Hyper*Espresso aims to be an edgy look at the reality of contemporary Italy.
This exercise provides a unique opportunity to analyze, deconstruct and reinterpret salient aspects of our identity. Through an academic rigor and critical lens, as well as a multidisciplinary approach not without satire and irony, the artists immerse themselves in the cultural fabric of our country. From politics to religion, from food to sex, and from cultural contradictions to national football identity, to resurface and offer a sharp and illuminating perspective on the social dynamics that characterize us.
Through works of art that blend aesthetics and social critique, we open up to a profound dialogue about Italian culture, questioning our traditions, institutions and idiosyncrasies, inviting reflection on the power dynamics and sociocultural influences that surround us.
Challenging stereotypes, we push to reconsider and redefine the definition of Italian-ness, to stimulate debate and open new horizons of understanding.
Hyper*Espresso was born out of the shared experience of five Italians who met at a university abroad in Linz, Austria, where they are confronted about what about their Italian-ness unites them, and what stereotypes make them living caricatures in the eyes of others.
Italy, home of culinary delights, is enveloped in an obsession with food that transcends the mere act of eating. The aromas, flavours and aesthetics of dishes are intertwined in an ancestral dialogue between provinces and regions, in a heated dispute over the paternity of centuries-old recipes. This rivalry, at the heart of our gastronomic culture, is an echo of the deep connection between food and our identity.
Italian cuisine, with its wealth of flavours, is a fine example of a culinary tradition that has evolved over the centuries. It is a tangible demonstration of how we are pioneers and explorers, transporting the scents and tastes of home to distant lands and welcoming and integrating ingredients and recipes from other cultures into our own traditions. Food becomes a universal language, a conduit uniting cultures and generations, offering each of us a moment of nostalgia and rediscovery.
But food goes beyond mere nutrition. It is a moment of social gathering, a shared celebration. We invite you to immerse yourself in an Italian dinner, an experience that will envelop you with its sunny conviviality. It will be a fragrant generosity that will reveal itself in a succession of courses, an experience that can last for hours, in a riot of antipasti, first courses, main courses, desserts, and, of course, the spiked coffee to help with digestion.
In the course of this exhibition, the artists delve into the depths of Italian culinary culture, exploring food in all its facets: identitarian, social, iconographic. With insatiable appetite, their works guide us through this succulent and delicious world, challenging our senses and the common perception of this element so central and everyday in human life.
Sexuality, a crucial aspect of human experience, lends itself to deep and critical reflection in the context of this exhibition. It represents a dimension of self that, if celebrated and respected, can open up to a wealth of aesthetic and identity expressions. Provided it is in a space where each individual is free to express themselves authentically, without fear of judgement or discrimination.
Italy, despite its historical progress, still faces significant challenges in understanding and accepting different sexual and gender identities. Confusion and misinformation about the various facets of sexuality have hindered open dialogue and acceptance, demonstrating a general reluctance of Italian society to embrace the concept that sexual identity is not a fad, but a fundamental part of being human. Being queer in Italy often means fighting for recognition and equality, confronting a generalised bigotry and the reality of the lack of clear legislation against hate crimes based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Moreover, the battle for the recognition of queer families remains a challenge, where the legal system often falters in retrogression.
In this context, being a woman in Italy brings a further challenge, friction with complex and deep-rooted gender dynamics. Wage inequalities, invasive questions on maternity choices and discrimination in the workplace are challenges the female gender faces on a daily basis. Of all of them, the phenomenon of ‘victim blaming‘ constitutes one of the most horrific aspects of the Italian situation, contributing to a culture in which victims are accused of causing or deserving the abuse they suffer, and perpetuating rape-culture. Femicides are often inscribed in the narrative of the ‘crime of passion’, factually being minimised by the media. The current absence and reticence in the inclusion of sex education in the educational context contributes to creating a taboo around the subject, feeding a culture that is unable to recognise consent as the foundation of sexual relations.
Our artists critically and boldly address these issues. The choice to give voice to their works in our pavilion is in itself a call for understanding, acceptance and celebration of diversity in all its facets, but also and above all a cry of protest and disappointment.
By combining the communicative power of art with the obvious urgency of issues related to sexuality and gender identity, we aim to stimulate a fertile and constructive dialogue, with the ultimate goal of promoting respect and equality.
Italian politics is a constantly evolving reality, characterised by short-lived governments that meet economic and social challenges with ephemeral stability. Political instability is fuelled by considerable fragmentation with a multiplicity of political parties and movements, fragmentation that has made it difficult to form stable coalitions and define coherent policies.
A young person in Italy, despite their deep love for their homeland, is confronted with a reality that offers very few prospects. They are often forced to migrate, first within the borders of the Bel Paese and then abroad, perceiving an unpromising future characterised by numerous economic and social challenges. This scenario reflects the tragic ending of the Titanic, where Rose – the boomers – hold on to their plank of wood, while Jack – the Millennials, Gen Z and beyond – find themselves sliding into the depths of the Atlantic Ocean, or rather, the Mediterranean Sea.
This outgoing migratory phenomenon opposes and aligns with the reality of immigrants, who arrived in Italy fleeing war or simply in search of better prospects for the future, and are often subject to discriminatory policies and the denial of fundamental rights. The idea that they should simply ‘go back home‘ is a qualunquist and distorted view of the complex reality of integration and identity. The rise of populism has further polarised the political scene, with parties targeting the real concerns of the electorate, relating to jobs and the future, but also to a certain ignorance of European policies, by scapegoating the phenomenon of immigration. But this is a dog biting its own tail: as in a, not too distant, past there was an attitude of xenophobia and discrimination against the inhabitants of southern Italy, the same narratives are reflected today on the figure of the migrant.
Art, in its role of reflecting society, offers an opportunity to critically examine these political and social issues, challenging the political norms and ideologies in power and promoting open and informed discussion. One thing is certain, however: the stone remains stone, and the drop is only water.
Spirituality is a powerful force in the human experience. In its religious sense, it has shaped cultures and influenced art throughout the centuries. Despite Italy being a formally secular state, religion still remains an extremely significant part of Italian culture. And this not only in the aspects related to the profession of faith, such as sacraments and religious events, but also in what remains of spirituality in village stories, daily customs, community life and superstition. The widespread presence of religious symbols, such as the crucifix in classrooms, often triggers intense debate. The Italian Constitution emphasises the principle of secularism, but its practical application often raises complex issues, particularly in a country whose past and present are so inextricably intertwined with the presence of religion.
Indeed, these dynamics of spiritual devotion transcend the religious dimension: in this section, we also explore the ‘football faith‘, a form of adoration that many Italians reserve for football. This passion for soccer goes beyond the simple passion for sport, often taking on the characteristics of a religion, with rituals, idols and a deep and heartfelt devotion.
Through our artists, we immerse ourselves in artistic representations of spirituality, the divine and faith, opening windows into worlds of devotion and reflection, offering a unique perspective on the different facets of human spirituality. We also examine how religion and football can intersect and influence Italian culture, offering an interesting perspective on the interaction between faith and popular culture.