press release

July 13–September 12, 2021

Prinz Gholam. While Being Other

Curated by Angel Moya Garcia.

Prinz Gholam is an artist duo consisting of Wolfgang Prinz and Michel Gholam. Winners of the Villa Massimo Rome Prize 2020/21, they have been developing a performance practice for the past two decades based on using the body to reinterpret a highly varied assortment of cultural references ranging from old master paintings and sculptures to contemporary art, films and images from the media. Their work, which they often produce in such historically significant venues as museums, archaeological sites and public areas, hints at and reveals the ways in which our existence is influenced by processes of cultural assimilation. In this way Prinz Gholam, themselves having their origins in different cultures, conduct an investigation made of minimal, restricted, subtle and choreographed gestures and actions into the formative process of the regulatory and formal standards conventionally recognised in the field of aesthetics and mythology, shining the light on our fascination with, and our subscription to, certain dominant cultural standards.

In their While Being Other project presented at the Mattatoio’s Pavilion 9B as part of the three-year programme Sensitive Devices curated by Angel Moya Garcia, the artists expand their research into the perception of the self and the body as cultural assumptions through performance, objects and large-scale drawings. The programme’s structure is configured to resemble a constantly developing choreography in which a sequence of works, appearances, moves, gestures and intervals between movements are conceived on the basis of specific cultural references and interwoven with each other through a multiplicity of masks that invade the exhibition space.

The ritual use of masks is recorded since the late Stone Age and is still fairly widespread on every continent today, albeit not in all cultures, as it is taken as a given that the act of conceiving and wearing them normally implies a desire to temporarily cancel out or conceal the wearer’s human individuality. Yet this ancestral approach has now been completely uprooted and reassessed in the light of the spread of COVID-19 which has literally given centre stage to the basic concept of the mask, recognisability in the face of the risk of anonymity, the debate between protection and ornament or the social, cultural and economic assertion of the individual within his own referent context.

From this standpoint, Prinz Gholam’s intuitive and subjective way of working on masks allows multiple historical aspects linked to this symbol to be associated, though they build it into a topicality that subverts any original significance it may have had, creating an ambiguity that is highlighted in the project by the continuous succession of echoes and by the circularity in the reading of the works. An environment in which historical and cultural references are relocated and which is therefore intent on seeking a negotiation between the collective conventions associated with the body, the conception subordinated to given archetypes of the self and the social context in which we live. A project which analyzes how paradigms and inherited cultural heritage often become fantasies and phantasms used to establish standardised societies without considering geographical or temporal diversity or the individuals that form them. A stratification of meanings and references that probes the correspondence between the ancient world and the contemporary world or between diversity and cultural standardisation and, at the same time, which asks questions such as who is the observer and who is the observed, who is acknowledged and who is ignored, who is managing to cause their identity to emerge and who is remaining trapped in anonymity, in a constant correlation between presence, self and loss.

Performance: While Being Other – Pavilion 9B Mattatoio, Rome
Performer: Prinz Gholam
July 13, 12–1pm (by invitation only)
July 13, 7–8pm (reservations required)
July 17, 7–8pm (reservations required)

Performance/appearances – Pavilion 9B Mattatoio, Rome
Performers: Brianda Carreras, Cosimo Desii, Flavia Gramaccioni e Benedetto Patruno
Friday to Sunday from 6–8pm for the entire duration of the exhibition (except for August 9–22)

Performance: While Being Other - Elsewhere
Performer: Prinz Gholam
September 2, 7–8pm (reservations required)
September 4, 7–8pm (reservations required)