The “Natural History” project features ten large format photographs (130х160cm), inspired by Italian artist Flavio Bonetti’s visit to the Museum of Natural History in Sofia in 2006.
When he found himself in the museum for the first time, he was struck by the presence of objects that were evidently extraneous to the “sterile” environment of the contemporary museum. Examples include a beige curtain befitting a bourgeois apartment, which serves as the backdrop to an impressive stuffed rhinoceros. This observation changes the message of the venue, while provoking a different kind of perception of it – both from a visual and a cognitive standpoint.
Flavio Bonetti documented those “anomalies” in the environment. He further developed his project by adding other objects (a living dog and a living cat, a children’s bicycle, a clothesline, shoes), which add to the home-like atmosphere of the museum, while lending the latter a surreal and ambiguous touch at the same time. There is interaction between everyday life and the exhibits featured in the scientific collection.
In this sense, the artist puts questions concerning fundamental issues of cognition. Photography is not an instrument for “recording” the reality of the museum collection, but a place for arranging various options and uncertain memories, suggested by the artist, who, at the same time, sticks to the original atmosphere of the museum with all of its formal characteristics. Adding traces of human presence to the “mummified” atmosphere of the museum, Flavio Bonetti brings up thoughts about home, everyday life, the small things in life, our weaknesses. As the Italian critic Roberta Valtorta states in her review of “Natural History”: “This, in the end, is photography: a way of attributing an effect of reality to a given situation, be it possible or impossible – if there is such a thing as an impossible situation. And what is reality, that reassuring term we often use to understand and justify things, remains a mystery.”
Before its presentation in Bulgaria the “Natural History” cycle was on display at the Monica De Cardenas Gallery, Milan and the ABBT Projects Gallery, Zurich.
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Flavio Bonetti was born in 1956 in Brescia, Italy. He lives and works in Milan. He works in the fields of video and photography. He received the First Prize for his film Normale at the preview of independent film in Bellaria, and his film Geogrаphy was featured in the selection of the 1999 Turin Film Festival. Bonetti frequently creates still lifes and landscapes in his photographs, which feature both natural and cultural objects. He holds that “with the development of civilization people project their notion of rational order on nature, thus constantly changing the status of natural scenery from “natural” to “unnatural”.
His works have been on display at the following prestigious art forums and venues: Not Only Possible, But Also Necessary: Optimism In the Age of Global War, 10th International Istanbul Biennial; Memories in Motion, Munich; Fair Play 2007, Video and Films, Play Gallery, Berlin; Natural History, ABBT Projects, Zurich; Artgames. Analogies Between Art and Games, Ludwig Forum für Internationale Kunst, Aachen; The Ecstasy of Things, Museum of Contemporary Photography, Villa Ghirlanda, Cinisello Balsamo, Milan; The Italian Look. Italian Fashion Photography from 1951 to Today, Rotonda della Besana, Milan, National Museum of XXI Century Arts, Rome.
With the kind cooperation of the Italian Cultural Institute, Sofia
and the Monica De Cardenas Gallery, Milan