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First solo show by Seb Patane in an Italian institution opens at Fondazione Giuliani
Last Dance of the Nodding Folk, 2007-13. Mixed media installation, dimensions variable. Photo: Giorgio Benni.

ROME.- Fondazione Giuliani presents The Foreigners Stand Still, the first solo show by Seb Patane in an Italian institution.

The exhibition is based on an idea of unconventional performance and aims to convey a sense of “organized chaos”, playing on a balance between visual rhythms and subtly incongruent sounds. Photographs, video and sound pieces are like components of a theatre set, composed in order to suggest an environment suspended between reality and fiction where sounds and images operate at the subconscious level. Patane creates alternative spaces of action and fruition, reflecting on abstraction rather than representation to deconstruct, reassemble and trigger new productions of meaning.

Formally austere, the installations only appear to contain a clearly defined message, while creating flexible and dynamic environments in which reminiscences of architectural structures are combined with symbols of violence and collective rebellion. Photographs and prints of marked historical and political connotations are selected through an instinctive, subjective approach: what attracts the artist is not so much the content of these testimonials of the past – collective gatherings, rituals and propaganda messages – but rather their aesthetic function, at one time a tool to convey a precise message, today cues for new visualizations. In the work Imperial (Enter Chorus and Actors), for example, the image of the arrival of George V’s coffin at King’s Cross Station in London is read by Patane as “accidental choreography”: a photograph that in its origins depicts a State ceremony, in the present suggests to the artist a sort of dance. The artist gives his own point of view, but the potential of the image continues to be called into play to develop from spectator to spectator. The sound element acts as a rhythmic particle of the visual structure, which increases the internal contrast while simultaneously constructing a type of mantra.

For The Foreigners Stand Still Patane has created new versions of Live in Pankow, A Series of Graceful Juggling Tricks and Monsieur Carnot, all of which are specially arranged into new configurations to underscore a core belief of the artist: that truths are never fixed and always changing. New productions include the sound piece Che La Festa Cominci – inspired by the book of the same name by Niccolò Ammaniti and created in collaboration with Giancarlo Trimarchi – and the video Movement (featuring Rose Kallal), which includes the participation of the artist and musician Rose Kallal and contains key concepts of the exhibition. Characterized by sound interferences that oscillate between a sense of play and menace, the video presents fragments of different experiences associated with a sojourn of the artist in New York in 2011 that resurface both directly and indirectly. Related to a performance held at the ICA in London, one section of the video connects, through the unsettling feeling of threat instigated by the very stillness of a group of men ready for action, to the phenomenon of peaceful protests, like that of the Occupy Wall Street movement. Patane unites his focus on the dynamics of protest with a reflection on the concept of tradition, and on the difficulty of entering into a relationship with the understanding of the history and politics of a particular country. To this work is tied a story that recalls in a surreal way an experience of the artist and from which is taken the title of the exhibition.

Seb Patane (b. 1970, Catania, Sicily) lives and works in London. Recent solo shows include Year of the Corn, International Art Objects, Los Angeles (2011); 400 Sonnets in Reverse, Together, Kunsthalle Mulhouse, France (2011); Entrano il Coro e gli Attori, Galleria Fonti, Naples (2011); Seb Patane, Maureen Paley, London (2009); So this song kills fascists, Art Now, Tate Britain, London (2007); Live in Pankow, REC, Berlin (2007). Selected group exhibitions include La storia che non ho vissuto (testimone indiretto), Castello di Rivoli, Italy (2012); Utopia Gesamtkunstwerk, 21er Haus, Vienna (2012); Performative Attitudes, Kunsthaus Glarus, Switzerland (2010); Voyages from Italy, Magasin – Centre National d’Art Contemporain, Grenoble (2010); The Object of the Attack, David Roberts Art Foundation, London (2009).

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