INDIA. New Delhi: The Italian Embassy Cultural Centre in New Delhi is hosting an exhibition of 29 photographs by Italian photographer Massimo Pacifico. Titled “The Museum Effect”, the exhibition explores the relationship between museum visitors and works of art by capturing people during their consumption of the art.
Massimo Pacifico was born in 1951 in Sulmona in Italy’s Abruzzo region. In 1969 he moved to Florence to study at the Faculty of Political Sciences and graduated in History of International Relations in 1976. It was during this time that he taught himself the practice of photography.
In 1977, Massimo opened a photo studio in Florence and subsequently became a part of cinema and theater circles in Italy and in Germany. He also started collaborating with travel magazines in which he published photo reportages from all over the world.
In 1985, the publishing house Electa published his book Sulmona, which in 1990 won the Special Prize for Photography during the 41st Prato Europa Literary Prize.
From December 1986 to January 1987, the Fratelli Alinari Museum of the History of Photography in Florence hosted his solo exhibition “Florence, materials and color”.
In 1988, he participated in a group exhibition at Palazzo Isimbardi in Milan for the first cycle of photographs taken as part of the project “Architectural and Environmental Heritage: the Photographic Image” (with Olivo Barbieri, Gabriele Basilico, Gianni Berengo Gardin, Cesare Colombo, Mario Cresci, Luigi Ghirri, Guido Guidi, Mimmo Jodice, Pepi Merisio and George Tadge).
He collaborated with Colombian artist Fernando Botero in Paris for the exhibition of monumental sculptures on the Champs-Elysées. The photographs appeared in the detailed biography on Botero by the Bogotá publishing house Villegas Editores in November 1998.
He made his first trip to India in 1993 and continued to photograph the subcontinent until 2018. From 1996 until 2000, he collaborated with the magazine Soprissime in which he published reports from India, Ukraine, Morocco, Myanmar, Botswana, Syria, Madagascar, Egypt and interviewed the well-known vintage car collector Lord Edward Montagu in Beaulieu and the journalist Tiziano Terzani in Delhi.
In February 2018 he made his last trip to India, visiting Rajasthan and Punjab. He displayed his exhibition “THE MUSEUM EFFECT: Momentary Intrusions in Spaces of Art” at the Marino Marini Museum in Florence in 2019 and at the MANN (National Archaeological Museum of Naples) in 2019/20.
The Greek philosopher Hesiod used the term “Museum” to denote the home of the Nine Muses, the goddesses of the arts. It is located on Mount Helicon in Boeotia, Greece, where the nine maidens danced inside the temple of Zeus—the true Museum.
Mount Helicon was also the source of the serpentine rivers Olmeios and Permessos, whose waters, according to mythology, provided inspiration to poets. They also fed the pool in which Narcissus saw his reflection and fell in love with himself.
Ovid writes that the goddess Minerva visited the mountain of the Muses to ascertain the existence of Hippocrene, a spring from which magical waters were thought to gush out for artists.
Museums, therefore, are places of fantasy and narcissism. And according to Massimo Pacifico, also those of intimate reflections.
The photographer has been exploring museums for years with his faithful reflex camera, which has proven to be a reliable witness of moments and situations that will never take place again.
“The Museum Effect” exhibition was presented for the first time as “Exploring Helicon” at Belleville Gallery in Milan in 2012. Then under the title MUSEUMSCOPES at the Muscarelle Museum of Art in Williamsburg in Virginia, USA in 2015, at the Marino Marini Museum in Florence in 2018, the MANN (National Archaeological Museum of Naples) in 2019/20.
The exhibition is open to the general public upon request from Monday to Friday, 10 am to 12 noon and 2 pm to 5 pm.