On February 4th,the collective contemporary art exhibition “You Got to Burn to Shine”, curated by Teresa Macrì, opened at Rome’s National Gallery of Modern and Contemporary Art. It is a truly contemporary exhibition, as is already evidentfrom the title, which cites a famous collection of poems by John Giorno. The exhibit is an experimental journey that shakes the visitor to the core, communicating something that moves us. Each artwork needs to beheard: different textures and images accompany a visual and sound narration that constantly recalls our attention.
The exhibition reveals an understanding about individual identity in contemporary society: it is an aesthetic interpretation of this era, in which we experienceour lives by burning through ourselves (or others)to purify ourselves. The artistcollective presents itself in a light and well-calibrated way. Dial-A-Poem (a telephone with which to listen to over 200 poems in loop) and Poem print from John Giorno’s God’s Man Madecycleare perfect examples of this.
Everything has rhythm, a relentlessand equallyelusive rhythm, not so dissimilar to the beat in a rap song that- according to the curator – is an apt representation of this historical moment. Indeed, contemporary Italian domestic and foreign policy is like rap, so to speak.
The artwork by Francis Alys, Silencio, is a political act against the United States’ press silenceon the eve of the Baghdad bombing in 2003: it ispolitical, but pop.
Luca Guadagnino, in an unprecedented role as an artist, presents an enchanting, spiritual work: a sort of modern devotional altar, yetminimalist, with repeating shapes and powerful materials. By contrast, other artists recount the interconnection between culture and power with lightness and irony, ranging between “high culture”and ‘popular culture”(Jeremy Deller, Mike Kelley), or deal with the social and ecological paradoxes of our time (Domenico Mangano and Marieke van Rooy). CeMentobyElena Bellantoni tells us about fictionthrough a series of beach toys made of cement: everything looks like something but refers to something else. And the video-reportage by Bertille Bak, is a dry narration, without rhetoric.
You Got to Burn to Shine offers a contemporary overview throughwhich one canstop and ponder: a great desecrating and pulp-like thought, as well as an excuse to spend theafternoon in one of the most beautiful museums of the city, a stone’s throw away from Villa Borghese.
You Got to Burn to Shine, February 4th – April 7th, 2019 \ National Gallery of Modern and Contemporary Art, Viale delle Belle Arti, 131, 00197 Roma RM.
Artists on show: Francis Alÿs, Bertille Bak, Elena Bellantoni, Jeremy Deller, Roberto Fassone, John Day, Luca Guadagnino, Mike Kelley, Krištof Kintera , Domenico Mangano & Marieke van Rooy, Fiamma Montezemolo, Luca Vitone, Sislej Xhafa.