february 23, 2020 - GAMeC

Antonio Rovaldi - Il suono del becco del picchio (The Sound of the Woodpecker Bill)

The artist #antoniorovaldi brings to Bergamo the project End. Words from the Margins, New York City, presented last November at Harvard University.

The exhibition Il suono del becco del picchio, hosted from February 13 to May 17, 2020 at the Accademia Carrara venue in Bergamo,constitutes the second chapter of the project End. Words from the Margins, New York City, promoted by the GAMeC in partnership with Harvard University (Graduate School of Design), the Kunstmuseum of St Gallen,and Magazzino Italian Art in Cold Spring (NY), with which the artist was awarded the support of the fifth call of the Italian Council, the program promoting Italian contemporary art around the world, held by the Directorate-General for Contemporary Creativity and Urban Regeneration of the Italian Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Activities and Tourism.

Curated by Lorenzo Giusti, Director of the GAMeC, together with Steven Handel, Visiting Professor of Ecology at the Harvard Graduate School of Design, and Francesca Benedetto, Design Critic, the exhibition—like the project itself—constitutes a eulogy of waking, of the physical crossing of the most marginal of spaces, and is based on the idea that it is from these very limits—not only geographical but also political and anthropological—that a conscientiousrebirth of society may be developed.

The project presents the most iconic metropolis in the world from the point of view of its city limits and the outermost edges of its five boroughs—Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, The Bronx, and Staten Island—which Rovaldi traced with his walking project, rendering the artist’s experience through a photographicseries capable of representing its complexity.

In his research, Rovaldi has addressed themes such as suburban green areas in the face of the growth of cities, urban detritus, the link between photography and literary production, as well as photography as a “visual novel”built around the city. This experience gave rise to the creation of a series of images presenting an outlying and lesser-known New York,with its vast lagoons near the ocean, its highway turnoffs and uncultivated areas, many not easily accessible.

As well as the fifty analogicalphotographs in black and white which will adorn the walls of the exhibition space, the show will also feature a number of geographicalmaps produced by the landscape architect Francesca Benedetto, showing the urbanistic, geographical and meteorological transformations of the city, alongside a sound installation and two bronze sculptures produced especially for the show.

Five Walks. NYC, 2017–2020originates from the collaboration between the artist and the sound designer Tommaso Zerbini, and through a constant flow of voices and sounds, provides the image of an elastic geography in which the borders stretch little by little, stop after stop, with the slow and reflexive rhythm of a long walk.

The first of the two bronze sculptures represents the form of a limulus (or horseshoe crab): a Pleistocenic creature endowed with primeval armor, which washes up along the American East Coast and in particular around New York, by which the artist wishes to remind us that the edges of the city have ancient forms and stratified geological eras.

The second depicts the remains of a keyboard found along a beach in Staten Island which, placed vertically on a pedestal like a miniature monolith, may appear reminiscent of both an ancient and future godhead at the same time: a devotional object from a city submersed in the gray waters of the ocean.

The display also features the videoThe Rest of the Images, produced in collaboration with the director Federica Ravera: footage which documents the artist’s practices and, at the same time, the close relationship between walking, the photographic image and the construction of a sequence.

Alongside the exhibition, in collaboration with the G. Carrara Academy of Fine Arts of Bergamo, the GAMeC will promote a series of workshops, excursions, explorations, encounters, and conferences involving artists, architects, urbanists, philosophers, and writers. During the appointments of the first cycle of the 2020 Public Program, Antonio Rovaldi’s experience in New York will serve as a model of investigation through which to explore the city limits of Bergamo.



The Sound of the Woodpecker Bill: New York City, published by Humboldt Books, represents the mainstay of the whole project. It is comprised of five chapters—one for each of the five boroughs of the city—each made up of a selection of one hundred black and white photographs documenting Rovaldi’s walk around the perimeter of each area.

As well as the text by Antonio Rovaldi, the volume also includes maps produced by Francesca Benedetto and contributions from Francesca Berardi, Cecilia Canziani, Anna de Manincor, Claudia Durastanti, Lorenzo Giusti, Steven Handel, and Mario Maffi. Through their interventions, the authors share an ordinary, hidden yet distant New York, providing an essential and contemporary gaze through which to contemplate the future of the city, its neighborhoods and inhabitants.

The publication will be presented for the first time in Italy on Wednesday February 26, 2020, at Fondazione Sozzani in Milan; following presentations will take place at the Casa Italiana Zerilli Marimò (New York University) supported by Magazzino Italian Art in Cold Spring, and at the Kunstmuseum in St Gallen (Switzerland).

Antonio Rovaldi (Parma, 1975), lives and works between Milan and New York.

He studied art and photography in Milan with Hideyoshi Nagasawa and Mario Cresci. His research focuses on the themes of landscape and the perception of spaces and distances, and his artistic practice is based on walking and travelling by bike. He works mainly with photography, video, sculpture, and drawing. In 2006 he won the Premio New York at Columbia University and in 2009 he was Artist in Residence at the ISCP in Brooklyn.

His solo shows include Mi è scesa una nuvola (Museo MAN, Nuoro, 2015), Orizzonte in Italia, Sveglio mare liscio due barche gialle più fumo (Casa Lai, Gavoi, 2014), Orizzonte in Italia (Monitor, Rome, 2013), The Opening Day (Hirshhorn Museum, Washington DC, 2012). Among his recent group shows: Give Me Yesterday (Fondazione Prada, Milan, 2016), and Fotografia Europea, La via Emilia. Strade, viaggi e confini / Nuove esplorazioni (Reggio Emilia, 2016).

In 2015 he published Orizzonte in Italia with Humboldt Books and MAN (2015), a publishing project proposed at the 25th Edition of the Premio Compasso d’Oro. In 2015, again with Humboldt Books and together with Francesca Berardi, he published Detour in Detroit, a book telling the story of the city through the biographies of its inhabitants. With Les Cerises he published New York City Babe, a book for children, inspired by New York and its sidewalks. In the May 2019 issue of Domus magazine (No. 1024), an extract was published of the project End. Words from the Margins, New York City. He collaborates with the artist Ettore Favini on the creation di site-specific projects (winners of the Premio Portali dello Scompiglio, 2012 and the Premio Suzzara, 2014) and with the artist Michael Höpfner on projects focusing on the practice of walking (Shorakapok, Prato 2009). In 2017 he founded the studio CLER, in Milan.