The Festival of Lights represents a brand-new exhibition format designed specifically for this garden setting. The aim is an experimental vision of the gardens, a nocturne in the form of a labyrinth of open-air installations by internationally renowned contemporary artists.
The Villa Medici gardens are a maze of greenery divided up by hedges into 16 squares. Here the 16 artists are creating an atmosphere of wonderment, composing new legends as they blur the site’s strict geometry.
For curator Chiara Parisi, “The idea is to return to the grand theatrical space the Villa Medici represents in the collective imagination, while at the same time exploiting light’s capacity for disembodiment, intangibility and splendid obscurity. Open at Night is a reference to Ouvert la nuit, a collection of short stories by French writer Paul Morand, in which each story takes place in a different place on a different night. Here, in an uncertain twilight, the visitor enters as the artworks play out before him: this is a mysterious, nocturnal project shaped by different generations of artists, to be discovered in the same spirit of boundless freedom they have brought to it. For each artist, the gardens have been a haven for inventing or elaborating on remarkable works.”
With this Festival of Lights, the Villa Medici has daringly opted for a celebration of light – and night – that does not trivialize their beauty. This inaugural edition lures visitors into the gardens with its promise of emotion, poetry and magic, inviting them to discover its singular ambience as they move from square to square and encounter artworks whose primary element is light. In this nocturnal setting the exhibition is also intended as a musing on darkness and how it is perceived through light – but also through sound, climate and so much more.
Ouvert la Nuit
With Rosa Barba, Camille Blatrix, Christian Boltanski, Nina Canell & Robin Watkins, Maurizio Cattelan, Trisha Donnelly, Jimmie Durham, Elmgreen & Dragset, Felix González-Torres, Douglas Gordon, Joan Jonas, Hassan Khan, Lee Mingwei, François Morellet and Otobong Nkanga.
Curated by Chiara Parisi
Villa Medici, Rome
Through 28 January
Douglas Gordon, Jesus is not enough
Francois Morellet, Lamentable
Lee Mingwei, Small Conversation
Maurizio Cattelan, Made in Catteland
Rosa Barba, White museum
Courtesy of the artists and Villa Medici
Photography by Daniele Molajoli