Manipulating Reality

25 September 2009

17 January 2010

The exhibition focuses on the meaning of the term “reality” in contemporary artistic research, as it explores different ways of visually representing the world in the ambiguity that lies between the real and the verisimilar, the concrete and the apparent, the present and the past.

In today’s mass-media society, only what becomes image is considered real. In a process of reversal, the representation of the world comes to replace the world itself, a world in which the user operates digitally.

Several different scientific disciplines have already defined a paradigmatic change when they contend that the “real world” does not exist as an independent category, merely as a projection or a construction by the individual; and this, even though in daily life we still tend to raise concepts of reality and truth to the lofty rank of objective facts, on which we then base our actions and our beliefs.

Photography and video art have always been based on the conflict between recording reality and, at the same time, becoming themselves a falsification of that reality. Today, with the spreading popularity of easy-to-use digital technology and the massive dissemination of images through the mass media and the Internet, that ambiguity has if anything increased, pushing the conflict between appearance and reality to its outer edges and demanding that the spectator play an active role in defining what he or she is seeing as real.

Rather than set itself the impossible goal of finding the answer to the question of the nature of a reality reproducible in image form, the exhibition Manipulating Reality presents a selection of 23 artistic approaches that work through photography and video to develop possible models of reality. Its aim is not to understand whether photographs can convey reality but how this can occur. The works exhibited represent different artistic strategies addressing the construction, reflection or distortion of reality in images. In addition to investigating the value of documentary photography today, many of the artists presented reflect in part the conditions of the tool of photography and adopt known artistic techniques such as collage, presentation in model form, abstraction and the assemblage of different elements. Visitors find themselves faced with different constructions of reality, thus being prompted to reconsider their criteria for what is real and subject them to critical reappraisal in the light of the works exhibited.

Manipulating Reality is a CCCS project that availed itself of the scientific advice of Luminita Sabau (director of the DZ Bank collection of contemporary photography in Germany), Brett Rogers (director of the Photographers’ Gallery, London), Martino Marangoni (director of the Fondazione Marangoni, Florence) and Franziska Nori (project director of the CCCS).

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