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“Le Macchine, Gli Dei e I Fantasmi” (Machines, Gods and Ghosts)
Curated by Ludovico Pratesi
Musei Capitolini, centrale montemartini museo, rome, italy
october 9 - november 20, 2013
Machines, Gods and Ghosts is an exhibition by the American artist Patricia Cronin conceived specially for the Engine Room of Rome’s Centrale Montemartini. Summoning phantoms of her own, the artist expands upon the already spectral dialogue between the classical sculptures on view and the industrial archaeology of the exhibition space.
The exhibition presents six works by the artist consisting of watercolor images printed on lightweight silk panels, which move and flutter in the space’s gently circulating air. Ghost-like, the images conjure the lost sculptures of the American Neoclassical artist Harriet Hosmer, (1830-1908), whose best known extant monuments include the Tomb of Judith Falconer (1987), located in the Roman church of Sant’Andrea della Fratte. Inserted into the context of the Centrale’s Engine Room, Cronin’s apparitions acquire a paradoxical monumentality—materially slight yet conceptually substantial-in terms of both their spatial and symbolic relationships with the ancient sculptures on display, from the Torso of the Combatant to the Hestia.
Entitled Ghosts, the works are ethereal representation poised between abstraction and figuration. Like ectoplasm, the physical vestige of the paranormal, they evoke not only the spirits of the Roman sculptures but also those of the laborers who once worked in the power plant, as if to suggest a hypothetical and symbolic bridge between the ancient and the contemporary, between the history of art and industry.