Correspondences 2.2, Rome, 2009
Correspondences 2.2, Rome, 2009

Correspondences 2.2, Rome, 2009

(group exhibition)
Correspondences 2.2

exhibition website

21 maggio _ 4 giugno 2009
26cc spazio per l'arte contemporanea
Via Castruccio Castracane 26 - Roma
Tue _ Sat 16.00 _ 19.30
Free admission

curated by Michela Gulia e Gabriella Arrigoni

Correspondences 2.2 is the first project curated by Harpa Project (Michela Gulia and Gabriella Arrigoni) and involves 14 couples of artists, invited to answer a provocative question -ÅgWho is, between the two of you, the dominant figure in your artistic work?Åh- through an epistolary exchange, writing a dialogue sprung out from this question itself. To communicate with the partner, therefore, matches the double meaning of ÅgcorrespondÅh as exchanging letters, and as a way to be similar or fit together. The initial question engages with this provocative linguistic game in order to develop a reflection upon themes like power, hierarchy, gender, the mechanisms of the creative process, and especially about the idea of authorship in our contemporary age, within a dimension that is different from a collective, and also different from the relational model of public art, but rather a dialectic dimension based on the minimal plural unit, that of 2. A sort of Ågconnective intelligenceÅh( Derrick de Kerckhove), appealing to the manifold but taking its starting point from the dialectic dimension of the couple, and reminding us that in every time, but especially nowadays, knowledge and creativity often come from an expanded identity, rather than a singular one.

The exhibition, hosted by 26cc, presents a work (mainly videos and installations) by each of the involved couples.

Participating artists:

Harpa Projetcs is an independent curatorial platform with the aim to develop artistic projects starting from a research and interdisciplinary perspective. For this reason, and because of our wish to keep an open dialogue with the artists and every other interlocutor, our projects tend to be structured through process-oriented participation dynamics and multifaceted channels. The website, besides, is a space where it is possible to experiment new kinds of fruition and circulation of contemporary art. Harpa Projects came out of , shares its philosophy and fundamental aims, and acts in strong collaboration with it.
Harpa Projects is: Gabriella Arrigoni (Genova, 1980) e Michela Gulia (Roma, 1978)


Stay in groups.

There is not a lot going for the group. Group mentality is often carelessly discussed with examples of individuals being coerced into adopting a religious orientation (brainwashed by a sect) or identifying with oppressive mass social movements such as Nazism. Many films have made negative examples of being-in-a-group: Lord of the Flies, Peter Brook’s film based on William Golding’s novel, is about a group of pubescent boys who become naturally self-centred and violent after being marooned on desert island; The Wicker Man, the 1973 British cult classic, where a police officer with empirical methods is drawn into a plot by the inhabitants of a small island who follow a Celtic paganism which leads to his sacrificial death; or The Beach where a group attempting to live in removed harmonious surroundings explodes because of individual members’ selfish needs. The Manson family often comes up as an example of an unsupervised group gone psychotic. And in the 90s in Waco, Texas, 76 members of the Branch Davidian sect, led by David Koresh, died during a siege with the FBI. Jonestown and Heaven’s Gate group suicides…. These stories have a familiar plot — group lead by one controlling maniac who manipulates other members into committing bad acts, or a shared instinct is triggered in the group that they collectively cannot resist. Yet according to Thomas Hobbes, whose thinking underlies all the so-called constructive fear in our society, we are actually choosing to behave in this way.

Although he is undoubtedly acting under compulsion his action is nevertheless the product of his will and must therefore be classified as 'altogether voluntary'.
Thomas Hobbes The Elements of Law Natural and Politic

The late 20th and very early 21st centuries could be characterised by the rise of the free individual. The thrall of the internet, pornography on demand, SecondLife, the desire to be an Alpha type, and particularly the need for private property and wealth have been activities best sought alone rather than in a group. Ideally, we function as individual consumers in an unmediated relation with suppliers, without the encumbrance of others. For a long time commercial aspect of the art world couldn’t deal with groups because of the ambiguity of authorship. And the artist as star celebrity (art stars, YBA, big prices for Chinese art) confirmed an elite artist very near to the patronage of individuals who make things happen.
Scene & Herd, the diary pages of Art Forum, celebrates high achievers milling around at openings, the hippie movement , which is usually celebrated as being ‘over before it happened’ has provided us with the ‘rebel consumer’ against the alternative of the group.

No need to be great.

The drive to strive towards being one of those great artists obviously seduces a lot of younger artists. Tracy Emin, Maurizo Cattelan and Pierre Huyghe made it, but I often think that for Cattelan when he got there there was not really any there there. After a while he formed a group with Max Gioni and Ali Subotnick in order to work with other artists, even indirectly through Wrong Gallery in New York and curating the Berlin biennale.

I often wonder why there are so many artists now. I used to think that people were drawn to the idea of being an artist to create a platform from which to speak. If you become an accountant or a property developer you don’t put yourself in a position to comment. But looking at the younger generation of Australian artists for example, these possible speakers have directed themselves into the production of domestic scale, finely crafted, art works. Not much speakie going on there.

Working alone in your studio, having one solo show every one and a half or two years and waiting for someone to tell you they liked your show can be a pretty unrewarding experience. Working with another person means you have company and someone to think through ideas with. It’s easy to be afraid of being-in-a-group, of being lost in the group, but in fact we are always in groups; a group of friends, a sub-culture, a group of citizens, a group of loners etc. So maybe the idea of the individual is a myth, a marketing strategy. We don’t usually live without others and we are drawn to be in pre-existing groups together. For us as artists, working in a group, it therefore becomes important to look to models that include fragmentation yet find common desires and include conflict as a positive way to arrive at the emancipatory potential of collaboration.

A Constructed World
Paris, April 2009