Home Magazine The "EMPIRE" project by Elisabetta Benassi

Let's continue with the Italian grand tour, this time towards Rome. Untile the first of September don't miss the opportunity to visit the Museo Nazionale Romano - Palazzo Altemps that is currently hosting the second stage of the project by Elisabetta Benassi titled EMPIRE, winner of the third edition of the Italian Council (2018), the call set up by the Directorate-General for Contemporary Art and Architecture and Urban Peripheries (DGAAP) of the Ministry for Cultural Heritage and Activities to promote Italian contemporary art worldwide. 

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Through the recovery and transformation of materials and symbols, the work of Elisabetta Benassi examines the relationship between the past and the contemporary era, questioning the condition and the identity of the present. The project EMPIRE forms part of this research right from the very title, which inevitably evokes the vast and complex story of the Roman Empire and its endless political and cultural evolution.


Elisabetta Benassi EMPIRE 2018-19 Installation view at Museo Nazionale Romano – Palazzo Altemps Realized with the support of the Italian Council, 2018 


«Part of a wide-ranging process of valorisation through an openness to contemporary art, EMPIRE is a demonstration of the particular desire of the Museo Nazionale Romano to attract a new audience, providing an instrument for discovery and new interpretations which favour a more widespread knowledge of the classic heritage that it holds» says Daniela Porro, director of the museum.

The term “empire”, with its varied and contrasting meanings, suggests figures of power and grandeur, and at the same time evokes dark scenes of coercion, domination and submission. Positioned at the crossroads between history and memory, between symbolic and political value, between verbal language and visual experience, with this project Elisabetta Benassi once again reflects on the dialectic relationship between the past and the present. 


Elisabetta Benassi EMPIRE 2018-19 Installation view at Museo Nazionale Romano – Palazzo Altemps Realized with the support of the Italian Council, 2018


EMPIRE develops in an installation of six thousand terracotta bricks - especially made in Great Britain using black and violet clay by a brickworks located in the Royal Forest of Dean, in Gloucestershire - which has been embossed with the name of the work. In addition to these, there are two bricks made of a bronze and gold alloy. On a formal level, EMPIRE reflects the basic building element of ancient architecture, the Roman brick, transforming it into an element with new aesthetic potential and meaning. The EMPIRE project is promoted by the Museo Nazionale Romano in collaboration with the Pontificia Accademia dei Virtuosi al Pantheon.

Cover image: Elisabetta Benassi EMPIRE 2018-19 ph. Ollie Hammick | Special thanks to PCM Studio PressOffice and Communication.


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