The Innocents Abroad, 2011
Nine automatized microfiche readers, microfiche, tables, neon lights, electronic unit, electric wires
Each unit 140 x 80 x 80 cm
site specific dimensions

The installation The Innocents Abroad, created for the 54th Venice Biennale, is composed of nine microfiche readers placed on as many tables in a space painted a uniform grey and artificially lit. The images visible on the screens of the readers are captions, annotations, and stamps found on the backs of thousands of photographs collected from Italian and international press archives that refer to history in the broad sense, but also to smaller, forgotten histories. Though evoked by their descriptions, by their enigmatic traces of systems of classification and by the signs of their public existence, the ‘images’ remain, in reality, invisible and therefore lose their quality as simulacra: they can only be imagined by the viewer. The stories told by the captions, at one point inextricably linked to images on their recto, have been separated from and are now the only surviving traces of these images; the only historical ‘indices’ that have reached us, real or false, true or invented, and compose a paradoxical blind iconology of the Twentieth Century.

Courtesy Matteo Viglietta S.p.A., Collezione La Gaia, the artist and Magazzino, Rome

Courtesy Photo © Claudio Abate

Installation view, Venice Biennale 54th International Art Exhibition ILLUMInazioni | ILLUMInations, Corderie dell’Arsenale, Venice