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01 Oct 2013

No Country for Old Men? at Sala Dogana, Palazzo Ducale, Genoa

Graphic design: Andrea Sassano

Non è un paese per vecchi? / No Country for Old Men?
Sala Dogana, Palazzo Ducale, Genoa


Participating artists: Alterazioni Video, Anna Franceschini, Massimo Grimaldi, Alessandro Nassiri Tabibzadeh, Valerio Rocco Orlando, Matteo Rubbi, Driant Zeneli
Curated by Antonella Croci and Federico Florian
October 4-20.
Opening hours: Tuesday-Sunday, 3-8 p.m. Free entrance

Antonella Croci

Sala Dogana, Palazzo Ducale, Genoa
Piazza Matteotti 13
16123 Genoa

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Alterazioni Video, Anna Franceschini, Massimo Grimaldi, Alessandro Nassiri Tabibzadeh Valerio Rocco Orlando, Matteo Rubbi, Driant Zeneli

According to Richard Lassels, the author of Voyage of Italy (1670), only those who travel to Italy are really “able to understand Cesare and Tito Livio”. The Grand Tour, term coined by Lassels himself, referred to the educational journey through Europe that wealthy young men made in the 18th and 19th century. Only those who completed this long trip to Rome and had the chance to study Italian history, art and culture could come back to their homeland and call themselves “adults”.

What does an education in Italy mean today? And what about being young in this country? Which role does contemporary discourse play in such a bulky historical frame?

Non è un paese per vecchi? (No Country for Old Men?) is like an imaginary Grand Tour through the Italian boot: the exhibited artworks lead to a reflection about the role of the artist and his possibilities of action in the contemporary Italian society; about the condition of a nation and the cultural crisis running through it; about the progressive ageing of Italy and its inability to encourage new artistic energies.

The group show starts with a question: which is the relationship between Italy and the intellectual formation of an artist? Does it still represent, as in the past, a destination necessary to complete his own cultural education? The piece by Valerio Rocco Orlando, entitled The Reverse Grand Tour (2012), seems to find an answer. The video, born from the encounter with the artists-in-residence in the main foreign academies in Rome, reflects on the academic educational system and the role that it plays in order to educate contemporary artists, investigating, at the same time, the connection between international art and Italian territory.
Viaggio in Italia: Live in Dakar by Matteo Rubbi (2011) is the second stage of the exhibition path: the artist here presents the vinyl of the first public concert in Dakar by Chadal, the Sardinian-Senegalese orchestra constituted thanks to the support of the association Cherimus. The LP has been produced specifically for Viaggio in Italia (Voyage to Italy) - a journey aimed at exploring provincial and peripheral territories, started by the artist in 2011 in the Sardinian area of Sulcis Iglesiente and unexpectedly continued up to Dakar.
From Sardinia the journey goes on towards Sicily, the Italian region protagonist of the on-going project Incompiuto Siciliano started by Alterazioni Video in 2006. The exhibition displays Intervallo (2009), a sequence of pictures of unfinished public works on Sicilian territory, accompanied by the music jingle that was used to separate Italian TV programs during the Eighties.
From the endemic crisis of Italy, as mocked by Alterazioni Video, the visitor runs across the choral portrait of a nation: the video by Alessandro Nassiri Tabibzadeh Una buona notizia (2012) ironically documents the reactions of some Italian citizens to the news of an unexpected law which would increase government investments in culture of 100%. The work by Nassiri Tabibzadeh unveils – through caustic sarcasm – the state of emergency of a nation and the deficiency of its cultural policy.
Massimo Grimaldi takes a cue from the dramatic Italian situation to reflect on the sense of art and the contemporary condition of its makers. Finally (2008), fifth piece in the show, is presented as a pile of paper sheets with a text on thefront, where Grimaldi perceptively and poetically describes the feeling of frustration and necessity that accompanies every artist – the particular condition of Italy stimulates a universal discourse about art and being an artist. The idea of failure is central in the work by Driant Zeneli: the sixth stage of this journey is the video-documentation of Bankrupt Artists Lesson n°4 (2013), part of an on-going project begun by the artist in 2008. The footage documents a lesson of “history of unsuccessful artists” – specifically conceived by Zeneli for the exhibition at Sala Dogana – given by the teacher Fabio Negrino to a class of Klee Barabino Arts High School in Genoa. Zeneli’s work reflects on the concept of defeat, considered as fundamental in the creative process of an artist. At the end of the tour, the visitor comes across Casa Verdi (2008) by Anna Franceschini, a video about the Milanese rest home for old artists in financial hardship. The work is a delicate meditation on the artist’s situation at the end of his career: the theme of ageing intertwines with the discourse about failure as well as the precariousness and the criticality of a condition which accompanies the artists till the last station of their creative activity.

Non è un paese per vecchi? is a reflection on the state of the arts in Italy; a journey by stages through the towns and cities of the country; a reflection on the cultural and intellectual crisis – before the economic and financial one – that hits a tired nation. The show is also a meditation – sometimes irriverent, sometimes poetic – about the responsibility and the troubled path of every artist. A discourse orchestrated through the works by seven artists, who propose innovative clues and interventions in the Italian contemporary panorama.


Antonella Croci holds a MA in History of Contemporary Art and another one in Contemporary art and its exhibition from the Sorbonne University, Paris. She also earned a BA in Art History (Sorbonne University) and another one in Communication and Management in the Art Markets (IULM University, Milan). She co-curated the exhibition Échos at the Musée Nissim de Camondo, Paris and has been Assistant Curator and Exhibition Coordinator at ART for The World for exhibitions in Geneva (Switzerland), Marseille (France) and Sao Paulo (Brazil).

Federico Florian is an art critic and writer based in Milan. He holds a BA Degree in History of Art and a MA Degree in Aesthetics (Milan State University). He worked as an editorial assistant at Mousse Magazine & Publishing; he currently works as an art contributor to the magazines Klat, ArtSlant, Rolling Stone Italy, Arte e Critica.

In 2013 Antonella Croci and Federico Florian won the Musée Imaginaire Concours, organised by Kapsul, Kadist Art Foundation and I Close My Eyes in Order to See, their virtual exhibition project, won both the titles of Jury’s Choice and Crowd Favourite.