For those not that familiar with Rome, the city is host to a pair of MACRO contemporary art spaces, the Via Reggio Emilia site, and the former slaughterhouse site in Testaccio, which I have written about before.
I have to say, I have always prefered the Via Reggio Emilia site, both for its layout, and also for the content of the work that they show. But, this recent visit was easily the most enjoyable and stimulating that I have had there in over two years.
For the first time that I can remember, MACRO offered me a combination of technology, innovation, humour and concept, all in equal measure. And there was also a helpful attendant on hand at one point who offered up his assistance in case I wanted to know more about the works I was looking at.
Its almost April, and I would imagine that the program was well and truly sealed months ago, but I can't help thinking about MACRO's recent managerial changes that occured last year are already taking effect. And I think under the new direction of Bartolomeo Pietromarchi, MACRO is finally finding its own direction, and that the two sites are beginning to take on alternative identities, rather than just being showcases for very mixed, reasonably contemporary collections in competition with MAXXI.
During my visit to MACRO I noted that there was less exhibition space open to the public, a result of Pietromarchi introducing an inhouse artist in residency program, which will also have an instant impact on the exhibitions at the gallery.
The reduction in floor space has made a positive impact on the use of the remaining space; the curating felt less cumbersome on my visit than it did in the past, and the calibre of the works was on display were generally much higher than I have noted them being in the past. There were marquis names like Hiroshi Sugimoto and Bill Viola amongst the Berlingieri collection, as well as a tribute to the collaborative projects of Italian provacateurs Michelangelo Pistoletto and the recently departed Vettor Pisani.
The recently inaugurated Enel gallery hosts Mircea Cantor's Sic Transit Gloria Mundi, a site specific project that involved collaborative staging by the artist, gallery, labourers and visitors, all documented on screen, now that the installation has changed form from its original staging.
Outdoors, Pascale Marthine Tayou's Plastic Bags (as pictured on the blog entry) offers a euphoric moment, where you can kind of stand there, slack jawed and just take in the audacity of the large scale artwork, borne of a reasonably simple concept.
With the current grab bag at the gallery, other instant hits with me were Marcello Maloberti's Circus Palermo, a thumping, pumping short film centred in, yes, Palermo, and Tony Oursler's Opticotic as well as Jennifer Breitz's Becoming Jennifer.
Worth the visit kids!