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Urbanautica

Exhibition

Urbanautica was invited by Manfrotto to organize an exhibition during Bassano Fotografia 2011. The project proposed by Urbanautica is that of Dutch photographer Sofie Knijff, entitled “Translations”. The exhibition is conceived as an installation that converses with the exhibition environment, and old dismissed church. The photos reveal childrens dreams and expectatins for the future. The portraits realized by Knijff well match with the repetitive and austere atmosphere of the old Church of the Angel.

«In her work, Sofie creates “theatrical” spaces in which illusion and reality mingle. Over the past year, Sofie has travelled across South Africa, India and Mali to portray children and their fantasy worlds and dreams. Her aim was to isolate them from their surroundings, and daily lives, and focus their attention to reveal their own “dream character”. By using the same backdrop, she created a stage on which the dreams could come to life. At the same time, she took images of the empty spaces in which the same children live; allowing to create a set of images where the inside and outside mirror and influence one another.The impact of time underpins this project. It is hard not to wonder what will become of childhood dreams and expectations».

CHURCH OF THE ANGEL

© Courtesy of Massimiliano Foytik



Naturae stems from an inquiry interested in photography as a contemporary language capable of expressing the complexity of human actions and cultural meanings. It is an exhibit that reflects the need to better understand, the surrounding world to which we belong although at times it can seem contrary. A need that is expressed primarily through observation of nature and its elements, and the focus of tacit or intangible relations that separate or join us with it. There is a desire to go beyond the documentation of human-induced changes upon nature and the critical aspects of this difficult coexistence. There is a desire to move the gaze toward new forms of naturalness distinctive of contemporary life, on the many “natures” formed by a mixture of randomness and artifice, on the independent bodies in constant mutation, which brings with it a vision of possible scenarios. A story purged of melancholy interpretations of the lost landscape and without holistic references or contemplative endings. The nature that still matters is the one that serves as a background for tracing a map that gives guidance to human behaviors increasingly disoriented and frantic.

 Also, some conversations find a place in these reflections and are presented in this exhibition catalog. Domenico Luciani historicizes the question of the meaning of man’s relationship with nature. He sees  an anxious need  today for reconciliation as a result of an ancient split and the progressive maladjustment of our species to the changes it generates. Shun Kanda emphasizes the fact of living within our perception of nature, understood almost as a genius loci which is necessary to strengthen the sense of belonging to a place and to reduce the condition of estrangement and the effects of alienation typical of the more recent “urbanism.” For Maarten Kloos the human being is looking for an authentic relationship with nature, or with its origins, as a confirmation of his existence, of the fact of being on Earth. Then he continues with a vision of living characterized by the ever increasing integration, almost symbiotic, between organic and inorganic. It is a paradigmatic dialogue also picked up by Andreas Kipar who argues for a future de-mineralization of the planet and, more generally, the refusal of an order per se, of that relentless effort to tame, dominate and control the environment that led to the human being feeling distant from its very nature. Finally, the short but significant words of Stefania Rössl and Massimo Sordi, that introduce the reading of the images, reflect the awareness of the use of photography as means to understand our relationship with the world.

The selected projects portray several visions and interpretations on the theme by eight photographers coming from different geographical areas. The simulated representation of nature that we find in the photos taken in Dubai by Aleix Plademunt. The project of Dustin Shum who photographs with thin irony some Chinese urban parks, highlighting a contradictory and almost iconographic representation of nature. The physical need for indiscriminate if not irrational appropriation of natural resources, water for instance,as  documented by Alejandro Cartagena in the controversial suburban Mexican reality. Michael De Kooter is located instead on the edge of town, on the outskirts of Lausanne, where artifice slowly merges into nature and where behaviours may appear unrealistic, almost “borderline”. The gaze of Guido Castagnoli runs along the Tamagawa river in Tokyo, a place to escape from the metropolis and for gathering human desires and instincts. Karin Borghouts plays on the edge of ambiguity, focusing on artificial environments like the zoo, forcing the viewer to reflect on the meaning of nature in these spaces and, perhaps, the very meaning of our being part of the city. Hin Chua examines, with grace and with a poetic force that feeds on the extremes, the essence of the relationship between man and nature, interpreted as a consequence of his fall from Paradise. Finally that of Anne Lass is more a introspective drift that transgresses the physical space through the imagination and places nature within a dream-like dimension almost as if it were an alien and misplaced object. Nature as fiction, recreation, ambiguity, denial, surroundings, removal, randomness and introspection. Different points of view that underly a truth: the more man distances himself from nature, the more he must seek for it. However, does nature need humans? 

A premiere of the exhibition was held at the Festival of Savignano, renowned show of contemporary photography in Italy. The inauguration took then place in Vicenza, artistic city recognized as UNESCO heritage, at the LAMeC (Laboratory for Modern and Contemporary Art). The exhibition moved lately to Treviso at the Palazzo Bomben, home of the cultural activities of the Benetton Foundation Studies Research. 

The catalogue published in a limited and numbered series is available here. For more please write us: info@urbanautica.com 

TREVISO BENETTON FOUNDATION

VICENZA LAMeC

SAVIGNANO SI FEST

© Courtesy of Gianpaolo Arena