An Outdoor Exhibition Project by Italy’s Photology Gallery Offers a Sicilian Alternative to Manifesta

Photology AIR in the Noto Valley of Sicily. Courtesy of Photology.

The 12th edition of Manifesta, the European Biennial of Contemporary Art, is on view now in Palermo, Italy. But it’s not the only big art event taking place in Sicily this summer. Some 50 miles away in Noto, an ancient town on the region’s southeast coast, a small photography gallery called Photology has mounted an ambitious outdoor exhibition in the ruins of a 19th-century monastery.

Photology is a photography-focused gallery founded in Milan in 1992 by Davide Faccioli. The gallery has changed locations numerous times since then, operating locations in Cortina, London, Bologna, and Paris. In 2012, Faccioli decided once again to rebrand.

“We learned that, for us, sharing art in a regular, metropolitan gallery space was not enough,” he tells artnet News. “We wanted to increase this number of people we connect with by tapping into selected cultural tourist hubs in different locations—all of which are far from typical metropolitan areas.”

In 2012, Faccioli launched the first phase of his plan: a new gallery and project space in Garzon, a small village in the Punta del Este region of Uruguay. Now he’s onto the second, bigger stage.

This June, the gallery launched Photology AIR (Art In Ruins), an outdoor project on 75 acres of land in the Noto Valley of Sicily, just outside the historic Noto city center—a UNESCO World Heritage site. Visitors can walk along early 18th-century baroque buildings and the ancient remains of a medieval town before exploring Photology AIR’s offerings, which include an exhibition of outdoor sculpture, a curated “art trail,” a film festival, and an educational section for children.

Installation of “Land Art in America,” (2018). Courtesy of Photology.

Faccioli began working on the concept of Photology AIR two years ago. He conceives of the project—which is loosely inspired by the British Pavilion at the 2014 Venice Biennale of Architecture—as an “art theme park,” with different “attractions.” Attendants are also available on site to guide visitors and explain each of the segments.

Installed in the walls of the ruins is an exhibition of prints by Italian photo artist Gianfranco Gorgoni. The show, titled “Land Art in America,” brings together Gorgoni’s famous photographs of land art, from his documentation of works by Robert Smithson, Walter de Maria, and Nancy Holt shot in the early ’70s—the subject of Gorgoni’s first US solo show, put on by Leo Castelli—to more recent images featuring the sculptures of Ugo Rondinone.

Installation view of “Art Trail: Osservatori,” (2018), featuring a work by Wolfgang Weileder. Courtesy of Photology.

Nearby is “Art Trail: Osservatori,” an outdoor exhibition installed along a winding path, which features sculptural work by Italian artists such as Stefano Boccalini, Angelo Candiano, and Luca Pancrazzi. Curated by art historian Gino Gianuizzi, the show explores the relationship between the two meanings of the Italian word “Osservatori”: “observers”—as in those that can see things that are not noticed by others—and “observatories.”

Finally, an ongoing documentary film festival presents a selection of film on contemporary artists, including Julian Schnabel, Luigi Ontani, and others.

It’s an ambitious effort from a small Italian gallery. Yet Faccioli and company have no intention of slowing down: They are currently working toward opening a third location, set to open in 2021.

Installation of “Land Art in America,” (2018). Courtesy of Photology.

Photology AIR is on view in Noto, Italy through September 23, 2018. 

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