Perennial topicality is considered here as the intuitive and conscious feeling of living within an eternal present. With its different sections, the exhibition offers the public an opportunity to observe the contemporary Rituals and the Boundaries that unite and separate the private from the public sphere. The Traces that reveal man’s intervention in nature are followed by the Headlines of everyday life, reinterpreted and transformed by contemporary artists. Perpetuity, the last chapter, focuses on the impression of reiteration that seems to govern certain critical situations today.
For the past year and a half, our habits have undergone a radical change and have been replaced by a liturgy of actions that now mark the new normalcy of daily routine.
At the end of this period, will these rituals lead us to new changes and behaviours?
The digital age in which we live and the evolution of social media have created a greater difficulty in distinguishing the boundary between the real and the virtual, the public and the private. The fragility of the intimate and private sphere is now constantly threatened by the public indiscretion.
Now that we are aware of this, do we really want to react against this invasion of boundaries?
Signs that manifest the path of mankind in his interaction with nature, a way to reveal and confirm his presence in time and space with new bonds and ties with the natural environment out of the digital space.
Is the need for new forms of symbiosis with the natural environment intrinsic to the human soul or is it a consequence of over-digitalization?
Constant artistic updates that denounce or ironize man’s reactions to contemporary issues.
Could the pandemic also be a catalyst for the latent and repeated criticalities that we experience in today’s reality?
Temporal dimension perceived and experienced as an unchanging repetition of the same. An abstract and metaphorical aspect of time, translated in an aesthetical, political, and social language.
How can we change our impression of perpetuity?
America exorcizes the question of origin, it does not have the cult of origin or the myth of authenticity, it has neither a past nor a founding truth. Not having known the primitive accumulation of time, he lives in a perennial topicality.
America, Jean Baudillard, 1986
With this quote, as a curatorial team we started to reflect and question ourselves about the meaning and the relevance of perennial topicality in contemporary’s life.
For us, the matter of perennial topicality rests on perceptions rather than a concrete definition since it is based on subjective impressions. We realized that time, space, and history are one single entity, but the perception of them changes depending on the individual and the collective’s reception of each.
The words perennial and topicality seem to be a contradiction, as one expresses a feeling of eternity and endless repetition, while the other means contemporaneity, nowness, and specificity. Today, due to the global pandemic, “topicality” has now shifted its individual meaning: time has been perceived as frozen, and we are living in a loop, where every day is the same.
Why do we feel the importance to think of perception when talking about perennial topicality? We believe that to develop a critical understanding of the dynamics of our contemporaneity, it is necessary to take a cultural distance from our own time. By doing so, we not only reflect on the past and the present but also take a position to better understand and interpret the future; this way we could acquire the capacity and knowledge to escape from the loop.
Today our time, space, and history are established between two different dimensions: the real and the digital world. This constant jumping from one reality to the other has led to a merge of both spaces, in which the private and the public spheres are not distinguishable anymore. The need to steadily share the private life on the virtual space, which has been created, accepted, and lived by ourselves as a public territory, has almost annulled the private space.
To avoid the common tropes and rhetoric about Covid and best convey the multiplicity of the artists’ interpretations, we decided to divide the exhibition path into five chapters, each of them communicates in a unique way the realities that we live every day.
Rituals and Headlines are chapters specifically focused on today’s life. The first one is dedicated to our habits, how they have undergone a radical change and have been replaced by new actions that now mark the daily routine; while the second one criticizes and ironizes man’s reactions to contemporary issues. For example, Alexandra DeGreef in her paintings puts common objects like a pair of keys near to the masks that we are obligated to wear every day; emphasizing its new meaning of essentiality. In Headlines, the video Quarantine Guarantee by Alexandra Konopleva, reflects ironically about the experiences and practices adopted and lived in the past year.
The Boundaries section meditates on the fragility of the intimate and private sphere which are constantly threatened by a tactless public coming from the digital world. Cubo stazionario, a performance recorded by Guo Ronghua, tells an oppressing story about isolation, tells an oppressive story of isolation, sharing her own sense of the lack of space and breath, her own sense of loss of both public and private space.
The exhibition closes with Traces and Perpetuity, sections that share an aesthetic and social analysis of the temporal dimension. Both are signs that manifest the passage of humanity in its interaction with nature, a passage perceived and experienced as an unchanging repetition. Immunity by Marco Peroni, a collage of satellite maps, recounts the destructive, abusive, and uncontrolled impact of human beings on nature. Blu, the installation by the artist Allegra Sardelli, on the other hand, encloses in sixteen blue pictures the different and most deeply rooted artistic techniques, to express the intrinsic desire and need of humanity to communicate through art, a rooting of our meaning of Perpetuity.
