Photo Credit: by Karyn Olivier

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Event Details

Thu, February 07, 2019

18:00 – 19:30

Le Murate PAC
Piazza delle Murate
50122 Firenze, Italy

A visit to the exhibition E non si respira più at Florence’s former prison complex, now community space, Le Murate, by artist and American Academy of Rome fellow Karyn Olivier, introduced by Justin Randolph Thompson, NYU Florence, and Valentina Gensini, Director Le Murate PAC

For the occasion of the fourth edition of Black History Month Florence current Rome Prize Fellow at the American Academy in Rome Karyn Olivier presents a series of site specific installations that engage the history of Le Murate and its transition from a site of spiritual recluse to a carceral space sifting through the continuity and contrast that these histories evoke. Mental health, social critique, isolation, the closeting of history and the conflation of senses set cloistered gardens in dialogue with the steady words of Martin Luther King Jr. writing from a jail cell and reveal traces of life behind closed doors.

LPD – Culture – Mapping Contemporary Florence

Featured Biographies

Justin Randolph Thompson

NYU Florence Lecturer

Justin Randolph Thompson is a sculptor and new media artist born in Peekskill, NY in ’79. Living between Italy and the US since 2001, he has exhibited internationally and participated in numerous residencies in the US and in Europe. His work explores the historic implications of triumph, victory and ascension by re-contextualizing references from Roman antiquity and mending these with aspects of African-American culture both past and present. Exploring cultural displacement and imposed hierarchies his work encompasses sculptural installation, performance, video and sound. Engaging a broad range of collaborators from diverse walks of life Thompson creates projects that engage the community as a temporary monument pushing the borders of sound and labor as a gesture of resistance. Reflecting upon a socially constructed communal legacy, he examines expectations and shortcomings through the absence of concrete linear cultural foundations. Thompson’s accolades include a Louis Comfort Tiffany Award, a Grant from the Fundacion Botin, A Franklin Furnace Fund Award with his work exhibited and performed in spaces ranging from the Whitney Museum of American Art, Villa Romana and the Reina Sofia to the streets of NYC, Florence and Baltimore.

Valentina Gansini


Valentina Gensini is an art historian and curator. Since 2005 she has been focusing her work on Museum Studies with an appointment at the Florentine Superintendency in the Galleria d’Arte Moderna of Palazzo Pitti. Since 2007 she has served as a consultant for the Palazzo Strozzi Foundation in Florence, where she curated the international project Green Platform. Art Ecology Sustainability in 2009. In 2010, she was member of the Cultural Commission for selecting projects for the Estate Fiorentina festival organized by the City of Florence. In 2011, she was the Artistic Director of the Notte Bianca in Florence, entirely dedicated to the contemporary arts. Gensini curated the section of Visual Arts for the Fabbrica Europa Festival in 2012. She is currently the scientific coordinator for the international master’s program in Arts Management at the European Institute of Design in Florence. She is the founder of Museo Novecento (that she directed from 2014 to 2017), and of Le Murate. Progetti Arte Contemporanea, a civic center for the contemporary arts that she´s managing as Artistic Director from 2014 to the present.

Karyn Olivier


Karyn Olivier (b. Trinidad and Tobago) received her M.F.A. at Cranbrook Academy of Art and her B.A at Dartmouth College. She has exhibited at the Gwangju and Busan Biennials, World Festival of Black Arts and Culture (Dakar, Senegal), The Studio Museum in Harlem, The Whitney Museum of Art, MoMA P.S.1, The Museum of Fine Arts Houston, Contemporary Art Museum Houston, The Mattress Factory (Pittsburgh), SculptureCenter (NY), Drexel University, the University of the Arts, Ulrich Museum of Art, University of Delaware Museum, among others. In 2017 Olivier installed a large-scale commissioned work for Philadelphia’s Mural Arts program in historic Vernon Park. In 2015 Olivier created public works for Creative Time in Central Park and NYC’s Percent for Art program. She has received the 2018-19 Rome Prize and has been the recipient of the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship, the Joan Mitchell Foundation Award, the New York Foundation for the Arts Award, a Pollock-Krasner Foundation grant, the William H. Johnson Prize, the Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation Biennial Award, a Creative Capital Foundation grant and a Harpo Foundation grant. Her work has been reviewed in The New York Times, Time Out New York, The Village Voice, Art in America, Flash Art, Mousse, The Washington Post, Nka: Journal of Contemporary African Art, Frieze, the Philadelphia Inquirer, Hyperallergic, among others. Olivier is currently an associate professor and program head of sculpture at Tyler School of Art.