9 May – 18 July 2014
FONDAZIONE GIULIANI, ROME
This exhibition explores the relationship between melancholy and ecology.
Part one, The Promise of Melancholy and Ecology addresses our increasingly forlorn and conflicted relationship to nature. Like so many Freudian melancholics, we are, it seems, unable to properly mourn the loss of something we can only imperfectly grasp – that is nature, or our conception of it – because we can no longer separate it from our own egos.
Thus this exhibition explores our perception of nature as something remote, largely of the domain of the unrecoverable past, and which can only be represented through extinction, as in the photos of German artist Jochen Lempert of the Alca Impennis, or the Great Auk, which went extinct in the middle of the 19th century. Over the course of the past twenty years, Lempert has photographed 35 of the 78 extinct examples, which can be found in natural history museums all over the world.
The harrowing bronze and carbon sculptures of truncated animals by the French artist Jean-Marie Perdrix, which are made with the lost wax technique, speak to a similarly bygone intimacy with nature, but one whose infernal indexicality cannot but directly evoke Pompeii.
The Belgian artist Peter Buggenhout’s tenebrous detrital assemblages tend toward a revised conception of the so-called natural by investing industrial materials with a quasi-organic quality. Finally, Dutch artist Marie Mul’s dark resin puddles, occasionally inflected with cigarette butts and plastic bags, assume a disturbing cogency in this context, as if they were the only plausible fluids available to our increasingly desolate conception of nature. And yet for all its apparent gloom, the work in this exhibition nevertheless collectively gestures toward the possibility that our perception of what it seeks to preserve, as opposed to mourn, might be less flexible than nature itself.
1. Jean-Marie Perdrix, Cheval, bronze à la chair perdue 3, 2013, cast of copper alloy, carbon and ash; 25 x 77 x 33 cm.
2-3. The Registry of Promise: The Promise of Melancholy and Ecology. Installation view at Fondazione Giuliani, Rome, 2014
4. Jochen Lempert, The Skins of Alca impennis, 1993-2014, 32 silver gelatin prints; 18 x 24 cm each. Courtesy ProjecteSD, Barcelona
5. Jochen Lempert, Martha, 2005, silver gelatin print; 30 x 28 cm.
Photos: Giorgio Benni