The virtually confident world of “ American Dreamers” at the Strozzina, Florence

CCCS stands for Contemporary Culture Centre Strozzina. Its eleven rooms, covering an area of 850 sqm, located  under the courtyard of the Florentine Fondazione Palazzo Strozzi, are the former cellars of the jewel of the Italian Renaissance.

Since November 2007 the Strozzina has been organizing thematic exhibitions, workshops, performances on socially relevant issues, paying particular attention to  contemporary artistic communication. From March 9th up to July 15th  2012 the exhibition “ American Dreamers: Reality and Imagination in Contemporary American Art”, born from the joint work of Franciska Nori, director of the Strozzina and Bartholomew F.Bland of  the Hudson River Museum (Yonkers, New York). The visitor is guided into a maze, opening into fantastic worlds, built out of humble stuff and recycled scraps. For this thrilling views

he is requested  to call on new patterns  of the interpretation of reality.

The main issue of the exhibition is  the pervading loss of economic and social certainties, due to the 2001 attack to the New York Twin Towers and its consequent financial crisis in the States and in the world at large.

The American Dream which lay at the basis of the American way of life, promising success and happiness has broken down.

However,  in spite of the watershed represented by September 11th 2001, the basically  American optimistic belief in a happy future steadily goes on. The optimistic spirit and imagination are able to escape from  harsh reality,  finding out a shelter in an alternative virtual  world which  is peopled by mythical creatures and images  fulfilling radiant virtual dreams. Plenty the artists. Among them Laura Ball, Adrien Broom, Nick Cave, Will Cotton, Adam Cvijanovic, Richard Deon, Thomas Doyle, Mandy Greer, Kirsten Hassenfeld, Patrick Jacobs, Christy Rupp. They all aim at setting up,  through fantasy and imagination, a world able to counteract  the increasingly complex real one. The exhibition  offers the visitor  multifaceted  features. Some artists  deepen  to the essence of reality through miniatures while others  simplify the process, drawing  back to reassuring themes like family and home. This last one is the favourite approach of  Patrick Jacobs.

He creates  careful miniature environments, dioramas visible through small portholes on the walls. At first sight his  exhibition space seems  to be empty, but at a closer look  some openings on the wall invite the visitor to peep through the keyhole at  bright landscapes, natural close-ups or  details of cosy and safe rooms. These are his dioramas, intense artificial worlds created through visual perception,  altered by  intense lighting and circular convex  lenses . The result is a greater virtual reality which sounds  reassuring,  purified of any human presence. Let us mention just few works, the most impressive ones Fairy Rings with Dandelions, Mushroom Clusters # 1 and # 2 or  View of Gowanus Heights, all dealing with idealized,  inaccessible  and uncorrupted worlds . Nothing can destroy the harmony and balance of his dioramas.  Wrapped in a virtually  confident world  we feel,  for the time of the visit,  happily trustful to the future.

May it be enough?

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