The Day Memory Dissolved
Curated by Renato Miracco
Opening Reception: Tuesday, October 18, 6:00 – 8:00 pm
Exhibition continues through November 16, 2016
Gallery hours: Weekdays 9:30 am – 4:30 pm
Free and open to the public
The Italian Academy
1161 Amsterdam Avenue (between 116th and 118th Streets)
New York, NY 10027
Massimiliano Gatti presents a stunning record of work at renowned archaeological sites including Qatna, Syria, and at Nineveh, in the Iraqi Kurdistan region, where the photographer joined an interdisciplinary research group led by the University of Udine in the region of Nineveh (“Progetto Archeologico Regionale Terra di Ninive”).
His exhibition features recent images from these ancient cities, and from around the region of Nineveh in Mesopotamia, as well as Khorsabad, Tell Gomel, Jerwan, the Tigris, and a wall of inscription-bearing stones from the Jerwan acqueduct of King Sennacherib.
Renato Miracco, who curated the exhibition, said: “The problem of identity obsesses our everyday life.
Who are we? We are what we eat, how we move, what we do, who we are with, our sexual tendency, or what?
If this question is posed at a general level, it assumes a particular relevance as the identity confines with the construction of places that “create” identity, where Architecture (with capital A) has to reawaken the human conscience.
Architecture, indeed, includes in its etymology the arcai, the essential principles that govern the cosmos.
We feel at home with the arcai as the latter have a soul: the soul of the place, and the architect is the servant of the soul of that place.
We can say that in these constructions, materializations of the soul, the latter adhere to the matter, not being able to be separately defined from its physical component, from its materialization.
And the place becomes memory. The relationship between the temples constructions and their location in particular places in Greece, Mesopotamia, Asia is particularly heart-felt as today all these identities are destroyed for political, religious reasons.
The wound unfolds towards the inside and the outside, the scar is visible, palpable: the place that has lost its soul, has lost the sense of belonging.
“Le cadre est a cache”, Andre’ Bazin wrote: the framing is a bandage that connect the visible and, at the same time, the invisible. When there is visible/invisible in the modern photography, this is about photography of ruins, that belong to the past but won’t they belong anymore to the future?
Traces, ruins, remains of the ancients have an allure that goes beyond time and space.
“… every man has a secret attraction towards ruins” as Chateaubriand wrote in the early of the 800, and this so romantic vision today takes a totally different connotation, less romantic, of the destruction and elimination of an iconography.
The gift of the image consists in providing us a place from which observe our soul as in the images by Massimiliano Gatti.”
Gatti writes: “Nietzsche identifies in the transformation of the past history in the current history the key that the mankind has to become man because history exercises a critical function with respect to the dearths of the memory.
Rovine, totally lacking the human presence, is paradoxically invaded: everything that is now ruin has been created and destroyed by the mankind, and the condition itself of ruin is tied to an abandonment from civilization, either because of an environmental change either because of a change in the equilibria of power. Photography, the tool of the memory, assumes the role to fix the allure of the uncorrupted past and to restore its charm so that this charm can flourish again”.
Ruin therefore becomes an emblem of the past and of the present, of the history that we are living and that we won’t be any more able to teach and that will always more live of media images, not anymore real.
While this is the American debut for most of the photographs, a select few have already been seen in smaller shows. In this exhibition, though, the collection is presented together for the first time, assembled in its intended interpretative stratification.
This exhibition is part of Protecting our Heritage, the topic on which the Washington cluster of EUNIC, the European Union National Institute of Culture, has agreed to focus on as one of the main themes for its 2016 activities, considering heritage as a source of identity, learning, and inspiration for present and future generations.
The program is implemented with the support of UNESCO and in partnership with a number of prominent institutions, including international organizations, universities, museums and foundations.
Massimiliano Gatti, photographer and archaeological activist, worked with the archaeological mission of the University of Udine in Qatna, Syria from 2008-2011. From 2012 to 2015 he served as a photographer with PARTeN an interdisciplinary research unit conducting archaeological activities in the Kurdistan region’s Land of Nineveh in Iraq, the home to some of the most important archaeological sites in the world.
Gatti’s interest in the exploration of ancient ruins and past traces has led him to work as well with photographic projects in Scotland, Syria, Iraq and Italy.
Gatti has shown widely in group and solo exhibitions in Edinburgh, Paris, Los Angeles (at the University of California at Riverside), and throughout Italy. They are featured in important public and private collections including the Galleria Civica di Modena, Fondazione Fotografia, BNL Paribas, Collezioni Comune di Monza. He is represented in Europe by RB Contemporary Gallery.
Renato Miracco, author of books, catalogues and articles on a variety of cultural subjects, has curated more than 100 exhibitions. He has curated for London’s Estorick Collection, New York’s Metropolitan Museum’s Giorgio Morandi show, and in 2005 he has been guest curator for Modern Italian Art at Tate Modern, London. He has directed New York’s Italian Cultural Institute for two years, he is a counsellor for the Scientific Committee of Italy’s Chamber of Deputies since 2006, and since 2010 he is the Cultural Attaché for the Italian Embassy in Washington DC. Supervising curator of all of the Embassy’s exhibits in Washington and around the country, he has been head curator and branding supervisor for the 2013 year of Italian culture in US, during which he has organized more than 300 events, and for Italy@150, for which he has created a calendar of events known as “Italian Treasures in the U.S.”, organized in partnership with more than 80 museums around the country. Instrumental in negotiating a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on Archaeology between the governments of Italy and the United States, he has received the Green Card for Exceptional Ability from President Obama.