What a Fantastic World Here! A Contemporary Gaze at the Museomontagna Archives is the last of the three exhibitions created by the Museomontagna as part of the Interreg Alcotra iAlp project, which since 2017 has seen the Museum collaborate with the Musée Alpin of Chamonix-Mont-Blanc in order to innovate tools and practices for the conservation and enhancement of the alpine cultural heritage.
The mountain landscape has long been represented rather fixedly in photography in line with the notions of monumentality and eternity and, even today, these two concepts partly perpetuate stereotypical visions of it. Starting out from this consideration, and with the aim of broadening the cognitive field, the Museum invited the artists Marina Caneve, Vittorio Mortarotti, Laura Pugno and Davide Tranchina to explore the most traditional stereotypes (the mountain that nurtures, the one that kills, that fortifies, and so on) singled out in the photographic collections – and not only – conserved in the Museum’s archives, to invent, through their gaze, new ways of looking.
Through reinterpreting and giving new meaning to the images found in the collections of the Museum’s Documentation Area, the four artists defined “new” mountains that tell us about a world that is forever unchanged but at the same time diverse and fantastic. Tranchina does not describe the physical enchanted place as such but the poetic space of inner conflict; for Mortarotti, mountains no longer signify a monumental and inaccessible limit but a human threshold to explore from within, a space of permeability and possibility. Pugno offers us a formal analysis of the landscape that recounts the contradictions in the construction of the imaginary through the process of the gaze, while Caneve’s mountain is the reconstruction, through details, of the ideal representation of places, an association of ideas capable of interrogating the viewer about the mechanisms that lead us to the construction of knowledge. The area of research was confined to the lands of the Western Alps, the spatial limits of the cross-border iAlp project and the Alcotra territory.