LoosenArt Mag / Gallery

Post-Industrialism

Posted on January 26 2021

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Author S Colombo
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Post-Industrialism │ 8 January - 4 February 2021
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Every era has a start and an end, as a cycle. Especially since we appear to like definitions and conventions.
That is why we consider Industrialism as a series of ‘revolutions’ that happened between the end of the 18th century and the 1970s. And it is also why we currently live in a period conventionally called ‘post-industrial society’. A historical moment that is putting industry aside, no longer playing the main role, but inexorably assisting a process known as ‘de-industrialisation’. One of the major, visible consequences of that is the actual transition from factories to offices (or, even more relevant, home-offices), the passage from tangible production to intangible services.

The group exhibition “Post-industrialism” focuses on this situation by showing photos from all over the world that document a peculiar moment in history, production and economy. Organised at Spazio Millepiani in Rome and open to the public from January 8 to February 4, 2021, it depicts what is left of industrialism and of its production places.
If we look at the exhibition as a whole, we will notice multiple dynamics that take place simultaneously though in different areas: some are disruptive, while some others more conventional. But, in general, they depend on one another.
This duality not only represents our society, but also mirrors opposite aspects of ourselves - our way to act and to be.
Various are the major trends we can identify within this picture gallery. Abandoned buildings seem to have a special role, also due to the fascination people usually feel for decaying places. In agreement with the archaeologist Dr. Ragnhild Ljosland, I believe that “there is something about that step of removal, that distance, which makes ruins and abandoned places attractive. Not too far, but not too close.
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Changiz Jalayer, Tehran, 2011
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Layering and glimpses of a hidden world.” Neglected factories, for example, reveal a story that has somehow been forgotten but it is still noticeable by the presence of the wounds impressed on the fabric. The contrasting mix of past and presence, dust and luxury, grandiosity and smallness disclose layers of the building’s history that we want, we need to detect. Every factory suddenly becomes a monument of itself, raising interest and attraction in the eye of the beholder. And this is just the first step of a complex exhibition itinerary.
In some way related (and subject) to that, one can contemplate two leading - and quite opposite - fallouts. The first one is ‘decay’, the other includes the idea of ‘transformation’. In other words, they compose a first ‘negative’ chapter, showing the pars destruens with its main features, and its counterpart, the pars construens. One is static while the other is lively, the first is passive, the second active.
Besides being a natural repercussion of abandonment, decay is also a pejorative concept. It occurs when disregard and indifference rule, once an industrial site is not even attracting or, at least, somewhat interesting. It is just there, somewhere, within a neglected urban context, with no meaning or purpose.
Transformation, instead, comes once driven by someone’s motivation. At this point, abandonment and decay take a turn for the better of the whole community becoming something else. By initiative of local and international institutions, abandoned factories and historical sites are turned into shops, theatres, cultural and exhibition places, opening a whole range of possibilities. Transformation, then, can be considered as the ultimate step of this visual path, leading from destruction to reconstruction. It is a bridge connecting the past to the present, them to us.
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Robbert Buitenhuis, Empty Water Tanks, 2019 │ Buy it
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Chris Offutt, Roxbury, Massachusetts, 1987
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Chris Offutt, Walden, Massachusetts,1987 │ Buy it
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Taejay Lee, Windy Nightfall, 2020 │ Buy it
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Maya Smira, Space #1, 2016 / Vahid Valikhani, Forms of the Light, 2018
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Olga Boyko, Old Factory, 2020 / Olga Boyko, Lines, 2020 / Mike Steinhauer, Sproat Street (Detroit, Michigan), 2013
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