Project Description

“[LIVING] IS A SPECTACULAR FORM OF AMNESIA. EVERYTHING IS TO BE DISCOVERED, EVERYTHING TO BE OBLITERATED.”

AMERICA, JEAN BAUDRILLARD

Nurtured by a haunting silence, veiled in threads of forgotten narratives, and shrouded in the concealment of daily rituals, Whispers of Amnesia invites you to a spectacle of memories erased and to be erased every single day. Amidst the disquieting hum of societal amnesia, artist Lanfranco Aceti, curated by Artemis Potamianou, brings you a public revelation of private truths. In Classic Greek, truth (ἀλήθεια) is understood as the absence of amnesia (λήθη), a profound state of consciousness where nothing is forgotten, and everything is remembered. It is within this realm of unwavering memory that we embark on a journey that invites you to explore the intricate tapestry of forgotten narratives and concealed truths.

As the sun sets on a world burned by its own indifference, Whispers of Amnesia gradually unfolds, weaving together narratives of toxic waste, social conflicts, and personal turmoil. This new solo exhibition by Lanfranco Aceti was produced under the aegis of the 18th Venice Architecture Biennale and is part of the collateral events approved by Leslie Lokko, the curator of the 2023 edition of the Biennale. The exhibition — that takes place from October 7 to November 06, 2023 — is supported by the Ella Association with the contribution of the Municipality of Taranto, in collaboration with Crac Puglia, Centro di Ricerca Arte Contemporanea, AMACI and the Taranto Grand Tour. The exhibition inaugurates the fourth edition of Mas Week, the festival of architecture, design and contemporary art.

The artworks, a blend of fabrics, sculptures, installations, and etched linen, lay bare the collective act of forgetfulness we perform each day in order to keep on living. Here, we confront our toxic liaisons with the capitalistic and patriarchal state.  

The works of art — realized as a series of sculptures, videos, installations, and paintings — are installed in the mesmerizing setting of Palazzo Pantaleo in Taranto.

Whispers of Amnesia reshapes the timeless wisdom of “not airing dirty laundry in public” into an act of reclamation. Through these works of art, both the artist and the curator unveil a legacy marked by betrayed promises, disintegrated bonds, and conflicts that simmer in the shadows. In a world that fosters willful blindness, these creations serve as a stark reminder of society’s gendered constructs, physical struggles, and forsaken individual freedoms.

Aceti explains, “Imagine this crisis as the rupture between two lovers: one embodies the patriarchal, self-serving, and immature state, while the other stands for the collective citizens, characterized by matriarchal values of unity, sacrifice, and support.”

In this narrative, these estranged lovers are parting ways, and the works of art capture that frozen moment when once-shared dreams are divided, discarded, and cursed. The remnants of this forsaken relationship are on public display, reflecting the transition from the private into the public space. The works of art — crafted from discarded sheets bearing traces of bodies, willfully forgotten relations, and family dramas — symbolize not only the failures of the past but also the collapse of broader Mediterranean societies under the pressures and upheavals of late Western capitalism. These dirty sheets, tainted with life’s fluids, bear witness to the violent oppression of coexistence while holding a glimmer of hope for reclaimed freedoms.

The curses etched on the sheets, once vile and personal, now become universal. Like ancient pre-written incantations, they serve as a space for viewers to inscribe their own narratives.

In the exhibition, the relationship between the inside and outside becomes a coded cabinet of curiosities and narratives. It challenges the belief that actions in relationships, as well as on a larger societal scale, are inconsequential. Within this installation, the consequences of neglect, betrayal, and disregard are laid bare.

At the epicenter of this engendered crisis stand women, burdened by patriarchal greed, pillaging, and apathy. Whispers of Amnesia raises questions about survival, resilience, and resistance in the face of natural, man-made, and epochal adversities.

The title, Whispers of Amnesia, invokes a lover’s refrain, offering a poignant metaphor to connect personal experiences with the collective amnesia of the state. It’s a public airing of our deepest, darkest secrets — our disquiet, pain, and disillusionment — traditionally confined to the private sphere.

These artworks embody personal sentiments and directly address feelings of betrayal, abuse, and violation. They challenge society to reclaim anger as a catalyst for rebirth — both on a personal and political level.

Aceti elaborates, “We are no longer beholden to a nation-state that has forsaken the social contract. If we inhabit post-nation-states, any demand for social responsibility and community participation must come with a price or, at the very least, with amends made.”

The exhibition traces the tragic echoes of Dido and Ariadne, whose whispered tales are woven through the annals of mythology and resonate eerily in the narrative of Whispers of Amnesia. Like these legendary figures, societies and individuals often find themselves abandoned by the state, betrayed by lovers, or subjected to oppressive patriarchal structures. It is in the echoes of these ancient myths that the curse and the desire for revenge and justice find their place in the contemporary tableau.

The parallels between Dido’s ordeal and the emotional turmoil of individuals forsaken by their lovers, their state, or societal constructs underpin the curses that linger in Whispers of Amnesia, echoing the anguish of Dido, seeking solace in the annihilation of memory.

Ariadne’s anger and desire for revenge resonate through time and in a similar vein, the curses etched upon the sheets in the exhibition become vessels of both personal and collective anger, encapsulating the hope for vindication and the reclamation of freedom.

The sensation of abandonment, the overwhelming weight of patriarchal structures, the betrayal of promises — these are themes that reverberate through time and space. Whispers of Amnesia channels the timeless emotions, both contemporary and mythological, transforming them into a contemporary narrative of reclamation, defiance, and the art of the curse.

