Parma, 1975

So many things in the air! is the second solo exhibition by Antonio Rovaldi at Galleria Michela Rizzo.

The exhibition is conceived as a journey in stages that follows the gestation of Rovaldi's latest book dedicated to the margins of NYC, along the lines of a face of a lesser-known, more wild and hidden city, as the title of the book itself suggests: The Sound of the Woodpecker Bill: New York City.

The title of the exhibition is borrowed from the first verse of the poem Three Airs by the American poet and art critic Frank O 'Hara, from the Lunch Poems collection (1953-1964) dedicated to the city of New York, to walking as an associative practice, to its rhythms and to the colors of the city. This first verse translates into a blue neon on a gallery wall, a lightning-fast conversation - like a sudden vision during a walk - with the author of the poem: "Yes Frank, so many things in the air!". The neon lights up the room where, from two stereo speakers, a voice repeats the stops of a long walk around the edges of New York, declaiming the names of places, streets, hours of the day, alternating and superimposing on sound fields recorded between 2016 and 2018 by Rovaldi himself. Five Walk. NYC is also the result of the collaboration between Antonio Rovaldi and the Sound Designer Tommaso Zerbini. The installation consists of five chapters - as many as there are boroughs in the city - and is a constant flow of voices and sound geographies.

Like an alter ego of the artist, a voice accompanies the listening along a circular sound line, passing from noisy urban environments to more interstitial, peripheral corners, where silence finds space to articulate the story of a journey that develops through pauses and second thoughts.

The first room of the gallery collects photographic cycles made between 2018 and 2019.
Small-format photographs, like a constellation of points in space, tell of a geography that is recomposed through the time of a journey on foot and that subsequently reconstructed within the pages of a book. Some sculptural interventions scattered throughout the three rooms of the gallery interact with the photographs in the sound and liquid space of a city half submerged by water: a journey into images and into the process of photography itself.
The top floor is occupied by the video installation The Rest of The Images. The video, the result of the collaboration between Rovaldi and the director Federica Ravera, is both a documentation of the artist's artistic practice within his workplace and a close relationship between walking, photography (its processes and supports) and assembling the images in a sequence. Last but not least, the relationship between the one who films and the one who is filmed. The photographs that the artist's hands move on the floor of his studio redesign geographies and the trajectories of balls that splash into space, fast and random, suggest new possible directions, while the face of a city moves away and its sound is lowered.

Once again Rovaldi returns to reflect on the relationship between image and physical movement of the walking body, on the memory of a geographical experience that took place some time ago and the need to rethink distances, in the belief that places are complex and non-containable elastic systems. in one image.

Antonio Rovaldi (Parma, 1975) studied Art and Photography at the Nuova Accademia di Belle Arti in Milan, where he graduated in 2000 under the guidance of the Japanese artist Hidetoshi Nagasawa and the photographer Mario Cresci.

Since then, his artistic practice has investigated the perception of the landscape through the use of various media, such as photography, video, sculpture and sound installation. A recurring element in his research is the representation of distance, both physical and mental, between real and literary places, collective spaces and autobiographical memories. The relationship between physical exertion – through the practice of walking or covering long distances by bike – and his investigation of a specific territory is a constant feature in his artistic practice, which has always focused on the construction of a complex image, one which develops through the rhythm of a sequence and the slow time of sedimentation.

In 2006, he won the New York Prize at Columbia University, and in 2009 he was artist in residence at the ISCP in Brooklyn. In 2015, he published the book Orizzonte in Italia (Humboldt Books and MAN Museum), the documentation of his long journey along the entire coast of the Italian peninsula and Sardinia in order to photograph the horizon. The book was shortlisted for the Premio Compasso d’oro ADI, Design Index 2016. Also in 2015, his book Detour in Detroit with Francesca Berardi was published by Humboldt Books, telling the story of one of the twenty-first century’s most fascinating cities through a series of encounters with a variety of people who are building its present and imagining its future. Les Cerises published a children’s book of his, inspired by New York and entitled New York City Babe (2016), dedicated both to the city and to photography at the same time.

