Italy in Korea, SongEun : We Have Never Been Modern

In May 2014, SongEun Art Space presents its third special annual project, titled Italy in SongEun : We Have Never Been Modern featuring promising Italian young artists who are showing for the first time in Korea.

The exhibition We Have Never Been Modern aims at questioning the disappearance of guarantees and foundations for the future. We are left with the gaping ideological void of a modernity that has failed, or indeed perhaps never existed, and the impression of having been divided, segmented and trained. Rethinking the mechanisms of construction of the work of art, this exhibition tries to question where we can situate the artistic production of today and of Italy in particular and what the answer is.

The works of twenty-two Italian artists of the younger generations featured in the exhibition are indicative of the way in which Italy’s artistic life has addressed facts and values over the last few decades, calling into question the power that determined them and the discourse that transmitted them. All the artists invited to the show, together with the curators, know that we do not control what we produce, so the sphere of our certainties will be smaller than that of our actions. In any case experts are as blind as we are.

Schermata 2014-05-29 alle 12.33.00 The exhibition takes its title from an essay by Bruno Latour in which the French anthropologist of science reflects on the idea of modernity seen as progress advancing rationally and evenly throughout all corners of the earth. At the core of his critical thinking are the paramount issues concerning those Western societies who have imposed their own modern mind-sets on individual local cultures. What does it mean, today, to be modern? Being modern no longer means riding on that time arrow that drew a clear line between the past and the future. On the contrary, more and more art evades the modernist requirement and aspires to a timeless condition while, at the same time, addressing present-related issues or engaging with the more recent history and localized situations that then become the starting point for a range of subjective but nonetheless universal explorations. These are the questions at the core of the project.

The twenty-two Italian artists selected for the show were born in the years from 1965 to the mid ’80s and are grouped according to a sensibility that is shared across the generations and to lines of research that appear in the various artistic paths. The aim is that of showing, although not exhaustively, the aesthetic and expressive changes experimented by the latest generation of Italian artists. What emerges is an artistic production in line with other contexts such as: architecture, media, literature, philosophy, anthropology, social sciences and with areas adjoining the field of the visual arts. The exhibition is part of the Italian Cultural Institute in Seoul program to promote Italian contemporary art.

‘We Have Never Been Modern’ is a process of analysis and mapping of the Italian art scene through five separate sections, each one addressing an aspect of the artistic take on a certain idea of modernity.

Artists: Giorgio Andreotta Calò, Meris Angioletti, Francesco Arena, Elisabetta Benassi, Rossella Biscotti, Tomaso De Luca, Ettore Favini, Chiara Fumai, Piero Golia, Francesca Grilli, Adelita Husni-Bey, Margherita Moscardini, Valerio Rocco Orlando, Adrian Paci, Giulia Piscitelli, Paola Pivi, Moira Ricci, Marinella Senatore, Alberto Tadiello, Diego Tonus, Luca Trevisani, Nico Vascellari

Guest Curators: Angelo Gioè (Director of the Italian Cultural Institute in Seoul), Maria Rosa Sossai

What does it mean, today, to be modern?

1. Giorgio Andreotta Calò (1979-)
Scolpire il tempo (Sculpting time), 2010
Installation view from Extralarge, MACRO, Rome, 2013
Installation of variable dimensions: three bronze sculptures with wax and water
Raffaella and Stefano Sciarretta Collection, Nomas Foundation, Rome
Courtesy the artist
Photo Giorgio Benni               


02.메리스 안졸레티 Meris Angioletti

2. Meris Angioletti (1977-)

Golden, Brown and Blue, 2013

Slide projection. Six slide projections, coloured gels and text. Variable dimensions

Courtesy the artist and SCHLEICHER/LANGE, Berlin


03.프란체스코 아레나 Francesco Arena

3. Francesco Arena (1978-)

3,24 mq, 2004
Installation view: Francesco Arena, Nomas Foundation, Rome, 2008
Wood, furniture
270 x 120 x 230 cm
Raffaella and Stefano Sciarretta Collection, Nomas Foundation, Rome
Courtesy the artist and Monitor, Rome
Photo Francesco Cartocci


04.엘리사베타 베나시 Elisabetta Benassi_Son of Niobe

4. Elisabetta Benassi (1966-)

Son of Niobe, 2013
HD video transferred onto DVD, color, silent, approx. 2’
Courtesy the artist and Magazzino, Rome


05.엘리사베타 베나시 Elisabetta Benassi_Per una lira io vendo tutti sogni miei

5. Elisabetta Benassi (1966-)

Per una lira io vendo tutti sogni miei, 2009
Coin (100 lira), Ø 2.2 cm
Courtesy the artist and Magazzino, Rome


06.로셀라 비스코티 Rossella Biscotti

6. Rossella Biscotti (1978-)

Le teste in oggetto (The Heads in Question), 2009
Silver gelatin print on baryth paper
110 x 141 cmLe teste in oggetto, particolari (The Heads in Question, details), 2009
Eight c-prints
39.5 x 27 cm each
Raffaella and Stefano Sciarretta Collection, Nomas Foundation, Rome
Courtesy the artist



07.토마소 데 루카 Tomaso De Luca

7. Tomaso De Luca (1988-)

An Incomplete Portrait of Anchises and Love is Soft but Hard Sometimes, 2013
Video, color, sound; ink on paper, slide projection
Variable dimensions
Installation view at Van Horbourg, Zürich
Courtesy the artist and Monitor, Rome


