I've never been the hugest fan of MAXXI in Rome. Always felt that by the time it arrived it was too late on the scene. Major projects take that much longer to get up and running in the eternal city.
Even now I'm not convinced that MAXXI is a good fit for Rome but having said that, I'm always up to giving it that one extra chance; even if at €11 to enter it is hardly making contemporary art accessible in a city that is plagued by economic problems, and that is indefensible by my books.
With the excuse of catching up with a friend, I visited on Open City Open Museum on Saturday, and by the end, walked away this weekend feeling like this space had done something brave and exciting for the first time. After visiting for four years this was the first time I have left feeling this way.
The first bold decision was to strip the walls and the spaces of all visual art which has often been quite hit and miss. Basically, nothing on the walls, nothing free standing. Anish Kapour's huge piece was one of the few concessions here but seemed to work really well in the context. The context? Just audio speakers and recording Installations that divided up the cavernous spaces and segued into each other.
Open City Open Museum is a truly sonic show that takes over the entire gallery space and resonates through its problematic exhibit spaces. There were a few performance artists in attendance on Saturday, but for me this was mostly an audiary experience with some finer appreciation for the architecture thrown into the mix.
For me the great discovery was Justin Bennett who has two works on show- including The Oracle 2.0 which has been retooled for the Roman audience. Loved it; brought a smile to my face and it was much appreciated by those who I saw sitting around waiting for multiple fortunes to be told. I'm guilty, I did the same thing, waiting to be let in on the secrets of the universe from the wise all knowing voice that, on the top floor of Maxxi is as close to the heavens as one gets and offers up all kinds of practical and impractical advice.
Watch the video interview with Justin recorded at MAXXI and check out the website for more information.