Thanks to the Premio per l’Arte Italiana promoted by the Italian Council (Mibact Direzione Generale Creatività Contemporanea) which he was awarded in 2018, he carried out the publishing project titled The Sound of the Woodpecker Bill: New York City, also published by Humboldt Books and dedicated to the outer edges of the five boroughs of New York City, traced on foot between 2016 and 2018. Through the practice of walking in relation to photography and writing, the idea behind the book is to show a lesser-known, more hidden city, one where it is still possible to imagine an ecological rebirth in relation to the lives of the inhabitants of the most outlying neighbourhoods, especially those which have a direct relationship with the water. What’s more, the book is an elegy to photography in its most diverse forms: visual notes, the documentation of a specific place through the practice of ‘returning’ to places, the accumulation of imagery, its sedimentation and reinterpretation over time, as well as the notion of the geological gaze on the things that surround us. The book was shortlisted for The Book Awards 2020 (Author Book Award Section) at Arles Les Rencontres de la Photographie.

In 2019, together with the landscapist Francesca Benedetto, Design Critic in Landscape Architecture at the Harvard Graduate School of Design, and Stephen N. Handel, Professor of Ecology and Evolution at Rutgers University, at the GSD department at Harvard he presented the show End. Word from the Margins – New York City, followed by the exhibition Il suono del becco del picchio at the GAMeC in Bergamo in 2020; both shows are dedicated to the relationship between walking through a city, the production of imagery in relation to the specific geography of New York City, to the Waterfront of the city and to the issues linked to climate change, to maps of it and the representation of its landscape as both a physical and mental space.

In 2017, after long periods spent in New York City, he devised the exhibition project known as ‘Cler’ inside his Milanese studio in Via Padova, calling on artists to display original projects, with special attention to research highlighting the relationship between photography, film and sound. ‘Cler’ in Milanese dialect means ‘shutter that may be raised and lowered’, just like the shutter of an analogical camera. The project is potentially exportable anywhere as long as there is a shutter to be raised in a space in the city, and artists with whom to establish an ongoing dialogue and who are willing to nurture a shared process.

The exhibitions staged at the Cler space to date:

  • La bella estate, with Allegra Martin, Alessandra Spranzi and Stefano Graziani (2017)

  • Empty Walls Drawings (Simon), with Farid Rahimi (2017)

  • A River (To Say Nothing of The Dog), with Luigi Fiano and Ettore Favini (2018)

  • Temporale. Deserto, with Paola De Pietri (2018)

  • Codex, with Alessandro Costariol (2018)

  • In forma di Riepilogo, with Italo Zuffi (2018)

  • Città Nuda, with Zimmerfrei (2019)

  • Something I Buried Deep, with Davide Savorani (2019)

  • Lo spazio tra le cose, with Andrea Camuffo, Marina Ballo Charmet, Claudio Gobbi and Gaia Giani (2020)

Shows currently under development:

  • 3,5 milioni di anni, with Alessandro Biggio, Gaia Carboni, Ra di Martino, Alessandra Spranzi and Linda Fregni Nagler.

His solo shows include that at Michela Rizzo Gallery in Venice (Dear Michael, from Edgecombe to Qumalai, with Michael Hoepfner); at the Museo MAN in Nuoro (Mi è scesa una nuvola, 2015); Monitor, Rome (Orizzonte in Italia, 2013); The Goma in Madrid (Domani pensami in battaglia, 2013); Hirshhorn Museum in Washington DC (The Opening Day, 2012); the Harvard Graduate School of Design (End. Words from the Margins – New York City, 2019); GAMeC, Bergamo (Il suono del becco del picchio, 2020); Michela Rizzo Gallery, Venice (So Many Things in the Air, 2020). Among his recent group shows: Fondazione Prada Osservatorio Milano (Give Me Yesterday, 2016); and Festival Fotografia Europea, Reggio Emilia (La Via Emilia. Strade, viaggi, confini / Nuove esplorazioni, 2016).

Over the last few months, he has been reading books dedicated to the mountains and planning a long journey with both photography and sound recording, walking through the Italian Alps together with the sound designer Tommaso Zerbini. The idea is to walk for a long period at a high altitude, pondering the relationship between imagery, sound and physical exertion, as well as the father figure in relationship to the Alpine landscape.

Curriculum Vitae