Solo show of a comprehensive collection of works
Solo show of a comprehensive collection of works
Mineo (Homes for America), photo installation 2014. Inkjet prints on baryta paper mounted on plasterboard panels, variable dimensions.
One of the largest centers for asylum seekers in Europe is located in the former homes for the American soldiers stationed at Sigonella, which is itself the largest military base in the Mediterranean. The title (Homes for America) refers to the work published by Dan Graham on Arts Magazine, December 1966. Also, the documented landscape references the Townships photographed by David Goldblatt. Both references contain connotative meanings and suggestions that reflect on the meaning of citizenship in the era of globalization.
Naval Air Station Sigonella “The Hub of the Med” is a U.S. Navy installation in Sicily, Italy. It is located at some 40 km south of Mount Etna. Because of its location near the center of the Mediterranean Sea, NASSIG is the Navy’s second largest security command, second only to that located at Naval Support Activity Bahrain. In 2011, after the Navy considered ending its lease for family housing in Sicily, it had closed the Mineo housing area. Mineo housing area was leased by Pizzarotti & Co. to the Italian government as a housing center for asylum seekers, many of them refugees from the “Arab spring” revolts in Tunisia and other North African countries. It has since grown notorious in local media and among immigration advocates, who say the facility puts too many people in units, with little access to health care and little progress on their cases.
‘Mineo (Homes for America) #7241’, 2014. Inkjet print on paper, dim.cm.75×112 (or 112×168).
WELCOME “Benvenuti!” On behalf of the entire Housing staff, welcome to your new home! Our purpose is to provide you with adequate, safe, and secure living quarters, and to support you and your family while you reside in the Mineo Housing Complex. The Mineo Trouble Call Desk provides assistance to meet routine, urgent, and emergency breakdowns or repairs not deemed the responsibility of the resident in accordance with the lease. It is your responsibility to promptly report any maintenance issues which may cause structural damage to your unit or effect habitability […]
RESIDENT RESPONSIBILITIES Residents are required to keep the Housing staff informed of any changes in projected rotation date, home and mobile telephone numbers, or people other than immediate family living in your quarters. Preventive Maintenance Inspections (PMI) are a requirement according to the Lease and are not optional […] Be advised that you will be held financially liable for returning quarters to the original condition upon check-out […]
Guests are welcome to visit you and your family while you reside in the complex, but please ensure your guests comply with all Security regulations. You, as the sponsor, will be held accountable for the actions of your guests […] Maintain your household noise to a minimum, keep your yard and carport areas tidy and clean, and be respectful towards your neighbors […]
Housing inspectors make rounds within the complex on a daily basis. If, during these inspections, they notice that residents are not in compliance with any rules and regulations, they may issue either a “friendly reminder” or a “violation notice”.
VADEMECUM According to the Dublin Regulation (no. III 1. 604/13) you cannot decide freely in which Nation to request protection […] For the Regulation, a “citizen of a third country” is any person who is not a citizen of European Union or who is not a citizen of a State which doesn’t subscribe to the Regulation for doing an agreement with the Union […]
During the procedure to establish whether Italy is the competent country to examine the request for asylum, your status on the Italian territory is therefore that one of an asylum seeker […] The law establishes that you may seek the assistance of a lawyer. If you are unable to pay a lawyer, you may do a petition for receiving free legal assistance (sponsored by the Nation) […]
If they send you to CARA they will give you a nominal certificate (a paper where your personal data and your legal condition are reported). So, they will give you an appointment at the police office. The police will make you some photos and will take fingerprints (“foto segnalamento”). Later, they will give you an appointment to formalize your application […]
If you decide to benefit of the welcome procedures of the CARA, your stay here last the necessary time to obtain the documents and, once you obtain your permit of stay, you must leave the Centre.
EUR_Libya, photographic series, Giclée prints on cotton paper on dibond panels, variable dimensions, 2010-12.
With his new photographic project, shown now for the very first time after two years in production, Federico Baronello analyzes the symbolic representation of power in its purest form, through architecture. The starting point for his research is the «Fascism embodied in stone» mentioned by the Italian historian Emilio Gentile: the ideology of power illustrated by the magnificent buildings of Italian rationalism spread between the two poles of new Fascist Rome, the Foro Italico and EUR.
