previews

  • “African Metropolis: An Imaginary City”

    MAXXI - Museo nazionale delle arti del XXI secolo
    Via Guido Reni 4A
    June 22 - October 21

    Curated by Simon Njami with Elena Motisi

    In conjunction with the second Italy-Africa Ministerial Conference this June, Rome’s MAXXI museum is hosting “African Metropolis: An Imaginary City,” an exhibition of some forty-five works, primarily by celebrated and emerging African artists. Organized by the Paris-based curator Simon Njami and MAXXI’s own Elena Motisi, it follows previous programs at the institution that have examined Mediterranean cities. But what to make of the title? The curators’ challenges will be to justify their imposition of a municipal lens onto an entire continent and to incorporate the diverse realities of discrete African metropolises. No doubt the range of artists—including Meschac Gaba, Mimi Cherono Ng’ok, Pascale Marthine Tayou, and James Webb—is impressive. But a show that intends to present Africa and African creativity in its totality—through the words of Roland Barthes and Jacques Rancière, no less—could be either fantastic or bombastic. Which will this one be? Let’s hope that catalogue contributions from Hou Hanru, Sumesh Sharma, Bonaventure Soh Bejeng Ndikung, and Marco Scotini will provide necessary elaborations on the complications of continental curation.

  • Mario Fiorentino’s Monumento alle Fosse Ardeatine (Monument to the Victims of Fosse Ardeatine), 1947, Rome. From “Zevi’s Architects: History and Counter-History from Postwar to the End of the 20th Century.”

    “Zevi’s Architects: History and Counter-History from Postwar to the End of the 20th Century”

    MAXXI - Museo nazionale delle arti del XXI secolo
    Via Guido Reni 4A
    April 20 - October 21

    Curated by Jean-Louis Cohen and Pippo Ciorra

    This exhibition revisits the work of the Italian architectural writer Bruno Zevi and, through his eyes, some lesser-known corners of postwar Italian architecture and discourse. Internationally, Zevi is known as a popularizer of Frank Lloyd Wright and an advocate for “organicism.” In Italy, he was for decades a ubiquitous and unapologetic (sometimes grating) critical voice near to saturating the media with a newspaper column, a television show, a journal, a professorship, numerous books, and a government position. Curators Jean-Louis Cohen and Pippo Ciorra have divided the show’s contents into three categories—buildings, texts, and biographical artifacts. Of greatest interest will be the selection of more than thirty—five structures by Italian designers Zevi championed for their self-assured manipulations of fragmented forms and complex geometries. Whether the myth of organicism emerges shattered or reinforced, the exhibition should inspire anyone seeking precursors to the formal complexity of contemporary digital architecture and instruct those hoping that an architectural critic can hold sway as a public intellectual today.