Saturday, May 11, 2013

Antinoo @ Villa Albani

I stumbled upon the Villa Albani one twilight stroll out the Via Salaria.  I have since become obsessed with that Villa - those parterres glimpsed over a stone wall surmounted by iron bars and barbed wire and the faux 18th century ruins that have fallen into ruins themselves.  It is an isolated island of umbrella pines and cypress surrounded by an early 20th century residential district developed when much of the Villa's land was partitioned and sold.  One can feel the sadness of its history.  Cardinal Allessandro Albani (1692-1799), a passionate collector of antiquities, devoted his vast wealth to the construction the casino, gardens and dependencies to display his spectacular collection.  The Cardinal was assisted by Johann Winckelmann (1717-1768) in the arrangement and cataloging of his treasure trove.  It was here in 1764 that Winckelmann  penned  The History of  Art in Antiquity, a text which would become a touchstone of the neoclassical movement.  The Cardinal's passion ended up bankrupting him, his final days spent broke and blind.  Winkelmann succumbed to another passion - returning from a trip to Vienna, he was murdered by a bit of rough trade that he had invited back to his hotel room.

The decay of parts of the Villa is very real and palpable.  Just outside the estate's southern gates I installed a lo-rez image of Antinoo to serenely overlook this urban ruin.  The image of Antinoo, made from over1000 5cm x 5cm pieces of painted paper, is based upon a photo of the 2nd century AD bust of Antinoo at the  Museo Nazionale Romano / Palazzo Altemps.  Interestingly, the face of the marble was re-carved in the 18th century to reflect the new neoclassical aesthetic.

Christopher Pelley  Antinoo @ Villa Albani   2013

Christopher Pelley  Antinoo @ Villa Albani  2013

Christopher Pelley  Antinoo @ Villa Albani  2013
This project was installed on May 8, 2013, and with it, I felt I had paid homage to Villa Albani.  Here, like some sort of votive offering, I placed a 21st century interpretation of an image revered by the Cardinal and Winckelmann.