Empire State, Palazzo delle Esposizioni
Opening at the Palazzo delle Esposizioni, Rome, on April 23, 2013, "Empire State" explores the constantly shifting realities and mythologies of New York City as a "New Rome." Filling the Palazzo's exhibition spaces, this ambitious intergenerational survey presents the work of twenty-five renowned and emerging New York City artists - each in depth and with important new work being shown for the first time -- and suggests how they might re-imagine the relationship between their community and the life of the city through a unique grasp on its varied sources of power. With painting, sculpture, photography, video, and installation, the artists in "Empire State" examine their city's enduring relevance to the world at a moment when urban life is being redefined rapidly everywhere.
Organized by British curator Sir Norman Rosenthal and New York-based independent curator, writer and editor Alex Gartenfeld, "Empire State" will be on view at the Palazzo through July 21, 2013.
The exhibition's artists include MiChele Abeles, Uri Aran, Darren Bader, Antoine Catala, Moyra Davey, Keith Edmier, LaToya Ruby Frazier, Dan Graham, Renée Green, Wade Guyton, Shadi Habib Allah, Jeff Koons, Nate Lowman, Daniel McDonald, Bjarne Melgaard, John Miller, Takeshi Murata, Virginia Overton, Joyce Pensato, Adrian Piper, Rob Pruitt, R. H. Quaytman, Tabor Robak, Julian Schnabel, and Ryan Sullivan. Most of the art on view is newly commissioned, complemented by other significant works made in recent years.
"Manhattan is an accumulation of possible disasters that never happen," wrote celebrated architect and theorist Rem Koolhaas. For New York CIty, the most popular disaster myth is that it will be eclipsed. Yet in the era of globalization and with pundits routinely declaring it in decline, The Big Apple remains the world's hegemonic force in the visual arts, with the most diverse concentration of artists, museums, arts organizations, galleries and public platforms in constant action and interplay. The artists presented in "Empire State" open spaces of power from inside this social and creative infrastructure. "Empire State" reveals some of the channels through which the resulting tide of communication, imagination and persuasion flows through their community and out into the world beyond.
The exhibition takes its title from the iconic mythologizing 2009 hip-hop anthem of the same name by rapper-turned-mogul Jay-Z and musician Alicia Keys, and references Empire, Antonio Negri and Michael Hardt's 2000 treatise on American-led global capitalism. "Empire State" also calls to mind - and in some senses could be viewed as a 21st century response to - English-born American artist Thomas Cole's famous series of paintings "The Course of Empire." Made in New York in the years between 1883-36, Cole's mighty canvases depict the rise and fall of an imaginary city situated, like Manhattan, on the lower end of a river valley where a bay meets the sea. In Rome in 2013, "Empire State" will echo and engage such allegories of America's socio-economic transition and subsequent shifts in status, confidence and power. The Empire State Building, still a major tourist attraction, was once the tallest building in the world; today it is dwarfed by mega-skyscrapers in rapidly exploding urban centers in distant corners of the globe.