Afterimage features 26 international artists from different generations and includes newly commissioned pieces and site-specific installations, historical works belonging to the MAXXI Collection together with monographic rooms, with works spanning from the 1960s to the present day. Afterimage is a meditation upon memory and metamorphosis and looks at the unpredictable forms – both material and metaphorical – in which what has vanished silently endures within spaces, bodies, and meanings. The title of the show refers to the optical illusion of the residual image, which happens when a visual stimulus generates an impression on the retina that remains even after the stimulus has disappeared, as happens, for example, with the camera flash.
Afterimage is conceived as a visual poem that reflects on the coexistence of permanence and impermanence as a universal human condition rooted in our existences and bodies, as well as in objects, images, and interpretations. Instead of being organized as a thematic exhibition with a specific path, Afterimage encourages the viewers to explore the 15 rooms of the museum and its passages, and to establish intuitive and spontaneous associations between the works, the architecture of Palazzo Ardinghelli, and the history of L’Aquila, a city that daily testifies to the need to remember and the impetus to transformation.
All the works are installed in close dialogue with the architecture of Palazzo Ardinghelli, one of the finest examples of Baroque in the region. After the earthquake that in 2009 devastated L’Aquila, the building underwent a massive restoration as part of the city’s broader reconstruction program, and in 2021 it finally opened to the public in its new function as a museum of contemporary art, being now the second venue of the MAXXI Museum in Rome. Encompassing a wide variety of media, the exhibition includes contemporary and historical experimentations in photography and film, spatial interventions, paintings, and sculptures, and explores the intersections of fragmented iconographies, mutable materials, perceptual memories, and morphing bodies.
In the words of Bartolomeo Pietromarchi, “Three threads intertwine within Afterimage: new commissions and site-specific installations by Italian and international artists, works from the Fondazione MAXXI collection and the memories that the spaces of Palazzo Ardinghelli evoke. The multiplicity of gazes that each of the artists featured in the exhibition brings with them vitally connect us with the exhibition space, whose exterior is explored just as much as its functional passages, in an attempt to look at the architecture as a living organism, a place that has traversed the centuries and now inhabits the present with a new identity – that of a contemporary art museum. Afterimage is a multi-voiced dialogue between past and present, reality and suggestion, imagination and memory. The exhibition was born out of the desire to acknowledge the specificity of L’Aquila and its history without turning the memory of the 2009 earthquake into a narrative pretext, but rather open our gaze and reflection on what survives around us and is transformed together with us.
Alessandro Rabottini adds, “In Afterimage, images and things, as well as bodies and stories, are caught within a dynamic of perpetual transformation. Our memories and the spaces we inhabit, the things that surround us as well as the symbols we interpret, are in constant motion, as they change within our memory and in their very material essence. As many things disappear as they do emerge; Afterimage is a poetic attempt to look at the moments of fragility and impermanence that punctuate our lives, listening to the sense of potential they bring about. The exhibition is also a tribute to the context that hosts it, which is as much spatial as human, in the attempt to place works that come from different times and places in dialogue with each other so that they can activate new meanings and, hopefully, new reflections”.
Curated by Bartolomeo Pietromarchi
and Alessandro Rabottini
July 2, 2022 – February 19, 2023
Works by: Francis Alÿs, Francesco Arena, Stefano Arienti, Benni Bosetto, Mario Cresci, June Crespo, Thomas Demand, Paolo Gioli, Massimo Grimaldi, Bronwyn Katz, Esther Kläs, Oliver Laric, Tala Madani, Anna Maria Maiolino, Marisa Merz, Luca Maria Patella, Hana Miletić, Luca Monterastelli, Frida Orupabo, Pietro Roccasalva, Mario Schifano, Elisa Sighicelli, Paloma Varga Weisz, Danh Vo, Dominique White, He Xiangyu.
Photo: Andrea Rossetti
Courtesy: Fondazione MAXXI