The exhibition, curated by Alberto Fiz, is organized by the Exhibition Activities Department of the Department of Tourism, Sport, Commerce, Agriculture and Cultural Heritage of the Autonomous Region of Valle d’Aosta.
“Olivo Barbieri. Mountains and Parks”
16 November, 2019 – 19 April, 2020
P8PC+86 Aosta, Aosta Valley
There are over 50 works exhibited in a twenty-year journey that includes, among others, a series of large unpublished photographic images in the Valle d’Aosta mountains made for the occasion. For the first time, then, the artist’s sculptural production is presented through three impressive plastic works that occupy the central wing of the Saint-Bénin Center. The works on display retrace the research carried out by Barbieri from 2002 to 2019, emphasizing the attention paid to the issues connected with the landscape and the environment. There is also a cycle of images dedicated to the history of ancient and modern art and the screening of a 2006 video made in China.
Project designed for the Saint-Bénin Center of Aosta, Mountains and Parks proposes the investigation by Olivo Barbieri on natural parks, be they the Alps (already in 2012 the Valle d’Aosta was the subject of a specific investigation), the Dolomites, Capri revisited with the colors of memory or the most important waterfalls on the planet which, as the artist states, “survive intact for the use of tourism or as physical museum sites where to admire how uncontaminated nature could be”. It is a spectacular and problematic review that deals with questions of fundamental importance such as the need for a renewed natural balance associated with mass tourism which, on the one hand “consumes” places, on the other hand guarantees their survival.
His images seen from above, taken with the technique of selective focus that highlights only some elements leaving the rest of the scene voluntarily blurred, have inaugurated a new way of perceiving the landscape that, thanks to the conscious introduction of some “errors “Photographic, it appears to us in an unprecedented way, more like a scale model (there is also the use of digital painting) than a real context. And although nothing we see appears to be counterfeit, Barbieri’s investigation decrees the ambiguity of every representation. They are images that do not arise from the desire to obtain special effects (the shape of the subjects represented is not altered), but from the curiosity to verify the behavior of the photographic medium in unsuitable conditions; it is an approach that reveals interest in the world, but also for the optical instruments through which we can read it: “What has always involved me in photography is the ratio of the gap between the vision of the eye and the abilities of the medium”, explains Olivo Barbieri.
Along with the ice and water parks, his gaze extends to the Landfills, the four large landfills inhabited by thousands of people and animals from South East Asia in Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia. They are negative theme parks, the dirty conscience of the West where the balance of the planet is played.
The landscape also extends to the universe of art history where selective focus modifies the perception of works now metabolized with an ironic and irreverent attitude. And if in the Terrestrial Paradise of Nicolas Poussin it seems to see the Creator moving away leaning against a control drone, the myth of Mark Rothko appears connected with the symbols of the American fast food, the burgers. The dialogue with the masters of the past also involves Paolo Uccello, Caravaggio and Canaletto. The latter, through the use of the optical camera, seems to anticipate the results of contemporary photography.
For the first time, then, the plastic production of Barbieri is presented and three large wooden sculptures created for the occasion are displayed, which refer to the symbolic mapping of the Hobo codes, to American vagabonds and to Roma. A wandering geography emerges that creates a secret landscape, accessible only to members of the tribe. To complete the show, the video Seascape # 1 Night, China Shenzhen 05 of 2006 is shown, which is part of an ongoing art project. In this case, everything starts from Shenzhen, China, one of the new economic areas near Hong Kong where an entire generation of Chinese is going to enjoy mass entertainment for the first time in fifty years: swim in the sea in the moonlight.