February 20, 2013 - Italian Pavilion at the Venice Biennale - vice versa
February 20, 2013

vice versa

Image courtesy of Mousse.*

vice versa
1 June–24 November 2013

Tese delle Vergini, Arsenale
Venice, Italy


ArtistsFrancesco Arena, Massimo Bartolini, Gianfranco Baruchello, Elisabetta Benassi, Flavio Favelli, Luigi Ghirri, Piero Golia, Francesca Grilli, Marcello Maloberti, Fabio Mauri, Giulio Paolini, Marco Tirelli, Luca Vitone, Sislej Xhafa.

CuratorBartolomeo Pietromarchi

vice versa
vice versa follows a concept introduced by philosopher Giorgio Agamben. In his book Categorie italiane. Studi di Poetica (1996), Agamben proposes that in order to interpret Italian culture we must identify ‘a series of diametrically linked concepts capable of describing its underlying characteristics.’ These coupled together concepts—such as tragedy/comedy, architecture/vagueness and speed/lightness—thus become key to understanding the fundamental works and thinking within Italian cultural history.

Artists such as Alighiero e Boetti, Giulio Paolini, Michelangelo Pistoletto, Luigi Ontani and Gino De Dominicis all experimented with the notion of duality: a characteristic also central to the approach of this exhibition. Divided into seven themed areas, vice versa will present an ideal journey through Italian art of past and present, exploring the complexity of the country’s changing artistic and anthropological circumstances. With the majority of works made specially for this exhibition, its installations, sculptures, paintings, performances, sound and ambient interventions can be read as an atlas of themes, derivations, dialogues and differences that may easily be traced back within Italian history and culture.

A dualistic way of looking at the landscape in which the meaning of a place is suspended between vision and memory emerges in the works of Ghirri and Vitone, while the troubled and contradictory relationship with history in its personal and collective dimensions comes to the fore in Mauri and Arena. Dialectic slipperiness and continual swerves between tragedy and comedy figure in works by Golia and Xhafa—hovering between lived and imagined life—while Maloberti and Favelli chip away at the boundaries between autobiography and collective imagination through references to culture and pop-folk traditions. Giulio Paolini will converse with Marco Tirelli on the theme of art as illusion, which will also appear in the juxtaposition of sound and silence, freedom of speech and censorship in the work of Massimo Bartolini and Francesca Grilli. Closing with the works of Baruchello and Benassi and the tension between fragment and system, in which the human desire to archive and classify clashes with the impossibility and failure of doing so, vice versa will express the vital complexity of recent Italian art, affirming both its originality and international significance.

The Crowdfunding Project
In order to support vice versa, the curator Bartolomeo Pietromarchi has initiated a crowdfunding project.  This initiative will support the artists’ work, cultural mediation and educational efforts geared towards schools, universities and exhibition visitors, promotions and communications, the organization of encounters with artists and opinion leaders, and a conference on the Pavilion’s themes.

The spirit of participation and support for the exhibition project will be recognized through a series of benefits corresponding to target support levels, and the 90-day fundraising period will be inaugurated with events in Rome, Milan, London and New York. For further information, or to make a donation, please visit www.viceversa2013.org.

The Catalogue
A fully illustrated catalogue published by the Mousse Agency will accompany the exhibition. Written in both English and Italian, the catalogue will contain a selection of original material documenting the works in the exhibition in addition to seven essays written by important and internationally recognised critics.

General Direction for the Landscape, Fine Arts, Architecture and Contemporary Art (PaBAAC) – Service for Contemporary Architecture and Art, promote the contemporary cultural heritage knowledge and preservation, new art languages diffusion, landscape quality and protection, architectural and urban quality, cultural heritage promotion and the development and support to all the expressions of contemporary art creativity in Italy and abroad.

General Direction for the Landscape, Fine Arts, Architecture and Contemporary Art (PaBAAC) – Service for Contemporary Architecture and Art also support the Italian participation of International Art and Architecture Exhibitions of la Biennale di Venezia.

Commissioner Italian Pavillon – General Director – General Direction for the Landscape, Fine Arts, Architecture and Contemporary Art (PaBAAC) – Maddalena Ragni 
Head of Service for Contemporary Architecture and Art – Mariagrazia Bellisario

Press contacts
Italian Pavilion Press Office
Maria Bonmassar, M +39 335 49 03 11 / maria.bonmassar@gmail.com
Ludovica Solari, M +39 335 577 17 37 / ludovicasolari [​at​] gmail.com

Italian Pavilion International Press Office
Rhiannon Pickles, M +31 (0) 6158 21202 / rhiannon [​at​] picklespr.com
Maria Cristina Giusti, M +44 (0) 792 581 0607 / cristina [​at​] picklespr.com

Communications – Directorate General PaBAAC / MiBAC 
Alessandra Pivetti, M +39 366 64 82 897 / alessandra.pivetti [​at​] beniculturali.it
Gaia Gallotta, T +39 06 58 43 48 16 / gaia.gallotta [​at​] beniculturali.it

*Image above: Visual communication by Mousse.


The Italian Pavilion at the 55th Venice Biennale: vice versa
Italian Pavilion at the Venice Biennale
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