Palazzo Biscari Exhibition: ‘SPACES, CONTEXTS, HABITATS’

By Friday, March 27, 2015 0 0

Spaces, Contexts, Habitats curated by Constanze Honsel, Pietro Scammacca and Virginia Simonazzi in collaboration with the department of Visual Cultures of Goldsmiths, University of London will be inaugurated on the 30th of June in Palazzo Biscari, Catania.


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The show brings together a group of London-based artists and performers all coming from different countries and backgrounds. The exhibition focuses on the inhabitation of natural and artificial spaces as well as the human body explored through photography, site-specific installations and performance. Context is a crucial aspect of this exhibition, as demonstrated through the subversive curatorial take on spatiality; the contemporary photographic works are allowed to communicate with the contrasting Baroque aesthetic of the exhibition space. Such a gesture seeks to offer the visitors an awareness of the inhabited space, but more importantly a realization of its power upon the perception and experience of art. The curators have chosen to set the exhibition in the particularly extravagant and overwhelming space of Palazzo Biscari salons in order to explore the relationship of architecture with art. The exhibition is divided into three rooms, each tackling overlapping facets of the main theme:


The first room of the show explores natural spaces and habitats through landscape photography. Artists Liam Hughes, Eva Crossan Jory, Melissa Magnuson and Daniele Fummo question representations of nature and widespread conceptions. In Melissa Magnuson’s body of work exploring the Icelandic landscape, she documented the temporal aspect of the world by considering the land not as an object, but as a dynamic process that is in perpetual change. The display of her work Ice Cave disrupts the visitors’ path, further emphasising our negotiations with spaces. Daniele Fummo, through a romanticized representation of landscape, highlights our usual idealization of the rural and how traditional landscape paintings have re-enforced this notion. The artist also experiments with unusual vertical framing generally attributed to portraiture, granting the landscape a human quality. Liam Hughes works document a cognitive adventure, observing and processing lived experiences within bucolic spatial realms. The dialogue between all these works allows the viewer to be confronted with a recontextualised representation of nature and the environment.


The second room looks at artificial spaces and habitats, characterized by geometrical forms, as opposed to the organic shapes that are predominant in the previous room. This contrasts the vibrant colourful aspect of the first room by the reduction to black and white colour schemes. Here, Eva Crossan Jory uses photography as a means of selecting and framing particular sections of architectural spaces, dramatizing the mundane aspect everyday life. Daniele Fummo draws attention to the professional habitat of urban city inhabitants within the architectural realm. Liam Hughes involves the viewer in a study of spaces in order to create friction around our perception of the imagery, and in turn, of the spaces we occupy. The aestheticizing and dramatizing of architecture in this room shifts our attention to overlooked urban landscapes in context with the human subject.


The third exhibitory space occupies the grand palace’s ballroom, traditionally used for the hosting of events. Social events all entail a certain artificial performativity of the body and social behaviour that is symptomatic of the socio-spatial context they set. Francesco Migliaccio, in response to such issues, has choreographed a performance including contemporary dancers Marine Tournet, KiXy Voget, Theo Arran, Frida Vorgaart and Suzannah Dessau. They explicitly illustrate the performative relationship of the body with space. Thinking about the cohabitation of the body with architecture, Eva Crossan Jory envelops human figures with photographs of architecture changing the materiality and rigidness of urban surfaces. This gesture links this room to the theme of the previous one. Sophie Nicole Culière exploits the capacity of photography to bend material realities and distinctions, with meaningful chromatic decisions. With her work Lake for example, the human body is transformed into a landscape, questioning ideas of scale. In her series of photographs Villes et Chemins (Cities and Paths), she uses a technique of overlaying images as a way to create displacements that raise ambiguous interpretations and meanings. Following on to ideas of displacement, the shifting of meanings as well as questioning scales, Pietro Librizzi magnifies a specific section of asphalt projecting the larger image onto a silk sheet. In this work, a new space is created and the rough materiality of asphalt is rendered smooth. With POLAROID Baldassare Ruspoli, a unique site-specific photographic installation, the artist disorients the viewer with a visual duplication of certain details of the very exhibitory space. While navigating through the ballroom, the visitor’s gaze is altered by allocating attention to unseen and unexpected details, allowing a reflection of the very exhibitory space to emerge.






 Daniele Fummo takes the work of Brenon, Herut and Vanea as a source of inspiration. His work can be defined as an attempt to capture the stories of random individuals by photographing them from a hidden spot. He was born in Naples in 1990 and after having settled in London, he recounts the stories of people and places he encounters during his day-to-day wanderings across the city. As the series presented in this exhibition shows, his interest is not only circumscribed within the borders of the cityscape. Daniele also delicately depicts the quietness and stillness of Italian rural landscapes, creating a dialogue between architecture and landscape, chaos and silence. By combining contrasting images, Daniele investigates the notion of space from divergent points of view, giving shape to a chromatic dialogue which explores space in simple and sophisticated terms.




