Exhibition: Photographic Recall: Italian Rationalist Architecture in Contemporary German Art. Buffalo, 10 February – 12 May 2019
University at Buffalo, UB Anderson Gallery, opening reception 9 February 2019, 6–8pm
How do contemporary artists use photography to engage with Italian architecture of the Fascist era? What lures them today into the remains of this “Rationalist” style? Where is the tipping point between a self-proclaimed critical observation and complicity with Mussolini’s propaganda project of the 1920s-1940s? These and other questions occupy the minds of the seven artists in this exhibition. This is the first to showcase these mostly German photographers, independently all drawn to Italian Rationalist architecture and urban spaces. Caterina Borelli, Johanna Diehl, Günther Förg, Eiko Grimberg, Thomas Ruff, Hans-Christian Schink, and Heidi Specker represent themes that vary in style between street photography and lush interiors to synthetic architectural documentation and carefully pre-planned and measured urban scenes. Their use of media ranges from analog to digital processes, black-and-white to color imagery, and a variety of works made in series. Each artist engages these built environments with his/her own visual language, demonstrating photography’s intense involvement with aesthetic and conceptual trends in contemporary art of the last three decades.
On Thursday 11 April 2019, the panel Staging Fascism: Contemporary Artistic Practice and Rationalist Urban Space will tackle the complex interrelation between artistic practices and their historically charged subjects in urban environments. Three of the participating artists, Eiko Grimberg (Berlin), Heidi Specker (Berlin), and Caterina Borelli (Rome), and UB faculty from the departments of Art (John Opera), History (Camilo Trumper), and Architecture (Charles Davis) discuss tensions and ambivalences at sites that once served as propagandistic stage sets of Fascist power. How can artists, historians, and architects address these issues as critical observers rather than accomplices?