Massimo Grimaldi, Scarecrow, 2021. Digital image. Courtesy of Massimo Grimaldi.
July 2, 2022–February 19, 2023
Curators: Bartolomeo Pietromarchi and Alessandro Rabottini
MAXXI L’Aquila—National Museum of 21st Century Arts presents Afterimage, an international group exhibition that explores the persistence in and around us of what has materially disappeared.
The show 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.
Curated by Bartolomeo Pietromarchi e Alessandro Rabottini, 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.
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.
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.
The exhibition set-up refrains from the concept of “sections” in favor of four narrative paths that cross the rooms, suggesting a formal and immaterial architecture within the physical architecture of the museum. These constellations of meanings are “Material and Memory,” “The Mutable Image,” “The Body Disclosed,” and “Inner Architecture.”
Newly commissioned works and site-specific interventions by Francesco Arena, Benni Bosetto, June Crespo, Thomas Demand, Oliver Laric, Hana Miletić, Luca Monterastelli, Danh Vo, and Dominique White are in dialogue with ambitious presentations of works by Paolo Gioli, Massimo Grimaldi, Bronwyn Katz, Esther Kläs, Tala Madani, Luca Maria Patella, Frida Orupabo, Pietro Roccasalva, Elisa Sighicelli, Paloma Varga Weisz, and He Xiangyu, together with historical and significant works by Francis Alÿs, Stefano Arienti, Mario Cresci, Anna Maria Maiolino, Marisa Merz, and Mario Schifano belonging to the collection of the MAXXI Museum.
Afterimage is also a tribute to the context that hosts it, an homage of multiple voices, metaphors, and narratives to a city that continuously manifests how the principle of metamorphosis contains that which has been and generates what will be.
MAXXI—National Museum of 21st Century Arts
Piazza Santa Maria Paganica, 15