Contemporary Art and Archeology

FOROF is a unique Rome-based entity that combines archaeology and contemporary art, i.e., history and experimentation, thereby offering diversified services and an innovative cultural programme. FOROF aims at implementing a new cultural entrepreneurship model that can create a positive long-term social impact.

Rome has attracted writers, artists and intellectuals from all over the world for centuries and can once again host art projects that can rediscover its ancient charm, thus drawing on the history of the city and its historical and artistic heritage. The cultural programme underlying the entire project and its identity is based on the idea of making FOROF a place of culture, art and history.

Past and present dialogue within FOROF also by means of a magnifying glass that runs across the entire perimeter of the floor, thereby altering the visitor's gaze, establishing a privileged relationship with Trajan's Column, and enabling a spatial interaction between the two levels of FOROF.

FOROF occupies the spaces of the historic Palazzo Roccagiovine, which is located right next to Trajan's Column and houses the coloured marble floors of Basilica Ulpia and the remains of the eastern apse. Archaeology becomes the medium for a contemporary kind of artistic promotion and production that is specifically dedicated to the archaeological area of the Trajan Forum.

The FOROF proposal includes a programme of exhibitions with nationally and internationally renowned artists who will create a site-specific exhibition and an installation that will be activated by a programme of experiences.

FOROF aims at innovatively sharing art with an audience in search of new quality experiences with a high cultural profile. The FOROF programme of activities and events is based on the dialogue among history, archaeology and contemporary art, with ample space for the artists' vision.

The exhibition programme involves established national and international artists with a distinguished career and important exhibitions to their credit. Each year, two site-specific exhibitions in dialogue with the archaeological site of Basilica Ulpia will be commissioned to the artists. In addition, FOROF will also host a programme of experiences curated in dialogue with the artists themselves, which will activate the exhibition set-up of the ground floor spaces.
Go to Site SpecificGo to Artist as Curator
FOROF episodes are a series of experiences of a multidisciplinary nature curated by the artists invited to create the exhibitions. By booking and purchasing a ticket, the audience can take part in an exclusive, immersive, participatory artistic event and explore the themes of the exhibitions. The experiences are designed to activate the space and bring people closer to contemporary art through performance, dance, acting, music and debate, thus encouraging the sharing of different visual forms and artistic languages. This programme reflects the artists’ visions in all of their facets by also taking the audience on a food and wine journey.
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The space can be visited by purchasing a guided tour ticket, which includes the exhibition on the street level and the site-specific exhibition in dialogue with the archaeological site.
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Our objectives
Contemporary Art
FOROF aims at becoming a national and international leader in the field of contemporary art, through important artistic participations and a curatorial team of experts.
Through artistic programming, FOROF intends to enhance the excavations of Basilica Ulpia, which is an important part of the history of ancient Rome.
Cultural Entrepreneurship
FOROF's ambition is to propose a model of sustainable cultural entrepreneurship integrated with an art programme that is highly relevant in terms of project quality and content.
Social Benefit
Through its cultural programme, its business model and the enhancement of the archaeological site, FOROF intends to pursue social benefit purposes while operating responsibly, sustainably and transparently towards people and communities active in the sector of cultural heritage and activities.
FOROF intends to maintain and offer high quality standards, both in its cultural programme and in the provision of services, in order to be considered as a prestigious, exclusive space.
Giovanna Caruso Fendi

FOROF was born not only out of the need to protect, conserve and continue to enhance the artistic and cultural heritage of the place where it was established, but also out of a desire to make contemporary art a means of spreading content that leads to reflection and 'open-mindedness’.

I decided to entrust the conception of the artistic programme to a team of highly experienced, sensitive, prestigious curators, based on the idea that art can bridge the gap between the depth of the past and the potential of the present, thus leading to a greater awareness of our contemporary world.

Indeed, the idea that the evolution of thought itself unfolds like an upward and downward spiral will enable us to use the messages conveyed by contemporary artists in order to establish a sort of perennial link between descent into history (the archaeological site) and the ascent into the present (the street level). Individual and social enrichment will be achieved as they would in a cinematic sequence (Trajan's column) in which images move back and forth.

I would like FOROF to be a place of improvisation, a container of experiences to be had, an enthralling, long sunset that lasts from entry to exit.

FOROF's aim is to embrace the dialogue with history and beauty through the language of the artists who will innovatively participate in the programming of the space.

This place is not a museum, but a living setting, a stage where the role of the viewer merges with that of the performer.

Basilica Ulpia
The archaeological site

The archaeological site, which can be accessed and visited from the FOROF premises, is one of the most important discoveries of recent years in the area of Trajan’s Forum and contains the largest marble floor area in the entire Trajan complex. The excavation and recovery operations have been carried out since 2001 by Fondazione Alda Fendi – Esperimenti. Said excavations made it possible to determine the final arrangement of the marble slabs of Basilica Ulpia's floor and the different types of marble used (antique yellow, pavonazzo, African green) in the area corresponding to the central section and the eastern apse of the Basilica, under Piazza Foro Traiano and Palazzo Roccagiovine. This was an important and, in some ways, unexpected discovery, given the excellent state of preservation of the flooring.

The Trajan's forum and the Basilica Ulpia

Trajan’s Forum, which is the last and most monumental of the Imperial Forums, is certainly one of the most important complexes of ancient Rome. It was built to a design by architect Apollodorus of Damascus between 107 and 112 AD to celebrate the victories of Emperor Trajan over the Dacians. Its grandeur is due not only to its aesthetic value and size, but also to the way it was built: since the area around it was already full of monuments, the cleft that joined the Capitol to the Quirinal was cut in a way that is comparable to what modern engineers do.

Basilica Ulpia, which is part of Trajan’s Forum, features three entrances and a façade crowned by an attic decorated with a frieze. The interior was divided lengthwise into five naves and had commercial and judicial functions. Two large apses opened on the smaller sides, one of which housed the functions that previously took place in the Atrium Libertatis, i.e., the seat of the archives of the Censor magistrates and the setting for the manumission ceremony, whereby slaves were granted freedom, citizenship and the associated civil and political rights.

Information dating back to the late Roman period indicates that this monument was used uninterruptedly: nineteen laws of the Codex Theodosianus were promulgated in this Forum between 319 and 451 AD. As shown by the numerous bases, the summi viri were honoured with statues inside the Forum: witness the base found under Palazzo Roccagiovine in Basilica Ulpia, which dates from between 440 and 447 AD. This base bears an engraved part of an inscription in which Emperor Valentinian III instructs the praefectus urbi to place a golden bronze statue in that famous place to honour a living person whose name remains unknown.

Because of its grandeur, Trajan's complex lasted much longer than the other great imperial complexes. It was destroyed by the earthquake of 801, whose traces are visible in the excavations accessible from FOROF.

The texture of the flooring of Basilica Ulpia and the alternation of the types of marble, which have been reconstructed as a result of the works carried out, have enabled us to understand that the area of the exedra must in fact have consisted of rectangular slabs delimiting a series of squares containing smaller alternating circles and squares, as must have been the case in the central section of the Basilica. The area of the colonnade featured regularly alternating rectangular slabs of antique yellow and pavonazzo marble positioned asymmetrically to each other. At the sides of the columns, there was a band of African green marble. The column bases were inserted into the geometric layout of the floor. Finally, one of the four large tondos that must have been placed at the apexes of the two outer naves was brought to light, perfectly preserved.

The archaeological area can be visited free of charge. No photos or videos allowed.