Luigi Pecci Center for Contemporary Art presents two new episodes in the program of exhibitions for the winter

CENTRO PER L’ARTE CONTEMPORANEA LUIGI PECCI
Fondazione per le Arti Contemporanee in Toscana
Prato, Italy

Soggetto nomade / Nomadic Subject
Female identity through the images of five Italian photographers, 1965-1985: Paola Agosti, Letizia Battaglia, Lisetta Carmi, Elisabetta Catalano, Marialba Russo

curated by Cristiana Perrella and Elena Magini
14 December 2018 – 08 March 2019

Aleksandra Mir. Triumph

curated by Marta Papini
14 December 2018 – 31 March 2019

Opening: Thursday December 13, 6.30 pm

The Luigi Pecci Center for Contemporary Art presents two new episodes in the program of exhibitions for the winter, offering visitors multiple “feminine” perspectives. Confirming its leading role on the Italian and international scene, the contemporary art museum in Tuscany unveils two projects that combine historical research and support of the most recent experimentation.

Nomadic Subject. Female identity through the mages of five Italian photographers, 1965-1985, is a group show that comes to terms with the theme of representation of female identity in a period of major social and political transformations in Italy, through the images of Paola Agosti, Letizia Battaglia, Lisetta Carmi, Elisabetta Catalano and Marialba Russo. The show brings the works of these five women photographers together for the first time, with over 100 images that document a period of about twenty years.

Triumph, the spectacular installation by Aleksandra Mir composed of 2529 trophies, is a monument to the culture of amateur sport and the legacy of Italian pop culture. Triumph becomes part of the collection of Centro Pecci in the context of the museum’s 30th anniversary, and confirms the emphasis on the output and research of important contemporary artists.

Soggetto nomade / Nomadic Subject
Female identity through the images of five Italian photographers, 1965-1985: Paola Agosti, Letizia Battaglia, Lisetta Carmi,
Elisabetta Catalano, Marialba Russo
curated by Cristiana Perrella and Elena Magini

Nomadic Subject brings together in an exhibition, for the first time, the images of five Italian women photographers, from the mid-1960s to the 1980s, to convey different perspectives on the experience, representation and interpretation of feminine subjectivity in a period of sweeping social change for Italy.

Years of transition from radical political engagement to hedonism, years of terrorist violence but also of civil achievements, brought about mostly by women and the struggles of feminism.

A reflection on identity and its representation that takes its cue from the extraordinary portraits of the transvestites of Genoa by Lisetta Carmi (Genoa, 1924), where the feminine mystique is an aspiration, and interpreted in the images of actresses, writers and artists by Elisabetta Catalano (Rome, 1941-2015), the coverage of the feminist movement by Paola Agosti (Turin, 1947), the women and girls of mafia-torn Sicily by Letizia Battaglia (Palermo, 1935), and men who take on a female identity for a single day during the carnival of small towns in Campania, explored by Marialba Russo (Naples, 1947).

In Italy the full acceptance of female press photographers, art photographers and artists in the system of art and journalism began in the 1960s, in step with the socio-political changes and multiple demands brought about by feminism. Though belonging to different generations, all the photographers in the show have come to grips with the social transformations in progress in the Italian society, giving rise to very personal reflections on the image of women, and more specifically on feminine identity and its encroachments, the sense of otherness seen through a sensibility that has elaborated and absorbed the idea of difference.

In this period, the medium of photography became the tool par excellence with which to represent a new central role of women’s bodies and their transformations, personal experiences and family life, the relationship between private memory and collective history. The images in the exhibition share in the representation of a vast and unconventional female universe in the wider sense of the term, where the body is not just the object of an external, prevalently male gaze, but become an active subject, a vehicle with which to express other non-standardized, non-heterocentric values.

The feminine image is thus the central focus, an image that is amplified, revealed and deconstructed, becoming a vehicle of non-bourgeois values, but also a vivid representation of an inner life that is able to break free of stereotypes.

The exhibition presents over 100 images to document a period of about twenty years: it bears witness to the rise of new, multiple expressive urges, which though not constituting a “feminine specificity” offer a perspective of women on women and their identity.

The title of the exhibition refers to the ground-breaking anthology of essays by Rosi Braidotti Nomadic Subjects: Embodiment and Sexual Difference in Contemporary Feminist Theory (Cambridge: Columbia University Press, 1994), in which the philosopher outlines a new sexual subjectivity that is multiple, multicultural and stratified, like the subjectivity represented in the images of the photographers included in this show.

Aleksandra Mir. Triumph
curated by Marta Papini

For its 30th anniversary, the Luigi Pecci Center for Contemporary Art presents a new entry in its collection: the monumental installation Triumph by Aleksandra Mir, shown for the first time in Italy.

Triumph, completed in 2009 and exhibited that same year at the Schirn Kunsthalle in Frankfurt, and in 2012 at the South London Gallery in London, is a spectacular installation by Aleksandra Mir composed of 2.529 trophies collected by the artist across the span of a year in Sicily, in the city of Palermo and its vicinity.

The cups in the installation, dated from the 1940s onward, were gathered by means of an advertisement in Il Giornale di Sicilia in which the artist offered the symbolic sum of five euros for each trophy. The outcome of the initiative is an enormous, sparkling collection of keepsakes whose individual stories have been lost: a monument to youth and bygone glories, to the culture of amateur sport and the legacy of Italian popular history.

Produced on an industrial scale, the trophies are objects of little intrinsic value, but of great emotional value for those who won them in the context of competition and raised them to the Gods, re-enacting a falsely believed ancient ritual, the product of modern sports culture appropriating the Church’s silver chalices. The striking contradiction between mass production and the nostalgic fetishism of the individual trophy culminates, long after the moment of glory has passed and the trophy has collected dust in the winners garage for many years, in the cathartic gesture of giving the memento of victory to the artist, as if to break free of a burden.

Sweat and effort, joy and deep sentiment, applause and celebration, reflected on the surface of these trophies, become faint, distant echoes in the exhibition, cumulatively conveyed by piles of inert metal, plastic and marble. Triumph is a true memento mori, a visual document of the transient nature of success and the need of all human beings, at some point in their lives, to come to terms with the past, abandoning the illusion of eternal youth.

With the presentation of Triumph by Aleksandra Mir, Centro Pecci continues to exhibit large immersive and engaging installations, in a new focus on the output of important contemporary artists.

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Image: Lisetta Carmi, I Travestiti, la Gilda, 1965-1971 photograph, original gelatin silver print 18 x 24 cm © Lisetta Carmi Courtesy Galleria Martini & Ronchetti