Michael Fliri “AniManiMism” and William E. Jones “Holes in the Historical Record” at Galleria Raffaella Cortese, Milan

Michael Fliri, My private fog II, 2017
Courtesy dell’artista e Galleria Raffaella Cortese, Milano


On 16 May 2018, Galleria Raffaella Cortese hosts a double opening with the exhibitions AniManiMism by Michael Fliri and Holes in the Historical Record by William E. Jones.

Michael Fliri’s practice is at the intersection of performance, sculpture, photography and video. His work, which cannot be summarized in a single definition, investigates concepts such as metamorphosis, mutation and disguise. The protagonists of his works – often the artist himself – continuously undergo a process of alteration or transformation, where body, landscape and metaphors merge into an engaging whole. His research, focused on investigating identity, manifests itself through the recurring theme of the mask and therefore the partial concealment and change of the face. Pursuing this common thread, the artist is showing a video work and recent photographs.

On view in the space at via Stradella 4, the four-channel video installation AniManiMism, which gives the title to the exhibition, was produced and first exhibited on the occasion of Fliri’s expansive solo show at De Garage, Cultuurcentrum Mechelen, Mechelen, Belgium in 2017. The work achieves a tremendous poetic and evocative force linked to metamorphosis: the hands, moving a mask made of transparent materials, create a play of shadows projected onto a cloth. In front of this “dance,” viewers bear witness of the infinite possibilities of image creation. Hands, often present in Fliri’s works and frequently evoked for their inherent shaping potential, echo in the words that make up the title of the exhibition: “mani” (“hands” in Italian) and “animation.”

Metamorphosis is also at the core of the new photographic series My Private Fog II, exhibited in the space at via Stradella 1. Fliri further develops the theme of the encounter between face and mask, its changes and the new possible creations that this union can generate. The artist previously explored these ideas subjects in the photographic series entitled My Private Fog I (2014). The artist’s breath, altering the mask’s transparency, exponentially decreases the visibility of the face itself. This creates images that, informed by the landscape that distinguishes Fliri’s birthplace and home, South Tyrol, allude to shapes such as those of crystals, glaciers and snowy peaks.

“For me, transformation represents new possibilities, new opportunities,” says the artist. “Everything is in motion and isn’t defined. The idea of the undefined is what interests me most.” The central focus of his work thus raises questions about creation and identity: what determines whom? What we are? How do we form the image of ourselves? Are we really who we think we are?

William E. Jones’ work is characterized by the study of archival material. Over the course of more than two decades, he has created films, videos, photographs, prints, and texts that reorganize and recontextualize archival material of all kinds. He offers an interpretation of some cross-sections of American society, focusing on episodes from recent history that have either slipped into oblivion or have been purposefully forgotten. He intervenes in found footage available on the web and in archival material, experimenting with digital files presented as movies. He combines research with formal experimentation, revealing the passions and sublimated political forces at work in documents of the state, forgotten or overlooked popular media, official (and unofficial) visual histories.

To realize the video works and the photographs on view in the space at via Stradella 7, Jones made use of the massive number of documents kept at the Library of Congress in Washington. The Farm Security Administration (FSA) was one of the federal programs created to document the widespread agricultural recession in the country through photographs taken between 1935 and 1944, the year in which the entire documentation was transferred to the Library of Congress. The FSA’s Information Division was headed by Roy E. Stryker, who oversaw the work of the photographers taking part in the program (including Ben Shahn, Walker Evans, Dorothea Lange), who had to stick to specific subjects and themes in scripts devised by Stryker. The negatives sent to the FSA headquarters in Washington were edited by Stryker and, if deemed inappropriate or defective, were classified as “killed.” A hole would subsequently be punched in the film strips to mark the killed negatives and prevent them from being published.

