From the collaboration between the Egyptian Museum, the Sandretto Re Rebaudengo Foundation, the Royal Museums and the Archaeological Research and Scavi Center of Turin (CRAST), an exhibition project is born that invites reflection on the importance of cultural heritage, creating a thread capable of uniting three prestigious exhibition venues (Egyptian Museum, Sandretto Re Rebaudengo Foundation, Royal Museums) and the findings of the past with contemporary works. A theme that will be explored further, in May, with an international conference.
Four institutions create a chorus of voices that traces the current theme of vulnerability, the systematic and conscious destruction of cultural heritage, while at the same time emphasizing the importance of its conservation and protection. The exhibition, divided into three locations - Egyptian Museum, Sandretto Re Rebaudengo Foundation, Royal Museums - Mutua its title from a documentary of 1953 made by the French director Alain Resnais and serves, as a guide image, the detail of a photograph in white and black by Mimmo Jodice (taken from the work "Anamnesi") that shows the stone face of a statue victim of time and history.
The scientific project - elaborated by the curators Irene Calderoni, Stefano de Martino, Paolo Del Vesco, Christian Greek, Enrica Pagella, Elisa Panero - revolves around three main themes: that of destruction and looting analyzes in a diachronic way the motivations that have pushed the men to the destruction of the artistic and archaeological heritage in the attempt to mystify the identity of others, of dispersion and annihilation of the memory of the peoples.
The second theme is the power of images, never merely simple graphic signs, but bearers of innumerable meanings and often an instrument of power.
The third and final theme is the role of museums: considered institutions in balance between the principle of conservation / protection and the appropriation activity, "predators" of assets and keepers of finds otherwise exposed to the risk of destruction and oblivion. Symbols of colonial Europe, today museums are called to re-evaluate and reconstruct their role as narrators of culture, shedding light on the biographical account of the object shown to the public.
The exhibition urges the urgency of some questions: what is the role of a historical-artistic heritage in the processes of building a people's cultural identity? What are the effects of such an extreme devastation on the sense of belonging, on the idea of tradition and sharing, on the possibility of conceiving as a whole? On what basis can a future be built if the traces of one's past have been systematically obliterated? How can one conceive of an idea of reparation or reconciliation? The exhibition attempts to answer these questions through the dialogue between ancient artifacts and works by contemporary artists, many of them originating in countries where conflicts have put at risk and sometimes destroyed heritage, such as, by way of example, Iraq, Iran and Lebanon.
The Egyptian Museum with "Even the statues die" opens for the first time in contemporary art
hosting the exhibition in the exhibition hall dedicated to Khaled al-Asaad, barbarously killed by ISIS, in an attempt to defend the archaeological site of Palmyra he had been a director for over 30 years. Nine contemporary artists dialogue, through their works - installations, videos, photographs - with ancient finds.
The route begins with an evocative encounter between looks: those of the nine faces photographed by Mimmo Jodice and those broken by the governors of Qau el-Kebir (1900 - 1850 BC). An important moment of reflection on the role of the Museums is entrusted to works such as those of Ali Cherri, Liz Glynn and Kader Attia. An exhibition room is dedicated to the photographs produced by CRAST in Nineveh: the Turin Research Center has documented for the last time - before it was completely razed - the beauty of Sennacherib's 'Palace without Equals'.
The President, Evelina Christillin: The exhibition "Even the statues die" is the concrete demonstration of how the synergy between cultural institutions is able to produce an important result: an exhibition spread throughout the city, present in three different exhibition venues and recognized among the initiatives related to the European Year of Heritage. For the Egyptian Museum the inauguration of this exhibition is also a sign of openness to other artistic languages, in this case those of contemporary art, testifying to an approach that this Museum is willing to offer to any type of dialogue. We are very grateful to Intesa Sanpaolo for the support given to the exhibition and the international convention in May. I also thank Consulta Torino, who has chosen to be present in this project and in others that will follow.
The Sandretto Re Rebaudengo Foundation investigates the present, reflecting on the themes of the museum, archeology, colonialism, national identity and relations between cultures. At the center of the exhibition, the sixteen museums of Kader Attia, empty and with broken glass, invite the viewer to reflect on the different ways in which the museum exhibits have been outraged. The same themes, variously declined, are taken by the artists Mark Manders, Simon Wachsmuth and Lamia Joreige. Two exhibits from the collections of the Egyptian Museum show the signs of violence that have been victims in the distant past. The President, Patrizia Sandretto Re Rebaudengo: The Sandretto Re Rebaudengo Foundation favors always the collaboration between institutions, actively participating in the art system and culture of Turin. "Even the statues die" is the result of a scientific project shared by the editors of four different institutions of our city. Together, through dialogue, they approached their languages, giving us a profound and reflective exhibition. I am particularly proud of the role that contemporary art plays in the exhibition itinerary, bringing to the attention of the public issues of current relevance, according to an unprecedented perspective, open to the questions of history, to the complex relationships between cultures, to the crucial question transmission of memory and conservation and protection of heritage.
The Royal Museums offer a reflection with the exhibition of archaeological finds and works of art: from the Assyrian reliefs, to the Cypriot and Roman art to the painting of Rogier van der Weyden. The path is intertwined with contemporary art through the spectacular installation by Mariana Castillo Deball,
in the central Salone delle Guardie Svizzere of Palazzo Reale, and film footage of the recent research and recovery activities implemented by the Centro Ricerche Archeologiche e Scavi di Torino in Iraq. Stories of reuse, destruction or looting, but also new contexts of form and meaning, lost identities, dismemberments and long journeys: a current scenario on the logic of the market that, yesterday as today, have regulated the entry of cultural heritage into large collections dynastic first and in the collections of the best known western museums then. The Director, Enrica Pagella: The Royal Museums reflect on the controversial role of the museum over time, as a place of protection and conservation at the service of society, but also a theater of decontextualization and appropriation. A role that, by the Faro Convention, must necessarily be called into question.
"Even the statues die" is based on the conviction of the ability of the art to generate new discourses, setting a double goal: to inform and show the public the result of recent and violent destruction that have swept the artistic and cultural heritage of many countries; but also to raise awareness because it is only through the knowledge of cultural heritage that we can achieve a careful protection of heritage, legacy and memory to be handed down and protected.
The exhibition is inscribed in the program of the European Year of Heritage 2018 whose themes will be
deepened within an international conference that will involve scholars and experts of the different disciplines that, starting from the exhibition, will develop the multiple suggestions that gravitate around the vulnerability and destruction of the art treasures, the necessity and importance of careful work of protection and conservation of cultural heritage.
The Director, Stefano de Martino The Center for Archaeological Research and Excavations of Turin for the Middle
East and Asia (CRAST) and the University of Turin have been present in the Middle East for many years with archaeological excavations and research and training activities, , in particular, in the redevelopment of the monumental halls of the Iraq Museum in Baghdad. For these reasons we have joined
with enthusiasm for the exhibition project "Even the statues die" which concerns issues not only consistent with our activities, but also of great interest. The collaboration with the Egyptian Museum, the
Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo and the Royal Museums is a strong signal of the ability of all these structures to work in synergy on common themes, as regards different eras.
(Photo: Courtesy of Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo)