Retrospettiva a luce solida (“Retrospective in solid light”) is the title of the monographic exhibition dedicated by Madre museum to Fabio Mauri (Rome, 1926-2009) on November, masterful exponent of the neo-avantgardes of the second half of the 20th Century, whose artistic practice – turning on the exploration of the mechanisms of’ ideology and languages of propaganda, as well as the collective imagination and the structures of media narratives, especially film – places him among the greatest and more seminal contemporary artists internationally.
Organized in close collaboration with the Studio Fabio Mauri, the exhibition is the fullest ever dedicated to the artist since the retrospective, in 1994, at the Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Moderna in Rome. Within a layout specifically designed for the individual spaces of the museum, it will present more than a hundred works, installations, actions and documents, that explore modern and contemporary history through its conflicts and contradictions and find their intellectual and emotional fulcrum in the intrinsic relationship between the historical and ethical dimensions.
The first section of the exhibition, taking up the whole third floor of the museum, presents works where the artist explores, in his early convergence with the Pop aesthetic, the dimension of the mass communication, up to his Schermi series (“Screens”, 1950s-70s), integrated with his “carpets-doormats” and a number of other works and materials related to his research into the meanings and dynamics of projection, including major sculptural and installational works from late 1960s (Cinema a luce solida / “Cinema in solid light”, 1968; Pila a luce solida / “Pile in solid light”, 1968; Colonne di luce / “Columns of light”, 1968; Luna / “Moon”, 1968). The path culminates in a selection of projection works, from those in 16mm from the 1970s to the bodies and objects (various samples of Senza / “Without” and Senza ideologia / “Without ideology”, the reconstruction of Intellettuale Pasolini / “Intellectual-Pasolini”), down to his most recent projections on digital media and with environmental approach.
A second section of the exhibition, on the museum’s ground floor, in the Re_PUBBLICA MADRE gallery and the three galleries on the mezzanine floor, will consist of works, installations, actions and documents related to the performative and theatrical matrix of the artist’s research, with a selection of Mauri’s most important actions. These will be periodically presented during the exhibition lasting, or through documentary materials and some essential “scenic” components. Also integrated into this dynamic environment will be a number of key installations, such as Manipolazione di Cultura (“Manipulation of Culture”, 1971-73, terminated in 1976), the book-work Linguaggio è guerra (“Language is war”, 1975), Oscuramento (“Darkening”, 1975), Il Muro Occidentale o del Pianto (“The Western or Wailing Wall”, 1993), Theatrum Unicum Artium (2007). The inquiry will also explore Mauri’s first play, a monologue in two parts and two scenes entitled L’isola (“The island”, 1960).
A third section of the exhibition (Sala delle Colonne, first floor) will eventually be devoted to the first ever presentation of the complete series of architectural models that reconstruct the exhibition routes of the artist’s principal exhibitions.
Transforming the whole surface of the Madre into the space-time of critical experience, where thought becomes physical and concrete, and the white cube of the museum merges with the theatrical stage and the black box of the movie theater, the exhibition incorporates and conveys the concept of “solid light”, which appears in the titles of some of the artist’s works. In them, referring to the futurist Lampadine con i raggi solidificati (“Bulbs with solidified rays”), Mauri gave physical substance to the beam of light which joins the projector to the movie screen, so translating the idea that all the components of existence are real, hence also thought, imagination and ideology. This reflection, later embodied in his Schermi, Proiezioni and performative actions, became a metaphor of the relationship between mind and world, between reality and memory, between history and stories, so transforming the museum itself into the projector on the occasion of this exhibition, as well as the concept of retrospective into an architectural projection that envelops the viewer.