Present Continuous Pasts at Fondazione Museo Pino Pascali, Polignano a Mare


Participating Artists: Morehshin Allahyari (US), Kamilia Kard (IT), Oliver Laric (DE), Petros Moris (GR)
curated by: Domenico Quaranta
For: Apulia Center for Art and Technology
Venue: Fondazione Museo Pino Pascali
Via Parco del Lauro 119, Polignano a Mare (BA)
Opening: September 3, 2021, 7.30 p.m.
September 3 – 30, from Wednesday to Sunday, 4.00 – 8.00 p.m.
Press release (pdf, english) – Press Images (zip, 6,5 mb)

We live in an era characterized by a stratified, intersecting and confused temporality. The future has disappeared from our horizon with the approach of the new millennium, depriving us of any possibility of imagining it as anything other than an apocalypse or an unchanging repetition of the present in which we are immersed. The shock caused by the speed with which the future arrives, catching us unprepared, has been transformed into the shock of a present that engages and distracts us at a relentless pace, preventing us from looking elsewhere. Immersed in the present and deprived of the future, we watch the past return again and again: in the form of farce, in the form of natural, historical or biological relics regurgitated from the earth or released from rapidly melting ice, of plastic islands, open-air dumps, seed banks and DNA strings, of cultural heritages digitized and put on the web to train artificial intelligence or distract us during a pandemic. But duration obsesses us, and if on the one hand we struggle to believe in the near future, on the other we continue to create time capsules for the distant future, wondering what sense the traces of the present and the past will have for the intelligences – human, alien or artificial – for which they are intended.

Borrowing the title of a 1974 video installation by American artist Dan Graham that investigated the coexistence of different temporalities in a hypermediated environment, Present Continuous Pasts is a group exhibition that explores contemporary temporal atopy through the work of 4 international artists who engage with the digitization, modeling, hybridization, archiving, and rematerialization of cultural artifacts from the present and the past.

Morehshin Allahyari, She Who Sees The Unknown: Huma, Still image from HD video, image courtesy of the artist, 2016

Iranian artist relocated to the United States, Morehshin Allahyari presents Huma (2016), a video installation that is part of the cycle She Who Sees the Unknown (2016 – ), an ongoing research project that uses the languages of 3D scanning, 3D modeling, 3D printing and storytelling in various declinations (linear narration, immersive environment in VR, online hypertext) to reconstruct and actualize the stories of five characters from Middle Eastern mythology: female or hybrid monsters and jinn, faithfully reconstructed based on existing iconography but often re-read through a personal filter. Huma, a jinn with three heads and two tails that “brings heat” to the human body, causing fever, becomes in Allahyari’s narration an emblem of a non-colonial response to global warming and environmental disaster: an attitude that is not expressed in the flight and conquest of new worlds, but in “staying with the trouble” (Donna Haraway), leveling and making its consequences more equal.

Kamilia Kard, Woman as a Temple 18, Pink Pearl, 2020. 34,8×30,5×50 cm, PLA 3D Print. Courtesy the artist

The recovery, through 3D modeling and printing, of female archetypes of the past also returns in the work of the Italian-Hungarian artist Kamilia Kard, who in the cycle Woman as a Temple (2017 – ) is inspired by the Paleolithic Venuses, emblems of femininity and fertility, not to reconstruct a fragment of archaeology of the past but to give solidity and concreteness to a hypothetical archaeology of the future. His headless and limbless busts, 3D printed with unnaturally colored plastic filaments, do not bear the wounds of erosion and time, but the scars of a translation process from digital to real, automated but still imperfect, in which – if no finishing touches are made – as in the trunk of a tree, the growth process of the sculpture and the difficulties encountered by the machine in solving some of the challenges posed by the model become legible.

Oliver Laric
Oliver Laric, Betweenness, 2018. HD video, sound, 4:35 min. Screenshot. Courtesy the artist and Tanya Leighton, Berlin

The work of Oliver Laric, an Austrian artist based in Berlin, has focused for years on metamorphosis in its temporal dimension, in turn freely hybridizing memetics and genetics, history of forms and theories of evolution, fiction and physics, treating every level of reality as part of a continuous flow. Betweenness (2018) reflects and expands this poetics of hybridization and continuous transformation, along time and out of time, ringing in an infinite loop various episodes of mutation, hybridization, growth or passage of state. The choice of merging heterogeneous sources (documentary images, Japanese anime) through a uniforming aesthetic solution (a black linear drawing on a white background); the hypnotic soundtrack (realized in collaboration with the musician Ville Haimala); and the use of an animation technique based on the fluidity of vector graphics, converge to generate a sense of suspension, of an intermediate state.

Petros Moris, Future Bestiary (Bull), 2020. Marble, steel, stickers, 65 X 55 Χ 30 cm. Courtesy: INOCAP GESTION collection. Photo by Maurine Tric

The recent work of the Greek artist Petros Moris is based on the belief that knowledge of the past and prescience of the future can be extracted from the underground. The Future Bestiary cycle (2020) originates from the photogrammetric scanning of some funerary artifacts found in the ancient cemetery of Kerameikos, near Athens. The sculptures of the series are made with marble from various quarries in Greece, but they depart from the realism of the original scans (used in the video loops of Future Bestiary (Kerameikos), 2020) by accentuating to the extreme the stratifications that emerge during the printing process with numerical control machines, until they are converted into tectonic clods, which build a low-resolution ghost of the original artifact. The sculptures are placed on steel plinths carved with words that speak of the present or future, such as “realtime”, “simulation”, “extinction”; and adorned with stickers and other linguistic signs that reflect hopes and anxieties about issues such as environmental collapse, algorithmic control, and sociopolitical change.