Already its title, EUR_Libya, points to the paradoxical sense of the work. The artist further suggests a metaphysical aspect: the architecture depicted appear as archeological monuments abandoned in the empty midday sun, reminiscent of the De Chirico’s Italian Piazza, but also of the Italian colonial landscapes in Africa.
Lost in time, a surreal landscape fixed in sunlight, monumental but empty, silent, found here in Italy, but it could be anywhere in the Mediterranean or even in Africa. Indeed, on closer observation, the architecture in the photographs of Federico Baronello is transformed through a surreal manoveur by the very transgressive nature of the artwork itself (i.e. the photo-montage).
A visual strategy inherited from the Dadaist who through the process of appropriation and de-contextualization developed the neo-avantgarde criticism during the ’60s and ’70s. However for Baronello the combination and overlapping of images and places, reminiscent of the strategy of visual artists such as Hans Haacke, without any direct bearing, does not embody the same ideological criticism. Baronello’s investigations are not a work about the real, as is the case of the German-American artist, but rather it is about the freedom of imagination, the utopia of the possible, inscribed by a minimal and discreet gesture.
As if Libya, or better North Africa, according to the definition of the ancient Greeks and then the Latins, might become Rome, and Rome in turn could really become the capital of a unified Mediterranean world. By inquiring into the meaning of Fascist architecture today, the artist questions the political and symbolic role of the institutions and of the cultural landscape in its broadest sense. In these photographs the ideological result of architecture undergoes a profound transformation, as if the original imperialist ideology had passed through the anthropophagous assimilation theorized by Brazilian modernist Oswald de Andrade, as the ultimate destiny of colonialism.
An economic post-colonialism, indeed. The names and logos of national companies that have long held trade and economic relations with Gaddafi’s Libya, appear as imprints on the surface of the «Fascism embodied in stone» photographed by Federico Baronello.
Anna Cestelli Guidi, presentation text for the solo show at the galleria collicaligreggi, Catania 2013.
Portopalo, photographic installation, Durst Lambda prints on paper, variable dimensions, 2009.
Although it may seem paradoxical, “landscape” is a fundamental and recurrent theme of Modernism. So is it for those contemporary artists who through modernist models and structures once again put our way of seeing the landscape on the line. This practice clearly does not stop at the optical effect alone (or the “small pleasures”) but acts as a genuine investigative process. In this active exercise, the research (of documents and practices) overlaps with the taking apart and recomposition of the geographic and social space.
Jean François Lyotard discerned how in the dominant capitalist society, signs are immediately and totally transformed (and neutralized) in information. Breaking the traditional alliance or uniformity of purpose that bound art to Capital, some artists have taken the trouble to dismantle the information and restore the value and fullness of the signs.
For some years now, Federico Baronello’s work has efficaciously pursued this line. The works presented at the gianluca collica gallery of Catania show us a landscape; a very precise landscape, that of Portopalo and the southwestern Ionian Sea. In this landscape (presented through photographic prints and full-HD video) the information is profuse and different: the realization and the installation of sculpture groups along the Portopalo promenade, by the local parish priest Don Palacino, in memory of the 283 migrants drowned off Capo Passero in 1996 (with a religious-pop aesthetic, with obvious though surely unconscious references to Picasso as well as Ed and Nancy Kienholz); the probable installation again in the same waters off Portopalo, by the Institute of Nuclear physics, of an immensely powerful underwater telescope, a kind of antenna devised to reveal astrophysical neutrinos of the highest energy; the remains and markings of Islamic culture “etched” onto the seized fishing boats in the port of Portopalo.
In Baronello’s works, all these pieces of information reacquire the meanings of a story but above all are presented as signs of modernity: useful signs enabling us to understand also what we see.
Giovanni Iovane, presentation text for the solo show Portopalo at the gianluca collica gallery, Catania 2009.
Lampedusa, photographic installation, Durst Lambda prints on paper on Dibonds panels, each dimension cm. 50×70, total dim. cm. 110×900, 2005.
How To Reach Lampedusa (with Takuji Kogo), Shockwave Flash Movie 7’50”, 1024×768 pixel, 2005-07.