For decades, the vast majority of these negatives remained unknown. A selection of images by FSA photographers (whose names appear in the titles of the works) is presented in Jones’ video works, photographic diptychs and triptychs, following formal, aesthetic or thematic criteria. A small hole of the same size is present in all of the photographs, which have been cropped so that its position is similar in all images, thus also homogenizing the scale of the figures, which appear similar to one another.

In this new exhibition, just as in the two previous shows held in 2010 and 2015, Jones’ starting point is the research and examination of sources marked by an acute critical sense and high intellectual value. The issues taken into consideration by the artist are often linked to the homosexual universe and how homosexuality has been treated in recent American culture. History and the way in which power and its strategies have defined or addressed how we think of recent history and the present are also fundamental themes. All of Jones’ work is based on reflections upon these themes and on the conscious critical responsibility that must always, according to Jones, distinguish an artist.


Michael Fliri was born in Tubre (Italy) in 1978. He lives and works between Innsbruck, Zurich and Tubre. His works have recently been featured at: Cultuurcentrum Mechelen (2017); Mu.ZEE, Ostend (2017); Centro per l’Arte Contemporanea Luigi Pecci, Prato (2017-2011); Museion, Bolzano (2016); Mambo, Bologna (2016); MACRO, Roma (2016); Galerie im Taxispalais, Innsbruck (2016); Kunstsammlungen, Chemnitz (2016); Mart – Museo di Arte Contemporanea di Trento e Rovereto (2015); Kunsthalle Düsseldorf (2015); Biennial of Moving Image Contour, Mechelen, Belgium (2015); Zeppelin Museum, Friedrichshafen (2014); MAC, Lissone (2013); Centre Pompidou, Paris (2012); Generali Foundation, Vienna (2010); Mart – Museo di Arte Contemporanea di Trento e Rovereto (2010); 3rd Moscow Biennale (2009); Fondazione Merz, Turin (2009); HangarBicocca, Milan (2009); Galleria Civica, Trento (2008). In the 2017 Mousse Publishing published the catalogue Michael Fliri: Replace Me as the Substitute. It was presented on the occasion of his solo show at De Garage – Cultuurcentrum Mechelen a Mechelen, Belgium.

William E. Jones was born in Canton (OH) in 1962. His work has been featured in solo exhibitions and programs at the following institutions: Wexner Center for the Arts, Columbus (2009-2015), Saint Louis Art Museum (2013), Museum of Modern Art, New York (2010); Anthology Film Archives, New York (2010); ar/ge kunst Gallery Museum, Bolzano, Italy (2009); Tate Modern, London (2005) and others. Recent group exhibitions include: Museum of Contemporary Art, Detroit (2013-2014); Palais de Tokyo, Paris (2013); CCA Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts, San Francisco (2013), California Museum of Photography, University of California, Riverside; Desire, Bergen Kunstmuseum, Norway; RAY 2012 Fotografieprojekte Frankfurt/RheinMain, Museum für Moderne Kunst, Frankfurt; “Untitled” (Death by Gun), 12th Istanbul Biennial; Time Again, Sculpture Center, New York; The Spectacular of Vernacular, Walker Art Center, Minneapolis. In 2013 he curated Imitation of Christ at the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles; the book that accompanied the exhibition, published by MACK, was named by Time as one of the best photo books of the year.


William E.Jones, Rejected, 2017, Video Still
Courtesy the artist and Galleria Raffaella Cortese, Milano


Michael Fliri, My private fog II, 2017
Courtesy the artist and Galleria Raffaella Cortese, Milano


William E.Jones, Rejected, 2017, Video Still
Courtesy the artist and Galleria Raffaella Cortese, Milano


William E. Jones
Holes in the Historical Record
Michael Fliri
17 May – 28 July 2018
Opening 16 May 2018, 7– 9pm

Galleria Raffaella Cortese | Via A.Stradella 1-4 and 7, Milan
Opening hours: Tue/Sat 10am–1pm, 3–7:30pm and by appointment
+39 02 204 3555