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              “Je ferme les yeux pour voir" - Paul Gauguin

              I CLOSE MY EYES IN ORDER TO SEE - A virtual exhibition curated by Antonella Croci and Federico Florian

              Twenty-eight years ago the French philosopher Jean-François Lyotard curated the exhibition ‘Les Immatériaux’ at the Centre Pompidou in Paris. The show has been a landmark in the international debate about the Postmodernism, aiming at visualizing the state of the post-industrial culture in the era of the “short stories”. A pivotal role in the exhibition was played by the new media art, which represented the epitome of the progressive de-materialization of the artwork. An art that was mainly interactive, deconstructing the traditional division between observer and art object, and that – according to Karl Raimund Popper – witnessed the “transfer of responsibility from the author to the public”.

              How has contemporary art practice changed today? Which is the role of the viewer towards the work of art nowadays? And what worlds has the relentless process of art’s de-materialization opened to us? We would dare an answer: the realm of imagination. The beholder is the real protagonist of the work: he becomes a sort of co-author who personally participates in the making of art. The new work of art lives in the mind: it is thought, imagined and envisioned within our own brain.

              In a sense, the imagined work of art can be intended as the result of a “virtualization” process, where the concept of “virtual” has not to do with the false and the un-real – as demonstrated by Pierre Lévy in his ‘Becoming Virtual’ (1995). Virtuality is not the opposite of reality, but instead is a prolific and powerful state of being that opens its doors to new creative developments and unlocks brilliant future perspectives. The virtualization of art makes possible the triumph of the viewer’s imagination.

              This project focuses on contemporary artworks which break down the wall of the traditional idea of authorship and, through their immateriality, throw the spectator into the intangible reign of his imagination – a reservoir of infinite possibilities. ‘I close my eyes in order to see’ features artists who can evoke an imaginary work of art just using the written word, in the form of a caption (Alberto Garutti, João Louro) or a book (Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster), in order to reveal and/or reconstruct History (Eric Baudelaire), to materialize a mental sculpture (Maria Loboda) or to say the unsayable (Robert Barry). Here presented there are also artists who try to stimulate the beholder’s imagination through an object/mark which refers to a work destroyed (Santo Tolone), invisible (Takahiro Iwasaki, Gianni Motti), scattered and incomplete (Danh Vo), or hidden in a camera (Roman Ondák). Other artists, instead, make use of an audio story-telling to generate in the listener imaginary sculpted landscapes (Janet Cardiff & George Bures Miller, Marcelline Delbecq). Not only the work, but the exhibition can be imagined as well: this is the case of George Brecht, Trisha Donnelly and Ryan Gander, who respectively evoke a show just suggested by few printed words, hardly decipherable or even missing. And what about the imagined presence of the artist? This topic is investigated by artists like Renata Lucas and Kris Martin, to conclude with the mythical disappearance of Bas Jan Ader during the last performance of his life. Finally, the project presents artists who examine the relationship between imagination and science (Carsten Höller), imagination and hypnosis (Raimundas Malašauskas), and imagination and memory, as the case of the “un-documentable” performances by Tino Sehgal.

              Our “museum without wall” – quoting André Malraux – is a “virtual museum of contemporary art” containing artworks that can only exist thanks to our imagination. A museum constituted by works often invisible, immaterial or lost – the other side of Alice’s looking-glass.
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