Picture from the exhibition Treduequattro dueottosette for the project Unlimited for Spazio Field. Photography by Paolo Cenciarelli and Guido Gazzilli , curated by Giacomo Guidi in collaboration with Perimetro and NFC edizioni
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Contemporary Cluster, Rome. Interdisciplinarity and contamination at Palazzo Brancaccio without architectural and spatial constraints

Home of an art center specialized in 3D art and installations where established artists and emerging talents are encouraged to push the boundaries of art and have carte blanche to experiment with scales, formats and media they are not familiar with 

Contemporary Cluster, Rome

Born in 2016 from an intuition of Giacomo Guidi and Giorgia Cerulli, it presents itself as a fluid space where contemporaneity and tradition merge and dialogue through different artistic languages, such as art, design, architecture, photography and video. Guidi, curator and artistic director of Contemporary Cluster, claims: «It stemmed from our research aimed at redetermining the concept of gallery as a place suitable for contemporaneity». During his fifteen-year career in the art world, Guidi came up against the stiff attitude of its professionals and its lack of inclusiveness. Hence the idea of creating a cultural center to fathom the multiple aspects of contemporaneity. Contemporary Cluster, Rome is dedicated to anyone who wants to investigate and understand the current historical period. «In the past we have witnessed several contaminations between art and design, just think of the Bauhaus movement or Futurism. But throughout history, art and design have drifted away from each other: a huge mistake. With Contemporary Cluster we aim at bringing back a retrogressive avant-garde spirit» Guidi explains. By putting in dialogue manifestations of contemporaneity, Guidi and Cerulli endeavor to achieve a fluid contamination of artistic languages. Guidi and Cerulli’s approach results in a design method far from the attempt to categorize and catalogue things. According to Guidi, this approach is typical of today’s society, «intellectually slow, but fast in labeling and in communicating, both for laziness and commercial reasons». The Cluster method consists in creating design lines capable of probing the current «epiphanic» phenomenologies and tying them to a thought or concept derived from tradition. Starting from the awareness that every past was once future and that art is the expression of an urgency of the time in which it is conceived and made, the curatorial line of Contemporary Cluster, Rome aims at enabling the manifestation of contemporary phenomenons through historical analysis. The contamination and interdisciplinarity underpinning the Cluster method is made possible by a multitude of competencies and collaborative realities converging into a collective intelligence. «Miller expounded this concept through examples linked to the natural world. Tiny beings like bees and ants put their capabilities and energies at service of a common goal creating a single efficient organism. Similarly, culture needs community and, at the same time, it is at the service of community» Guidi explains. Contemporary Cluster, Rome likewise resorts to a synergic collaboration between professionals and creative realities cooperating at organizational, logistic and managerial level. 

Contemporary Cluster, Rome at Palazzo Brancaccio

In 2021 Contemporary Cluster was moved to a bigger venue located in the Esquilino area, in the city center of the city. The new location is a restored palace dating back to the second half of the 19th century named Palazzo Brancaccio, which used to host the National Museum of Oriental Art. «Our previous venue, Palazzo Cavallerini, was also a historical palace where contemporaneity could dialogue with the past. But over time it became too small, we could not make all the realities of Contemporary Cluster coexist anymore» Cerulli explains. The spaces of Palazzo Brancaccio before used as offices by the museum’s administration, thus not accessible to visitors, give Guidi and Cerulli the opportunity to expand the cultural offer of Contemporary Cluster and provide each artistic discipline with a suitable project space. «The exhibition spaces of Contemporary Cluster are not characterized by a disciplinary prerogative, we are rather interested in maintaining a clear design approach in everything we do. But we acknowledge that everything needs context and relationship with the environment. Space allows things to become visible and allows people to relate to things» Guidi claims. The artists invited to showcase their artworks inside the exhibition spaces of Contemporary Cluster have in fact the opportunity to participate personally in the curatorial process by choosing the environment they deem suited to their artistic production and aesthetics. Among the several projects in the works for 2022, Cerulli and Guidi stress the importance of the retrospective dedicated to the work of Michele De Lucchi, Italian architect and designer, close to Contemporary Cluster’s philosophy and design approach, focused on recycling and circularity. 

Hidden Entourage, Solo Show by Supaform, an exhibition curated by Giacomo Guidi at  Contemporary Cluster

Tube, entering a parallel dimension 

The creative hub is composed of four main rooms: Tube, Africano, Apartamento and Unlimited. Tube is located on the ground floor of the palace and consists of a 130 meter long corridor which guides the visitors into a new dimension. In fact, thanks to its architectural features, Tube is devoted to multimedia art and glitch art. On 23 September Contemporary Cluster unveiled the exhibition Archivio Contemporaneo, curated by Visioni Parallele, anticipating the release of the homonymous magazine. Through a hybrid storytelling, more that 70 artists explored the concept of archive by mapping – not in an encyclopedic way – their generation’s transmedia approach towards art and production. «We are witnessing a new artistic movement where application methods are not always linked to a particular medium. However the choice of the medium itself is a fundamental element of the artwork, as well as the reinterpretation and redefinition of materials imply a conceptual choice by artists» Guidi says. The exhibition focuses on the ability of digital natives to navigate the world of technology between alterations of reality and digital aesthetic codes, with frequent time jumps in the past which enable the dialogue between new technologies and materiality. 

