Present Memories: On the Politics of Image-making (Tour)
Sat. Feb. 25 12-3:30pm (with lunch in between)
Magazzino Italian Art in Cold Spring, NY
Transportation from the Montclair State University campus via van (departure at 10AM), admission ticket, guided tour of the collection and lunch box will be offered to the first 24 interested parties
On Feb. 25th, 2023, the Inserra Chair was pleased to offer a visit to Magazzino Italian Art, a center located in Cold Spring that hosts a unique collection of Arte Povera and regular cultural events about Italian contemporary art. That day Magazzino presented Present Memories: On the Politics of Image-making, the fourth iteration of Pensiero Plurale, a series of programs curated by Ilaria Conti focused on issues of cultural and social justice, intersectional thinking, and the arts across Italy and the United States. Introduced and moderated by Ilaria Conti herself, the program featured a morning conversation between artist Dawit L. Petros and scholar Teresa Fiore and an afternoon session with curator Mistura Allison.
It was a day of fruitful exchanges about issues of colonialism, migrations, multi-racial communities in and out of Italy, and the ability of art and curatorial work to express their complex entanglements. After an introduction by Magazzino Director, Vittorio Calabrese, Dawit L. Petros illustrated his overall project, Spazio Disponibile, about the linkages between Italy, Eritrea and Canada, in terms of colonial and post-colonial movements and their impact on natural and public space. His more recent work focuses on the role of flying during Fascism and the legacy it left especially in the controversial representation of Italo Balbo’s transcontinental flight in Chicago.
In conversation with Teresa Fiore, whose book Pre-occupied Spaces has been an inspiration for Petros and who in turn used one of Petros’ photos as the cover for the Italian version of the book, Petros addressed specific modalities of his art production: the role of mirrors, the function of the diptych, the use of the drone, the inclusion of the Black body, etc. in his multi-media works, ranging from printing to video, and of course photography. The conversation also revolved around the relevance of archival documents in his art to develop a dynamic re-reading of history, which activates forms of connection across times and geographies.
In the second part of the day, Mistura Allison addressed, also in conversation with Ilaria Conti, the layered aspects of curatorial work in a world where the intersectionality of gender, race, sexuality are fundamental to create an inclusive art scene that avoids tokenism. Foregrounding the role of the curator as a mediator without making it central is possible through a self-positioning that includes storytelling: this creative approach becomes necessary in exhibits that address that very intersectionality and involve the curator as a subject as well.
The large and responsive audience also included a group from Montclair State University made up of students, teachers, alumni and Italophiles from the local community, who enjoyed a special guided tour of the collection and an encounter with the Sardinian donkeys in the adjacent garden sprinkled with magical snow. A Dominican-American student of the course “Italian Americans in Film,” Mar Arroyo Cabrera, visited Magazzino upon the invitation of the instructor. She thought she was going to feel out of place because she does not have an immediate connection to Italian culture or experience, outside the cinema class. Yet, she concluded: “I was wrong. While I am not Italian, I did relate to the stories hidden in the art pieces of the collection and to Dawit L. Petros’ immigration experience. I actually felt more at home than I have felt in a while. It was a great reminder that regardless of race, gender, culture or any other labels that separate us, there are always more things that connect us.”
For more information see webpage.