Hip-hop, especially in the 1990s, was a phenomenon of claiming presence on the scene, a way of not going unnoticed by conveying an eccentric spirit that was also manifested through clothes, as well as in rhymes. So many trends were born and launched by the American artists of those years, including the habit of wearing large, flashy and blinding necklaces, with pendants that echoed the symbols of collectives or just as a manifestation of wealth. In a forthcoming volume titled “Ice Cold: A Hip-Hop Jewelry History,” publisher TASCHEN will recount through vintage photos the connection and history of hip-hop through jewelry worn by names such as Run-DMC, Notorius BIG and Tupac, reaching all the way to the present day, with necklaces and grillz by Travis Scott, Cardi B, Tyler, the Creator and Pharrell.
Author Vikki Tobak traverses 40 years of history, recounting one of the greatest subcultures of 20th-century music, defining its evolution and the social reasons that led jewelry to be an indispensable element in telling the story of rap and hip-hop. Also opening Ice Cold are some direct contributions from those who have experienced the scene up close, including essays by Slick Rick and A$AP Ferg.
Energy, Relaunch, and Commitment: these are the key words with which ArteFierapresents itself to the public for this eagerly awaited 2023 edition, which will return to the historic spaces inside Bologna Fiere (Pavilions 25 and 26) and take place on its usual dates. ArteFiera 2023 opens the dances of this year’s long season of Contemporary Art Fairs. Thanks to an unprecedented human and organisational effort, it feels ready to launch the challenge to Miart in Milan. The artistic proposal is varied, there are more than 141 exhibitors who breathe and dialogue in spaces designed to improve the visitor experience and layouts, in order to make the journey more enjoyable for visitors, professionals and collectors.
Photography, also very present in the Main Section’s proposals, is undoubtedly one of the many bets of this edition, which dedicates an important space to the ‘Photography and Moving Image‘ section. We at Collater.al have taken a first look at the works, trying to grasp the new trends and themes of contemporary photography.
The section curated by GiangavinoPazzola (former associate curator at Camera – Centro Italiano per la Fotografia in Turin) is a microcosm in which the past, present, and future of photography renegotiate new meanings and propose new challenges to the most emblazoned collectors. “The galleries present in the section have accepted an important challenge,” declares Giangavino Pazzola, “that is to bet on photography and to put themselves on the line: there are all the prerequisites for research and contaminations to dialogue in order to stimulate the public and address different groups of collectors.
Among the 12 galleries present, an interesting and thought-provoking itinerary takes shape regarding the new directions of contemporary photography, which is increasingly delineated as a partial medium, constantly evolving and subject to continuous hybridisation, but which cannot renounce certain essential points of reference from the past for its current definition.
A perfect example of this are the proposals of Martini & Ronchetti of Genoa, which put the works of the Genoese Lisetta Carmi in dialogue with those of the avant-garde artist Florence Henri in its clean, linear stand. The two authors, very distant from each other, are united not only by their passion for music, but also by their powerful narrative ability and attention to current events, so much so that they are still contemporary in their formal choices and forerunners in redefining the social and cultural instances of their period through photographic investigation. Lisetta Carmi’s colour images are beautiful, giving greater identity awareness to the subjects photographed, moving them away from the more emotional representation of black and white.
An extremely contemporary look is that of Marilisa Cosello’s “2 di 2” project presented by Galleria Studio G7 in Bologna. The artist’s investigation, which moves between performance and photography, is configured as a “reflection on the political nature of the individual body as subject, and on the impact of power dynamics on the history of individuals and communities”. The body is understood as the apparatus of a hybrid landscape in which attraction and repulsion confront each other, but also as a physical subject of identity renegotiation in relation to space and the social dimension. In the images, the result of a performative action, two women fight and embrace, in a continuous motion without resolution or outcome: the constant tension suggests a symbolic horizon in which nothing is defined, thus defining the landscape of the thousand contradictions of the contemporary.
Noteworthy for its ability to speak to the future through hybrid forms of photography is “Are you nobody too?”, the project by Silvia Bigi (already winner of the 2022 Francesco Fabbri Prize for Contemporary Arts) presented by Red Lab Gallery in Milan and Lecce, which redefines the role of archival photography through its dialogue with artificial intelligence: a work perfectly balanced between past, present and future and between image, video and word.
