Art, Science, Faith and Technology in Contemporary Ege

13.12.2009 — 05.04.2010

A journey into the similitudes between the cultural themes that are representative of the beginning of the new century and those that made the visual imagination of the Baroque Age so powerful and grandiose.
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In the framework of the events organized by the Campania Region to celebrate the Baroque culture, the Councillorship for Cultural Heritage has endorsed the proposal of the MADRE Museum to mount a big collective exhibition titled BAROCK – Art, Science, Faith and Technology in the Contemporary Age, which will run from December 12th to April 5th.

This exhibition, curated by Eduardo Cicelyn and Mario Codognato, explores the similitudes between the cultural themes that are representative of the beginning of the new century and those that made the visual imagination of the Baroque Age so powerful and grandiose. Barock investigates issues that permeated the XVII century and are still distinctive of our time, showing how the typical themes of the Baroque culture of the 17th century have been revived by contemporary artists. The revolutionary scientific and technological discoveries that day after day challenge established certainties and habits; the great religious zeal that led to the fundamentalism, the obscurantism and to clashes between civilizations which produced unprecedented slaughters: the disorientation of contemporary imagination then appears to be caused by ideological conflicts and tragic experiences for issues that are not very different from those that shaped the century of Galileo Galilei and of the Counter-Reformation.

The most obvious similitude between the artists featured in the exhibition and the Baroque Masters lies in the “sensational” images they use, images that aim at striking the senses, at being extreme in their violence, in their sensuality, in their frankness, that do not fit in any category and escape definition. It’s just as if art, today like in the XVII century, should push itself farther and farther in order to reinvent a world that has become more uncertain about its various, contradictory and often awful representations. On one side Barock explores the current situation of visual arts in the perspective of a new “sensationalism” that has its formal and conceptual roots in the 17th-century code, while on the other it casts the doubt, through the opposite thesis – in pure Baroque style! – that it is no longer useful nor possible to believe that you can experience such a thing as a work of art as an object offered to our senses and consequently to our ability to reason in a moral or sentimental way. In other words the aim is to create a conceptual line by which the artist can challenge the artificial realism of technologies and propose another type of realism imbued with highly imaginative perspectives, by means of allegoric tools capable of revealing the powerlessness of conventional cultural forms and affirming the (Baroque) possibility to understand the world and change it, by broadening its sensorial and perceptive borders.

An exuberant exhibition strategy complements the main exhibition space located on the third floor of the museum with additional displays in the Church of Donnaregina Vecchia, the Project Room, the internal courtyard, the multipurpose room, the terrace, the monumental staircase and the museum entrance hall which will feature the famous work by Damien Hirst, “Heaven”, consisting in a big tiger shark immersed in formaldehyde.

The exhibition will feature 28 artists: Adel Abdessemed, Micol Assaël, Matthew Barney, Domenico Bianchi, Bianco – Valente, Antonio Biasiucci, Keren Cytter, Mircea Cantor, Maurizio Cattelan, Jake & Dinos Chapman, Claire Fontaine, Lara Favaretto, Gilbert & George, Douglas Gordon, Mona Hatoum, Damien Hirst, Anish Kapoor, Jeff Koons, Jannis Kounellis, Shirin Neshat, Carsten Nicolai, ORLAN, Philippe Parreno, Giulia Piscitelli, Michal Rovner, Cindy Sherman, Jeff Wall, Sislej Xhafa.