The margins of New York in the pictures of Antonio Rovaldi

A special photographic project, traces a crossing of Manhattan along the Broadway, from south to the northern part of the island.

Antonio Rovaldi, Il suono del becco del picchio, Installation view, GAMeC Bergamo, 2020, ph: Antonio Maniscalco

How could we experience a landscape that we could not traverse? How could we convey new dimensions of this fabled place? And how could photographs transmit physical and psychological impressions? Over two years, Antonio Rovaldi (1975, Parma) sought answers to these questions through photography. Then he teamed up with the Galleria d’Arte Moderna e Contemporanea (GAMeC) in Bergamo and won a MiBACT grant. The grant made the rest of the project possible. 

Until May 17, 2020 at the Accademia Carrara venue in Bergamo, constitutes the second chapter of the project “End. Words from the Margins, New York City”, promoted by the GAMeC in partnership with Harvard University (Graduate School of Design), the Kunstmuseum of St Gallen, and Magazzino Italian Art in Cold Spring (NY), with which the artist was awarded the support of the fifth call of the Italian Council.

Antonio Rovaldi, Il suono del becco del picchio, Installation view, GAMeC Bergamo, 2020, ph: Antonio Maniscalco
Antonio Rovaldi, The Sound of the Woodpecker Bill, GAMeC Bergamo

Rovaldi’s fascination with the New York landscape traces back to a day in 2007 when he walked the entire length of Broadway in Manhattan—from the island’s southern skyscrapers to the raw, northernmost parkland in Inwood still associated with the Native name, Shorakkopoch. A fellow artist came along, and another documented the adventure on video. At the end of that tiring marathon, the friends were surprised to hear the hollow tock-tock-tock of a woodpecker. The collaborative, multimedia adventure foreshadowed this new exhibition. In fact, the woodpeckers feature in the exhibition in recorded soundscapes, audible through headphones.

Antonio Rovaldi, Il suono del becco del picchio, Installation view, GAMeC Bergamo, 2020, ph: Antonio Maniscalco
Antonio Rovaldi, Installation view, The Sound of the Woodpecker Bill, GAMeC Bergamo

Curated by Lorenzo Giusti, Director of the GAMeC, together with Steven Handel, visiting professor of Ecology at the Harvard Graduate School of Design, and Francesca Benedetto, design critic, the exhibition — like the project itself — constitutes a eulogy of walking, of the physical crossing of the most marginal of spaces, and is based on the idea that it is from these very limits — not only geographical but also political and anthropological — that a conscientious rebirth of society may be developed.

The display also features the video The Rest of the Images, produced in collaboration with the director Federica Ravera: footage which documents the artist’s practices and, at the same time, the close relationship between walking, the photographic image and the construction of a sequence.

Five Walks. NYC, 2017–2020 originates from the collaboration between the artist and the sound designer Tommaso Zerbini, and through a constant flow of voices and sounds, provides the image of an elastic geography in which the borders stretch little by little, stop after stop, with the slow and reflexive rhythm of a long walk. The first of the two bronze sculptures represents the form of a limulus (or horseshoe crab): a Pleistocenic creature. The second depicts the remains of a keyboard found along a beach in Staten Island which, placed vertically on a pedestal like a miniature monolith, may appear reminiscent of both an ancient and future godhead at the same time: a devotional object from a city submersed in the gray waters of the ocean. 

Antonio Rovaldi. The Sound of the Woodpecker Bill
Opening Dates:
From February 13 to May 17, 2020
Curated by:
Lorenzo Giusti
Accademia Carrara / Ala Vitali
GAMeC – Galleria d’Arte Moderna e Contemporanea di Bergamo Via San Tomaso, 53, 24121 Bergamo

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