The art of provocation, the photography of the body and actions: the 1960s and 1970s on show at CAMERA, Turin
Incandescent years, days that started to have the flavour of modernity, squares that got rid of centuries-old yokes. A historical period, the one of the 1960s and 1970s, in which Italy seemed to have become a laboratory open to extreme experimentations, to conceptual and carnal experiences that had been unthinkable until then. Thus, CAMERA – Centro Italiano per la Fotografia (Turin) continues its mission to valorise 20th century photography, hosting two parallel exhibitions: “La rivoluzione siamo noi. Arte in Italia 1967-1977” and “Ketty La Rocca. Se io fotovivo. Opere1967-1975″, on show from 14 July to 2 October 2022.
The first exhibition presents 150 images from different photographers’ archives, it’s curated by Ludovico Pratesi and organised by Archivio Luce Cinecittà in collaboration with CAMERA. The solo exhibition of Ketty La Rocca is curated by Raffaella Perna and Monica Poggi, realised thanks to the collaboration with the Ketty La Rocca Archive and with the contribution of Galleria Frittelli in Florence.
In the exhibition “La rivoluzione siamo noi” we take a journey through three Italian cities, protagonists of the social and political changes of the 1960s and 1970s: Turin, Rome and Naples. Here we find an impetus of rebellion, a natural instinctiveness that had finally found a voice outside institutional spaces, a long-awaited loosening of chains that had led art into the squares and streets of cities, stripping many galleries of their sacred value and shattering that process of crystallisation that made every artwork eternal. “I don’t just look at the work, I look at the artist. Or rather, I look at how the artist looks at the work. They were works that could not be sold, they would no longer be made, and the photographic image became fundamental’, this is how photographer Claudio Abate explained the importance of the image, of the photographic shot that contributes to, and in some cases determines, the preservation of memory and history.
On show, a dialogue between Claudio Abate and Bruno Manconi, Fabio Donato and Mimmo Jodice, Paolo Mussat Sartor and Paolo Pellion di Persano. Six photographers who constantly followed the changes of the time, ready to immortalize everything that was happening in the rooms of the Venice Biennale, at Documenta in Kassel, in the underground car park of Villa Borghese with “Contemporanea” exhibition and in the historic “Arte povera più azioni povere” exhibition at the Amalfi arsenals in 1968. Twelve live horses by Kounellis free to defecate and urinate in Fabio Sargentini’s L’Attico gallery; Gino De Dominicis and his attempt to make a square form instead of circles around a stone falling into the water at the Quadriennale in Rome; the infamous meeting between Andy Warhol and Joseph Beuys at Lucio Amelio’s gallery; Mario Merz’s abandonment of a practical space for a theoretical one; Anne Marie Boetti and Ableo’s improvisation of a flute concert barefoot on the beach; children playing hide-and-seek under Pascali’s The Blue Widow. Six photographers attracted by the spontaneous energy that drove the consciousness of the artists of those years, who wove their ideas, their convictions among the houses of a country immersed in change. Everything was action, provocation and gesture.
In the solo exhibition of Ketty La Rocca, the relationship between photography and words, gesture and language are investigated: two hands that first join in prayer, then clasp and finally form a sort of roundabout. Thus Ketty, after making her debut in Group 70 within the Florentine Visual Poetry movement, decided to give a radical turn to her artistic career by publishing the photographic book In principio erat in 1971, which was presented at the Venice Biennale in 1972. Black and white photographic sequences in which the artist had investigated the relationship between photography, the body and verbal language.
The works exhibited, produced between 1967 and 1975, deal with themes related to the role of women in mass communication, a strong criticism of capitalism and against the influence of the Church within modern society. More than fifty works with facial expressions related to her studies on physiognomy; images of her performances often taken from the Alinari archives; works made with the Xerox machine, and finally the series of Craniologies and Reductions. Road signs of the Autostrada del Sole with incongruous writing; the artist under the sheets with a PVC sculpture in the shape of a ‘J’ at her side representing her obsessive relationship with the other, with that ‘you’ that was often repeated in her works; the reductions of known images to primary forms, bringing them back under the subjective domain thanks to the use of calligraphy. Ketty La Rocca said about these works: “The David, for example, no longer exists, the real one is the one on the postcards […], and if I want a David all to myself, I can only remake it, reconstruct it for my memories, to the measure of my way of being, of living, of feeling”.
The 1960s and 1970s, in Italy, were years of research, debate, eroticism and alienation. They were years when people were hungry, when art was engaged with contingency, with the a-historical and with the real man.
Rocco Belosi – Contributor
La rivoluzione siamo noi. Arte in Italia 1967-1977
Ketty La Rocca. Se io fotovivo. Opere 1967-1975
14.07.2022 – 02.10.2022
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