“The Intimate Enemy” at Pelagica, Milan
Pelagica invites you to the opening of a new gallery in Milan. On this occasion will be presented the exhibition The Intimate Enemy curated by Laura Lecce and Fabrizio Vatieri with the artists Kamrooz Aram (Iran), Massinissa Selmani (Algeria), Socratis Socratous (Cyprus), Regine Petersen (Germany), Filippo Minelli (Italy).
According to definitions, a cultural and political enemy is someone who believes in a system of values so different and unjustifiable that he needs to be eliminated. In our present day, the concept of “being enemies” has reappeared, taken out of the dark where it had been concealed by our good manners and righteous educations.
Contemporary human dynamics are designing a world of “with us, or against us” and have given rise to the idea of an immense “enemy figure”, casting its shadow from every angle and directing one’s gaze subjectively.
Regine Petersen (1976,Hamburg)
Civilization II, 2017
“Lead your people well and they will take you to infinite heights of greatness. If civilization manages to endure the ages, your name will hang in every whisper of its legacy”. In Civilization* II, the famous video game of Sid Meier (the first one launched in 1991), players are tasked with guiding an entire civilization throughout the ages, taking ownership of your people’s technology, economy, culture, and military, as well as all the choices that go along with them. That acquires a strong symbolic significance in The Intimate Enemy as the photo of Regine Petersen represents the copy of the video game “Civilization II” which was hit by a meteorite in Park Forest (a suburb of Chicago) in 2003. A meteorite fell through the roof of a house and damaged the game which was still in its unopened box. The German photographer through a visual and archival research of both own images and archive press cuttings, found photos and testimonies documenters the meteorite showers putting together the quotidian and the mysterious.
*The game’s objective is to “Build an empire to stand the test of time”: it begins in 4000 BC and the players attempt to expand and develop their empires through the ages from the ancient era until modern and near-future times.
Kamroooz Aram (1978,Shiraz)
Untitled (from series Ancient Trough Modern) 2017
The installation of artist Kamrooz Aram is part of the series Ancient Through Modern which explores the modes of representation utilized by mid-century books documenting ancient Iranian art. The artist combines pages from these books with painting on linen to create collages that simultaneously evoke the aesthetics of exhibition design, photo-documentation, and geometric abstraction. Aram treats the found image as a formal element in an abstract composition and responds to it in the same intuitive manner he would approach a painting, in search of a balanced composition and “resolved” image. This results in paintings in which photo-documentation of so-called decorative arts are subsumed into abstract compositions that confuse notions of ornament, design and fine art.
These works are installed on a black and white striped wall, referencing a house that was designed by the early Modernist architect Adolph Loos for Josephine Baker. Loos, whose infamous essay “Ornament and Crime” is laden with racist reflections on the role of ornament in non-Western art, took it upon himself to design a home for Josephine Baker (Baker was not interested and the home was never built). The exterior of the home was to be painted in black and white stripes, ironically a Modernist form of ornament, not to mention the resemblance to prison stripes, the cage in which to contain the exotic Baker. Painting the interior of the exhibition space with these black stripes inverts Loos’s design, exposing the ornamental potential for Modernism.
Socratis Socratous (1971 Paphos)
Auctions Lots II, 2017
Socratis Socratous research over the last decade, stems from an exploration and observation of his homecountry, the island of Cyprus and its contemporary history and war past. In 2011, a Syrian vessel carrying containers full of war explosives and heading to Syria, was detained in Cyprus waters (EU territory) following US orders. These containers were then temporarily stored in a the Cypriot military base of Mari area. Due to the high temperatures in the island, the containers accidentally exploded in a rather tragic incident that killed a lot of people and destroyed the main electricity unit of Cyprus. Auction Lots II is related to found war machinery, specifically original bullets from machine guns from the Libya and Syria war. These are collected after the end of battles and then find their way to the market through auctions (in the EU) by various companies. These bullets are made in European countries and then return to Europe where they get melted and turned into the primary source for everyday objects. In a cyclical process whereby the bullets return to Europe and get recycled.
Massinissa Selmani (1980 Algeri)
Maquette I, 2014
Maquette II, 2014
The two drawings are part from « maquettes » serie, which portrays absurd models of situations or events (a fire, an accident, etc.). This work is in the continuation of his previous drawings of situations where characters evolve in a space without context. Here, it is the reverse that is played in a certain way: It is a context, often strange and staged in models, without the characters being staged. Massinissa’s body of work is characteristically simple and visually clean, frequently resorting to the montage of pictures and drawings that ultimately have the capacity to act far beyond their scale. Mainstream media imagery, newspaper clippings, surrealist photography and French and Algerian literature inspire the majority of the artist’s drawings and/or graphic designs. And by means of superimposing such found images and making drawing interventions he intentionally gives way to depth and especially movement. Most importantly, Selmani’s aim is creating familiar yet juxtaposed social and political scenarios unlikely to happen in reality, and always balances these depictions within the realms of the comical and the tragic. In a sense, he minimalistically reflects and stages the daily absurdity that we experience throughout our lives.
Filippo Minelli (1983 Brescia)
No title,the intimate enemy, 2014-2017
Notitle is a selection from an archive of 2000 downloaded images propaganda saved by attending Twitter accounts of foreign fighters and supporter of the Islamic State, from the declaration of the creation of the Caliphate in 2014 through 2017. The archive focuses on the relationship between propaganda and digital era. The artist try to understand the first war fought “online”, called by the fighters ‘Internet Jihad’, linking the aim to communicate to the followers with that of creating appeal to Western jihadists through the use of daily post- internet languages like memes, photos with kittens, collages, etc.The archive avoids violent scenes to focus on the classics of the wider online world such as memes, in this case created to troll to ethnic minorities or Iraqi central government, attempts to normalize violence by presenting kittens fighters found in newly-populated villages , portraits of exemplary martyrs with the most popular digital manipulation software, sacred phrases and screenshots of material produced by official communication channels.For ‘The Intimate Enemy’ the archive is featured on a tablet to highlight the feeling of intimacy and permeation of the private sphere.
at Pelagica, Milan
until 15 January 2018