Project Description

“Hope, Hope, fallacious Hope! Where is thy market now?” Joseph Mallord William Turner

Hope Coming On is a performance conceived and curated by Lanfranco Aceti (MoCC) and with the gracious participation of the Boston Children’s Chorus(Anthony Trecek-King, Artistic Director and Ben Hires, Director of Programs). The choreography has been realized in collaboration with Betsi Graves and Alexander Davis at Urbanity Dance. The performance will take place in The Beal Gallery (Gallery 251) at the Museum of Fine Arts Boston September 28, 2016, from 6:00 pm to 7:00 pm. The songs performed are: Amazing Grace, Wade in the Water and Libertatum.

Hope Coming On is inspired by the comparison of historical and contemporary social struggles, by the forced waves of migrants that have crossed and continue to cross the seas, at the mercy of the waters that carry them.

This curated performance that mixes dance, music and visual art is centered around the painting by Joseph Mallord William Turner titled The Slave Ship(Slavers Throwing Overboard the Dead and Dying, Typhoon Coming On) 1840. Hope Coming On acts both as a monumentalizing and memorializing of histories, past and present, in an attempt to understand the journey of mankind which still today displays episode of inhumane indifference towards others and unexpected hidden story characterized by a humane willingness to rescue people by reaching out even in to stormy seas .

The stormy seas become at once the symbolic representation of the finite moment of an immense tragedy while simultaneously the opportunity to imagine a semblance of future hope realized whenever the waters will be still again. It is the allegorical merging of the original and violent storm event with recent historical, political and personal upheavals that makes it possible to hear those who have had their voices silenced and drowned.

Turner’s painting seemingly hangs in silence on the walls of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, in a quiet room apparently distant from the turbulent historical context that characterized the conception of this work of art. Hope Coming On shatters the sacred silence of the gallery environment with the voices of Boston Children’s Chorus, and offers the opportunity to voice alternative narratives and stories to the silence of suppression.  The shattered silence allows the piece to conceptually reestablish a connection between the visual representation of a brutal historical event and the contemporary sufferings that characterize migration across the seas.

It is the complexity of the political statement that Turner made that elicits its contemporary relevance and seeks opportunities to give new voices, literally and figuratively, to a work of art, which, with its subject matter, can encourage us to rethink and bridge social divides. Hope Coming On is a performance in which voices are raised against a representation of the hopelessness of the present in the name of hope beyond violence, divisions and fractures. It examines both the past and the present, no longer as evidence of a typhoon constantly raging but as the promise that hope is coming on.

Image credit: Design by Deniz Cem Onduygu.

Lanfranco Aceti is a curator, academic and artist based in Boston. He is the director of the Arts Administration Program of Boston University. He was a visiting scholar at Goldsmiths University of London, at the Slade School of Fine Art and at the Victoria and Albert Museum. He has lectured and taught at several universities, including Yale, Harvard, Sabanci, the Royal College of Art, Birkbeck College and Central Saint Martins. In addition, he is the editor in chief of the international academic journal Leonardo Electronic Almanac, which is published by the MIT Press.

From 2010 until 2015, Aceti served as the director and chief curator of Kasa Gallery in Istanbul, where he exhibited for the first time in the city works with strong political character, such as ‘75Watts’ of Revital Cohen and Tuur Van Balen from the MoMA collection, or ‘Loophole4all’ of Paolo Cirio, which was awarded the 2014 Golden Nica award at the Ars Electronica festival (Linz). In 2011, he curated the new media art exhibition ‘Uncontainable’ for the parallel programme of the 12th Istanbul Biennial, and in 2014 the exhibition ‘The Small Infinite’ at the John Hansard Gallery (Southampton, UK), which included works by the pioneer British artist John Latham, which were exhibited for the first time.

He is the founder and director of the research organisation Operational and Curatorial Research in Art, Design, Science and Technology (OCR), as well as of the Museum of Contemporary Cuts (MoCC), which focuses on the complex relationship between economy, social issues and contemporary art. In the second half of 2016, Lanfranco Aceti is going to curate a series of performances and installations in public space, in collaboration with various institutions in Europe and the US, including the Victoria & Albert Museum (London), the Steinhardt School (New York) and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.