by Chiara Lorenzetti
The exhibition A Matter of Light. Nine Photographers in the Vatican Museums (In piena luce. Nove fotografi interpretano i Musei Vaticani), curated by Micol Forti and Alessandra Mauro and conceived by the Vatican Museums, will take place in the Palazzo Reale in Milan from 24 May to 1 July 2018. The exhibition forms part of the rich programme of events for Milan Photoweek 2018.
Promoted and produced by the Municipality of Milan – Culture Office, Palazzo Reale and the Vatican Museums, in collaboration with Contrasto, the exhibition derives from the plan to constitute the first photographic collection within the Contemporary Art Collection of the Vatican Museums.
To achieve the ambitious goal of creating a new collection, it was decided to offer an opportunity to reflection and experimentation: to transform an historic, social, multicultural, “ritual”, or rather, fully symbolic location such as the Vatican Museums into the object-subject of the creative work of a group of international photographers, diverse in terms of research perspectives, education, origin and style.
“The splendid halls of the Palazzo Reale make this first presentation in a public institution even more special”, states the Assessor for Culture for the Municipality of Milan, Filippo Del Corno, “recounting in images one of the most well-known and significant museums in the world. Ninemasters of photography, Italian and foreign, take an original approach to a place that is unique and precious in terms of art, history and architecture: the Vatican Museums”.
The photographers chosen to work within the Vatican Museums are Bill Armstrong, Peter Bialobrzeski, Antonio Biasiucci, Alain Fleischer, Francesco Jodice, Mimmo Jodice, Rinko Kawauchi, Martin Parr and Massimo Siragusa. Each one of them has worked in distinct moments and on different aspects of this multiple museum, producing nine autonomous works that document and interpret the interior and architectural space of the halls, the flow of visitors and the memories that daily animate the people and spaces, the works on display and those conserved in the deposits, signs of wear and tear, and bodily traces.
It is the first time that a Museum has commissioned a production of this type, aimed at constituting a new photographic collection inseparably linked to the museum itself, which becomes both its subject and its recipient. “To commission from a group of “voices” and “eyes” from the international art scene a sort of reportage that opens the doors of the Vatican Museums, showing them in their complexity, is a bold operation that demonstrates the vitality of a unique place, not without contradictions”, writes Barbara Jatta.
The project A Matter of Light. Nine photographers in the Vatican Museums is intended to construct a series of pathways between imagination and memory, documentation and interpretation, composing a collection of images that may become an archive of the present, a tool for understanding and observation, a key allowing access to future studies, through visions that, though diverse, are all current and necessary in different ways.
The exhibition is accompanied by a book edited by Edizioni Musei Vaticani and Contrasto, with essays by David Campany, Giovanni Careri, Micol Forti, Barbara Jatta, Johanne Lamoureux, and Alessandra Mauro.