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Filippo Romano Valtore, Planta Rei I, Risonanze, ongoing project (Foto: Filippo Romano Valtore)


Germany meets Italy in the new kunstfenster team, thereby reproducing on a smaller scale the international profile of the a.r.t.e.s. Graduate School. With the aim of keeping up the tradition of exploring intersections between art and science, four PhD students from linguistics and philosophy came together in summer 2017 to organize the next kunstfenster exhibition, ‘Microcosms’. As in previous years, this exhibition offers the unique opportunity to transform the a.r.t.e.s. research building into a space of artistic experimentation.

The term microcosm seems to imply a paradox in itself. Whereas micro pertains to the little, the representation in miniature, cosmos instead portraits a complex structure, the harmonic universe. In fact, the dialectical tension between microcosm and macrocosm is a classical principle of philosophical and esoteric schools of thought, found throughout human history. Microcosm and macrocosm stand in a relationship of mutual reference, they reflect the whole through its parts, and vice versa. One of the central principles of the relation between these two concepts is a similarity in both pattern and structure that can be found in nature: human beings and the universe. By studying the characteristics of one of these two, it is possible to improve the understanding of the other. The same process seems to be mirrored in the complementary approaches adopted in scientific research. In some sense, the task of scientists (no matter to which field they belong) is to offer a representation of reality starting from smaller worlds. By moving from specific observations to broader generalizations and theories as well as from the more general to the more specific, researchers replicate the mutual movements of microcosm and macrocosm. In the same way, we can think about artists as attempting to represent reality through its fragmentation, offering their particular view on the world.

Thus, ‘Microcosms’ is intended as a platform for artists who explore the multiple possibilities of representing worlds. In the exhibition, photographs and installations will come to stand for four small-scale models of the world: nature, femininity, city life and language. In doing so, we will take a closer look at the contact points of these dimensions - multiple, equally valid portraits of the world. To give you a foretaste of what is to come, we want to shortly introduce two of the projects from the upcoming exhibition.

Filippo Valtore is a farmer, educator and photographer who currently lives in Bologna. He has exhibited his work in Rome, Turin and Berlin. Filippo Valtore explores the diverse possibilities of representing nature by experimenting with unique lighting conditions. In his work ‘Planta Rei’, he moves beyond the appearance and transforms plants into something unexpected. His images bear a close resemblance to neural networks and galaxy clusters, thereby bridging the border between nature and mankind as well as creating a small-scale model of the universe. Ultimately, he intends to create arguments for the possibility of reciprocal communication between humanity and nature.

The work of Claudia Difra offers an opportunity to approach the relationship between micro- and macrocosm from another perspective. As a resident of Milan, she has worked for a number of Italian and international fashion magazines and exhibited her photographic projects in Milan and London. Claudia Difra celebrates the strength and power of femininity through a series of intimate portraits of women. Her work features beautiful and delicate photographs as well as short films in which she captures indescribable, fragile and intense moments. By depicting woman as a microcosm of the larger social body encompassing it, she raises questions about the relationship between women and society as well as contradicting prominent ideas of womanhood.

We are looking forward to an exciting summer term filled with lively discussions about art and science! This leaves us with one last thing: We warmly invite you to join us at our vernissage, on 4 May 2018, in the premises of the a.r.t.e.s. Graduate School!