PAMELA TALESE : THE THIRD ROME
November 7 - December 15, 2018
THE THIRD ROME takes its title from Italian nationalist Giuseppe Mazzini’s celebrated dictum that “After the Rome of the emperors, after the Rome of the Popes, there will come the Rome of the people.” This became a cultural mantra for Mussolini during his regime (1922-1943) – and one that was manifested by the massive transformation of the architectural and civic landscape of the city. Many of the buildings and monuments of the Fascist era remain, accompanied by the long shadow of pseudo-populism.
The works presented here were painted following Talese’s annual visits to Rome over the past six years. Nearly half were done around the Foro Italico in Rome’s northern section. Built between 1928 and 1938 as a sports complex intended for the Olympic Games, it served as well as a school where young boys trained in aggressive combat sports which, Mussolini believed, would develop the qualities of good soldiers. Throughout the park, giant figures of Carrara marble stand naked and posed, conceived as heroic revenants from ancient Rome, but appearing today as defeated emblems of the recent past.
Talese takes us to the areas of Rome outside the cultural center, to the predominantly working-class neighborhoods of Garbatella and Ostiense, populated by industrial sites and buildings at once stylish and sad; Flaminio, with its visionary architecture of the sixties; and Esquilino and Testaccio, each revealing arresting contrasts of the ancient city and the contemporary life that inhabits it.
This is not the Rome of Panini or Piranesi, but one unvarnished, so to speak, and one which reveals the tragedy as well as the triumph of the city’s history. The contrasts of the brutal elegance of the modern structures, both appealing and unnerving, with the older architecture creates a dialogue that raises issues that resonate today: the transience of political power, the tragedy of demagogic populism, and the vitality of the individual.
Pamela Talese (b. 1964) was born in New York City. She is a graduate from International School of Art in Todi, Italy and received her MA from Smith College. Her artist residencies include The Ucross Foundation in Wyoming, The Josef & Anni Albers Foundation in Connecticut, the American Academy in Rome and the Cill Rialaig in Country Kerry, Ireland.