Codice Italia, the exhibition of the Italian Pavilion at the 56th Venice Biennale, aims to retraverse significant regions of contemporary Italian art, bringing a few constant elements to the fore-barely perceptible assonances, unexpected correspondences. It retraces contemporary poetic experiences with the aim of delineating what, beyond the many oscillations, is still the foundation of our stylistic “genetic code.”
While following different paths, many of today’s Italian artists have proposed an original variation of the concept of avant-garde: for them, belonging to the avant-garde means reinventing the media (in the words of Rosalind Krauss), and together problematizing already existing iconographic and cultural materials. Although in keeping with the most daring results of international art, they do not adhere to the new as a value to idolize, nor chase provocations. What brings them together is the need to break free from the dictatorship of the present, which is similar to a blackboard on which an invisible hand endlessly effaces constantly different events. More or less intentionally they cultivate precise linea- ges: their gestures contain secret cross-references to the history of art (from archaeology to twentieth-century experimentalism). They choose therefore to walk through the rooms of a past that creeps into current events. As an archive of fragments. That they want to summons. Here. Now.
Guided by the need to reaffirm a sense of continuity, these artists want to offer a background to their linguistic adventures. They consult distant remnants to give greater strength to their own timbre. With different accents, skillfully bringing together melody and countermelody, they reaffirm the importance of what we might define as the ecstasy of influence—for them, realizing a work is not brin- ging something into the world from nothing, but a strategy whose aim is to remodulate already created ciphers to the point of unrecognizability.
Invigorated by the pressure to look back without a sense of nostalgia, they hark back to memory, construing it as an arsenal of traces that must be reinhabi- ted—and reinterpreted. This is a territory that tends to relegate the present to a background noise that we cannot do without. A treasure chest to be combed through— and betrayed. A crucial endowment. Finally, a geography of uncer- tainty and precariousness that might encourage even more questions. Like a spiral, where one can just as easily move forward as backward. Making art, for them, means attentively listening to Mnemosyne. Which allows us to appropriate the becoming of things and, together, reconciles us with their disappearance.
- Mimmo Paladino, Untitled, 2015. Courtesy Galleria Christian Stein. Photo: Peppe Avallone
- Nicola Samorì, Lienzo, 2014. Courtesy of Galleria Emilio Mazzoli, Modena. Photo: Rolando Paolo Guerzoni.