On cover: © Paolo Raeli, We Are Family, 2023.
We Are Family, the first retrospective exhibition devoted to the young artist in Italy, is the next event of the Homecoming cycle, offering a view of a queer family, a group united by desire and affinity, and held together by love and by the special camera that, in the hands of Raeli, never stops taking pictures. In the wake of references like Nan Goldin, Ryan McGinley and Olivia Bee, the artist portrays his friends, his loves, his sorrows and his city, with an intimate, passionate eye.
No, it’s not California. It’s Palermo, overheated and dreamy, where the sky is tinted in shades that go from orange to violet, like a long summer sunset, so intense it hurts the eyes. Here and there a light comes on as darkness fall, and the fairy lights of a holiday festival twinkle; the burning tip of a cigarette glows. The city is afire with kisses, promises, caresses. The city is an infinite horizon, where boys and girls race motorbikes, dive into the sea in their underwear and swear eternal love to one another. It is where the imagination ranges free and wild, where Paolo Raeli, a brilliant young talent of Italian photography, projected through Instagram on the global level remains, however, rooted in his own Sicily, site of the adventures of his family of choice.
We Are Family, the first retrospective exhibition devoted to the young artist in Italy, is part of the Homecoming cycle, offering a view of a queer family, a group united by desire and affinity, and held together by love and by the special camera that, in the hands of Raeli, never stops taking pictures. In the wake of references like Nan Goldin, Ryan McGinley and Olivia Bee, the artist portrays his friends, his loves, his sorrows and his city, with an intimate, passionate eye. From kiss to kiss, Raeli weaves and documents his ties with a granular, vibrant vision that escapes any visual grammar and every social convention, aiming straight at the beating heart of things: his lovers trade souls, saliva and tears, saying I love you, saying goodbye, skinning their knees, lowering the window and letting their hair free to blow in the wind.
Raeli has been a compulsive photographer for over ten years (and he is only 29!). He applies an autobiographical dimension to his work, while operating on a universal plane, depicting the loves of a twenty-year-old but also an idea of family that challenges every stereotype: we love whoever we choose, those who resemble us, those who have the ability to understand our fragility amid the chaos of the world. We love those who embrace our changing selves, beyond the ties of blood, social convention or contract. We love regardless of the gender identity in which we recognize ourselves, and without regard for what we “should be”, as imposed by others. Because love can happen anywhere – under a sky of artificial stars at the amusement park in Capaci, in the last swim, late at night, in the sea at Mondello – and can last forever, or only the time of a kiss.
Paolo Raeli was born in August, 1994. Tormented by the idea of losing the memory of his own life, he started taking pictures at the age of just 17, to preserve moments of his teenage life – from his first cigarette to his first girlfriends – and that of the boys and girls of his home town. In his nostalgic snapshots, which he posts on the social networks, we can see the adolescents of the entire world. His success enabled him to travel and expand the horizons of his photography. Wherever he goes, he takes pictures of the young people, teenagers of other lands but with whom he shares the same universal feelings and sensations. His pictures are characterized by rosy tints and dreamlike atmospheres; they tell stories about love, diversity, youth and nostalgia. In addition to photography, he also produces videos, recording scenes of daily life between one snapshot and the next. He is currently living in Palermo, the city where he was born and where he owns an apartment that he has decorated with murals and naïf paintings he does himself, portraying the same friends shown in his countless photos. Paolo Raeli’s photographs are exhibited in Palermo, Rome, Los Angeles and Seoul, among others.
In photo: Paolo Raeli.
Nov. 29 at 8:00 pm: private dinner-preview with Paolo Raeli and curators Irene Alison and Paolo Cagnacci
only by invitation
Nov. 30 at 12 pm: press conference with Paolo Raeli and curators Irene Alison and Paolo Cagnacci
Nov. 30 at 6-8 pm: lecture by Paolo Raeli in dialogue with Irene Alison cured by Paolo Cagnacci
free admission subject to availability at Archea Lungarno Benvenuto Cellini, 13
Nov. 30 at 6:30 pm: exhibition opening with Paolo Raeli and curators Irene Alison and Paolo Cagnacci
Nov. 30-Dec. 31, 2023, Wed.-Sun. 11 am-7 pm: exhibition tours
free admission; reservation required for guided tours
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