Italian Contemporary Art at the Quadriennale

With the reopening of the Palazzo delle Espozioni the Quadriennale D'Arte di Roma show has returned to its original home. In its 15th edition, this major Italian Contemporary Art show brings together 99 young and mid-career artists working in Italy who have emerged within the last twenty years, as well as a posthumous contribution by sculptor Luciano Fabro who died last year. With so many contributing artists the Quadriennale is necessarily a huge show covering both upper and lower floors of what is already a vast exhibition space and although I found it somewhat patchy overall there's still plenty there to make the exhibition well worth a visit and an encouragingly large number of women artists included.

Artists using video and short films were well represented throughout the show – I particularly liked Grazia Toderi's Rosso, an absorbing nocturnal cityscape video on a loop, with its man made constellations of twinkling headlamps, planes and street lights played to an increasingly noisy city soundtrack which soon seemed reminiscent of the rumble of a distant warzone, with the red glow of the city and sudden flashes of light echoing infrared footage of recent bombardments (which most visitors will have witnessed only on television). Other major social and contemporary issues were also represented – global warming and the eco disaster of endangered species was tackled by Maurizio Savini in Destined for Nothing which featured a bright pink chewing gum sculpture of a polar bear who is found washed up and desperate - quite literally on our front doorsteps - in an interactive piece that allowed the visitor to step into the installation, look through a spy hole and take a closer look at a doomed species. I also enjoyed Andrea Mastrovito's disturbing life cycle animation/projected video Eine Symphonie des Grauens.

The Rome Quadriennale runs until 14 September 2008