Kunstverein Hannover presents Italian artist Yuri Ancarani’s first comprehensive solo exhibition in Germany. The winner of several film awards works almost exclusively with the moving image, though he also regards himself as a sculptor whose practice is situated between cinematic documentary and contemporary art.
His often feature-length film works, now explicitly conceived as installation scenarios for the first time, deal in and with places and people that are usually inaccessible or generally less visible to the broader public. While they show a number of wonderful moments, there are abysmal ones as well.
Ancarani works primarily with research-based narrative and editing; his images are at once monumental and intimate. Much of the artist’s work revolves around portraits in the Anthropocene and its immanent, often adverse effects. The beauty of nature stands juxtaposed with the clash of ›man and machine‹ and the natural world’s subjugation by human-kind—the cornerstone of our self-understanding in the modern age. That balance of delight in achievement, performance and human genius tips precisely in light of the anticipated finiteness of natural resources.
Ancarani takes precisely this tipping point of powerful images as his point of departure: what are impenetrable silence and cold, garbage dumps and exhaust fumes if not a far more apt reflection of contemporary humanity than, say, gold, sports cars, and Venice at night? The artist’s work might also be read as a poetic update of the films comprising Godfrey Reggio’s Qatsi Trilogy.
Kunstverein Hannover features a compilation of works from the last twenty years. The artist has found installation-based formats that allow visitors to walk through and explore two decades of his artistic and cinematic oeuvre, whereby each individual film has been heavily edited into short sequences. Two full-length cinema screenings of his 70- to 100-minute films will be shown over the course of the exhibition in collaboration with Kommunales Kino (KoKi) im Künstlerhaus: The first is his latest »Atlantide« (2021), a film that offers an unusual glimpse of adolescence in Venice while also showing the lagoon city from a completely different perspective. The second is »The Challenge«, a film that, along with »Wedding« (both 2016), was produced in Qatar and shows patriarchal rites situated between luxury goods and traditions.
Also featured is a new edit of the artist’s »Ricordi per Moderni« (2009)—a series of shorts exploring the transformation of socio-cultural and geographic landscapes in the Riviera Romagnola.
Ancarani’s best-known work, »Il Capo« (2010), is a powerful visual hymn to the »chief« of the marble quarrying crew in Carrara, a quarry director in an industry that sees an almost intimate coming-together of humans and machines. Its central human protagonist is a figure who uses wordless hand gestures and signs to guide and coordinate quarrymen in the performance of hard labor. The effect is highly aesthetic, obscurely silent, eerie and impressive, as is this glimpse of the overexploitation of natural resources, particularly in light of the current events of 2022.
»Lapidi«, developed for Manifesta 12 (2018) in Palermo, now shown for the first time as a cinematic triptych––explores the local commemorative culture around Mafia victims in Sicily.
Another film, »San Vittore« (2018), will be on view for the first time in an exhibition context. Shot in the largest prison in Milan, it focuses on children whose parents are currently serving prison sentences.
Yuri Ancarani’s exacting eye and poetic handling of pictures and sound result in expressive images that, as installations, briefly allow for a different cadence and altogether different mode of reception. They go further than a slight opening of the door to place the viewer in a first-person perspective, immersing them in a reality presumed to exist only as a myth or background scene, as subsidiary location or in the engine room. In a span of twenty years, Ancarani has produced a variety of experimental films that have won a multitude of festival awards; those same films can now be experienced with a visit to the exhibition in Hanover.
Invited by Kathleen Rahn and Sergey Harutoonian, curated by Christoph Platz-Gallus
With generous support from the Lower Saxony Ministry for Science and Culture, the Lower Saxony Foundation and Galerie Isabella Bortolozzi.