The rediscovered photograph of great-aunt Irma, literally erased from her family’s genealogical history due to her mental condition, becomes the expedient to remedy the concept of denied identity. Thanks to the use of an app, Irma’s immobile photographic face finally takes the floor through a monologue composed of words by 20th-century female writers (who were also affected by mental disorders), thus acquiring a new space of meaning, that of redemption. In the project presented at ArteFiera 2023, the blurred and grainy portrait thus stands as a symbol of the voiceless, becoming an attempt to normalise the elusive through an alliance with new technologies.
Finally, a special mention for the Podblieski Gallery stand, which brings together three Italian authors who have made a name for themselves on the national and international scene for their research: Nicola Lo Calzo, Giulia Parlato and Silvia Camporesi: the common focus of the three photographers’ investigations is the relationship between history and fiction, which provides a multifaceted and precise picture of contemporary complexity. An edition, this one of ArteFiera 2023, that we like to think of as episode zero of a long series of appointments aimed at attributing an increasingly central role to photography also through the creation of important relationships and networks.
Karen Navarro’s mixed-media photography is a tool through which the Argentinian artist explores sides of her past, her identity and the causes that led to the definition of certain personal traits shared with an entire people. The multidisciplinary artist creates photos, collages and sculptures focusing on the theme of belonging, to a physical place and to another of the soul, using portraits and resorting to the use of the written word. All of Navarro’s artistic production is influenced by her being an immigrant (she now works in the United States, in Houston) and descendant of indigenous peoples of South America.
Migration in Karen Navarro’s work is in fact seen as a process of inner transformation, of the formation of a collective identity that reflexively shapes the personal one. The interpretation of the symbols of one’s own culture is present both in the installations but above all in the photographs, in which the subjects stand out precisely thanks to these details, together with the work of image transformation and deconstruction of the work.
For two months, from 1 February to 30 March 2023, in Bologna, the concept studio THE ROOOM will host a new exhibition, curated byMulierisMagazine. The title of the project is DREAMTIGERS, a quotation from the Argentine writer Jorge Luis Borges and his extraordinary imagery in which animals play a fundamental role in stimulating memories and imagination.
DREAMTIGERS is an exhibition that uses the imagination through the works of Lula Broglio, Alejandra Hernández, Joanne Leah, Sara Lorusso, Sara Scanderebech, Ayomide Tejuoso (Plantation), together with the installations of The Mosshelter by Marco Cesari. This dimension thus opens up a world of possibilities not only for the mind but also for the representation of what is real. A fusion, that between the real and the imaginary, which Sigmud Freud defined as the navel of the dream, an undefined place in which it is possible to freely address the themes that have made THE ROOOM and Mulieris Magazine known to the public in recent years. These themes certainly include the condemnation of any form of discrimination and gender equality, addressed over the years through popularisation, wonderful books and very interesting artistic projects that will continue with the Bolognese exhibition.
What is pinhole photography? It is an image taken through the photographic process of pinhole photography, a technique that, like most modern cameras, exploits the principle of the camera obscura, but using a small hole as a lens, which creates images through diffraction. JustinQuinnell is considered one of the leading experts in this technique, both for his almost thirty years as a lecturer worldwide and for his artistic production of experimental photographs. From Bristol, where he lives, he produces photography using pinhole cameras, creating unusual situations and points of view, thanks to the possibilities of the medium and the deformations of the image.
Among Justin Quinnell’s most bizarre photographic series is the one taken using a smileycam, a camera that the artist places completely inside his own mouth, thus exploiting the power of an unusual and very bizarre point of observation – POV to use a fashionable definition. all of Quinnell’s teeth appear in the frame, which the viewer ends up knowing better than the artist’s own dentist. In addition to the teeth, different subjects are presented from time to time, describing Justin’s daily routine, starting with his toothbrush in the morning, moving on to meals and the cocktail to share in the evening. From the photographer’s mouth we also keep track of his travels, so between an incisor and a canine, St. Mark’s Square in Venice and the Sydney Opera House pop up.
Stenoscopy does not involve any special focusing, which is why the photos look very amateurish. In the past it represented a high point for technology, now, surpassed by much better lenses and lenses, it is used for more experimental and artistic projects, thanks to the possibility of being able to create strange points of view and unpredictable results. Quinnell’s work is a very clear example of this, and if you would like to find out what your mouth sees, you can also find the smileycam here.