The Lying Body: Only the Future Revisits The Past
Curated by Emanuele Guidi
ar/ge kunst, Bolzano
15 September – 11 November 2022

The monarchs that fly south
will not make it back north.
Each departure, then, is final.
Only their children return;
only the future revisits the past

– Ocean Vuong, On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous

In 1971 Pier Paolo Pasolini filmed a confession and death scene in a 15th Century wooden room (Stube) – currently still conserved at the Bolzano’s Civic Museum – as part of his screen adaptation of Bocaccio’s The Decameron: a sinner lies to his friar-confessor on his deathbed and by means of lying reaches beatification and becomes an object of worship.

The exhibition takes its cue from this episode, shot a few steps away from ar/ge kunst, to open up some questions concerning the role of museums and cultural institutions as places of preservation and transmission of histories, as sites of fictions and construction of narratives, as thresholds between life and the afterlife – reliquaries where once-alive objects, bodies and rituals exist today as relics and receptacles vessels of future desires.

Pasolini praised the Civic Museum for in it “love for tradition is grace” and understood it as place of resistance against neo-capitalist forces and consumerism, actualizing and transposing Boccaccio’s critique to dominant powers. It is a radical vision of history as a place of conflict but also as a nostalgic view on a long gone pre-modern life that the film director problematically identified in the rural regions and populations as well as in the museums that were meant to preserve them; ideas that he would end up contradicting through the fiction in his films.

The Lying Body: Only the Futures Revisit the Past  follows the multiple trajectories suggested by the invited artists with whom this story has been shared. Often originating from personal memories, the works in the exhibition mobilize histories, traditions and body-knowledges within the present. Through them, the artists design genealogies and connect distant generations. They produce continuity between natural and technological landscapes to ask how – to paraphrase anthropologist Elizabeth A. Povinelli – certain past and ancestral knowledges can be resituated and can make sense in a radically transformed environment. Concurrently, they confront and exorcise the haunting presence of death that permeates the current Capitalocene.

A special thanks to Civic Museum of Bolzano, the Platform Cultural Heritage Cultural Production and Bolzano Art Weeks 2022