On January 8, 2020, Galleria Il Ponte Contemporanea in Rome is pleased to announce the opening of the exhibition “Exquisite Corpse: I loved you more” by the Australian artist Maree Azzopardi, as part of the ‘ONE’ series in collaboration with curator Achille Bonito Oliva. The exhibition of photographs printed on linen and embroidered with gold thread has been organized with the patronage of the Australian Embassy in Rome.
The exhibition Exquisite Corpse is entirely a work of mourning. It follows the death of the artist’s father. If you are a writer, like me, in a culture that is literary, you may opt to perform your grief through a written or spoken eulogy. If your culture expresses itself through ritual like in Aboriginal Australia, and like in the Catholic rites of the churches in Malta, Australia or elsewhere, you will wail the dead and deliver the release of the spirit to its resting place through dance or ceremony. But an artist like Maree Azzopardi speaks out her loss through the image, through the stitching and via the cloth.
Azzopardi’s photographs portray dead birds on the sand. While alive, birds span the two realms of material earth and nebulous sky. They act as conduits between. The earth is the realm of the flesh and the sky is the realm of the spirit. These dead bird bodies are sky-borne beings repatriated to the earth. Spirit collapsed back on its flesh. Death into dust.
Tiny sections are picked out in embroidered gold thread. They impart preciousness, the same way that gilding frescoes gives them a shimmering radiance.
Among the works are some that depict Maree Azzopardi’s father in his grave clothes. After his death and burial in Australia, the artist’s journey with these works retraces in reverse the emigrant voyage her father once took. Among the Maltese diaspora is a heart-sickness of living between two worlds. It affects foreign-born children even more than their migrant parents. Between two places, there is nothing but turbulence. But in the shamanistic promise that two realms may be bridged, Azzopardi finds a release.
The artist-as-shaman, Maree Azzopardi, has formed a conduit between two worlds. Her father’s flesh is buried in Australian soil. But with these images and this exhibition, she is repatriating his spirit to the land of his birth. Maree Azzopardi is bringing her dead father home.
Opening: January 8, 2020 | 6:30 PM
Il Ponte Contemporanea, Roma
Opening 8 January 2020
Maree Azzopardi’s new works continue the artist’s ongoing engagement with themes of religious symbolism and the polarities of earth and water. Her photographs act as memorials for the people and places they remember and record. They include personal memories and family narrative and the works explore themes of loss, retrieval, commemoration and bearing witness.
For the first time, the artist has printed photographs onto linen which have been detailed in gold thread embroidery sewn by the artist. These works harness the symbolic power of linen in Catholic ritual and iconography, especially altar cloths and the practice of shrouding the dead. Il Ponte Contemporeanea will be showing her selected works, Wings of Desire Series in her new solo show at Il Ponte Contemporeanea, celebrating her almost 24 year exhibiting history with the gallery in Rome.
Patron Aniek Baten and sponsored by The Australian Embassy in Rome.
Artist Travel Photographer Educator Designer DachshundMother www.cameraandcampari.com