MAXXI Museo Nazionale delle Arti del XXI Secolo

26 artists and 50 works recount prison as a metaphor for the contemporary world and the contemporary world as a metaphor for prison: technological, hyperconneted, shared and ever more closely controlled.

Now that global communication also means global control, that the sharing born out of the internet and social networks as dismantled our privacy, the word prison takes on vert new meanings: with the exhibition "PLEASE COME BACK. The world as prison?" curated by Hou Hanru and Luigia Lonardelli at MAXXI from 9 February to 21 May 2017, 26 artist through 50 works will be shedding light on the problems relating on the control typical of contemporary society.
The exponential development of digital technologies, the advent of the social networks, the use of Big Data have progressively and inexorably changed our society which is witnessing the collapse of the philosophies of social and urban sharing and the establishment of new regimes that in the name of security are stripping us, with our consent, of every intimate and personal space. "PLEASE COME BACK" starts out from these considerations and seeks an answer to the question: what would we like back in our lives from the paradise lost of the modern age?
Hung in MAXXI's Gallery 5, the exhibition takes its title from the work of the same name by the collective Claire Fontaine, born out the artists' thinking about the society at large as a space of imprisonment and our uncanny position in it. On this basis, "PLEASE COME BACK" takes as its investigative focus the condition of contemporary society under the control of the power system, explored in both its physical dimension and in its metaphorical meaning. The exhibition is composed of three sections: Behind the walls, Outside the walls and Beyond the walls.

The first section - Behind the walls - features artists who have had direct experience of prison, because they have been detained, they have made it the subject of their work or because they grew up in environments in characterised by the looming presence of prison. They include Berna Reale, with a video telling the story of the light of the Olympic torch within Brazilian prisons, Harun Farocki, who uses films of the surveillance cameras of the Corcoran maximum security prison in California, and Gianfranco Baruchello, with his interviews with prisoners in the Rebibbia - Civitavecchia jails.

In Outside the walls we find the works of those artists who have reflected on the prisons we cannot see, on the surveillance regimes capable of tranforming the contemporary cities into true "open prisons". Among them are Superstudio which with their Continuous Monument had prophetically imagined a model of global urbanization alternative to nature, Mikhael Subotzky, who is presenting video materials supplied by the Johannesburg police; Lin Yilin who, with his performance, reproduces an example of privation of liberty to test the reactions of the citizens of a Chinese city Haikou or in Paris, and Ra di Martino who transforms Bolzano into the backdrop for a scene with mock tanks.

In the third section - Beyond the walls - the protagonist is the theme of surveillance as a "dominant organizational practice", an all-pervasive phenomenon throughout our following 11 September 2001. Among the works presented in this area, the practice of "war on terror" becomes the protagonist in Jenny Holzer's investigation, Simon Denny's project is inspired by the Snowden revelations, Jananne Al-Ani reproduces the perspective of the drones exploring various Middle Eastern sites, while in his visionary work Zhang Yue prefigures future wars or a plan for the destruction of the United States.

"PLEASE COME BACK. The world as a prison?" In presenting these artist's visions of the complex weave of themes characterising thinking on current society, we are faced with a critical overview of this last, highlighting the alarm while proposing as a solution a return to the fundamental values of the individual.

MAXXI - National Museum of XXI Century Arts
Via Guido Reni 4A, 00196 Roma
9 February - 21 May 2017
Opening hours: Tues, Weds, Thurs, Fri, Sun 11AM to 7PM - Saturday 11AM to 10PM - Monday closed
Press office: +39 06 324861 press@fondazionemaxxi.it

Text by: MAXXI Press Office

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