This autumn Salvatore Arancio was invited to take over the gallery space of Ensapc Ygrec (Ecole nationale supérieur d’arts de Paris Cergy) with the exhibition The Hidden, curated by Emeline Vincent. The exhibition is built up on the artist’s archival investigation conducted in the Jardin d’Agronomie Tropical in Nogent-Sur-Marne, located in the eastern part of Paris. This spot constituted the core of colonial exhibitions organized in Paris in 1907 and 1931: the main idea of these was to boost trade and to gain popular support for the colonial empires together with a highly didactic role, while demonstrating the aboriginal lifestyle of the colonies.
Using the garden’s archival database as a starting point, the artist has brought together a variety of practices, such as ceramics, sculpture, prints and video. In the exhibition, the archives are widely explored and reproduced: at the same time, the artist opens up the possibilities to reinterprete the remains of the garden. An essential part of the relics used by the artist is in liaison with agronomical experimentations led by a group of scientists on the site, experimentations that led to the mass introduction of exotic florae across French colonies. This is how the artist interests in the process of creation of utopias in a context of transforming landscapes: an apocalyptic vision is present in the exhibition, which is created through an encounter between the constantly reshaping nature and the original architecture of the garden. The result is a reminiscent of a Garden of Eden, where science, nature and historical presentations are in a constant dialogue. This is how the artist examines the potential of images in his narrative praxis, by combining the familiar and the unknown, symbolic readings and implications.
By operating from a geopolitical, social and economic display dating from the beginning of the XX century, the artist introduces a new heterotopia in the gallery space, in a Foucauldian sense of the term: the exhibition ends up juxtaposing several simultaneous places, thus proposing a microcosm of different environments. Despite the focus on the archival database, the result is more complex than expected: the explored archives are not conceived so much in order to document, but rather, to assume the significance of modern and historic, political, geographical and social encounter, thus creating a common space, which is free of direct value-creating praxis. The result is an ensemble, which is bound to evolve, with its fluctuating and de-structured timeframe.
Born in 1974 in Catania (Italy), Salvatore Arancio graduated with a MA Fine Arts Photography from the Royal College of Art (UK). He grew up in Sicily and has been living and working in London for many years. Recent solo and group exhibitions include: “Cathedral”, AV Festival, Northern Gallery For Contemporary Art, Sunderland, UK, (2014); “Curiosity: Art & the Pleasure of Knowing”, Hayward Touring, UK (2013); “Cyclorama”, Museo Tamayo Arte Contemporáneo, Mexico City, Mexico (2013); “Alternating Layers of Contrasting Resistance”, Rowing, London, UK, (2013); “Solo Project”, Art Rotterdam, Rotterdam, (2013); “The Little Man of the Forest With the Big Hat”, Federica Schiavo Gallery, Rome, Italy, (2013). Upcoming shows include a two-man presentation a show at the Centre d’art contemporain La Halle des bouchers, Vienne, France (May 2015). He is represented by the gallery Federica Schiavo, Rome.