“Anri Sala. Transfigured” at GAMeC Bergamo

For the fifth year in a row, GAMeC – Galleria d’Arte Moderna e Contemporanea di Bergamo returns to the prestigious Palazzo della Ragione, the beating heart of the old town, with a new exhibition by Anri Sala, the celebrated Albanian-born artist, who has created a thoughtful dialogue with the iconic Sala delle Capriate based on his most recent film and sound installation: Time No Longer.

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Adopting an operating method exploited previously on other occasions, Sala interprets the architectural context “not as a mere container but as an active organ.” In the artist’s view, every physical space may enshrine values and memories that, from time to time, interaction with the artwork may reactivate. In the case of the Sala delle Capriate, this dynamic is further developed (with a sort of amplification of the effect) in relation to the centuries-old history of the building—the first municipal palazzo in Italy, then transformed into the Palace of Justice under the Republic of Venice—and the ancient frescoes it contains.

Projected onto a 16-meter long suspended screen, Time No Longer focuses on the image of a record player floating in a space station. Anchored only to the electrical power cable, the turntable plays a new arrangement of Quartet for the End of Time: the composition by French musician Olivier Messiaen, considered to be his most famous musical work, composed in captivity. During World War II, Messiaen (1908-1992) was captured in Verdun and taken prisoner in a German camp. It was during this time that he wrote Quartet for the End of Time, presenting it for the first time in 1941—together with three other musicians who had also been imprisoned—before an audience of only prisoners and guards. In particular, for the creation of Time No Longer, Sala drew inspiration from the quartet’s only solo movement, “The Abyss of the Birds,” written for clarinet and played by his Algerian comrade and musician Henri Akoka.

On the occasion of the Anri Sala exhibition, the first volume of a new series of essays will be published by NERO and GAMeC, linked to the exhibition projects staged at Palazzo della Ragione in Bergamo. The author of the first essay will be the French philosopher and musicologist Peter Szendy.