On the occasion of the recent publication of the artist’s latest photographic book, Aquila, published by Hatje Cantz, with graphics by Giulia Boccarossa and a critical text by Stefano Chiodi, Galleria 1/9unosunove is hosting for the first time a solo exhibition by Stefano Cerio in its spaces at Palazzo Santacroce. The exhibition project, which had already been the focus of a major exhibition at the Maxxi L’Aquila, is being presented in Rome for the first time as part of a series of meetings in the artist’s presence – including the presentation of the book that will take place at the gallery during the exhibition.
The publication brings together images from the photographic project carried out in Abruzzo between 2019 and 2021. Cerio’s photographic series – together with the artist’s video Aquila – portrays strongly oniric and evocative places in different seasons of the year, wavering between myth and legend, comparing the severity, solidity and pale colours of the bare Abruzzo mountains with the inconsistency, instability and un-naturalness of amusement park inflatables. The resulting juxtaposition is a softly jarring image with a metaphysical feel. Stefano Chiodi in his Corpi d’aria (hence the title of the exhibition) compares Cerio’s inflatables to “solitary inorganic performers” to which the artist and his camera are merely witnesses; while to us, distant observers, these “presences abandoned in space appear as an unconcealed allusion to volatility.
Cerio’s work recalls the documentary-inspired photography identified in the Düsseldorf school and in particular the Becher couple; and also the explorations of peripheral spaces conducted by artist-photographers such as Stephen Shore and Lewis Baltz. The artist looks at these examples with great expressive freedom and combines a biting ironic taste with a constant, though highly coded, attention to the contemporary social scene.
In its decontextualisation from the everyday, this photographic cycle relates to other series by the artist, such as Cruise Ship (2014) where a large cruise ship is presented as a deserted theatre of escapist fantasies, a fake consumer paradise within reach of the small pockets of the bewildered western petty bourgeoisie.
Aquila introduces a decisive element, a performative trait, a tension and movement that give the inflatables a different – and in some ways more dramatic – echo, and mark the opening of a further phase in the artist’s development.