Philly Art Museum and Italian foundation launch initiative to commission and acquire new works

The Philadelphia Museum of Art has joined with the Turin, Italy-based Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo to commission and acquire new video, film, and performance pieces from artists from around the world, museum and foundation officials announced Thursday.

Every two years, the Future Fields Commission in Time-Based Media – as the joint initiative has been dubbed – will support the creation and production of work to be acquired and presented by both the Art Museum and the foundation, which is widely seen as one of the most dynamic forces in the contemporary Italian art world.

The first commission will go New York-based video sensation Rachel Rose, 30, currently generating considerable buzz at the Venice Biennale, and winner of the 2015 London Frieze Artist Award for emerging artists.

Rose has said she will set her new project in 16th-century agrarian England, exploring the relationship between reality and perception, history and coincidence. 

“We ended up shooting for the work at Plimoth Plantation in Massachusetts,” Rose said Thursday. “There’s no way that would have been done” without the backing of the foundation and museum.

Her work, she said, which is layered and often collage-like, is preceded by vast amounts of research. In this case, she has looked into the enclosure movement in England, magic, and witch trials. Her effort has also already included site visits, library work, and perusal of music and film.

Her videos, she said, focus on a “particular moment in history, a site, a place, a person,” and are woven together with “what I’m feeling.”

Erica F. Battle, the museum’s associate curator for contemporary art, who has been working with Rose, said that “in a world of immediacy and something new,” Rose’s work is “something fresh and exciting.”

She is “an artist who thinks holistically,” Battle said.

Carlos Basualdo, the museum’s curator of contemporary art, said that the new initiative arises in part from the museum’s lack of a vehicle to systematically produce and acquire new work.

Patrizia Sandretto Re Rebaudengo, president of the Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo and long an adviser to the Art Museum on contemporary and modern art, suggested to Basualdo that the foundation and the museum join and commission new “time-based” art.

“Rachel was a person whose work all of us felt was appropriate,” Basualdo said. “She’s doing a new work. She’s doing things she has never done before.”

Rose’s piece will be exhibited at the museum in the spring of 2018. 

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