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Wall Eyes: Looking at Italy and Africa

Curated by Ilaria Bernardi
Johannesburg, Keyes Art Mile, 3 October – 7 November 2019
Cape Town, 6 Spin Street, 21 November – 12 December 2019

Rome, Fondazione Musica per Roma – Auditorium Parco della Musica, 10-29 January 2020

Within the integrated promotion program Italy, Cultures, Africa promoted by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, the Italian Cultural Institute of Pretoria presents Wall Eyes. Looking at Italy and Africa, a group show, curated by Ilaria Bernardi, which aims to spark the
dialogue between young Italian and African artists on shared themes. Wall Eyes bears witness to the positive contamination between cultures, including four works created by just as many young Italian talents during or after a stay in Africa and therefore inspired by that Continent; it researches the common points between Italy and Africa, presenting a further six works by just as many young Italian talents focused on specific socio-cultural aspects of today’s Italy that, however, do not seem very different from traits of the African continent; it also hosts six works by as many young African artists, with the intent of triggering a confrontation with Italians on common themes. These are: Lhola Amira, Rä di Martino, Silvia Giambrone, Jared Ginsburg, Rodan Kane Hart, Bronwyn Katz, Andrea Mastrovito, Elena Mazzi, Luigi Presicce, Marta Roberti, Marinella Senatore, Eugenio Tibaldi, Gian Maria Tosatti, Luca Trevisani, Jessica Webster, Neill Wright.

With a view to establishing relationships with realities and institutions in the country where the Italian Cultural Institute of Pretoria is based, the exhibition, before reaching Rome, at the Fondazione Musica per Roma – Auditorium Parco della Musica, is held in two important urban centers of South Africa— Johannesburg and Cape Town—, in two very popular spaces—Keyes Art Mile and 6 Spin Street—, and borrows the works of African artists from four important exhibition spaces in the two South African cities where the exhibition is held: the Goodman, Smac and Everard Read galleries in Johannesburg, and the A4 Art Foundation in Cape Town.

Eager to make the exhibition in progress, alongside the ten works by the Italians, Johannesburg presents the three works from the three galleries in the city, while Cape Town presents the three from the collection of the A4 Art Foundation. The variation of the works on display, limited to the African
artists, is intended to evoke and confirm what Pliny the Elder claimed in the first century AD, namely that “out of Africa, there is always something new”. The title of the exhibition reveals how it was conceived, which is the same mode in which hopefully it can be enjoyed: a “wall-eyed” gaze, seeing as how it faces, at once, on one side Italy and on the other side Africa.

The exhibition is complemented by an illustrated catalogue, published by Prinp (Turin, Italy), with an essay by the curator Ilaria Bernardi, contributions by Paolo Cuculi, Ambassador of Italy in South Africa and Fabio Troisi, director of the Italian Institute of Culture in Pretoria, and in-depth descriptions of the works on display.

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