In the last century, the Museo Civico Diocesano di S. Maria dei Servi has been transformed from church to town storage to museum. Alex Israel’s installation draws inspiration from traditional characterizations that define all of these incarnations: spiritual, archival and museological.
Continuing with Property, an ongoing body-of-work, Israel has rented his newest prop sculptures from the legendary Italian film studio Cinecittà. He selected an array of replica Styrofoam and fiberglass antiquities and objects, iconic and anonymous, drawn from an amalgam of cultures, eras, and narratives, and composed them in dialogue with each other and with the unique venue.
While the gravity and authenticity of the Museo Civico Diocesano di S. Maria dei Servi’s Perugino fresco and pristinely preserved Baroque ornamentation contrast with the artifice, dirtiness and fast, approximated physical qualities of Israel’s prop sculptures, the dramatic space is equally complimented by their cinematic magic: a special immeasurable attribute accrued over time, through their on-screen performances in motion picture classics such as Ben-Hur, Cleopatra and La Dolce Vita.
To expand upon the relationship between the new sculptures and the space, and to further frame, dramatize and choreograph the viewing experience of the exhibition, Israel has produced a new group of works from his Flats series: painted, stuccoed wall-like vertical cinema backdrops that are fabricated at Warner Brothers Studio’s Burbank, California backlot.
At the close of the exhibition, all of the rented sculptures will return to Cinecittà.