Francesco Migliaccio was born in Naples in 1994, his passion for contemporary dance encouraged him to move to London in 2013 to begin his studies at Trinity Laban College. In these last two years, Migliaccio has been undertaking many different projects that have made him a distinguished choreographer and dancer. For this particular exhibition, with the help of five other performers that he selected (Theo Arran – Regno Unito, Marine Tournet – Francia, Suzannah Dessau – Stati Uniti, Frida Vorgaard – Norvegia, Kitty Voget – Sud Africa) he created and coordinated a performance that offers a peculiar reflection on the notion of space. In fact, his research focuses on a meditation around transitory spaces, as for example corridors, roads and bridges, that are perceived and lived by us as mere connections between one main space and another. Migliaccio emphasises connecting spaces in order to stress the little attention that we give to these overlooked spaces that are ubiquitous in our everyday lives. The performance of the six dancers is based on these considerations and explores the importance of transits and connections because they are precisely the definition of the movements of our body.




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Sophie Nicole Culière was born in Paris in 1994. At a young age she moves to Shanghai and subsequently to London to begin her artistic studies. Her work explores the nature of the human body and its representation by exploiting the capacity of photography to bend material realities and distinctions. With her series Pulsive, in which the photographs embody an ambiguous representation of the human body, the artist tackles the notion of space by playing with interiority and exteriority. With her work Lake, the play with perspective allows the human body to become a landscape. Scale, as a consequence, is also put into question.

With her latest work entitled Idolation, the artist explores the idea of space in a different way. With this work, she comments upon spatial setting and context, and the way in which classical representations of the body have idealized it. The use of the colour red is powerful for the different connotations it implies in different cultural contexts. It is used as a medium to explore ideas of intimacy and interiority in a more comprehensive way.







Artist Liamimage Hughes was born in Sydney Australia in 1989 and now lives and works in London UK. His work is an examination of the function of the photographic image

within a spatial practice. They are the results of the reportage of a cognitive adventure, of deep observation and a hyper-processing of lived experience. Seemingly bucolic landscapes have been rendered in postcard-sized prints; the opening shot for ‘cult’ television drama Twin Peaks is reworked; a row of windows reflect back the image of the city around them. The object quality of the photographs and how they operate in the space of the exhibition is considered. In this case by using a variety of formats and printing techniques. By involving himself in a study of spaces the artist hopes to create friction around our perception of the imagery, and in turn, of the spaces we occupy.




Eva Crossan Jory was born in London in 1994 where she studies and works. Her research focuses on the interaction between human beings and the architecture that surrounds them. Through photography, Crossan Jory explores how these two entities are co-dependent by establishing aesthetic links. The interest of the artist revolves around the relationship between individuals and habitats, with a particular attention towards the ones who live in apartments. In her photographs one can see a contemporary outlook on the history of the popular English houses. Eva Crossan Jory is currently finishing her joint degree in History of Art and Fine Arts at Goldsmiths, University of London, where she coordinates and organises diverse extra-curricular projects.




Baldassare Ruspoli was born in Florence in 1993 and now lives and works in London. His practice revolves around photography, painting and sculpture. With his installation POLAROID, made especially for the ballroom of Palazzo Biscari and its architecture, the artist disorients the viewer with a visual duplication of certain details of the very exhibitory space. Ruspoli proposes an observation of a detail “as it is”, allowing hidden or overlooked spaces to be seen. Commenting upon his work, the artist explains: “the purist element issued from the purification of standard forms is not a copy, but a creation whose end is to materialize the object in all its generality and its invariability”.




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Melissa Magnuson is an American artist with studios in London UK, Idaho USA and British Columbia Canada working primarily in photography, video and sound. Escaping the confines of the studios and travelling to remote locations, she documents the temporal aspect of the world by considering landscape not as an object, but a dynamic process. Recurring themes in the work include the effects of power and intervention in landscape, social identities and environmental concerns.




Pietro Librizzi, born in Palermo in 1993, works with photographs, cinematic footage and sounds, gathered with intuition and purposelessness. Since their irrational acquisition, these objects begin to expand in layers and tangents, demanding an archaeological inquiry and investigative, crafty montage. The attempts to resolve these occurrences betray a spasmodic interest for method and scientific scepticism and how the distortion or destruction of such values affect, invert and reposition the work. The pieces presented address a minute attention towards the elements that inhabit a mother image, where pixellation and stratification lead to a geographical analysis of the photograph and produce a new daughter image; its relocation and its chemical and physical journeys, from reality to digital image and into fabric prints, ultimately grants the artist new space for phenomenological and aesthetic research. Currently living in London to pursue his artistic studies, Librizzi frequently travels back to Sicily to take part in projects and exhibitions in his natal village, Petralia Soprana (PA).



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