Why do we need art when we have reality? A visit to World Press Photo 2017 .

Some time back, Italian media reported a horrific story of a young couple who had deformed a number of girls, pouring acid on their faces. The motive was jealousy; it turned out the victims were all ex girlfriends of the male perpetrator.

You’d have to search for a while for a better plot for a crime novel. Not that we don’t know that reality sometimes supersedes fantasy, but it is as if our minds unconsciously tuck away those pieces of reality that are too ugly, too harsh, too impressive for us to deal with, and categorises them somewhere between truth and fiction.

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Art to the people? Street art in Rome’s Tuscolana neighbourhood.

It’s not a new phenomenon. While PhDs will trace its origins back to prehistoric time, writing in caves and what not, modern street art’s kick-off as a genre was in the early eighties, in New York. Keith Haring, Jean Michel Basquiat (whose art I review here) and their likes started appropriating walls, turning grey facades into artistic splendours. Since then it’s only gathered pace and today street art has invaded numerous neighbourhoods across Europe.

One such is Rome’s Tuscolana area, one of the most multicultural areas of the Italian capital, relatively neglected, not where you’d go on a given Saturday to hang out. Perhaps you should, though, because Tuscolana has something to offer that few other Roman neighbourhoods can boast: some of the finest street art around, including works by Etam Cru, Carlos Atoche, Dulk, Sten&Lex, Agostino Iacurci and Jef Aérosol. It’s practically speaking on every street corner, small pieces on hidden walls or entire buildings turned into playful masterpieces, and walking through Tuscolana on a sunny afternoon is an undivided pleasure.

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An Unexpected Encounter with Jean Michel Basquiat.

I thought, for some reason, I was going to see an exhibition of Japanese Art,  so when I arrived at the Chiostro del Bramante, one of my favourite Roman venues, I was surprised to find a poster for New York, a Jean Michel Basquiat exhibition  outside. Yet since art was on the afternoon agenda, I decided to venture in to the narrow hallways of the Chiostro and let Basquiat transfer thirty years back in time, and to New York .

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Art in the new world

In the old world, enjoying art was at the peak of the lifestyle ladder, an amusement for the affluent, a pastime for the privileged and art institutions were a luxury society could only afford towards the end of a long development cycle. The Guggenheim Abu Dhabi demonstrates that in the new world, under construction in expat heavens like Abu Dhabi, high-end art has skipped the line and has become a requirement for, not a result of a vibrant society.

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Why Manneraak Rome 2017?

This text is the original text for the catalogue made for Norwegian Hallucinations 2017. You can learn more about the exhibition here.

I left Norway early on. I was 18 when I went to study in the US, but mentally I think I’d already been on the move for years by then. I spent years visiting and living in different corners of the world before settling in Rome. Exciting yes, but also tiring and confusing to the point that I have a problem remembering all of the places I’ve lived in.

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