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Shoegaze. Stefano Serretta



Shoegaze. Stefano Serretta

The Italian Cultural Institute in Stockholm, in partnership with Konstfack, present Shoegaze, a new commission by Stefano Serretta. The project curated by Vasco Forconi is the second chapter of a series of exhibitions that will see Sweden and Italy-based artists interact with the building designed by Gio Ponti

The large furnished window designed as the only visual threshold between the inside and the outside of the building becomes the stage and the visual device that artists are invited to activate with the production of new works. In the second chapter of Shoegaze, Stefano Serretta realizes an environmental installation by emptying the interior space and covering up all the windows with newspaper sheets. This gesture becomes an occasion to unfold a visual narrative, encouraging the audience to walk through the space and observe the characters that fill the windows through the newspaper specifically designed by the artist.

The grand idea of modernity embodied in the work and thinking of Gio Ponti makes the Italian Cultural Institute a precious architectural object, which is nowadays characterized by a condition of slight time lag. A perfect time capsule that holds a promise of future and faith in the rationality of thinking that is not necessarily reflected in the political and cultural present. Stefano Serretta stages this condition of paradoxical time suspension by completely emptying the foyer and the auditorium of the Institute, and by covering its large windows with sheets of newspaper. This gesture, that in contemporary collective imagination alludes to the bankruptcy of a commercial activity, offers an alternative interpretation of the architectural space. Yet this double action of emptying the building and denying the gaze is just temporary: inside the exhibition space, the polychrome sheets covering the large windows, with sunlight filtering through, become the medium to unfold a complex narrative made of images and fragments of text.

In his work Stefano Serretta often directs the attention towards the languages, symbols and fetishes of those political and religious ideologies surviving in a present regarded as post-ideological. The artist has extensively explored the world of the online communication platforms used by heterogeneous communities of western young people, often gathered under the label of alt-right, or alternative right. Among millions of anonymous profiles and charismatic spokesmen, those seemingly peripheral corners of the internet are actually at the center of a wild production and diffusion of images, mythologies, symbols and discourses. They convey and normalize an inextricable tangle of evil humor, nonsense, memes, political incorrectness, economic hardship and social anxiety, antifeminism and overt racism. Often overlooked because of its apparent harmlessness, this slippery infosphere represents a place of incubation for discourses and practices that, originating from the peripheries of the internet, infiltrate the core of contemporary political communication. The artist resurfaces from the observation of this underworld with the intention to narrate its intrinsic social hardship, its unsolvable ambiguity, and its perverse fascination for the totalitarian narratives of the XX century. Serretta collects this visual and verbal imagery – a product of pop culture mixed with nerd esoterism – which then analyzes, chews and spits in his drawings. This is the process that leads to the production of Relapse, a newspaper suspended between fiction and likeliness, which pages are crowded by characters portrayed in grotesque poses, on the verge of crying, as if they were trapped in a sort of collective hallucination. In the cycle of images staged by Serretta inside the Italian Institute, the cuteness and cynical innocence inherent in many online subcultures is turned into expressionist monstrosity. Yet these characters escape from any rigid ethical classification. Also the texts that shape the newspaper turn out to be an obsessive repetition of ambiguous mantras and fragments of speech, borrowed from both the contemporary political rhetoric and the literary, cinematographic and musical culture, in which irony, fears and ideology are inextricably mixed. There is no simple and unique response to the mixture of ambiguity, violence and unease embodied by these characters, but an incitement to discover under the guise of newness and indifference the return of structural political paradigms of our society. The invitation that the artist extends to the audience is to sharpen the gaze, and interrogate the characters populating the empty rooms of the Institute, looking for hidden messages and – perhaps – a spark of political hope.

Shoegaze is a subtle tribute to the homonymous musical subculture which emerged in the UK in the late 1980s. The derogatory term coined by the press soon came to represent a short-lived yet influential movement that was able to resist the regime of spectacularity and entertainment dictated by the music market. The desire to be on the public stage with a shy yet often confrontational attitude, the determination to preserve their artistic research, and the affective nature of their collective experience make shoegazing a potential reference for a younger generation of visual artists struggling with self-representation, precarious identity and individualized socio-political attitudes.

Stefano Serretta (b. 1987, Genoa) lives and works in Milan. He holds a BA in Modern and Contemporary History and an MA in Visual Arts and Curatorial Studies at NABA Nuova Accademia di Belle Arti di Milano. His work has been recently exhibited in solo and group exhibitions including: Spit or Swallow, UNA, Piacenza (2019), Chi Utopia mangia le mele, ex Dogana di terra, Verona, (2018), That’s IT!, MAMbo, Bologna (2018), Il Paradigma di Kuhn, Galleria FuoriCampo, Siena (2018), The Great Learning, La Triennale di Milano, Milan (2017), Primavera 5, Galerie Papillon, Paris (2016), Teatrum Botanicum, PAV Parco Arte Vivente, Turin (2016), Rubbles in The Jungle, Placentia Arte, Piacenza (2016).

Vasco Forconi (b. 1991, Rome) is an independent curator and writer based in Rome and Stockholm. He is a contributor to ATP Diary, Exibart, and NERO on Theory. Among the curated projects: Talent Prize VI, Casa dell'Architettura, Rome (2013), IT. Spazi di percezione tra intangibile e tangibile, Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Moderna, Rome (2014), Incontra, series of artists’ talks, Rome (2015), Disrupted Drawings, mhPROJECT, New York (2017), Da Franco Senza Appuntamento, Rome (2018), A Messy Knot (in motion pictures), The Bioscope, Johannesburg (2018), Italiani brava gente, Fondazione VOLUME!, Rome (2018). He has recently completed CuratorLab, a curatorial research program at Konstfack, Stockholm.


Data: DA to 13 jun 2019 a fr 27 sep 2019

Tid: Från 18:00 till 21:00

Arrangeras av : Istituto Italiano di Cultura Stoccolma

I samarbete med : Konstfack

Inträde : gratis


Istituto Italiano di Cultura - Gärdesgatan 14,115