Migration is a thing of all ages. Where Europeans once colonized various continents and emigrated en masse to other lands both in and beyond their own continent, movement from the opposite direction has now taken hold. Capital, goods and information circulate freely in the late-capitalist, globalized world economy. For people, however, mobility is arranged somewhat differently. Borders and territories are still the primary expression of national sovereignty, however multi ethnic populations may have become. For Europe – which permanently shifts between regulating, even attracting, and then repelling strangers – these are the outer borders, the so-called Schengenland regions […]
Federico Baronello and Takuji Kogo indicate how, on the Italian island of Lampedusa, the reality of tourism runs hand in hand with that of asylum seekers, being repatriated or otherwise, without the two worlds ever touching […] Lampedusa is Italy’s most southern holiday resort-island. In recent years there has been a massive, non-stop stream of North-African refugees trying to illegally reach the island/Europe by boat. The CPTA (Centro di Permanenza Temporanea e Assitenza) is an expatriation centre close to the airport. It functions as an arrival hall for tourists, as well as a departure hall for repatriating rejected asylum seekers to Libya. Part of the island’s cemetery is reserved as a final resting place for refugees who do not survive the Mediterranean crossing. In their work both Kogo and Baronello resist the temptation of ideological criticism, looking instead for the best possible way to express the existing reality. All of the political messages which spring from this must be seen as inherent to the original material and the cultural situation. Their art is rather a testimony of a realistic, or ideological picture of the future.
This work shows the discrepancy between the idyll of Lampedusa as a holiday resort and the raw reality of the island as a final destination for the bodies of African boat refugees. By arranging alternating images of both, formerly “innocent” ideas of beach and sun, usually associated with easygoing fun, are given a wry undertone. The existence of another landscape (nameless crosses) urges the viewer to think things over. Therefore the island can also be seen as a prototype of an all but apolitical leisure industry. How To Reach Lampedusa indicates the transformation of Lampedusa from a fishermen’s island to a port of migration for refugees and tourists, the signs and the change in the landscape brought about by their transition. Images were recorded during a visit to the island in 2005.
Paul Willemsen text for the exhibition catalogue of ‘No Place – Like Home. Perspectives On Migration In Europe’, Argos Centre For Art & Media, Brussels 2008.
According to Plato and Aristotle, philosophy came into being with Thauma. Usually this Greek word (and its verb, thaumazein) is translated as ‘wonder’, but it has various different meanings, and Plato himself made reference to them. Thauma is also speechless wonder, shock and also, finally, fear and terror. Philosophy started with wonder (the shock but also the fear), which is a pathos, and ends up being speechless, beyond words. Commenting on this initial fear-wonder of philosophy, Kierkegaard said that what was involved was an experience of ‘no-thing’: essentially an experience of nothingness. A Philosophical Enquiry into the Origin of Our Ideas of the Sublime and Beautiful (1757) by Edmund Burke talks of the ‘beautiful’ and of the ‘sublime’. This important ‘physiological’ treatise (as Kant described it) also, indeed above all, ‘speaks’ of ‘fear’ and ‘terror’ as speechless wonder. Burke (and subsequently all the writers on aesthetics) offers us an artistic visualization of this experience (pathos) of fear. With the historic avant-garde movements and with modernism, which shifted the geography of art from the beautiful to the sublime, fear became a central aspect of artistic language. Fear (terror) became a linguistic element of artistic experience; an experience of nothingness. The 20th century and the contemporary age thus ‘adopted’ fear (and terror), both as structural elements of ‘practicing and thinking art’ and as a ‘reflection’ of a general psychological, social and political condition (general intellect). In another psychic-physiological treatise, ‘Beyond the Pleasure Principle’ (1920), Freud describes three types of ‘fear’: fright (Schreck), fear (Furcht) and anguish (Angst). If anguish constitutes a kind of protection and preparation in the face of danger, fear and fright describe a condition of ‘wonder’ in the presence or absence of the object that causes apprehension. In this case psychoanalysis is a parallel world to the philosophical and artistic one, in which fear is, in the final analysis, an experience of ‘no-thing’. From a social and political point of view, one only has to think of the various derivatives of the word ‘terror’, including ‘terrorism’. The aim of the exhibition Philosophical Enquiry into the Origin of our Ideas of Fear and Terror is to show how fear is ‘an expressive form’ of the language of contemporary art (starting with modernism and modernity), and, at the same time, how this specific language engages with that of society nowadays, in which ‘fear’ and ‘terror’ (and their manipulations) are key aspect of our being in the world today.
Helmut Friedel and Giovanni Iovane, text for the group show A Philosophical Enquiry into the Origin of our Ideas of the Fear and Terror at galleria gentili, Prato 2010.