Arrangement II, the second staging of Flowers are Documents, will place new flower compositions alongside those by Kapwani Kiwanga (Flowers for Africa) and Natalie Czech (A Critic’s Bouquet), which were originally installed on 26 May and naturally altered during the first month of the exhibition.
A new bouquet by Milean Bonilla and Luisa Ungar will be assembled during a lecture performance, and the ikebana by Martina della Valle and Rie Ono will be composed using wild local vegetation gathered over the course of a workshop. New episodes by Haris Epaminonda, Oliver Laric and Paul Thuile, respectively a vase, a collage and an exhibition, will add to the book by Bruno Munari (A flower with love, 1973) and to the photograph by Ettore Sottsass Jr (I Designed a Vase for my Fiancé, Death Valley, 1977).
The colours on the walls of the exhibition are going to be painted again by Enzo Parduzzi, the decorator who produced and painted the colours for the ceilings of Carlo Scarpa’s Villa Tabarelli near Bolzano in 1969. In Scarpa’s project these strips of colour formed a conceptual representation of the sun’s movement from morning to evening, from the greyish blue of the hours before sunrise to the pink of the sunset; here they will shed further light on the works in the exhibition.
Opening: 22 June 2017, 7 pm
With: Milena Bonilla and Luisa Ungar, Martina della Valle in collaboration with Rie Ono
(Natalie Czech; Kapwani Kiwanga)
Episodes by: Haris Epaminonda, Oliver Laric, Paul Thuile, (Bruno Munari, Ettore Sottsass Jr).
Exhibition design in collaboration with Matthias Pötz and Ada Keller
Curated by Emanuele Guidi
Flowers are Documents — Arrangement I and II gathers and juxtaposes the positions of various artists whose ongoing interest in the subject of flower arrangement opens out into investigations of several parallel fields of research.
Drawing on this traditional ‘theme’ in painting and responding to the landscape of the South Tyrol with its rooted and blooming floricultural industry, the exhibition proposes practices that focus on and problematize notions of decoration and ornament, the ephemeral and the marginal.
Bouquets and ikebana become agents that make it possible to move alongside historical events and extreme presents so as to address issues like decolonization, legality, cultural identity and placemaking. At the same time they question what a document is by offering oblique ways of understanding both the nature of ‘the exhibit’ and the act of exhibiting itself.
As consecutive seasons, the two chapters Arrangement I and Arrangement II unfold around real flower compositions by four artists as an accumulation in space. Four new commissions are accompanied and supported by ‘episodes’ conceived by other artists, designers and writers: vases, books, videos and exhibition projects. By changing the configurations of the works, the successive arrangements intertwine the ‘event’ of blossoming with the process of ageing so as to stress the time-based nature of the ‘matter’ on display and to offer to the visitors a body of works that changes on a daily basis.
AGENDA AND PUBLIC PROGRAM
26 May, 7 pm: Opening Flowers are Documents – Arrangement I
13 Giugno: Newsletter broadcasting with I may not hurry it with a thousand poems my darling but nobody will stop it With all the Policemen in The World.zip* (2012-?), exhibition project by David Horvitz
17 June, 11 am: Tour of the exhibition Glashaus III – Serra III, at Gärtnerei Schullian Floricultura – Via Merano 75 A, Bolzano – with artist and curator Paul Thuile.
19 / 20 June: workshop Ikebana applied to Urban Territories by Martina della Valle and Rie Ono (for up to 12 people)
22 June, 7 pm: Opening Flowers are Documents – Arrangement II
Special Thanks to
Gärtnerei Schullian Floricultura, Bolzano
Mr. Enzo Parduzzi, Bolzano
Libreria delle Donne di Milan
Archivio Ettore Sottsass, Milan
Corraini Edizioni, Milan
Galerie Jérôme Poggi, Paris
Galerie Tanja Wagner, Berlin
Spazio A, Pistoia
Rodeo Gallery, London
Capitain Petzel, Berlin
Tanya Leighton Gallery, Berlin
With the kind support by
Gärtnerei Schullian Floricultura, Bolzano
Provincia Autonoma dell’Alto Adige, Ripartizione Cultura
Fondazione Cassa di Risparmio, Bolzano
Comune di Bolzano, Ripartizione Cultura
The Milan Women’s Bookstore co-operative; the current Psychanalyse et Politiquein Paris; Women’s Studies at the University of Utrecht; a network in Sydney including people involved in the Sydney Filmmakers Co-operative, Feminist Film Workers, and the Department of General Philosophy at Sydney University; and Duoda – Centro de investigación de Mujeres and Ca La Dona in Barcelona are the collectives and locations which Alex Martinis Roe has undertaken research with over the past four years.
To Become Two is made up of narratives that the artist has woven in dialogue with the protagonists of these stories, starting from their oral testimonies, attending their meetings, and thus building meaningful relationships over time, which she has then translated into five of the six films that make up the exhibition.
“How can one learn from the story of the practices of another?” is one of the central questions running through the entire exhibition. How can you translate these lived experiences into propositions and affirmations in order to collaborate in creating new political practice?
