The passing of time and the sequence of historical periods is a strange business, especially in a place full of legacies of the past like Rome. It resembles an elastic band that can be stretched or released at will.
It ranges from inverted telescope distances, which flatten everything into a remote and indistinct past, so that the Ancient Romans are all contemporary with each other, even though roughly the same number of years passes between the age of Hadrian and the First Punic War, and a similar amount of transformation occurs between the end of the 16th Century and today, to the opposite effect: when we look at the characters of the rich ancient portraiture we have the impression to glimpse relatives not so far away, we know them one by one, we can identify in detail physiognomy, gestures and feelings: they are part of the image of ourselves that was largely built on those same cultural archetypes and iconography.
In other words, we have a slightly ambivalent relationship with the ancients: on one hand we are so surrounded by their testimonies that by now they no longer mean anything to us (it is also a matter of survival, you can’t live perpetually with a Stendhal syndrome, so we keep them at a distance, even if this can generate a dangerous neglect); on the other hand, we feel their familiarity, which pushes us to take liberties that are reflected in the same freedom that these images of the ancients seem to take in looking at us, they suggest not to take them too seriously, and to attribute to them, and to ourselves, similar thoughts and feelings, well beyond the reasonable and the plausible.
In presenting this series of images, taken mainly in museums, but also around the city, I have enjoyed trying to render the effect of mocking complicity that is established between the images of the ancient that seem to scrutinize us, and those who look at them in return, the effect of estrangement that arises from their improper use, both in museums (a certain effect of multiplication and redundancy) and in their everyday use, and the slightly surreal situations that can arise from the juxtaposition of the contemporary with the ancient.