WHAT A WONDERFUL WORLD. A new arrangement of the Collection of Technological, Experimental, and Interactive arrangement of the MAXXI Collezione

An exhibition featuring large-scale installations with which the public can interact. An interactive device with a touchscreen format to map, visualize, and share the public’s reactions in its relationship with the work of art.

Exhibition WHAT A WONDERFUL WORLD. A new arrangement of the Collection of Technological, Experimental, and Interactive arrangement of the MAXXI Collezione
Date 26.05.2022 - 12.03.2023
Curator Bartolomeo Pietromarchi with Eleonora Farina, Luigia Lonardelli, and Anne Palopoli
Venue MAXXI Museum, Rome
All images Courtesy by the artists and MAXXI Museum

Artists: Micol Assaël, Ed Atkins, Rosa Barba, Rossella Biscotti, Simon Denny, Rä di Martino, Franklin Evans, Thomas Hirschhorn, Carsten Höller, Liliana Moro, Olaf Nicolai, Jon Rafman, Tatiana Trouvé, Paolo Ventura, James Webb

The exhibition project unfolds in a flow of large-scale immersive installations, including important new acquisitions and works commissioned by some of the leading names on the international art scene: Micol Assaël, Ed Atkins, Rosa Barba, Rossella Biscotti, Simon Denny, Rä di Martino, Franklin Evans, Thomas Hirschhorn, Carsten Höller, Liliana Moro, Olaf Nicolai, Jon Rafman, Tatiana Trouvé, Paolo Ventura, James Webb.
An integral part of the exhibition is the prototype of the Relational Digital Ecosystem, an interactive device designed by the research center HER: She Loves Data founded by Salvatore Iaconesi and Oriana Persico and based on AI software. As visitors walk through the exhibition they are invited to interact with the works, expressing impressions and feelings. The data generated is then mapped, visualised and shared in real time within the exhibition, allowing the public to write, for the first time and together with the museum, about the life of the works.

Access to the exhibition is a total immersion in the studio of the American artist Franklin Evans with the work perpetualstudio, created especially for MAXXI: a physical, material and non-digital data room, inhabited by canvases, drawings, prints, photographs, quotations, texts, adhesive tapes and various elements that narrate the artist’s research and make us enter a fluid, colourful and wonderful world.
Once the visitor emerges from the perpetualstudio, they come across Pixel-Collage n.86 by Thomas Hirschhorn, which has recently joined the Museum Collection: powerful, bewildering, impressive, it is one of the 118 Pixel-Collages recently displayed at MAXXI Born from the recombination of advertising photos and images of mutilated bodies, they are an invitation to strengthen our gazes, which are too accustomed to the “pixellation” of reality.
A feeling of disarray and the alteration of reality is what is experienced when interacting with Aquarium by Carsten Höller, a work in process of acquisition by the museum: a device that forces the visitor to invert the normal point of view by observing an aquarium from below, in an upside-down perspective and for this reason an immersive one.
Free Post Mersey Tunnel is a large-scale sculpture by Rosa Barba that the public can cross, an interweaving of metal pipes that disseminate the urban sound, the roaring of the traffic that is combined with the sound of the ventilation system in the tunnel under the River Mersey in Liverpool, where the audio was recorded.
The installation Sub by Micol Assaël seems to involve the visitor in a scientific experiment: a sensory experience between danger and intrigue with a Kelvin generator from which, in contact with the water, blue sparks suddenly appear.
With Les Indéfinis by Tatiana Trouvé we enter into a more intangible dimension. Plexiglas shipping crates and empty pedestal from which labels hang with the data of the artist’s work evoke absence, memory, remembrance, because the works, as Trouvé notes, “are enriched by our memory of them.”
The Worm is an entirely digital video work created by Ed Atkins during the lockdown and acquired thanks to the Friends of MAXXI: his avatar, “a virtual surrogate of the human being” created with CGI (computer generated imagery) technology, talks on the phone with his mother who presses him, but his answers, entrusted to recognition and vocal assistance software, are laconic and essential, symbolizing the alienating relations of contemporary man.
The sound installation In Onda by Liliana Moro, a new work that will join the collection, welcomes the visitor into the depths of the sea, inviting him or her to listen to life in the abysses and reflect with poetry on the fragile marine ecosystem attacked by sound pollution.
The sea is also at the heart of the work by Rossella Biscotti, who in The Journey offers a geopolitical map of the Mediterranean, depriving the mare nostrum of every rhetorical romanticism.
August 2008 is the video-installation by Rä di Martino with the actress Maya Sansa and the musician Mauro Remiddi who, againts a backdrop of a fin de siécle villa immersed in green, sing a series of pieces of news from the BBC in August 2008, thus reflecting on the overload of news today and its consequent obsolescence, an especially relevant topic. For the occasion, the artist conceived the performance April 25th 2022, which will be repeated live once a month for the duration of the exhibition by Mauro Remiddi and singer Costanza Alegiani. First appointment on Wednesday 22 June.

A message of resilience and hope is expressed by the work There is a light that never goes out (Arabic) by James Webb: a gigantic neon sign 7 meters long that cites the title of one of the songs by the Smiths, translated each time into a language that does not derive from the Latin, and that in this case is Arabic.
With Positi. Rome version Olaf Nicolai, inspired by a Byzantine Empire costume, creates on the floor, with a minimalist intervention, a space for meditation and interaction: two marble slabs placed one in front of the other on which to linger, and create dialogue and relationship.
The images in the series Il Mago by Paolo Ventura, which join photography, set design, disguise, take us to a timeless dimension, one of waiting and mystery, making us reflect on themes like identity, memory, and the relationship with the other.
The exhibition ends with two works both of which featuring very high digital technology. Counterfeit Poasts, a voyage into the abysses of the deep web, is the most recent film by Jon Rafman, made especially for MAXXI: a total immersion in a simulated reality made up of visionary scenarios and techno-utopian imaginaries inhabited by avatars and animated bodies, an exploration of the collective subconscious that is triggered by an online world and pulls the visitor into a dystopian and surreal reality.
NFT, AI, crypto-art are at the heart of Simon Denny’s research in the installation Dotcom Seance which “breathes new life” into failed companies because of the financial crash of the Dot-coms in 2000, thus calling into question the social and economic models of contemporary turbo-capitalism.


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