The experiences and anecdotes of the meetings that took place over time, the care for the spaces that hosted these meetings, the sharing of theory and methodology, the empathy, the mutual influence and the differences between the various groups, form the narrative of the films and make it clear that “it was an unusual way of doing politics, … there were friendships, loves, gossip, tears, flowers…” as affirmed by the title of one of the films.
They are stories that Alex Martinis Roe has shared with new interlocutors, comrades and institutions, making them a topic for study and an exercise in collective working, still in progress, and which are the subject of the sixth film in the exhibition (Our Future Network).
To Become Two is therefore an attempt to trace a genealogy of feminist ‘new materialist’ thought and theories of “sexual difference”, which traverses and unites different generations, with the will to imagine a future for them.
Exhibition design in collaboration with Fotini Lazaridou-Hatzigoga
Poster series in collaboration with Chiara Figone.
To Become Two has been produced with the support of curator Susan Gibb.
The publication To Become Two, published by Archive Books (Berlin), will be presented at the end of April to coincide with the public program.
To Become Two is co-commissioned by ar/ge kunst, Bolzano, Casco – Office for Art, Design and Theory, Utrecht, If I Can’t Dance, I Don’t Want To Be Part Of Your Revolution, Amsterdam and The Showroom, London.
The Public Program is co-commissioned with the support of The Keir Foundation.
With kind support from:
The Autonomous Province of South Tyrol, Department of Culture
Fondazione Cassa di Risparmio, Bolzano
City of Bolzano, Department of Culture
The Keir Foundation, Australia
The project investigates the relationship between a range of narrative forms (puppetry, street storytellers, flyers and pamphlets) and a series of pre-political acts of revolt staged between Italy and South America. Starting out from Riccardo Giacconi’s interest in tradition as an ‘act of transmission’, The Variational Status evokes a narrative constellation between animation, suggestion, revolt and orality.
The exhibition develops around the espiritado, a Colombian puppet character, presumably inspired by the murder of a policeman during a village celebration. The espiritado is designed around the episode of the soldier Augusto Masetti, who in 1911 in Bologna shot at his commander in an act of insubordination against the Italian colonial war in Libya. The two figures share the total amnesia of their act of revolt, carried out in a trance or a state of somnambulism. While in Masetti’s case this circumstance turned him into a symbol of the anarchist movement around the world, which stepped in to take his defence, in the case of the espiritado, it became a comic element of a puppet character.
Conceived as the deconstruction of a puppet show, the installation titled The Variational Status is made up of an automatized marionette (constructed in collaboration with the historical Compagnia Marionettistica Carlo Colla & Figli), a plastic curtain that operates as a storyboard, and a series of posters of the Colombian puppet show El Diablo en el pozo printed using a 19th-century letterpress machine in Cali.
Working on archive documents, oral testimonies and theatre scripts, Riccardo Giacconi intertwines the real and fictitious vicissitudes of the two characters in order to question the status of those documents, which are not based on stable and certified supports, but rather which may exist solely in the form of variations.
The Variational Status was co-commissioned by ar/ge kunst (Bolzano), Centrale Fies (Dro, Trento) and FRAC Champagne-Ardenne (Reims), and carried out in collaboration with the sculptor Franco Citterio and the Compagnia Marionettistica Carlo Colla & Figli (Milan), Carteles La Linterna Edigraphos (Cali), Herlyng Ferla, Carolina Valencia, and Paola Villani.
Riccardo Giacconi has studied fine arts at the University IUAV of Venezia, at UWE in Bristol and at New York University. His work has been exhibited in various institutions, such as WUK Kunsthalle Exnergasse (Vienna), FRAC Champagne-Ardenne (France), FRAC Champagne-Ardenne (France), tranzitdisplay (Prague), MAXXI (Rome), Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo (Turin) and in the “Résonance” section of the Lyon Biennale. He was artist-in-residence at: Centre international d’art et du paysage (Vassivière, France), lugar a dudas (Cali, Colombia), MACRO Museum of Contemporary Art of Rome and La Box (Bourges). He presented his films at several festivals, including the New York Film Festival, theInternational Film Festival Rotterdam, the Rome Film Festival, the Torino Film Festival and the FID Marseille International Film Festival, where he won the Grand Prix of the international competition in 2015. He was the recipient of the 2016 ArteVisione award, organized by Careof and Sky Arte. In 2007 he co-founded the collective Blauer Hase, with which he curates the periodical publication ‘Paesaggio’ and the ‘Helicotrema’ festival.
A special thanks to:
Museo Civico Bolzano
With the kind support of:
The Autonomous Province of South Tyrol, Department of Culture
Fondazione Cassa di Risparmio, Bolzano
City of Bolzano, Department of Culture
The exhibition postura, posa, differita (posture, pose, deferred) by Italo Zuffi at ar/ge kunst in Bolzano, is the concluding episode of a series dedicated to the artist, that started in 2015 at the Nomas Foundation in Rome and continued to the MAN in Nuoro. It was a collaboration between institutions aimed at providing continuity to the artist’s research, with three complementary and independent exhibition projects that have allowed for further exploration of significant works and stages in his career.
postura, posa, differita is developed around a nucleus of works that articulate the complexity of Italo Zuffi’s investigations in the area of performance from the beginning of his career, with particular attention to his relationship with sculpture. Even though the works in the exhibition do not amount to an actual live performance, the presence of the body is affirmed in the form of memory, potential and record.
