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MAXXI L’Aquila presents Afterimage

July 2, 2022–February 19, 2023

Afterimage is an international group show that explores the endurance of what has physically vanished around us at MAXXI L’Aquila—National Museum of 21st Century Arts.

The exhibition, which includes 26 international artists from various generations and works from the 1960s to the present, also includes site-specific installations and freshly commissioned pieces, as well as historical items from the MAXXI Collection and monographic rooms.

The exhibition Afterimage, which was organized by Bartolomeo Pietromarchi and Alessandro Rabottini, is a reflection on memory and metamorphosis that explores the erratic ways—both literal and metaphorical—in which what has disappeared silently persists through places, bodies, and meanings.

The optical illusion of the residual image, which occurs when a visual stimulus leaves an impression on the retina even after the stimulus has vanished, such as with the camera flash, is referenced in the show’s title.

Participating artists
Francis Alÿs, Francesco Arena, Stefano Arienti, Benni Bosetto, Mario Cresci, June Crespo, Thomas Demand, Paolo Gioli, Massimo Grimaldi, Bronwyn Katz, Esther Kläs, Oliver Laric, Tala Madani, Anna Maria Maiolino, Marisa Merz, Luca Maria Patella, Hana Miletić, Luca Monterastelli, Frida Orupabo, Pietro Roccasalva, Mario Schifano, Elisa Sighicelli, Paloma Varga Weisz, Danh Vo, Dominique White, He Xiangyu.

With roots in our existences and bodies, as well as in things, images, and interpretations, Afterimage is intended to be a visual poetry that explores the coexistence of permanence and impermanence as a universal human predicament. Afterimage encourages visitors to explore the 15 rooms of the museum and its passages rather than being set up as a thematic exhibition with a clear path. It also encourages them to make intuitive and spontaneous connections between the artworks, the architecture of Palazzo Ardinghelli, and the history of L’Aquila, a city that constantly bears witness to the need to remember and the drive for change.

The building of Palazzo Ardinghelli, one of the greatest specimens of Baroque in the area, and all the artworks are positioned in close conversation with one another. The structure underwent extensive repairs following the devastating 2009 earthquake that struck L’Aquila as part of the city’s larger reconstruction program, and in 2021 it was finally opened to the public in its new use as a museum of contemporary art, serving as the second location of the MAXXI Museum in Rome.

The show, which spans a wide range of media, examines the intersections of fragmented iconographies, malleable materials, perceptual memories, and morphing bodies through modern and historical experiments in photography, cinema, spatial interventions, paintings, and sculptures.

Four narrative paths that traverse the rooms instead of the traditional idea of “parts” are used in the exhibition setup, which suggests an immaterial and formal architecture within the actual museum building. “Material and Memory,” “The Mutable Image,” “The Body Disclosed,” and “Inner Architecture” are these meaning constellations.

Newly commissioned works and site-specific interventions by Francesco Arena, Benni Bosetto, June Crespo, Thomas Demand, Oliver Laric, Hana Miletić, Luca Monterastelli, Danh Vo, and Dominique White are in dialogue with ambitious presentations of works by Paolo Gioli, Massimo Grimaldi, Bronwyn Katz, Esther Kläs, Tala Madani, Luca Maria Patella, Frida Orupabo, Pietro Roccasalva, Elisa Sighicelli, Paloma Varga Weisz, and He Xiangyu, together with historical and significant works by Francis Alÿs, Stefano Arienti, Mario Cresci, Anna Maria Maiolino, Marisa Merz, and Mario Schifano belonging to the collection of the MAXXI Museum.

In addition to paying homage to the environment in which it exists, Afterimage also pays homage to the city that serves as its setting. The city is a living example of how the concept of metamorphosis both contains the past and creates the future.

Curators: Bartolomeo Pietromarchi and Alessandro Rabottini

MAXXI—National Museum of 21st Century Arts
Piazza Santa Maria Paganica, 15
67100 L’Aquila
Hours: Wednesday–Sunday 12–8pm,
Thursday 4–11pm
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