Museo di Palazzo Grimani opens 'Ugo Carmeni: Venice Mapping Time'

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Museo di Palazzo Grimani opens 'Ugo Carmeni: Venice Mapping Time'
Ugo Carmeni, 20210910133900, 100×150 cm. Stampa giclée, finitura artigianale a cera
pannello Dibond con distanziatore in legno © Ugo Carmeni.

VENICE.- Museo di Palazzo Grimani, a rare example of Tuscan-Roman Renaissance architecture in Venice and a place where classical and contemporary art are uniquely united, is pleased to present the exhibition Ugo Carmeni. Venice Mapping Time. Curated by Daniela Ferretti with Dario Dalla Lana, promoted by the Veneto Regional Museum Directorate and the Superintendence of Archaeology, Fine Arts and Landscape for the City of Venice and Lagoon and under the patronage of the Patriarchate of Venice, the exhibition was specifically conceived for the museum spaces and will be open to the public from 5 July to 26 November 2023, proposing a new perspective on the “stones of Venice” and highlighting their particular way of interacting with light. The exhibition is part of a project that aims to increasingly connect the museum's great historical heritage with contemporary experiences: the exhibitions produced and co-produced by Palazzo Grimani, indeed, aim at enhancing the permanent installations and architecture of the building through innovative proposals and cultural initiatives created specifically for its spaces.

“The exhibition Venice Mapping Time stems from the Museum's desire to consolidate the link with the city on the one hand and with the protection and enhancement of Venice's historical and artistic heritage on the other”, explains Valeria Finocchi, director of Museo di Palazzo Grimani. “This exhibition project shows how a documentation work can become an actual artistic project, building on the path taken by the museum over the past years and connecting the ancient and the contemporary beyond photography".

On the second floor of the palazzo, usually dedicated to temporary exhibitions, Carmeni presents fifty-seven works that originate from the documentation and mapping of the city's architectural surfaces between October 2020 and March 2023, in the context of the restoration of several buildings and churches of the Patriarchate of Venice, along with a glance at other city sites. The exhibition also includes a multimedia installation, with a wider selection of images mounted in an apparently random sequence but actually generated by an algorithm that, reacting to the presence of the observer, produces an ever-changing visual reading for the whole duration of the show, while a similar device uses the visitor flow to determine the composition of the sound design. The projection – specifically created by the artist for this exhibition in collaboration with Federico Poni for the algorithm and Alessandro Gambato for the sound design –therefore produces a flow of images and sounds that follow a random narrative, a personal journey into the intimate perception of the idea of Venice that seamlessly connects past, present and future. On the main floor (piano nobile), in the rooms housing the decorations of Giovanni da Udine, Francesco Salviati, Federico Zuccari as well as Giovanni Grimani's statue collection (returned to the palazzo after more than four centuries), visitors can discover a special section of the exhibition: in the Sala di Psiche, where a bas-relief depicting a salamander was recently brought to light, Ugo Carmeni composes a rhapsodic Venetian bestiary, consisting of a careful selection of ten photographs of sculptural details with animal subjects such as lions, dragons, snakes and eagles scattered across the city.

The sixty-seven works exhibited are not simply photographs but enlargements of details printed on cotton paper in large format (up to 100 x 150 cm); each photograph is hand-polished with several coats of wax to protect the pigments and bring out their vividness and finally placed on aluminium panels mounted on wooden frames.

“In the spirit of Ruskin, [Carmeni] has climbed the many restoration scaffoldings on the facades of Venetian churches and palazzos – observing, noting, analysing, mapping, and photographing before finally selecting, among the many pictures, the ones that compose his highly personal narrative. ”, explains curator Daniela Ferretti. “A dream-like pilgrimage scattered with traps and prodigies, wonders and nightmares, corroded and smooth surfaces, vertiginous and hyperbolic architectural views, uncanny and enticing allegorical personifications, extraordinary lapidaria and bestiaries. Through mind-opening details, Carmeni unfolds in front of our eyes an unexpected polyphony of semantic symbols that invites us to pay closer attention and explore a ‘middle world’”.

“I have been observing the architecture and surfaces of Venice through my camera for years”, says Ugo Carmeni. “It's a job that requires a great deal of patience, being potentially infinite. My aim is to explore and record the chromatic variety of the plasterwork, the texture of the walls and the patterns of the roofing, focusing on the effects of the passing of time on the stones of this city".

To emphasize the close correlation between Carmeni’s photographic work and time, the title of each piece only indicates the instant in which the photo was taken, not its spatial co-ordinates: these details, isolated from their context and not immediately locatable in space, shed a new light on the continuity of surface and colour that constitutes the essence of Venetian architecture and urban design.

The accompanying catalogue, produced by the artist, is an integral part of the artistic and exhibition project.

Venice Mapping Time adds to the vast plan for the revitalisation and enhancement of Museo di Palazzo Grimani, which began in 2019 when the collection of ancient statues of Giovanni Grimani, Patriarch of Aquileia, was returned to the palazzo’s Tribuna and Sala del Doge after more than four hundred years. This operation has been complemented by contemporary art exhibitions dedicated to Helen Frankenthaler (2019), Georg Baselitz (2021) and Mary Weatherford (2022). The museum also houses, as a long-term loan, the twelve canvases of the Archinto cycle made especially for the Sala del Portego by Georg Baselitz.

Museo di Palazzo Grimani
Venice Mapping Time
July 5th, 2023 - November 26th, 2023

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