, are displayed in the exhibition along with a video of the students’ interaction with Bachcu Siddique, the head of Dhuumcatu, a South Asian community group in Torpignattara.
Rome is home to the second largest population of the Bangladeshi diaspora in Europe, after London. The neighborhoods of Tor Pignattara, Esquilino, Quadraro and Casilino are best known for their Bangla communities, and Bangladeshis form one of the largest immigrant communities in Rome. By publishing a weekly magazine, running a TV channel, and organizing rallies and protests, Dhuumcatu serves as a voice for the most vulnerable members of this community who are engaged in selling flowers or souvenirs on street corners, managing stands at local markets, waiting tables at restaurants etc.
A country half the size of Italy, with more than a 169 million inhabitants, Bangladesh’s difficult economic conditions force many of its citizens to move to other countries looking for better prospects. At a moment in time when we see a rise in racially motivated violence and xenophobia around the world, we feel that it is our responsibility to listen to, support and celebrate this community that forms an integral part of Rome.
Sreshta Rit Premnath (1979, Bangalore, India. Based in New York). He has studied at the Cleveland Institute of Art, Bard College and the Whitney Independent Study Program. He is an artist who works across multiple media, investigating systems of representation and reflecting on the process by which images become icons and events become history. He is the founder and editor of the publication Shifter and teaches at Parsons Fine Arts in New York.
ALAgroup, Accademia Libera delle Arti (free academy of the arts) is an independent platform for contemporary art and education that conceives of artistic practice as a process of shared knowledge. ALAgroup has curated projects including AN EDUCATION (2013), a series of six workshops and exhibitions of artists at FAI Villa e Collezione Panza, Varese. In 2016 ALAgroup curated the residency and workshop WE+MUSEUM= TO DREAM A VISION OR TO VISION A DREAM? by the artists Valentina Bonizzi and Driant Zeneli at the Dheishe refugee camp, in Bethlehem, within the Campus in Camps project. The members of Alagroup are Maria Pia Bevilacqua, Sara Maria d’Onofrio, Alessandro Mingione, Marco Passaro and Maria Rosa Sossai.