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Artists: Tamy Ben-Tor / Marnix de Nijs / Mark Formanek / Marzia Migliora / Julius Popp / Reynold Reynolds / Jens Risch / Michael Sailstorfer / Arcangelo Sassolino / Fiete Stolte
James Bradburne
Franziska Nori
Hartmut Rosa
Zygmunt Bauman
Andrea Ferrara
Alessandro Ludovico
Sandra Bonfiglioli
Antonio Glessi
Centre for Contemporary Culture Strozzina

The mission of the Fondazione Palazzo Strozzi is to revitalise the public spaces of the Palazzo Strozzi, one of Florence's finest examples of Renaissance architecture, and to establish it as an exciting, dynamic and international cultural destination for visitors of all ages and interests. Now, after just three years, the exhibitions held in the Palazzo's grand spaces on the first floor are attracting international attention for their quality, their innovation and their diversity. The Palazzo's courtyard now hosts a café, a design and book shop and a permanent exhibition on the history of the Palazzo, as well as a varied programme of concerts, fashion shows and performances. From the outset, a key part of the Palazzo Strozzi project was to create a centre for contemporary culture at the very heart of Florence. The Centre for Contemporary Culture Strozzina (CCCS) was created in the former wine cellars under the courtyard of Palazzo Strozzi -known as 'La Strozzina'-which hosted Florence's most important international exhibitions in the years after the Second World War until the flood of 1966. The challenge posed by the Renaissance architecture of Palazzo Strozzi for contemporary art is a stimulus to treat each new event and project almost as theatre, constantly pursuing new possibilities of artistic communication, presentation and mediation. Since opening in November 2007, the CCC Strozzina has hosted exhibitions featuring the work of William Kentridge, Dan Perjovschi, Damien Hirst, Cindy Sherman and Andreas Gursky, and recently, Wolfgang Tillmans, Antony Gormley and Gerhard Richter.

Awareness of time drives contemporary society. The ultimate goal to be more efficient invades our private lives with such things as speed dating (for our love lives), power naps (for our health and exercise), quality time (for being with the family) and fast food (for staving off hunger). This desire to control and optimise every aspect of our lives is matched by a nagging feeling that we never have enough time. Technology has massively increased mobility, triggered a constant flow of information, spawned the concept of a globalised and permanently expanding economy, and created the expectation of constantly rising productivity. Yet we are now approaching the ceiling of this accelerated growth, as witnessed by the gradual collapse of nature's ecosystems, which no longer have time to regenerate, and by widespread anxiety and depression which show people living on the edge of their own capabilities in a high-speed world.
The fear of rapidly evolving technology squeezing out much needed time to think and reflect is not new. The German art historian Aby Warburg was particularly concerned about technology's impact on what he called Denkraum-the space for critical thinking-which he saw under attack by radio's obliteration of distance and the 'lightning speed of electrotechnical information'. In 1920, after the First World War, Warburg wrote "We are in the age of Faust, in which the modern scientist endeavoured … to conquer the realm of reflective reason through an increased awareness of the distance between the self and the external world. Athens must always be conquered by Alexandria." Now, in 2010, we must ask the same question again, but about a technology far more potent than the simple pre-war wireless radio. Contemporary arguments for new technologies are often economic, and phrased in terms of cost-savings and time savings. In 1943, the French writer Antoine Saint-Exupéry, in his The Little Prince, queried the obsessive quest for savings of all kinds.

"Why are you selling those?" asked the little prince.
"Because they save a tremendous amount of time," said the merchant.
"Computations have been made by experts. With these pills, you save fifty-three minutes in every week."
 "And what do I do with those fifty-three minutes?"
"Anything you like…"
"As for me," said the little prince to himself, "if I had fifty-three minutes to spend as I liked, I should walk very slowly towards a spring of fresh water."

At the end of the day we have to ask ourselves, along with Exupéry's Little Prince, what end does all this haste serve? What can we do with the time we save? Do we merely invest it in more time-saving activities until we spin completely out of control, unable to make the necessary split-second decisions that determine the future of stock market investments, our ability to compete for new jobs and even our ability to stay in touch with family and friends? As with every exhibition developed by the CCC Strozzina, the work of the artists shown in this exhibition asks us to reflect about the nature of the world we live in, and in this exhibition, to question our need to insist on real-time, always-on continuous information. Today, in a world sorely in need of tolerance and calm-'thinking space' perhaps-the issues explored by As Soon As Possible are ones that reward our close and critical attention.

Palazzo Strozzi