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Insight: Hyper*Espresso, exploring the connection between art, Italian culture & the online experience at The Wrong Biennale 2023

Text by CLOT Magazine

Hyper_Espresso_The Wrong Biennale__Collage

Sant’ Alex and Santa Martina or Santa Martina and Sant’Alex are the co-curators, together with Santa Sofia, an art director and graphic designer, Sant’Emma, a graphic designer, and San Mattia, a UI/UX designer and software developer, of Hyper*Espresso, an informal collective and a project born from five Italians meeting at an Austrian University. Their backgrounds, all within the field of arts and design, differ and complement each other in all sorts of ways, Alex told CLOT over email. 

Our diversified yet correlated backgrounds allowed us to work within the same context to create a layered project. Once we defined the core idea, it was easy to delineate the areas we needed to work on and share tasks. Martina pointed out when asked how their background complement each other. 

In their curatorial statement, we read that Hyper*Espresso is intended to be an acute look at the reality of contemporary Italy. This exercise represents a unique opportunity to analyse, deconstruct and reinterpret the salient aspects of our identity. Through academic rigour, a critical lens, and a multidisciplinary approach not lacking in satire and irony, the artists immerse themselves in the cultural fabric of our country. From politics to religion, from food to sex, from cultural contradictions to national football identity, to bring to the surface and offer an acute and illuminating perspective on the social dynamics that characterise us. 

Alex told us that the idea for the pavilion sprouted from the intercultural exchange they experienced daily. They recognised the unifying aspects of their home country and, having all met abroad, it became evident that our identity as ‘Italians’ is often reduced to living caricatures. While we’ve done well in distancing ourselves from the stereotype, we also observed that not everyone can see beyond the typical associations to food, sun, sea, and vacations.

HyperEspresso_The Wrong Biennale_Lorenzo Iannantuoni_“Two Hours ago I fell in Love”, (2022)
Two Hours ago I fell in Love (2022)
HyperEspresso_The Wrong Biennale_Giuseppe Laera_“RELIGIOUS FAITH” (2018 - On going)_2
RELIGIOUS FAITH, Giuseppe Laera (2018 – ongoing)
HyperEspresso_The Wrong Biennale_Gianluca Tramonti_“Me in a video game in front of other people's banners”, (2023)
Me in a video game in front of other people’s banners, Gianluca Tramonti (2023)

Martina added that Hyper*Espresso is, first and foremost, a political statement. We’ve crafted a manifesto addressing contemporary Italian society’s challenges. Through various artistic expressions, our goal is to reveal Italy’s fallacies, contradictions, and critical aspects while engaging with popular images and clichés. This exploration centres around four main macro-topics: food, sex, politics, and religion, but then expands to embrace all the nuances that may exist in between, such as agricultural work, food culture, issues of identity and cultural prejudices, consumerism, and human rights.

The pavilion features the work of 19 Italian artists to celebrate the richness of contemporary Italian art. Showcasing the works of emerging Italian talents, they aim to illuminate and promote the artistic scene that often goes unnoticed internationally. We aimed to promote awareness and stimulate reflection on contemporary Italian society through art, fostering debate and discussion on current issues.

Presenting the works in an online environment like The Wrong Biennale contributes to the viewing experience by imbuing it with the dynamics of the Internet. One can descend into a rabbit hole through hyperlinks interconnecting pages and artists. We structured the pavilion with a “Zapping approach”, envisioning website navigation that aligns with our curatorial line yet provides the audience space to roam and explore, Martina says. 

However, presenting the works in an online environment had significant challenges, such as giving life to the digital dimension of the pavilion. They told us that none of the selected works were created for online platforms, necessitating an extensive process of translation and remediation. For them, it was essential to respect the inherent nature of the artworks. To weave together the individual narratives of the selected pieces, they opted for a vibrant and dynamic design that aligns with the irony and themes of the pavilion.

Finally, we wondered what the story and symbolism behind the Hyper*Espresso name were. For them, Hyper is a term that invokes the digital and technological realm. It represents the energy, intensity and speed characterising the digital world, a universe in which information is shared rapidly, a context constantly connected. The use of the term Hyper in the project’s name emphasises the exhibition’s contemporary and dynamic approach. On the other hand, we have Espresso, which recalls the traditional and iconic image of Italian coffee. Drinking an Espresso symbolises Italian culture associated with friendliness, energy, and passion. It is a time to rest and socialise, an established tradition that brings people together. And we couldn’t agree more. 

The exhibition at The Wrong Biennale is open until March 1, 2024.

(Media courtesy of the artists)
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