Night Skies and Astro Imaging
International group exhibition
2023 April / May, Rome, Italy
Curated by: LoosenArt
Since the days of ancient Greece, the contemplation of the night sky has stimulated thoughts on our existence, on our being in the world and on the unknown infinity outside of it.The evolution of Western thinking lays the foundations of the relationship with the universe according to a philosophical and scientific vision, supported by the technological evolution of the past centuries, have provided answers and shaped the awareness of our being.From Giotto to Van Gogh and even Anselm Kief in painting, from Henry Draper in the field of astrophotography to Thierry Cohen's starry skies, the history of images has expressed our relationship with the sky, and these traces through which we are able today to grasp the different interpretations it has been subject to over the centuries. A mysterious space, or according to the ancients a divine kingdom, that reminds us of our origins and our destiny. On the historical - phenomenological level, an artistic and scientific approach, in which the two aspects are in dialogue with each other, is today increasingly prevalent in the field of research on different scientific-cultural fronts, through new technological-digital tools aimed at stimulating new ways of perceiving and experiencing reality.
As long as one can remember, what is either beyond us or out of reach, raises interest and curiosity - both triggering research and discovery. How many times have we found ourselves with our eyes to the sky, in search of a falling star, a full moon, the Northern lights, or simply intrigued by the clouds chasing each other? Many, too many, endless times.
The world is full of references to the stars and the sky. In some religions, ascension to heaven is a spiritual phenomenon occurring after we die. Dante Alighieri ends every cantica of his “Divina Commedia” with verses referring to the stars (one for all, the very famous “and thus we came out to see the stars again”). More recently, David Bowie alludes to the moon landing in his song “Space Oddity” (1969) and, within the next few years, he would impersonate a few characters coming from outer space: Ziggy Stardust in 1972 and the alien Thomas Jerome Newton, in the film “The man who fell to Earth” (1976).
From whatever perspective we look at this topic, the sky seems to be the final destination, only accessible after having successfully passed the hardships of life. In other words, “per aspera ad astra”.
Thanks to the scientific discoveries, wider horizons have become accessible, letting us reach places that are above and beyond the planet we live in. Without all the references, it would be definitely harder trying to grasp the premises of the exhibition arranged at Spazio Millepiani in Rome between 14 April and 18 May 2023. Within these rooms, that are turned into a microcosm of all existence, the group exhibition “Night Skies and Astro Imaging” muddy the waters and break down the limits between science and science fiction, astronomy and astrology, reality and fantasy. All in the name of art. In fact, the exhibition somehow touches all the aforementioned areas, shaping a fantastic imagery - meaning both ‘marvelous’, and fruit of our imagination - where moments or phenomena we cannot experience firsthand occur. We are called into question just as observers, or better witnesses.
What emerges after a visit through the exhibition rooms is a visual complexity multiplying the points of view, and a rich variety of aims, techniques and representations. Clearly, there is no lack of colour- and light-based pictures featuring a blur effect that recalls certain installations by Olafur Eliasson and James Turell - although in a smaller room scale.
On show, there are also realistic interpretations of the theme, where vivid night skies are surrounded and embraced by suggestive landscapes. Here, the connection Earth-sky encompasses a more human dimension: although the images elicit the Romantic concept of ‘Sublime’, they still become an exposé of the exploitation of natural resources.
Instead, the so-called “astrophotography”, a genre framing the stars and all the celestial bodies, targets the sky in an even more explicit way. This technique gives the image a poetic nuance that, together with a high-level of precision and sharpness, is able to drag the subject to abstraction.