Africano, a new concept of gallery

Tube leads the visitors to Africano, the gallery of Contemporary Cluster, whose name is inspired by its previous use. «When the Museum of Oriental Art occupied the rooms of Palazzo Brancaccio, the 400 square meters and the four rooms of the gallery housed the archive of the museum’s finds from East and North Africa» Cerulli explains. The restoration work brought to light original frescoes and decorations dating back to the end of the nineteenth century which generate a game of references between past and present. Africano was inaugurated with Semina, an exhibition devoted to the work of the designer Sara Ricciardi, who reinterpreted human rebirth through the ancient practice of sowing. The gallery was animated by a landscape made up of 38 ceramic vases made by the artistic director of Ceramiche Rometti, Jean-Christophe Clair, and floral compositions created by the Roman floral designer of American origin, Dylan Tripp. Africano also hosts the blends of Faro – Caffè Specialty, one of the best roasting companies in Italy, and the independent and collectible magazines selected by Frab’s, a portal and online shop for the publishing sector. The magazines will be displayed on an original wooden library recovered during the restoration work. «We decided to involve Frab’s in our project because we appreciate the work of its two directors, experienced professionals of the publishing industry. They embody the return to print paper required by new generations» Guidi claims. Together with Frab’s, Contemporary Cluster will host a rich program of book presentations, talks and seminars exploring sensitive topics of contemporary culture. In November, for instance, Contemporary Cluster welcomed the founders of Cocoricò, world-famous Italian club based in Riccione, to discuss the new trends and attitudes of clubbing and the contemporary phenomenology of music. Similar themes were touched during the presentation of Virus, il punk è rumore. 1981-1982, edited by Goodfellas, which investigates the phenomenology of punk subculture. In line with the Cluster method, in February Africano will host an exhibition of the Como-based creative duo Draga & Aurel, whose work represents a point of contact between design, installation art and painting.  

Apartamento, exploring the domestic space 

On the sixth floor of Palazzo Brancaccio the visitors of Contemporary Cluster have the opportunity to explore the domestic area of living. Apartamento was conceived and furnished by Cerulli, architect and interior designer, who devised the exhibition space as the interior of real house. The furnishings selected by Cerulli present a strong historical component as historical design has been a fascination of hers since the beginning of her career. However, the traditional design pieces cohabit with furnishing items by established contemporary brands and designers, such as A&B Living, Draga & Aurel, Forma&Cemento, SUPAFORM, Rampinelli Edizioni and Medulum. Cerulli explains: «One of the greatest limits of Palazzo Cavallerini was the impossibility to create realistic settings where people could plunge into a familiar domestic environment and get in touch with the items displayed and contextualized in the environment». Apartamento is also exploited as setting for art exhibitions in which the artworks dialogue with the surroundings and the domestic atmosphere. The inaugural exhibition, Tout Brûle, opened on 15 October. It showcased a series of ceramics by Luca Casillo, Italian artist based in Paris where he worked for major fashion brands, Gianbattista Valli and Balmain, which influenced is artistic production: «His background in fashion is recognizable by the research and the execution of the artifacts. He translates the two-dimensional structure of paper patterns into three-dimensional artwork». 

Unlimited and Cave

On the piano nobile of Palazzo Brancaccio, Contemporary Cluster houses the exhibition area of Spazio Field, for which the hub will curate the artistic program of 2021/22. Here, international masters of the contemporary scene are invited to dialogue with the historicity of the building and the grandeur of the decorations. The width of the space and the huge size of the walls push the artists to create big-size artworks, out of the standard limits of production. On the occasion of the opening, from 23 to 26 September, Spazio Field hosted Live Cinema Festival, a film festival which investigates and promotes the artistic phenomena to which the term ‘Live Cinema’ is attributed, through performances of artists who have made this narrative technique their own stylistic code. In 2022 Contemporary Cluster will unveil a new area, Cave, devoted to education and to the enhancement of the community revolving around Contemporary Cluster. About the upcoming project Guidi says: «This space will be dedicated to projects born from collectivity or aimed at educating the collectivity. We envisioned Cave as a space to stimulate thought».

Contemporary Cluster, Rome

Contemporary Cluster is a space dedicated to interdisciplinarity and the contamination between art, architecture, photography, design, visual art, sound design, fashion design and much more. It was founded in 2016 by Giacomo Guidi, art curator, and Giorgia Cerulli, architect and interior designer. From Thursday 23 September 2021 Contemporary Cluster has a new headquarters inside Palazzo Brancaccio, a noble palace built in the late nineteenth century and immersed in the greenery of the Esquilino district.

Palazzo Brancaccio, Via Merulana, 248

00184 Rome

Agnese Torres

The writer does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article.

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check and buy on Prototipo Store
item collections in limited edition
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Hemp / made in Italy
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Hemp production in Italy
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