Exhibition at the People’s Palace: Music thrown into the mixer – Culture

Opera is the art form in which everything blends: music, theater, dance and architecture. In Italian, “opera” means not only an evening of Mozart or Monteverdi, but literally: it works, it works. “This exhibition is also an ongoing process, a negotiation process,” says Ho Hanru, one of the curators of the Opera House show at the Folk Palace.

The works come from the Maxxi Museum in Rome, Hanro is its artistic director, and there are also other curators working on the “Opera Opera”. Hanro says that “opera” is a metaphor. Many artworks have to do with music or theater aesthetics. But above all, they should encourage their viewers to enter into an exchange with them, says Hanro; Paraphrasing its meaning.

For this, the usual ways of hearing and seeing must be broken. “Sublimated Music” by Philip Ram shows how it’s done. The installation fills an entire room with dozens of speakers playing individual notes from Claude Debussy’s classic piano piece – Cloches à travers les reuilles. The piece is thrown into the blender, and one wanders the room confused and can bake a new work of ingredients.

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Now, in the postmodern era, everything from criticism to cheesecake has already been deconstructed. What’s even more exciting is the imperative refactoring, that is, regrouping – because people automatically understand things that don’t go together. And this meaning is often problematic: it contains prejudices, excludes, and leads to conflicts.

Many of the images and installations revolve around the questions of who consumes art, who appears in it – and how. This is really a problem with opera: people like to stay for themselves there. On the other hand, postmodern art reflects its role in society and attaches itself with irony.

Ascend to the light. Chandelier installation by Vedovamazzei.M Schurmann

For example the installation “Climbing” by the artist duo Vedovamazzei. It is located in the staircase of the reconstructed Rococo Palace. Hanging from the ceiling is a chandelier made of gold-colored iron bars. The grid creates a platform, as seen when walking to the first floor. On it, at a height of several meters, is a sleeping bag, a cardboard box and a bedside lamp. A climber’s ladder leads from the bottom to the middle of the grid, encouraging the viewer to ascend into the precarious night camp.

During the exhibition tour, curator Bartolomeo Petromarcchi explains that the work lives on the contrast between the luxury of the chandelier and the homelessness on display. And perhaps also between an elegant museum and a poor world being negotiated. A ridiculous commentary on the artwork, the institution, the institution – to which you nonetheless contribute.

In her book Zani, Gentle, Fun, culture scholar Sianne Ngai writes about this paradoxical weakness of art: it is the medium par excellence for designing alternate worlds—but it does so in style as if, from the imagination, of all harmless citizens is quickly intimidating.

‘people’ vs ‘rabble’

The name of the exhibition venue (“Populaire”) refers to another problem that is also the subject of the exhibition. In the installation “Sonorizzare il luogo (Grand Tour)” by Luca Vitone, twenty famous songs appeared from wooden boxes, one from each region of Italy.

Political scientist Philip Manu dissected the traditional distinction between “the people” and “the mob” in a 2019 article. “The people,” “the people,” is an elitist project, consisting of what the powerful consider to be possible to portray without jeopardizing their power; The “rabble” is the unpopular remnant to be excluded from the representation of the good people, typical in the sense of the mighty.

The wooden installation in the “People’s Palace” is really “popular” in this sense, because it takes out of the “people’s” culture what it should make in a museum. At the same time, it refers to this act and defends itself against it by bearing the ironic title “Grand Tour” – a term used by wealthy Englishmen in the 19th century to describe their seemingly colonial travels to Italy.

cacophony of voices

In addition, the installation blends the original and seemingly authentic sounds of the 20’s popular songs into cacophony. If you stand in the room, you only hear the chaos. You have to put your ear to the individual squares to understand the song in question well.

Such a cacophony can often be heard at the fair. It digs and grinds when the meaning is put together. Constantly interlocking sounds, reels of film crackling next to clapping hands, whistling sounds next to Debussy. Vulgar resistance to anything but folk opera opens up the ground. It’s not the performance of the century, but it also doesn’t want it to be.

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