Interview with Micol Di Veroli, curator of the exhibition ITALY. THE (IN)VISIBLE STORIES

Micol di Veroli
Photo: Personal Archive

ITALY. THE (IN)VISIBLE STORIES is a huge and exciting cultural journey marked not only by the visual and critical narrative, but also by the works of 15 contemporary artists who are inspired by both tradition and our time. How did you select the artists?

The selection of contemporary artists was made by Dominique Lora and me. We have been working together for several years and have the same critical visions, so the choice of the works was made in perfect harmony. We selected artists of different generations who have always dedicated their research to our Italian identity by deepening our historical, human and cultural environment through painting, photography, sculpture and video art. Our intention is to provide a complete view at Italian contemporary art, to make Italy known, and to show what is happening in our beautiful country.

The exhibition aims to encourage the active participation of the viewers into a journey beyond time. What would you like their involvement and reaction to be?

The exhibition was born from the desire to stimulate a multidisciplinary dialogue and takes place along a visual path consisting of contemporary works of art and photographic documents, video and sound recordings, objects and artefacts from the collections and archives of the Central Institute for Demo-ethno-anthropology of Rome. The exhibition represents a unique opportunity to explore the concept of Italianness with an original and artistic approach, understood as belonging, being and feeling Italian today. What do I expect from the audience? I hope you will continue to be fascinated by Italy and its fantastic stories.

Could you give an example of something that is presented in the exhibition and that you identify as emphatically Italian?

The set-up has been designed for macro areas where you will find some objects of popular everyday life from the beginning of the 20th century that bind with invisible threads to contemporary works of art and video installations, to give voice to the timeless narration of the non-tangible aspects of culture. You will find works that speak of religious practices, such as Dario Ghibaudo’s map of Italy composed of the effigies of Jesus, or the Saint Patrizia, A Martyr to Drink, of Roxy in the Box, where the saint is depicted as a pop icon. We have the works of Maria Lai that tell the popular traditions of Sardinia, such as theatre or works related to the technique of embroidery. You will find works that tell of parties and processions, such as Lauretta’s painting depicting a child at the moment before the party. You will also find more intimate works that tell the most domestic traditions, such as Favelli’s work composed of porcelain dishes that lose their use and reveal losses but at the same time seem to also be ex-votos.

The exhibition is defined as a multi-sensory journey into the heart and soul of the Italians. There is also an impressive audio-visual and video concept that you define as polyphonic visual-audio immersion.

The video installations were created by Francesco De Melis—a director, musician and anthropologist with more than 40 years of research in the field, in Italy and abroad. Inside the “microcinema”, high-tech multimedia display units, we find documentaries that tell of popular devotion, music and parties taking place in Italy.

We often take educational trips with children visiting the National Gallery. We travel to all the continents represented in the permanent and temporary exhibitions. We are happy that this time we shall introduce them to Italy’s Invisible Stories.

There are several works that can stimulate children’s imagination, such as the work of Davide Monaldi. His sculptures are born from the need to tell his life through the objects that surround him. In this work, the author recreates the basket of a famous game, basketball, highlighting the desire to observe, with an exquisitely ironic vein, as a child who looks at the world from below.
Another interesting work for children is the artwork by Giuseppe Stampone, which seems to be a huge game of the bell, an ancient Italian game; or the artwork of Tommaso Cascella, who through sculptures represents a market with stalls of flowers and animals.

Interview by Yana Bratanova,
curator at the National Gallery