Gibellina PhotoRoad: photography out in the open

Open air and site–specific: it’s Gibellina PhotoRoad, an international photography festival in one of the world’s largest en plain air museums.

Since its rebuilding after the Belice earthquake, in 1968, Gibellina’s calling seems to be that of becoming a museum to permanence.

From the Consagra’s big Stella, that welcomes the visitors under its 25 meters of steel after leaving the Palermo–Mazzara highway on the way to Salemi, to the huge white sphere that acts as aspe to the Chiesa Madre by Ludovico Quaroni and Luisa Aversa, from Francesco Venezia’s Giardino Segreto 2, that incorporates works by Rotella and Spoerri, to the Meeting and the unfinished Theatre, the sole evidences of the Città Frontale as it was once again pictured by Pietro Consagra, everything, in the so called Gibellina Nuova, speaks about the will of standing the test of time.

Not to mention Burri’s cretto, which, retracing the town–plan of the city originally razed to the ground just a few miles south–west and cementing its debris in the form of an ideal elevation, has become the most celebrated land–art work of this incredible en plain air museum.

Now, and for the second year, a festival tries to renew the experimental discourse that permeates the streets of the city, sparking an unprecedented dialogue between the urban structure and photography, a form of expression that began to be considered art among arts just in the latest few years. And the programme is impressive: entitled “Fictions”, this second edition of Gibellina PhotoRoad boasts the presence of great international names which, in the site–specific spirit that has always been central to the artistic story of the city, will enrich its cultural heritage withex novo works.

Starting with Joan Fontcuberta, ironic and brilliant author of an always prickly conceptual photography, which is back in Italy with his funny “Sputnik” and will gift Gibellina with a mural photo–mosaic, his largest so far, made up of more than 6000 tiles printed with private images that citizens sent to him.

In “Fabula ‘68–’18”, Mario Cresci updates the photographs taken in 1968 among the Belice earthquake victims and during the protests in Rome, putting them in relation with a new work made on purpose last year on the scene of the tragedy.

Moira Ricci also draws from the memories of the city with “Andata e Ritorno” (Round–trip), recomposing family–album portraits of displaced people in a hand–colored photomontage.

Adrian Paci can’t miss: his renowed “Home to go #9” takes charge of staging every shifting, moving, migration or relocation ever, whether or not forced.

And after all Gibellina is a perfect set for the reflections of Alterazioni Video, the collective that promotes the idea of the unfinished as an (all–Italian) style. 

There’s room for Nicholas Polli, too, revisiting in video format his elusive “Ferox – The Forgotten Archive”. Along with Christian Lutz, Olivier Lovey, Manon Wartenbroek and Taiyo Onorato & Nico Krebs, Polli is part of the large Swiss contingent with wich this year Image Vevey will support PhotoRoad as main partner.

And also: Morgane Denzler, Sophie Zenon and Michel Le Belhomme from France, Monica Alcazar–Duarte and Brian McCarty representing Mexico and the United States, the Norvegian Terje Abusdal, the Finnish Maija Tammi, the German Tobias Zielony and the Romanian Peter Puklus, and of course the Italians Gianni Cipriano, Federico Clavarino, Novella Oliana, Gian Marco Sanna, Andrea Alessandrini, Giorgio Varvaro and Mustafa Sabbagh among the others.

If therefore photography is a bridge between reality and its interpretation, the Barthesian it’s been and Instagram’s fluidity, the alleged theft of soul and the unrestrainable issue of storaging, it’s indeed in Gibellina that it can still prove to be a weapon against the oblivion.

Gibellina PhotoRoad
Exhibition dates:
From July 26 to August 31, 2019
Curated by:
Arianna Catania, Stefano Stoll
Baglio Di Stefano, Municipio, Sistema delle piazze, Palazzo di Lorenzo, Piazza Beuys, Teatro, Chiesa Madre, Meeting, Giardino Segreto 2
Gibellina, Sicilia

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