Image Acts of Insurrection
Curated by the Arsenale Institute, Venice
Barrikadenwetter (barricade weather) is a term coined by the anarchist Mikhail Bakunin in the newspaper Dresdner Zeitung on May 3, 1849: it denotes the moment of transition in which a revolutionary subject emerges within collective action, and reifies itself as an obstruction that stands in the way of established order. Starting from a historical survey by the Arsenale Institute—a research group which has long been engaged in projects related to visual arts as well as the critical analysis of the politics of representation—the exhibition explores the construction, concept and iconography of the barricade, from its beginnings in the late Renaissance to present times, tracing its historical connections with the roots of the 20th century avant-garde.
The exhibition walls host an iconography of the barricade which through the collection of 289 images compares three different image acts of looking at the revolt in Paris during May 1968: the rioters, the media and the police. The imagery in this triptych, although it has the same subject, is the result of opposing politics of representation.
In the middle of the exhibition space, eight glass displays present an overview of the history of the spontaneous act of building road barriers out of found materials.
The printed matter also explores the historical connections between the emergence of 20th century avant-garde techniques and the nature of the barricade. Dadaist artist Hannah Höch, who is also known for her proximity to the construction of barricades during the Spartacist Revolt in Berlin in 1919, pioneered a specific use of collage that brought heterogeneous elements from bourgeois society together, deploying them against it. This desecrating attitude has been applied in many genres of art: the détournement, the cut-up technique of the Beat Generation, Bertolt Brecht’s Alienation effect in literature, the assemblage in sculpture, the pastiche and sample in music, deconstructivism in architecture, and montage in cinema.
A single collage by Hannah Höch stands for this revolution in art, derived from the archetype of the barricade.
Cover image: Paris, 11 May 1968. Aerial view of Rue Gay-Lussac / Rue Thuillier at 7.40 am from an altitude of 150 metres. Courtesy Archives de la Préfecture de police de Paris
Heartfelt thanks to Alma Mater Studiorum Università di Bologna – Biblioteca Universitaria di Bologna
Archives de la Préfecture de police de Paris
Curators: Wolfgang Scheppe, Bastiaan van der Velden, Sara Codutti, Eleonora Sovrani (Arsenale Institute, Venice)
Curatorial Coordinator: Matteo Binci
Production Coordinator: Giulia Caruso
Production Assistant: Eloisa Magiera
Art Handlers: Nomade Arte, Carlo Giannone, Fabio Pennacchia, Matteo Pompili
The exhibition is promoted by Assessorato alla Cultura diRoma Capitale and Azienda Speciale Palaexpo.