08.에토레 파비니 Ettore Favini

8. Ettore Favini (1974-)

Cantra, 2011-2013
Installation of variable dimensions (detail); iron, wool, wood
Courtesy the artist and Aike Dellarco, Shanghai



09.키아라 푸마이 Chiara Fumai

9. Chiara Fumai (1978-)

Still from the video-performance Chiara Fumai reads Valerie Solanas, 2013
Winner of Furla Art Award 2013
Courtesy the artist and A Palazzo Gallery, Brescia


10.피에로 골리아 Piero Golia

10. Piero Golia (1974-)

May Be Not Even a Nation of Millions…, 2004
Human skeleton, diamond, gold
28 x 172 x 100 cm
Raffaella and Stefano Sciarretta Collection, Nomas Foundation, Rome
Courtesy the artist


11.프란체스카 그릴리 Francesca Grilli

11. Francesca Grilli (1978-)

194.9 MHz, 2006
Video still
Digital video, 5’22″
Courtesy the artist


12.아델리타 후스니-베이 Adelita Husni-Bey

12. Adelita Husni-Bey (1985-)

Gestures of Labour, 2009
Video still
Silent video, S8 transferred to DVD, 5’39”
Courtesy the artist and Laveronica Arte Contemporanea, Modica


13.마르게리타 모스카르디니 Margherita Moscardini

13. Margherita Moscardini (1981-)

1xUnknown, 2012-ongoing
Partial view of the installation
Mini-projectors, power packs, paper, paperboard, concrete, miniDV videos, sound, MDF
Courtesy the artist and Ex Elettrofonica, Rome
Photo Dario Lasagni


14.발레리오 로코 오를란도 Valerio Rocco Orlando

14. Valerio Rocco Orlando (1978-)

Personale è Politico (The Personal is Political), 2011
Green neon, 20 x 142 cm
Raffaella and Stefano Sciarretta Collection, Nomas Foundation, Rome
Courtesy the artist
Photo Giorgio Benni


15.아드리안 파치 Adrian Paci

15. Adrian Paci (1969-)

The Column, 2013
Video still
Video, colour, sound, 25’40’’
Courtesy the artist, kaufmann repetto, Milan, and Galerie Peter Kilchmann, Zurich


16.줄리아 피시텔리 Giulia Piscitelli

16. Giulia Piscitelli (1965-)

Guerra/e Pace (War and Peace), 2013
1957 Italian edition of War and Peace by Lev Tolstoj, 26 x 6 x 18 cm
Courtesy the artist and Galleria Fonti, Naples


17.파올라 피비 Paola Pivi

17. Paola Pivi (1971-)

Untitled, 2009
Photographic print on aluminum, 125 x 161.8 cm
Photo Hugo Glendinning
Courtesy the artist and Massimo De Carlo, Milano/London


18.모이라 리치 Moira Ricci

18. Moira Ricci (1977-)

Lambda print on Dibond
20.12.53-10.08.04, 2004-2014
Fifty photographs of variable dimensions; framed size 40 x 40 cm
Courtesy the artist and Laveronica Arte Contemporanea, Modica


19.마리넬라 세나토레 Marinella Senatore

19. Marinella Senatore (1977-)

That’s us, 2010
Video still
High definition video on Blu-ray Disc, 15′
Courtesy Peres Projects, Berlin, MOT International, London & Bruxelles, and the artist


20.알베르토 타디엘로 Alberto Tadiello

20. Alberto Tadiello (1983-)

25L, 2010
Flat sheets and bars of iron, bolts and nuts, plastic tubes, air compressor, air horn
280 x 240 x 250 cm
Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo Collection, Turin
Courtesy T293, Naples – Rome


21.디에고 토누스 Diego Tonus

21. Diego Tonus (1984-)

Hour of the Wolf, 2010
Film still
Film Mini Dv, color, sound, 7
Courtesy the artist


22.루카 트레비사니 Luca Trevisani

22. Luca Trevisani (1979-)

Bisogna urlare in un bosco per sentirne l’eco (You gotta yell in the woods to hear its echo), 2012-2013
Exhibition view, Studio Geddes, Rome, 2013
Painted cnc cut mdf, site specific dimensions
Courtesy the artist, Studio Silvia Geddes, Rome, and Galerie Mehdi Chouakri, Berlin


23.니코 바셀라리 Nico Vascellari

23. Nico Vascellari (1976-)

Untitled, 2010
Installation view at Museion, Bolzano.
Old windows, paper, glue, variable dimensions
Courtesy the artist and Monitor, Rome 

About the Author /

Youngyee Kim is an editorial board member of the magazine Gulmaru Korea, promoting Korean culture and heritage expressed in various forms in art, architecture, crafts, and performances. She is also a founding member of Art Smart Seoul and a member of the French Korean Chamber of Commerce and Industry, where her specialty is introducing young, talented Korean artists to the international community.


  • Claude Nougat

    June 3, 2014

    The theme is fascinating and the treatment of it by those young Italian artists is surprisingly – I would say even shockingly – varied. Some of the artwork is hermetic, not letting the viewer catch the (elusive?) meaning and the impression of course is that this is intended.

    Well done, I enjoyed the presentation. I do wonder how Koreans view this?

    • Anonymous

      June 3, 2014

      Italian Renaissance, design, specially fashion brands and traditional crafts are well known in Korea, but not many people have encountered Italian modern art yet. It was never presented in Korean in this scale and variety. Visitors at the exhibition are surprised in positive way by finding a new face of Italian culture and pleased by the creativity of Italian young artists. –

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