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.

Between Hype Cycles and the Present Shock

Alterazioni Video, The New Circus Event, 2019. Venezia, VAC Foundation. Image courtesy Valentina Campari

The full version of my long essay (or short book) “Between Hype Cycles and the Present Shock” is now available on NERO, in a beautifully designed webpage. You can read it online or download it as a 40 pages, ready to print pdf. Enjoy!


This text is an attempt to understand if, and how, art can exist in the present time. We know we are living an age that is profoundly different from that in which contemporary art was born: an age of acceleration, present shock, distracted gaze and end of the future. And yet, when it comes to art, we still confront it as if nothing had actually changed: as if it were the sacred result of moments of deep focus and concentration; as if it could still be experienced without distraction; as if it were the expression of a constant fight against the old, and of an endless rush towards the new; as if it could speak a universal language, and last forever. But it doesn’t.

Rather than providing answers, this text raises questions such as: is it still possible to make art under these conditions, and to experience art as it should? What’s the price we have to pay for engaging today’s media and the crucial issues of our time, in terms of duration and long term appreciation?

Although these considerations apply to all contemporary art, I use contemporary media art as the main area of reference, as I think most of the problems I’m outlining are more visible there, and more radically affecting the art that uses the tools and addresses the key issues of the post digital age. The essay addresses sub-topics such as primary and mediated experience, the end of the future, Futurism vs Presentism, art’s relation with art market dynamics and technological hypes, art’s incorporation in the art system and in mainstream culture, obsolescence and media art preservation, the difficult relationship between artistic practices and media hypes (with a focus on Virtual Reality and Artificial Intelligence).