FE 2015

Un progetto del Comune di Reggio nell'Emilia
Comune di Reggio Emilia – Città delle persone

  • Gastropoda #23 © Joan Fontcuberta
    Gastropoda #23 © Joan Fontcuberta
  • Gastropoda, video still. 2013  © Joan Fontcuberta
    Gastropoda, video still. 2013 © Joan Fontcuberta
  • Gastropoda #21 © Joan Fontcuberta
    Gastropoda #21 © Joan Fontcuberta
  • Gastropoda #9 © Joan Fontcuberta
    Gastropoda #9 © Joan Fontcuberta

Joan Fontcuberta, Gastropoda


The Life Cycle of Images

Whenever I come home after a few days’ absence, I find shagreen snails (Helix apersa, family of the gastropoda) eating into the paper and attacking the printed images in my mailbox. It occurred to me that images, like all living organisms, are born, grow and act, decay and die. And that is what Gastropoda is all about.

Gastropoda refers to iconic decomposition: the process of irreversible decay turns images into echoes of themselves which, as a result, reveal the aesthetics of horror and destruction.

The project also emphasizes the shift of the image as pure representation towards becoming an object, the transition from immaterial visual information into a physical object that contradicts the idea that the essence of an image derives from reality: images admittedly represent reality, but they are also tangible parts of that reality and you can photograph them as ‘object-images’.

The project finally questions the notion of ‘authorship’. Gastropoda inscribes itself in the tradition of ‘animal-made photography’: snails have been accomplices in my work and therefore share its ‘authorship’. The snails have, in fact, been the true authors: I have done little more than exploit their capacities. Unlike similar past practises, in which artists exploited the capacities of ‘human accomplices’, the “co-authors” here were hungry snails which are entirely unconcerned about the ideas and meanings we attribute to their voracity and excrements. After all, they simply consumed the images in order to complete their own life cycle.

Joan Fontcuberta


Joan Fontcuberta was born in February 24, 1955, in Barcelona, where he lives and works. He studied Communications at the Autonomous University of Barcelona (1972-77) and later worked in advertising, journalism and as a university professor in Fine Arts. Since 1974, he has devoted himself to the visual arts, developing his creative work together with a wide range of criticism, theoretical, curatorial and lecturing activity.

Both his artistic and theoretical activity focus on issues of representation, knowledge, memory, science, truthfulness, ambiguity and trompe-l’œil, exploring the documentary and the narrative in photographic images and related media. Among the books containing his work several have been internationally awarded: Herbarium (1985), Fauna (1988), Sputnik (1997). More recent publications, such as Landscapes without Memory(2005), Googlegrams(2005) and Through the Looking Glass (2010) explore intersections of photography and digital imaging. He has authored or edited a dozen of books on aspects of the history, aesthetics and pedagogy of photography.


He has received solo shows in the most important museums in the world such as MoMA (NY, 1988), the Art Institute (Chicago, 1990) and his artwork has been collected by numerous museums such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art (NY), San Francisco MoMA, Musée National d’Art Contemporain – Centre Georges Pompidou (Paris), Stedelijk Museum (Amsterdam) and others.


Sunday, May 17


10am_Teatro Cavallerizza


The authoriality of the artist in the post-photography: Joan Fontcuberta with Elio Grazioli. Introduced by Michele Smargiassi.

Book signing to follow


2pm_Palazzo dei Musei

Exhibition Gastropoda and Fauna Secreta guided tour with the artist Joan Fontcuberta

exhibition venue

Palazzo dei Musei
via Spallanzani, 1
42121 Reggio Emilia


opening hours

• during the inaugural days
05/15 › 7pm - midnight
05/16 › 10am - midnight
05/17 › 10am - midnight
• from May 22 to July 26 the exhibits are open from friday to sunday
Friday › 4pm-11pm
Saturday › 10am-11pm
Sunday and holidays › 10am-8pm
the exhibits are open also during the regular opening time of the museum: www.musei.re.it


Palazzo dei Musei