Francesco Urbano Ragazzi

Jumairy dedicates his ‘S/\MsS0NG’ track to a smartphone

8 December 2016

“I feel uninspired,” repeats Jumairy‘s affected voice on ‘S/\MsS0NG’, which soundtracks the exhibition BRZ5. Dedicated to the lost memory of a smartphone, the Dubai-based artist’s words are recited almost ceremonially. In the midst of objects, perfumes and poetic texts written by the Jumairy’s grandfather, the exhibition takes on a ritualistic air, inspired by the United Arab Emirates’ funerary traditions. BRZ5 will be inaugurated on December 16 at Milan’s FARE, ending Jumairy’s residence, along with participation in the exhibition from Carlo Antonelli, Tomaso De Luca, Anna Franceschini, Sofia Ginevra Giannì, Invernomuto, Jacopo Miliani. All of them characterised the time that Jumairy spent during his residency.

A collaboration between FARE and Maraya Art Centre (Sharjah, UAE) and organised by curatorial team Francesco Urbano

Ragazzi, the title of BRZ5 is a contraction of the word ‘Barzakh’ — an Arabic term denoting a barrier, or limbo, between the worlds of the physical and the spiritual, life and death, where the soul waits for resurrection on Qiyamah (Judgement Day). As a few torches illuminate black and white images that were obtained from Jumairy’s smartphone during a previous stay in Milan, traces of a restored parallel life drain together with the batteries of the torches, and the psychological processes of grief are moved across another barrier — that from the human mind to mechanisms of an external memory.

Jumairy connects his studies of psychology to an experimentation with sound, producing sensory experiences that, as well as traversing al-Barzakh, also spread from real space to the internet, expressed through performative acts, scientific experiments and mysterious rituals occurring on stage, big screen and smartphone apps. The imagery is infused with a dark psychedelia and his Arabic electro-pop is intertwined with the sonic mannerisms of shock rock. Indeed, many of Jumairy’s works deal with traumas, both personal and collective. With ‘The Sleepless Pe-Tal’ (2016), a recent project commissioned by Art Dubai and Delfina Foundation, the artist addressed insomnia as an expression of social anxiety in competitive, market-oriented environments.

For BRZ5, write Francesco Urbano Ragazzi, “Jumairy has transformed the rooms of an apartment into his personal Barzakh, a labyrinthine antechamber to celebrate a vigil: the passage between childhood and adulthood, memory and amnesia, insomnia and lucid dreaming. A domestic space is covered by a dense darkness, fragmented only by some rays of light from a few torches. Looking carefully in their direction it is possible to distinguish some black and white images, not entirely decodable: these are the last remains extracted from the smartphone the artist took with him during his first residency in Milan and broke forever on that occasion”.**

Jumairy’s BRZ5 solo exhibition is on at Milan’s FARE, running December 16 to January 31, 2017.

Header image: Jumairy, ‘Jumairy + Avatar’ (2016). Courtesy the artist.

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‘A Mystical Staircase’ online @ 63rd-77th STEPS, Jun 25

27 June 2016

The A Mystical Staircase group exhibition was launched online on June 25, with a public presentation to happen at Museo Villa Croce on July 8.

Curated by Francesco Urbano Ragazzi in collaboration with Bari’s artist-run space 63rd-77th STEPS, A Mystical Staircase is an exhibition with 22 artists in the form of an online tarot deck.

The project takes its name from an ancient allegory describing the ascension to Knowledge, as it continues the quest for the “spiritual dimensions of data consumption”. Curatorial duo Francesco Urbano Ragazzi started in organising The Internet Saga with Jonas Mekas, which (below) featured a phone call by Amalia Ulman.

Artists involved in A Mystical Staircase will “share a vision with you” upon formulating a question and picking a ‘card’. These visionaries include Sarah Abu Abdallah, Kareem Lotfy, Fabio Santacroce, Tiril Hasselknippe, Institute for New Feeling and Eva Papamargariti.

