Church of Nothing, Theatre of Nothing
On July 19, artist Autumn Knight (USA) offered a site-specific performance inside Palazzo Altemps, one of the sites of the Museo Nazionale Romano. Established in 1889, the Museo Nazionale Romano, whose historical home is the Terme di Diocleziano, brings together one of Italy’s most extraordinary archaeological heritages which was split up, between 1995 and 2001, among three other museum venues: Palazzo Massimo alle Terme, Palazzo Altemps and Crypta Balbi. The work was presented in two different areas of Palazzo Altemps: the Church of Sant’Aniceto, built in the 17th century by Giovanni Angelo Altemps and decorated with a pictorial cycle related to the stories of the saint, -whose remains are preserved in the church; and the Theater, used since the 16th century and patronized by Carlo Goldoni, which was later converted to a cinema, then again to a theater and finally to a piano bar until the 1980s.
In these two contexts, both linked to a time of leisure, and ritual detached from daily laborious activities, Autumn Knight critically explored the Italian concept of “dolce far niente” (the sweetness of doing nothing) using body, text and sound as means to explore the political meanings and creative potential of “doing nothing”. By exploring Italian visual culture, her work revamped architecture, body movements and relationships in the public space as if they were choreographic material.