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The sublime is now

The sublime is now

Organised and produced by the Galleria Civica di Modena and the Fondazione Cassa di Risparmio di Modena, the show is held in the venue of Palazzo Santa Margherita, corso Canalgrande 103, Modena (Italy).

du 19 septembre 2008 au 06 janvier 2009

19th September 2008 – 6th January 2009
Galleria Civica di Modena

Pierre Huyghe, A Journey That Wasn’t, 2005, super 16mm film HD video
Courtesy Marian Goodman Gallery, New York/Paris,
photo Pierre Huyghe, Xavier Veilhan.


More than 200 years after its definition, the concept of the sublime stands out as one of great modern relevance: it is a Romantic idea bound up in the search and the exaltation of new frontiers, a driving force behind the world of contemporary art. Until 6th January 2009 is open at the Galleria Civica di Modena the exhibition The sublime is now – title taken from that of a short essay written by the American painter Barnett Newman in 1948 – curated by Marco De Michelis, professor of the history of architecture at the Columbia University of New York as well as the IUAV University of Venice. Organised and produced by the Galleria Civica di Modena and the Fondazione Cassa di Risparmio di Modena, the show is held in the venue of Palazzo Santa Margherita, corso Canalgrande 103, Modena (Italy).

The notion of the challenge, in the sense of an unstoppable urge which leads us to set off on journeys into the unknown, emerges from the works and the undertakings of the artists present in the exhibition who at their own risk venture out towards the edges of the world: going solo on a sailboat across the Atlantic Ocean; to the South Pole on a quest to find the song of the albino penguin; a journey through the Arctic storms in the path of the giant icebreakers.

The exhibition is largely a display of videos, films and sound installations. Several works make reference to the Spiral Jetty created by Robert Smithson in 1970 and the subject of a film shot by Smithson himself during its creation. The artist, particularly in this case, firmly expresses the idea that while nature may constitute a source of life, it does not allow for its total understanding; that it may be manipulated but never fully understood. This section includes a number of homages to this work in the form of audio and video contributions: Tacita Dean, Trying to Find the Spiral Jetty (1997), audio CD, 27 ‘, Deborah Ligorio, Donut to Spiral, video, 7′ with sound (2004), the French artist Cyprien Gaillard, Real Remnants of Fictive Wars VI, video, (2007).
The exhibition continues with a memory of the adventure undertaken by Bas Jan Ader, (Holland, 1942), the artist who in 1975 set out to make a solo crossing of the Atlantic Ocean, on a sailboat only four metres long, and who lost his life in the process. There are also others that set out to discover the outer realms of the planet: the Frenchman Pierre Huyghe and the German John Bock. The first tells of his journey towards the south Pole with the aim of recording the song of an albino penguin: A Journey That Wasn’t, (2006), video. The second sets out to cross the dangerous panorama of an Arctic storm, an experience presented in Skipholt, (2005), video. Lastly, the Dutch artist Guido van der Werve evokes the panorama of the Romantic painter Caspar David Friedrich, walking across the frozen waters of Finland followed by a towering icebreaker in Everything is Going to Be Alright, (2007) film.

The exhibition will be accompanied by a catalogue in two languages, containing a rich range of images and information on the works on show, with critical texts by Marco De Michelis as well as by the head of the Galleria Civica di Modena, Angela Vettese, and an essay by Franco Rella, expert on aesthetics.


Galleria Civica di Modena
Palazzo Santa Margherita,
corso Canalgrande 103
Modena, Italy

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