9 February 2017
The Fondazione Prada brought 2016 to a close with the opening of Osservatorio, a new exhibition space devoted to visual languages. The location is Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II in Milan: 800 m² of floor area on two levels facing onto the iron-and-glass dome designed by Giuseppe Mengoni in the 1860s. The first event on the program is the joint exhibition Give Me Yesterday, curated by Francesco Zanot, which explores tendencies, uses and modes of expression in photography, seen as a way of keeping a personal diary, over a period of time stretching from the early years of the 21st century to the present day and comprising more than 50 works by 14 artists of very different geographical origins and ages. The exhibition is laid out as a series of consecutive themes on a chronological and conceptual basis. The lower floor introduces this new approach to taking photographs as a kind of journal (developed in previous decades by artists like Larry Clark, Nan Goldin and Wolfgang Tillmans) that characterized the early years of the new century, emphasizing the gradual passage from snapshot to pose: from the iconic images of Ryan McGinley (New Jersey, 1977) to the portraits of her mother taken by Leigh Ledare (Seattle, 1976) and from the shots of the first Chinese photoblogger Wen Ling (Beijing, 1976) to the works, also centered on the figure of the artist’s mother but rooted in the logic of the readymade, of Maurice van Es (Rijnsburg, 1984) and Vendula Knopovà (Czech Republic, 1987). On the upper floor, the spontaneity of the works in the first section gives way to a precise conceptual structure, often with the character of a performance: from the series with their roots in typology of Irene Fenara (Bologna, 1990), Joanna Piotrowska (Warsaw, 1985) and Antonio Rovaldi (Parma, 1975) to the revisiting of stock photographs by Lebohang Kganye (Johannesburg, 1990) and Greg Reynolds (Kentucky, 1958) and the digital distortions of Kenta Cobayashi (Kanagawa, 1992). Inevitably there is an ample section devoted to the self-portrait, a key element in the debate over the social networks, in which stand out the works of Melanie Bonajo (Heerlen, 1978), who from 2001 to 2011 took a picture of herself every time she cried, and Izumi Miyazaki (Tokyo, 1994), whose surreal retouched photographs have stirred enormous interest on Tumblr. Given the diversity of the work presented, Francesco Zanot is able to assert that “the spontaneous and natural diary, paradoxically, is no longer credible. Verisimilitude, today, depends on the adoption of shared codes spread amongst the community.” And the study of these codes is in fact the premise and the objective of the new Osservatorio. Give Me Yesterday can be visited until March 12, 2017, with a single ticket that also permits access, within the space of a week, to the exhibitions staged in the spaces of the former distillery on Largo Isarco.
Give Me Yesterday
Curated by Francesco Zanot
Fondazione Prada, Osservatorio, Milan
December 21, 2016 – March 12, 2017