an exhibition portrait


About Time is Out of Joint at La Galleria Nazionale of Rome by Joël Riff

illustrated by Dussert+Lovera


English - French


An exhibition never really begins when we enter it. So a little before I discovered Time is out of joint, I climbed the Viale delle belle arti without stopping at the Museum of Etruscan art, the content of which a resident of the American Academy boasted at a dinner two days earlier. On this slope, national pavilions rivaling modernism by their architectures succeed each other. I arrived from the Maxxi where I had gone reluctantly. The sun is beating down. We are in Rome at the end of April. This is the first time I’ve been to La Nazionale d'Arte moderna galleria, and therefore am looking for the location. An artist had recommended the day before this institution as the only exciting one in its field in this city. And I can now agree. A huge neoclassical building appeared to my left. It’s character made me and makes me think during the entire visit the Parisian Petit Palais, but bigger. The lettering of the title of the exhibition is diffracted on the broad front steps and I find it rather distasteful. The welcome is warm, there is plenty of natural light as quite creamy decorum reflects. Before actually entering the heart of the building, a thick carpet receives seats on which the audience stays a little. I will also spend time there when I leave.


I get lost a bit in the rooms by finding the way via a door that turns out to be an emergency exit. I ask a custodian to know where the current exhibition takes place. She replies: Here. So I am there without realizing it, and I like it. The scenography seems invisible. No artificial partition seems to break the fluidity of the wandering. Each room communicates with several others. One loses oneself to return several times to the same places and to approach the works according to renewed trajectories. Sometimes a sculpture looks at a painting. Associations are clear. Pleasure and clarity guide all the hanging. I inwardly applaud. The teaching apparatus is discreet. No humiliating monologue at the entrance. Perhaps no single entry for that matter.


In general, I do not touch or sense works. I enjoy a relationship of desire with what I look at, without consuming it in an interactivity that I find obscene. The museum preserves a dimension of a sanctuary which is what I ask. Everything remains beautiful and grave.


Through the pieces, I find wonders, discover works, approach artists, feel a rich and remarkably well exploited background. The toilets in the basement are organized like those of an airport. And a poorly tuned light splashes flashes in the underground hall electric.


On the spot I say to myself, here is a commissioner who understood everything. It makes its public good, an exemplary structure in the matter. Afterwards, I am pleased to contribute to the radiance of his initiative. The inspection document is concise without being stingy. He quotes Jacques Derrida which is rather a bad point. I remember the happy enfilades, ventilated vis-à-vis, crispy investments and evidences. And not wanting to take so many photographs because there would be so many to take. Wanting to return. It is endless."



Joël Riff is an independent curator, the editor of french chronique Curiosité, teacher at école Duperré in Paris and part of the team of Moly-Sabata, artist-in-residency program by the Fondation Albert Gleizes. Since monday 27 september 2004 10am, he sees one show a day, at least.


These words were collected in Paris on the 17th week of 2017.



October 11, 2016 - April 15, 2018 at Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Moderna e Contemporanea - viale delle Belle Arti, 131 00197 Roma

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