ILEANA FLORESCU, « ALL’INDICE, BIBLIOTECA ANGELICA », DIAGONALE GALLERY ROMA
ILEANA FLORESCU : ALL’INDICE, BIBLIOTECA ANGELICA – SIRIA, ANDATA E RITORNO / diagonale Gallery Roma / march 23 – april 29, 2016.
Image and writing, word and vision, history and present, East and West. ALL’INDICE — Biblioteca Angelica / Siria, andata e ritorno (“BLACKLISTED – Biblioteca Angelica / Syria, return ticket”) is the title of an exhibition where Ileana Florescu conjoins these factors, ever-destined to exist in a complementary relationship, but in this case represented in an unicum that is characterized by fusion, overlapping and communion.
27 works, printed in ink jet on cotton paper (15 x 20 inches): a path, a journey, a memory, an emotion that sets others in motion, stirred by the suggestion of a banned book and of a place at risk of extinction, to become a universal warning against every form of censorship.
Ileana Florescu describes the genesis of this exhibition as follows: “Between December and January 2011 I was in Syria for a little more than a week. During my journey there, I took typical tourist photos, as hundreds of people with good equipment and a bit of luck might do. Certainly I didn’t know that shortly thereafter these very shots would take on a completely different significance. Two months after returning to Rome, coinciding with the first uprisings in Syria, I began working for the Biblioteca Angelica on the subject of the Roman Inquisition. Meanwhile, to enhance the critical texts in the catalogue, I obtained authorization to photograph a selection of original publications subjected to censorship by the Holy Office from 1559 on. Just ten days after the exhibition Libri Prohibiti opened, on 21 May 2015, stricken by the taking of Palmyra by Daesh, I began to juxtapose the photos of works I had examined, installed in the Angelica — and other censored texts I care deeply about — with those I had shot in Syria.”
Two exceptional scholars, Franco Cardini and Ester Coen, have contributed to the catalogue. In her text, Ester Coen writes: “Ileana has constructed, based on simple images of monuments and landscapes seen during a fascinating journey, a sequence that speaks contemporaneously of beauty and enchantment, wounds and suffering, interdicts and losses. Starting out as rapid shots taken to capture certain moments, colors, magical atmospheres of exotic places, these images have become a sort of memento.” Franco Cardini, instead, reminds us that “The threatening strokes of the pen of censors in the past, an inquisitor’s rabid comments about a book […] were means for attempts to halt freedom and thought, precisely as is happening now with the ground-to-ground missiles and lies of politicians or the abuses of power by lobbies; it does not matter if they alternate with each other or proceed together. The womb that has generated both is still pregnant, always has been, and will continue to be so for who knows how long.”
Born in Asmara (Eritrea) to an Italian mother and an English father of Romanian origin. Despite her natural talent for painting and drawing, Ileana Florescu entered the academic world, participating in Sergio Bertelli’s History Workshop. In 2001 her work Meteorite 1 was exhibited for the first time at the Galleria d’arte contemporanea Pio Monti, in the group show “Tra Cielo e Terra.” Her first solo exhibition, “Scie,” was held in 2002 at the Acta International gallery in Rome. That same year she relocated her studio to the former Cerere pasta factory, historic seat of the School of San Lorenzo. Over time her works have come to focus on a dialogue between photography and literature and have been exhibited in museums and galleries in Italy and abroad.