Modernarium # 3 – Summer/Autumn 2021

Throughout the spring and summer of this year, we have continued to publish on this portal new contributions from artists, critics and curators whom we now wish to thank for sharing with us their interpretations of archaeological matter and for revealing its inexhaustible activity and endless capacity to generate new, and even unexpected, meanings: Lucy Raven, with Diana Campbell Betancourt, Cairo Clarke, Petrit Halilaj, Anna Boghiguian, with Marianna Vecellio, Negar Azimi and Giovanna Silva, Luisa Lambri, Gianni Pettena, Carlo Alfano – evoked during an imaginary archaeological walk through Paestum, Pompeii, Herculaneum and Pozzuoli with his daughter Flavia AlfanoBeatrice Gibson and Nick Gordon, with Claire Fontaine and ﹌﹌, Cooking Sections, Haris Epaminonda, Anna Maria Maiolino. Both through their unpublished contributions and through the possibility to republish and recontextualise pre-existing materials, instruments and work notes, or intimate and private components relating to the decision-making and formal processes that have structured their research, the portal has been configured as an open forum for discussion which does not only share what we know of the artists’ research, what is public and official (the work), but also what preceded, accompanied and follows it, what for various reasons will never become a work in itself, or which is a work, but in its own way, often remaining unnoticed, unknown, unexplored or – to use an archaeological expression – buried.

From this perspective, we wish to thank the archaeologist Salvatore Settis who, in conversation with Chiara Costa, Head of Programs at the Fondazione Prada in Milan and Venice, reviewed the raison d’être of two exhibitions he co-curated in 2015, Serial Classic and Portable Classic, analysing how each exhibition – whether it be archaeological or focused on contemporary art – always reconfigures our historical knowledge as expressive pathos, i.e. as a concatenation of expressions and experiences stratified over time which, far from separating, actually link past, present and future.

During the month of August the portal Pompeii Commitment. Archaeological Matters also gave carte blanche to Lawrence Weiner and Liam Gillick: two artists who had already contributed in the past and who, despite belonging to two different generations, have traced a line of ideal continuity in the exploration of language and thought as sources of a knowledge that is both critical and imaginative. The two artists shared space on the portal in the hottest month of the year, creating two splash pages filled with images, sounds and substances apparently antithetical to one another, such as water and fire, but which have both had a profound effect on Pompeii’s history and ecosystem. And they have pondered on questions regarding the relationship between the cognitive status of the word and the image, and the relationship between objective data and subjective vision, going so far as to imagine possible new criteria and media for experiencing and storing our memory. This is the case even when the events that form them, such as the case of Gillick’s contribution, have not even happened yet: future catastrophes to which it is only possible to react – as per those past and present – by preparing instruments for analysis, conservation, study and, ultimately, reaction, i.e. through the construction of new knowledge.

The month of September also marks the launching of some new operational methods which, complementing the research conducted on the portal, will characterise the project Pompeii Commitment. Archaeological Matters also in the years to come.

First and foremost, the commencement of the exhibition programme of Pompeii Commitment. Archaeological Matters, inaugurated on 8 September with the solo show of Simone Fattal A breeze over the Mediterranean, in collaboration with the Fondazione ICA Milano which will host it until 9 January 2022. This first exhibition will be followed by two presentations and solo shows at the Archaeological Park of Pompeii, accompanied by the publication of the artists’ contributions on the portal: Black Med, POMPEII, the presentation of the duo Invernomuto (Casa degli Amorini Dorati and the road between Porta Marina and the Forum, 1 October – 3 November 2021) which concludes the process provided for by the Italian Council 2019 open call issued by the MiC-Ministry of Culture, which also envisages the addition to the Collectio – the contemporary art collection of the Archaeological Park of Pompeii – of the new work; and Metropoli Latina, the exhibition of one of the fathers of the Italian Radical Architecture movement, Andrea Branzi (Casa del Triclinio Estivo, 14 October – 30 November), organised in collaboration with the Capri and Anacapri Festival del Paesaggio.

During these same weeks, the Park’s contemporary art collection has also started to take shape: in addition to the work by Invernomuto – Black Med, POMPEII, 2021 works by the artists Simone Fattal – Hermes, 2021 –, Luisa Lambri – Untitled (Casa di Giulia Felice, #02), 2021 –, Anna Maria Maiolino – Um Momento, Por Favor, 1999-2004 – and Gianni Pettena – Presenza/Assenza, 2021 – are in the course of being purchased and donated. We wish to thank the artists who, also in this way, have expressed, both to the Park and to its public, their profound sense of commitment, contributing to generating that new contemporary cultural heritage destined to dialogue in the future with the archaeological heritage already safeguarded by the Park, and to vindicating the constant contemporaneity with which we can refer to our cultural heritage.

And it is precisely in relation to the exhibition programme and to the Collectio of the project Pompeii Commitment. Archaeological Matters that, in 2021, through its Fundraising Office, the Archaeological Park of Pompeii has finally launched an experimental and unprecedented sponsorship model called Partners Committee. The Partners Committee platform – which provides for various areas of intervention, including those of the Lead Partner and of the Team Partners with potential support also from the Art bonus platform – makes it possible to propose new methods of interaction and public-private partnerships aimed at supporting the contemporary art projects at the Archaeological Park of Pompeii.

We are happy to welcome the first two Team Partners to the Partners Committee platform: Nicoletta Fiorucci Russo and the Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo in Turin are authentically contemporary patrons, whose example we hope will now inspire other patrons. Over the years, with great passion and intellectual sensitivity, they have dedicated ambitious projects to the support of contemporary art, aimed at bringing together artistic research and the public and at sustaining experimental formats, languages and modes of expression. This assumption of responsibility, which also includes civil responsibility, exemplifies the ideal type of partner for a project like Pompeii Commitment. Archaeological Matters, giving Pompeii the concrete opportunity to reinterpret its cultural heritage in an ever contemporary key. If this heritage has been handed down to us by the past, it is now our responsibility, today, to be able to hand it over to the future by exploiting the present intensely in terms of commitment, sharing and trust.

A substantial contribution to this vision has been made by Massimo Osanna in his management of the Archaeological Park of Pompeii, which has included, among other things, the conception of a complex and ambitious research project like Pompeii Commitment. Archaeological Matters.

In thanking him, the best we can do is to pledge our personal and daily commitment to continue and to strengthen this vision of Pompeii as a cultural and natural ecosystem in constant evolution, as a universal symbol of regeneration which embodies, in an exemplary fashion, a paradigm of responsibility in terms of protection and promotion, but also innovation and experimentation, in which to involve not only our local communities but the national and international community.