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Embassy exhibition probes complexities of contemporary Italian art

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Washington, D.C. --- Unanswered Prayers, a new exhibition at the Italian Embassy, examines the complexities of contemporary Italian art through photography.

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The exhibition presented by Ilaria Niccolini Productions features the work of Milan-born artist Anna Paola Pizzocaro.

For Unanswered Prayers, Pizzocaro has designed a storyboard with each picture intended to stand on its own. Together and individually, the photos tell multiple stories. Pizzocaro says she was influenced by the cinema and specifically Alfred Hitchcock.

She said her work is Hitchcock-like in that the viewer observes what appears to be a normal setting but the atmosphere changes to the bizarre.

She is a talented photographer and image manipulator who tells stories through a series of surreal scenes. She would not speculate on her post-production techniques, but says she only creates a limited number (three) of each piece.

Pizzocaro says she attended the ENSAD in Paris, one of the French Grandes Ecoles, where she was among the first in the school to be trained in post production on a computer using the Unix operating system, according to American study methods, while using software such as Maya and Softimage. At the time, she says her visual inspirations were derived mostly from watching Canadian and American comics and French cartoons; pure surrealism.

The series on display at the Italian Embassy shows a progression. Perhaps the viewer will consider the frightening possibilities as water levels rise and the threat humans and innocent animals face from global warming as water levels continue to rise. Is this an ominous warning of things to come?

She explains that the morning is analogous to an era long ago. The water level is low in the morning, but as the day progresses, animals are forced to adapt to the changing environment. As the water level rises, day becomes dark, animals eventually are forced to retreat to the roof.

The works thoughtfully tie various complicated themes and meanings into a single comprehensive snapshot. We have historical themes of Adam and Eve, Noah's ark combined with global warming, the play between the old flood and the pending flood, and a complex multiple reality with the use of mirrors, glass and water reflection.

“I love what is incredible in everyday life because life itself, for better or worse, is always filled with twists and turns,” Pizzocaro writes in her artist statement. “I guess this concept is very clear-cut in the Unanswered Prayers series, a dull trivial day is shaken by an extraordinary event which turns everything upside down; here comes the flood… how to react? The apartment becomes a metaphor for Noah’s Ark where the animals, as always, are able to adapt themselves and they play with water as if unaware of the danger, while the more farsighted humans try to exceed their limits and they even begin to fly.”

“In my personal aesthetic vision,” Pizzocaro states, “I believe it’s primordial to convey important messages [the changing ecosystem and global warming] in a most simple accessible and almost playful way.”

Ilaria Niccolini, producer of Pizzocaro’s exhibition, says “It is very special the moment when an artist impresses me, when my entire mind is embraced by the marvel of an artwork. I am lucky enough to meet great artists and impressive artworks all around the world,” she adds.

Niccolini's website,, is her platform of contemporary arts including bios and works from numerous talented artists such as Pizzocaro.

“But there is no joy able to move me like the one I feel when a new generation artist goes beyond 'good,' and is able to make a statement out of his/her creations,” Niccolini states.

Niccolini says this is what happened with Pizzocaro’s photos. After a presentation by Verna Curtis at the opening reception, Niccolini says she was able to put her perception in perspective and learn more about what can be done to reach the next step: “perfecting each artwork to the point of making it breathe with its own independent soul.”

Pizzocaro “offers us a tour that is visionary, intimate and surreal. It is the daily clad in marvels. An apartment transformed into an aquarium. A bear on the sofa. Dolphins leaping in an area that was previously pavement. A litany of unheeded and astounding prayers. An incursion into reverie surprise and wonder. Because what we wish to continue doing this year as well [in future exhibitions] is to surprise and inspire,” states H.E. Claudio Bisogniero, Italian ambassador.

Unanswered Prayers had been exhibited at the L.U.C.C.A. Museum of Contemporary Art in Italy. It appears through May 22, 2014 at the Italian Embassy, 3000 Whitehaven Street NW and is worth the trip to Washington’s Observatory Circle Neighborhood. The exhibition is free and open to the public by appointment only. Please see the embassy’s website for details.