In the contained worlds of academia, galleries, or museums, art gets viewed in a hermetic environment. Objects are private, fetishized, and subject to the approval of a canonizing culture. The story of art becomes a fiction, a pilgrimage that is both about art and spirituality, but also about culture and concepts of self. What does it mean to view art, to be educated, to be able to see the world? Rome is both a real place and an idea: a place where people live amidst tourists and students coming to see art, on a contemporary pilgrimage. Even a piece of public art, if encountered on a street in Rome, feels layered with the historic precedence held-over from the days of the Grand Tour. The act of looking at the real thing, the place of Rome and the objects that make up the city create inherent contradictions. As priorities and values shift, the meaning of the artwork and architecture does too. When looking at a Renaissance sculpture in a city of contemporary concerns and pursuits, the object is both out of its time period, but also subject to the perceptions of our own time period, and therefore, the thing becomes somehow unreal, its meaning unmoored.

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