Italian Artists in New York

Two weeks ago, while the City was getting ready for the New York City Marathon, an event that gathers many people from Europe, I visited the exhibition Senso Unico at PS1 in Queens, New York.

The show presents eight Italian artists who have marked their presence in the contemporary art world, featuring works by female artists Vanessa Beecroft, Rä di Martino and Paola Pivi, as well as Paolo Canevari, Angelo Filomeno, Adrian Paci, Pietro Roccasalva, and Francesco Vezzoli. These artists do not represent a movement happening in Italian art, but it is the uniqueness and independence of their research that brings them together. Indeed, as the Museum hand-out suggests, Senso Unico means “one way,” but, translated literally, also means “unique feeling.” It was interesting seeing together for the first time, right here in New York, these artists, who express their personal researches, artistic pursuits, and individual paths while confronting art with different media and languages.

(Vanessa Beecroft, VB61 Still Death! Darfur Still Deaf?, performance, 2007. Image: Vanessa Beecroft. Courtesy of Galleria Massimo Minini & Galleria Lia Rumma).

Some of the works in the show address political and social issues, like Vanessa Beecroft’s VB61 Still Death! Darfur Still Deaf?, a performance piece (featured as a video in the exhibition) that took place at the Pescheria di Rialto, the public fish market on Canal Grande, during the 52nd Venice Biennale. This performance is a powerful reaction to the genocide happening in Darfur. In other works there is a shift towards a more private sphere, like Rä di Martino’s glimpse into a moment of domestic folly in the video Cancan!, or the elaborate textile-based works embroidered with crystals, beads and other precious finery created by Angelo Filomeno.

(Rä di Martino, Cancan!, 2004, single channel video installation. Courtesy of Galleria Monitor.)

Senso Unico is at PS1 through January 7th, 2008.