Interestingly, the project also alludes to the rotations of our point of view on moving images, what the press release describes as a “silent revolution which is happening on our devices. The possibility of writing a new vertical cinema”.

See the Museo Villa Croce website for details.**









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Peeping Tom’s Digest: the Paris issue launch @ Shanaynay, Jun 2

29 May 2016

The fourth issue of Peeping Tom’s Digest: Paris, is launching at project space Shanaynay on June 2.

The publication explores different art scenes around the world and is described as “experimental, empirical and subjective”. For every issue it takes a different city and houses text- and image-based contributions from both local and visiting participants. Previous editions have been on Berlin in 2009, Mexico City in 2011, and Beirut in 2013.

The Paris issue according to the press release “teases out an offbeat and distanced portrait of the Parisian and French scene, through the restitution of work groups (dinners, performances, round table) and contributions from 70 participants for whom a certain detachment was chosen or imposed: foreigners living in Paris or in residency, French people based abroad, nomads and dromomaniacs passing through, etc.”

Linked, and contributing to this particular scene and its write up are Eleanor Ivory Weber, Exo Exo founders Elisa Rigoulet and Antoine DonzeaudFenêtreproject, Gallerie Chantel Crousel, Mouhamed Bourouissa, Maxime Bichon who has worked with Paul Maheke, and curatorial duo Francesco Urbano Ragazzi.

See the Peeping Tom website for details.**

Maxime Bichon. Courtesy the artist.
Maxime Bichon. Courtesy the artist.



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Jonas Mekas, The Internet Saga (2015) exhibition photos

3 September 2015

Pioneering the evolution of audiovisual language both on and offline since the 60s, cinema legend Jonas Mekas presents The Internet Saga, a solo exhibition running from May 6 to November 22. It’s located at two sites, the Palazzo Foscari Contarini –a sixteenth century building that is now a Burger King restaurant –and video art space Spazio Ridotto.

Curated by curatorial duo Francesco Urbano Ragazzi in collaboration with Zuecca Projects, the project is dedicated to art on the web and launched on the May 6 and 7 in conjunction with the 56th Venice Biennale. Ragazzi chose the Burger King at the Palazzo Foscari Contarini as an exhibition space to serve “as a metaphor of [the] Internet” representative of the “relationship between eras and materials, history and trade, fake and authenticity which are elements which characterize it”.

The exhibition opened with a Skype performance by Amalia Ulman who phoned in to the Internet Saga press conference at the My Art Guide Meeting Point in Venice on May 7 (you can see an excerpt of the video that screened here). It was organised as a tribute to the influential artist and to launch Ulman’s  own )TITRE( web calendar contribution to the project. Meanwhile, Mekas will continue to broadcast a collection of over 500 videos until the exhibition’s November close; personal entries from an online journal he’s been keeping since 2006. The work is undisruptive as it plays on four screens already present in the building, “juxtaposing itself to Palazzo Foscari Contarini, by modifying it without interfering with its reality, without touching it, as it would at a virtual level”.

Mekas is also exhibiting ‘To Petrarca’ (2009), a seventy-minute sound piece comprised of recordings made in the streets of New York that merge with the sounds of Andy Warhol’s funeral. Photographic transparencies are attached, and filter light like stained glass, to thirty-two windows facing the courtyard. They are 768 reproductions of mostly unpublished frames from Mekas’ body of video work.

Spazio Ridotto functions as a cinema, presenting a selection of Mekas’ video work in the second location. The project also has two official websites to compliment the exhibition,, updated daily, and a web calendar created by Ulman located at, which will be updated irregularly “by artists and intellectuals who reflect on time in the Internet era”. **

Exhibition photos, top right.

The Internet Saga is on at Venice’s Burger King from May 6 to November 22, 2015.

Header image: In an instant it all came back to me (2015). Install view. Photo by Giulio Favotto Otium. EXPERIMENTAL.

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