Finally, for a better appreciation and experience of the works, the site offers a section dedicated to the individual artists, where their statements and interviews can help to understand their research proposed for Perenne Attualità.
Curating the exhibition Perenne Attualità was an opportunity to question and reflect on an elusive subject that is rarely talked about, yet we realized that it has always been part of our present. However, perpetual actuality today embodies a new present, an expression of a new kind of temporality modified by the pandemic and the impact of new technologies. This has brought about a change in our daily lives, almost to a state of amnesia with respect to what used to be our space and time, leading us to new rules, habits, and routines. This project became a significant opportunity to collaborate with such a prestigious artistic entity as Fondazione Palazzo Strozzi in Florence. Our numerous discussions and meetings led us to a more defined vision of the whole project and guided us in the final selection of artists.
The dialogue with the artists was fundamental for the creation of the exhibition path and its various chapters. Their interpretations on the subject and the interviews broadened our point of view and consequently the exhibition itself.
Finally, we would like to thank our tutors from the Istituto Marangoni for their guidance and great support, the educational team of the Fondazione Palazzo Strozzi for having entrusted us with this opportunity, and finally all the participants from the different art schools for their visions and productions. All these exchanges have led to Perenne Attualità.
(I) Alejandro Acosta (II) Sofia Cappello (III) Benedetta Chiari (IV) Léa Colombier (V) Alexandria DeGreef (VI) Guo Ronghua (VII) Alexandra Konopleva (VIII) Stefano Labate (IX) Luca Longhi (X) Jasmine Morandini (XI) Nie Yurong (XII) Marco Peroni (XIII) Sarah Piergiovanni (XIV) Allegra Sardelli (XV) Zoya Shokoohi (XVI) Davide Tavini (XVII) Zhao Pengyuan
Born 1992 (Prato, Italy). Enrolled in Istituto Marangoni Firenze, she is an art historian, writer, and exhibition manager for contemporary art.
Born 1996 (Bogotá, Colombia). Enrolled in Istituto Marangoni Firenze, she’s is a promoter of dialogues among contemporary art and the natural world.
Born 1995 (Caracas, Venezuela). Enrolled in Istituto Marangoni Firenze, she is an art curator and exhibition manager. Currently she works in a contemporary art gallery.
Ksenia Pereira Martines
Born 1997 (Moscow, Russia), enrolled in Istituto Marangoni Firenze. Curating art to her is a medium to learn about herself and the world.
Born 1994 (Modena, Italia). Enrolled in Istituto Marangoni Firenze, she’s an art historian with a special focus on fashion.
Lovèll Shi-Wei Liu
Born 1991 (Shanghai, China). Enrolled in Istituto Marangoni Firenze, she’s interested in communication and cooperation between different cultures.
Born 1993 (Saint Petersburg, Russia). Enrolled in Istituto Marangoni Firenze, owner of a creative agency, he is an expert in photo and video production.
Born 1997 (Rome, Italy). Enrolled in Istituto Marangoni Firenze, writer and curator, her focus is storytelling and PR for contemporary art and fashion heritage.
Born 1993 (Kaohsiung, Taiwan), enrolled in Istituto Marangoni Firenze. Exhibitions with educational views, mediation, and communication are her focus.
The exhibition Perenne Attualità was created as part of the educational project of the same name aimed at the most important art academies based in Florence, on the occasion of the exhibition American Art 1961-2001. The aim of the educational project is to use the American art of the second half of the twentieth century as a field of research to trigger new artistic processes focused into the relationship between history, society, and the visual arts. The project involved forty young artists in the production of new works and a group of nine young curators involved in the creation of an online exhibition. The project ran from March to June, with in-depth meetings with the Fondazione Palazzo Strozzi team and classroom research with the support of teachers. The activity was structured in several phases: an introductory meeting dedicated to the exhibition American Art 1961-2001; two talks with the artists Francesco Arena and Danilo Correale, which extended the view to further fields of research; appointments to design an online platform where the works could be exhibited; and revisions of the projects and the final selection of the artists to be presented in the final exhibition. The last phase of the project was dedicated to the creation of the website and the definition of a graphic layout designed to convey the curatorial project.
