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 The first one is dedicated to our habits, how they have undergone a radical change and have been replaced by new actions that now mark the daily routine; while the second one criticizes and ironizes man’s reactions to contemporary issues.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.