In this spectral atmosphere of forgotten truths, Whispers of Amnesia stirs our collective memory, urging us to confront our societal and individual amnesia. As these whispers persist, we are beckoned to reclaim the stories, memories, and identities that have been cast aside, obscured, and imposed.

Amidst the veiled narratives and cursed linens, Whispers of Amnesia invites us to bear witness to the ghosts of betrayal, the shadows of abandonment, and the struggle to forget every single day what is past and to try to live again once more. As these whispers resound in the struggle between remembering and forgetting, the works of art ask the viewers to unveil the forgotten toxins of the past by remembering it all to get closer to the truth (ἀλήθεια) and away from the shackles of societal amnesia (λήθη).

Image Captions:

Image 1: Lanfranco Aceti, With Gratitude, 2023. Silk damask blanket from San Leucio, cotton, pink thread, and acrylic paint. Dimensions: 270 cm. x 300 cm. Site specific installation. Photography: Giorgio Ciardo.

Image 2: Lanfranco Aceti, The King and I, 2023. Damask blanket, cotton, pink thread, and acrylic paint. Dimensions: 270 cm. x 300 cm. Site specific installation. Photography: Giorgio Ciardo.

Image 3: Lanfranco Aceti, The King and I, 2023. Damask blanket, cotton, pink thread, and acrylic paint. Dimensions: 270 cm. x 300 cm. Site specific installation. Detail. Photography: Giorgio Ciardo.

Image 4: Lanfranco Aceti, The King and I, 2023. Damask blanket, cotton, pink thread, and acrylic paint. Dimensions: 270 cm. x 300 cm. Site specific installation. Detail. Photography: Giorgio Ciardo.

Image 5: Lanfranco Aceti, Ariadne’s Regret, 2023. Embroidered cotton bed linen, blue China rayon, pink threads, and acrylic paint. Dimensions: 300 cm. x 320 cm. Site specific installation. Photography: Giorgio Ciardo.

Image 6: Lanfranco Aceti, Ariadne’s Regret, 2023. Embroidered cotton bed linen, blue China rayon, pink threads, and acrylic paint. Detail. Dimensions: 300 cm. x 320 cm. Site specific installation. Photography: Giorgio Ciardo.

Image 7: Lanfranco Aceti, Ariadne’s Regret, 2023. Embroidered cotton bed linen, blue China rayon, pink threads, and acrylic paint. Detail. Dimensions: 300 cm. x 320 cm. Site specific installation. Photography: Giorgio Ciardo.

Image 8: Lanfranco Aceti, Ariadne’s Regret, 2023. Embroidered cotton bed linen, blue China rayon, pink threads, and acrylic paint. Detail. Dimensions: 300 cm. x 320 cm. Site specific installation. Photography: Giorgio Ciardo.

Image 9: Lanfranco Aceti, Ariadne’s Regret, 2023. Embroidered cotton bed linen, blue China rayon, pink threads, and acrylic paint. Detail. Dimensions: 300 cm. x 320 cm. Site specific installation. Photography: Giorgio Ciardo.

Image 10: Lanfranco Aceti, My Words on Fire (aka I Am Dido on the Pyre), 2023. Embroidered cotton bed linen, mother of pearl buttons, and acrylic paint. Dimensions: 300 cm. x 320 cm. Photography: Giorgio Ciardo.

Image 11: Lanfranco Aceti, My Words on Fire (aka I Am Dido on the Pyre), 2023. Embroidered cotton bed linen, mother of pearl buttons, and acrylic paint. Detail. Dimensions: 300 cm. x 320 cm. Photography: Giorgio Ciardo.

Image 12: Lanfranco Aceti, My Words on Fire (aka I Am Dido on the Pyre), 2023. Embroidered cotton bed linen, mother of pearl buttons, and acrylic paint. Detail. Dimensions: 300 cm. x 320 cm. Photography: Giorgio Ciardo.

Image 13: Lanfranco Aceti, My Words on Fire (aka I Am Dido on the Pyre), 2023. Embroidered cotton bed linen, mother of pearl buttons, and acrylic paint. Detail. Dimensions: 300 cm. x 320 cm. Photography: Giorgio Ciardo.

Image 14: Lanfranco Aceti, My Words on Fire (aka I Am Dido on the Pyre), 2023. Embroidered cotton bed linen, mother of pearl buttons, and acrylic paint. Detail. Dimensions: 300 cm. x 320 cm. Photography: Giorgio Ciardo.

Image 15: Lanfranco Aceti, With Gratitude, 2023. Silk damask blanket from San Leucio, cotton, pink thread, and acrylic paint. Dimensions: 270 cm. x 300 cm. Photography: Giorgio Ciardo.

Image 16: Lanfranco Aceti, With Gratitude, 2023. Silk damask blanket from San Leucio, cotton, pink thread, and acrylic paint. Detail. Dimensions: 270 cm. x 300 cm. Photography: Giorgio Ciardo.

Image 17: Lanfranco Aceti, Whispering Ghost I, 2023. Sculpture. Steel, 1930s cotton sheets, acrylic paint, mother of pearl buttons, sequins, and out of production fabric. Dimensions: 200 cm. x 100 cm. Photography: Giorgio Ciardo.

Image 18: Lanfranco Aceti, Whispering Ghost I, 2023. Sculpture. Steel, 1930s cotton sheets, acrylic paint, mother of pearl buttons, sequins, and out of production fabric. Dimensions: 200 cm. x 100 cm.

Image 19: Lanfranco Aceti, The Traces the Whispers Left on my Skin, 2023. Print on steel. Dimensions: 200 cm. x 132 cm.