“Cinque Mostre 2018: The Tesseract” at American Academy, Rome

Beverly McIver, Free, 2018
Courtesy of the artist, Ph. altrospazio


Composed of collaborative projects, guest-curated by Ilaria Gianni under the collective title The Tesseract, Cinque Mostre 2018 features work by current Rome Prize Fellows, Italian Fellows at the American Academy in Rome and invited artists installed in various sites throughout the McKim, Mead & White Building.

The Tesseract draws upon the innovative ideas gestating within the multidisciplinary and collaborative space of the Academy, developing a series of dialogues between Fellows and Italian artists in residence across a range of practices encompassing visual arts, music, literature, audio-visual production, design, architecture, and technological innovation.

In geometry the tesseract is the four-dimensional analog of a cube. The term was coined by British  mathematician and writer of science fiction Charles Howard Hinton in 1888 in his book A New Era of Thought, which dealt with the fourth dimension and its implications on human thinking.  A century later, the tesseract became the invisible protagonist of A Wrinkle in Time, a children’s novel by American author Madeleine L’Engle, published in 1963. In the book, the tesseract, able to fold the fabric of space and time, gives the protagonists the possibility of travelling in unknown dimensions. “Oh, we don’t travel at the speed of anything. We tesser. Or you might say, we wrinkle”, says Mrs. Whatsit to Meg Murray and her brother Charles Wallace.

The Tesseract is here used as a metaphor to present works investigating how time and its traces offer sources of creative research and visionary inspiration. The works included in the exhibition, from a range of different disciplines, consider particular aspects coming from the past, present, and future, displacing them from a linear, temporal system. They travel in the wrinkles of time and space.

Making use of some qualities inherent to the fourth dimension and its potential extensions, questioning notions of causality, identity, perception, and cognition, the works provide alternative and open-ended readings of what appears iconographically and symbolically fixed, re-imagining time through its formal manipulation. Altering what has been, predicting what could be, or creating a butterfly effect, through the manipulation of symbolic evidences, the participants to Cinque Mostre: The Tesseract, act as time travellers, revealing fragments from an abstract, sometimes timeless dimension.

Making the implausible possible and activating what Samuel Taylor Coleridge, defined a “willing suspension of disbelief” – an essential ingredient of storytelling – the various interventions transport the audience into a frame that not only questions a diachronic intellectual approach to time, but consciousness itself, and the yearning to escape the present moment. Travelling at different velocities, viewers are accompanied in a voyage beyond borders where the tangible is recognizable yet visibly dislodged and relocated.


Participant artists: Josè Angelino, Sanford Biggers (in collaboration with Michelle L. Berenfeld), Jennifer Birkeland + Jonathan Scelsa, Ulises Carrion, Brandon Clifford + Federico Gardella + CEMEX Global R&D + Simone Conforti + Sean Gullette, Leslie Cozzi, Abigail DeVille, Alessandro Di Pietro, Rochelle Feinstein + Allen Frame + Ishion Hutchinson, Aroussiak Gabrielian + Alison Hirsch with Grant Calderwood (in collaboration with Rome Sustainable Food Project and Irene Tortora), Beverly McIver + Gaetano Castelli, Matteo Nasini, Marco Palmieri, Tricia Treacy*, Arnisa Zeqo**

* (with the participation of: Chiara Barzini, Sanford Biggers, Alessandro Cicoria, Brandon Clifford, Elizabeth Rae Cowan, Alessandro Di Pietro, Ashley Fure, Allen Frame, Aroussiak Gabrielian, Valerie Giampietro, Sean Gullette, Alison Hirsch, T. Geronimo Johnson, Antonella Lattanzi, Johanna Lobdell, Kevin Moch, NERO, Matteo Nucci, Arnisa Zeqo)

** (in collaboration with Tiziana Del Grosso, Suzanne Farrin, Ashley Fure, T. Geronimo Johnson, Johanna Lobdell, Kevin Moch, Tricia Treacy, Joseph Williams, and the spirit of Ulises Carrion)


Abigail De Ville and Charlotte Brathwaite, Only when it’s dark enough can you see the stars, 2017
Still from video, Courtesy the artists


Brandon Clifford, Federico Gardella, CEMEX Global R&D, Simone Conforti, & Sean Gullette, Janus, 2018
Still from video, Courtesy of the artists


Sanford Biggers in collaboration with Michelle L. Berenfeld, Votive – site specific, 2018, Detail
Courtesy of the artist, Ph. altrospazio


Tricia Treacy, pause: dash, 2018
Press sheets from experimental publication, website and risographs printed with NERO
Courtesy of the artist, Ph. altrospazio


Rochelle Feinstein, Allef Frame, Ishion Hutchinson, Cats and Dogs: Provenance and Pedigree, 2018, Detail
Courtesy of the artist and the poet, Ph. altrospazio 


Allen Frame, Black cat in asparagus garden, Rome, 2017
Digital pigment, Courtesy of the artist


Marco Palmieri, Harlequin, 2016


Matteo Nasini, Dream Portrait, 2016
Courtesy Clima Gallery, Ph. Marco Davolio


Alessandro Di Pietro, Tomb Writer (solve et coagula), 2016, Detail
Ph. Andrea Piunti Studio, Courtesy the artist


CINQUE MOSTRE 2018: The Tesseract
Curated by Ilaria Gianni
Opening 14 February 2018, 6pm
14 February–25 March 2018

Collateral events
8 March 2018, 3–6pm | Leslie Cozzi, Trans Bodies: Race, Gender, Myth, and Performance – A study day
15 March 2018, 7pm | Arnisa Zeqo, Gossip scandal and good manners revisited – A performative gathering

American Academy | Via Angelo Masina 5, Rome
Opening hours: Saturday and Sunday, 4–7pm
+39 06 58461