Perenne Attualità is an educational format designed to foster creative dialogue between national and international students using art as a stimulus for research. The project offers students the opportunity to apply their artistic and curatorial skills and promotes shared work among peers by stimulating communication and organizational skills.
Francesca Giulia Tavanti
Istituto Marangoni Firenze
Istituto Marangoni Firenze
Fondazione Palazzo Strozzi
Accademia di Belle Arti
California State University International Program
Fondazione Studio Marangoni
LABA – Libera Accademia di Belle Arti
Istituto Marangoni Firenze is a school that trains young talents aspiring to a professional future in the world of fashion and art. Located in the heart of downtown Florence, the school offers a broad program of courses and workshops to develop individual skills, exclusive workshops with international designers and chats with professionals in the field. For Perenne Attualità, Istituto Marangoni Firenze will be taking part with its students from the Master course in Curatorial management, coordinated by tutors Francesca Giulia Tavanti and Davide Daninos.
Masterpiece of Renaissance architecture in Florence and dynamic cultural centre of international importance, Palazzo Strozzi is a focal point of Italy’s cultural scene: a platform that promotes a new idea of contemporaneity in Florence, to produce and experience art through a rich programme of exhibitions and cultural activities. Always experimenting with new opportunities and forms of public involvement, research in the field of education is central, through a rich public programme and an articulated offer of educational projects. The educational project Perenne Attualità is coordinated by Martino Margheri, in charge of the activities for the universities, academies, and special projects of Fondazione Palazzo Strozzi.
The oldest amongst the public institutions of artistic education. Located in the historical centre of Florence, its history is intertwined with the “Compagnia di San Luca” (1339) and the Accademia delle Arti del Disegno (1563), which are considered the “ancestors” of the modern Accademia di Belle Arti reformed in 1784 by Pietro Leopoldo I°. The Academy was attended by some of the most important artists in the history of art. Today it is a place of high artistic education, where cultures from all over the world come together to share a common interest in the arts and the search for new artistic expressions. For Perenne Attualità, the students of the Department of Visual Arts – Two-year course in New Expressive Languages, developed individual and collective works of art coordinated by Professor Marco Raffaele.
Accademia Italiana is an Institute of Higher Education with a strong international vocation based in Florence and Rome. Since 1984, it has been a reference in education for the creative industries of fashion, design, visual communication, and photography. Since its foundation, the Institute has set up its own didactic system, putting together the teaching staff with professionals from the field, constructing an in-depth teaching method, capable of combining solid theoretical training – delivered in two languages, Italian and English – with intense practical activity. This has led to the creation of an articulated and high-level educational offer, which today consists of three-year degree courses and two-year specialized courses recognized by the Italian Ministry of Education, Universities and Research. Perenne Attualità project was developed by the students of the master’s degree course in Graphic Design coordinated by Professors Walter Conti and Franco Fiesoli.
The California State University (CSU), with 23 campuses throughout the state, is the largest public university system in the United States. CSU offers study abroad opportunities in numerous countries on different continents. The guiding principle is that students should be immersed in the academic and cultural life of their host countries. The CSU IP in Florence was founded in 1966 and the students have the option to participate in the Florence program for one year or for one semester. The works selected for the project Perenne Attualità were created as part of the ART 390 Independent Study in Studio Art course, under the guidance of Professor Marsha Steinberg, coordinator of the Studio Art department for CSU. During the 2020-2021 academic year, due to the pandemic, studio art students participated in the project by working remotely from the California campus.
Fondazione Studio Marangoni is a centre dedicated to contemporary photography in Florence. FSM was founded in 1989 by the photographer Martino Marangoni with the aim of promoting art and the teaching of photography in Italy. The Triennial Course of “Photography and New Media” allows young photographers to confront each other at the highest levels both in the commercial and artistic fields, thanks to a deep work in the structuring and experimentation of the visual language. For Perenne Attualità, the third year students of the Triennial Course developed their individual artistic projects coordinated by Professor Lucia Minunno.
Active since 2001, LABA – Libera Accademia di Belle Arti is a school of art and painting, photography, fashion, graphics, and design, which revolves around the concept of “experimentation.” It is located in Florence but aims to go beyond its borders, focusing on innovation and on the relationship with the world of work. The young artists from the Visual Arts and Painting and Photography departments developed their work under the coordination of Professor Matteo Innocenti.