curated by Cristiana Perrella and Elena Magini
On Thursday 7 November the Centro per l’arte contemporanea Luigi Pecci will present Romanistan, a solo exhibition by Luca Vitone, curated by Cristiana Perrella and Elena Magini.
Romanistan, the winning project of the fourth edition of the Italian Council (2018), is the story of the journey Vitone made to retrace, from Bologna to Chandigarh, the route the Roma and Sinti people took from northwest India to Italy. Tracing a migration that occurred between the 8th and 14th centuries, the artist explores an interest, namely the Romani culture, which has featured in his work since the Nineties. His first exhibition linked to this topic, Der unbestimmte Ort (The Unspecified Place), held in 1994 at the Galerie Christian Nagel in Cologne in collaboration with the city’s Roma community, created occasions for meeting that gave rise to vital and shared relationships between different social groups.
The account of the Roma migration route, and of nomadism and the marginalization and segregation suffered over the centuries, becomes a tool for a broader reflection on the idea of place and travel, community, tradition, and the perpetuation of social clichés and stigma. The title Romanistan derives from the words of Manush Romanov, a Roma spokesperson from Bulgaria, who imagined the possibility of creating a country for the Roma people. For Vitone instead, the Roma population, living without a homeland, an army or borders, represents a modern and transnational ideal of a population, almost becoming a forerunner, even in light of the current mass migrations that are upsetting the socio-political balance of the planet.
The journey behind the Romanistan project, which lasted six weeks, started in the city of Bologna, where the presence of Roma people was officially documented for the first time in 1422, and ended in the city of Chandigarh in India, passing through Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia, Romania, Bulgaria, Macedonia, Greece, Turkey, Georgia, Armenia, Iran, and Pakistan. 25 years after the seminal exhibition at the German gallery and 42 years after a car journey with his parents from Genoa to the Persian Gulf, Luca Vitone completed an epic and impressive journey in which once again personal memories formed connections with history. The journey back to the origins of the Roma people is in fact represented through the external gaze of those who do not share their culture or traditions, but at the same time there is a wish to go beyond the stereotypes of marginality and poverty with which the Roma are commonly associated, focusing instead on representing the intellectual bourgeoisie through encounters with political personalities, social activists, academics.
Romanistan is a multi-faceted project made up of a film, a series of photographs and an artist's book, originating from a travel canovaccia open to the randomness of experiences and encounters. The exhibition path recreates its layered and substantial cross references by connecting works specifically designed for the occasion with historical works in the artist's production.
The practice of Luca Vitone (Genoa, 1964), which started in the second half of the Eighties, focuses on the idea of place, which in the artist's reflection assumes renewed meaning, where personal memory is linked to collective history and post-modern territorial, cultural and political conventions are lost. Space for Vitone is social and community space, which is explored through video, installation, photography, sound and performance. His exploration covers territories that transform from physical to mental: maps and cartography, central to the artist’s production, lose their topological value, highlighting the lack of a relationship between contemporary humans and their environment, but at the same time they are burdened with greater complexity, the result of a continuous reworking of private memories, social traditions and spatial-temporal experiences.
Over the years, Vitone’s work has concentrated on the concept of nomadism and the identity of ethnic minorities through an analysis of his cultural productions addressed in a broad and multifaceted way, from art to cartography, architecture, music and food, the latter understood as elements of the material culture that encourage awareness among people and different cultures.
After the exhibition at the Centro Pecci, the film will be presented at Lo schermo dell’arte (Florence), Centre D’Art Contemporain (Geneva), Istituto Italiano di Cultura (London), Istituto Italiano di Cultura (San Paolo), Magazzino Italian Art (New York), MAXXI (Rome), n.b.k. (Berlin), and Weserburg Museum für Moderne Kunst (Bremen).
Romanistan by Luca Vitone is a project promoted by the Centro per l’arte contemporanea Luigi Pecci, winner of the 4th edition of Italian Council (2018) a competion conceived by the Directorate-General for Contemporary Creativity and Urban Regeneration – an organism of the Italian Ministry for Cultural Heritage and Activities and Tourism to promote Italian contemporary art in the world.
11.08.2019 — 03.15.2020
Thursday November 7, h 6.30 pm
Luca Vitone, Romanistan, 2019
Courtesy the artist, Centro per l'arte contemporanea Luigi Pecci, Italian Council 2018
Viale della Repubblica, 277, 59100 Prato PO, Italia