Sta meglio la ragazza caduta nel vuoto (the girl who fell into the void is better) (2001-2016) consists of a series of metal sheets on which the title of the work is cut out, taken from a newspaper article that the artist found many years before. The sheets are accompanied by clippings from newspapers, each of which tells a similar news story in which a female body, having previously fallen, is in the process of healing.
Similarly, in I rigidi (the stiffs) (2006-2016) Italo Zuffi departs from a previous episode, this time of one of his performances (The Reminder, 1997), to initiate a process of collecting archival images depicting bodies in a variety of stiffening positions. It is a selection in which performances of other artists and “daily” scenes taken from newspapers and magazines have been chosen for the object and sculptural nature of the depicted body.
A group of new ceramics (2006-2016) departs instead from a series of public surveys that also appeared in newspapers and magazines, on issues such as immigration, euthanasia, the brain drain, Europe and the economy, in order to confront attempts to represent a community (in this case Italian citizens). The ceramics, however omit the individual percentages of the survey data, taking only the statistical visualization in its totality in order to further abstract that which wants to be considered the form of a “public voice”.
The new productions on display are therefore united both by recourse to dilated temporality as a working tool, and by the methodology for the collection of the sources on which the works are supported conceptually. The works are in fact the result of a gestation of sometimes years from the moment in which they were actually conceived or initially produced in the form of a prototype. A choice of delaying the moment of execution allows for the accumulation of press and research material on which to form a more articulated and informed vision of the original project.
The works on show therefore narrate a personal way of reading, involving a continuous flow of news and information that progresses towards identification and empathy. They are works about time and about the need to take time in order to find a form of writing that is personal and autobiographical.
The artist will present a new performance during the opening between 7 and 9 pm.
Italo Zuffi (born in Imola in 1969, living in Milan) uses sculpture, performance and writing to create “not a total design, but an indefinite series of rooms” (Pier Luigi Tazzi, 2003). He studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Bologna and at the Central Saint Martins College of Art & Design in London. In 2001, he was awarded the ‘Wheatley Bequest Fellowship in Fine Art’ at the Institute of Art & Design in Birmingham (UK). Recent solo exhibitions include: Potersi dire, MAN Nuoro (2015); Quello che eri, e quello che sei, Nomas Foundation, Rome (2015); Gli ignari, private apartment, Milan (2013); La penultima assenza del corpo, Pietro Rossini Foundation, Briosco (2012); Zuffi, Italo, Pinksummer, Genoa (2010). Recent collective exhibitions: Fuori uso, Ex-Tribunale, Pescara (2016); Riviera, Swiss Institute of Milan (2016); ALT, Caserma De Sonnaz, Turin (2015); Esercizi di Rivoluzione, MAXXI, Rome (2014); Le leggi dell’ospitalità, P420 Gallery, Bologna (2014); Per4m, Artissima, Turin (2014); I baffi del bambino, Lucie Fontaine, Milan (2014); To continue. Notes towards a Sculpture Cycle | Scala, Nomas Foundation, Rome (2014); La Pelle – Symphony of Destruction, MAXXX Project Space, Sierre (2014); Le statue calde, Marino Marini Museum, Florence (2014).
With thanks for support from
THUN and THUN Ceramic Residency
A special thanks to:
The Autonomous Province of South Tyrol, Department of Culture
Fondazione Cassa di Risparmio, Bolzano
City of Bolzano, Department of Culture
For the duration of the project Altay has been conducting a study focussed on Bolzano’s complex relationship with the Virgolo, a nearby mountain that overlooks the city and has recently been the subject of a vigorous debate concerning its potential uses and developments.
Altay is now using the premises of ar/ge kunst for a three-month exhibition that continues the development of a prior series of public interventions that have employed different temporalities, acting as both observations on and contributions to the current debate. The works so far have included a two-week exhibition and a public debate at Lungomare (Such Territorial Claims), a four-week poster campaign in the city (Transform Spatial Imagination into), a two-hour performative gathering on the Virgolo and an itinerant, ongoing eight-month intervention in public space (Obscure), with the titles and contents of these works all leading up to the current exhibition. These public moments have posed a set of questions about territorial claims, the urban imagination and the experience of boundaries, notions that re-surface in Bolzano and many places today.
For the current exhibition Altay has set one ‘setting’articulated in two moments, both of which act as display, sculpture and editorial device. The first, resembling the shapes of a tunnel and a roof, forms the central body of the VFI. Making clear reference to the little-known anecdote of dwellers inhabiting the unfinished Virgolo tunnel during and after the Second World War, the installation gathers various types of ‘fragment’ collected during the residency, composing a principle line of inquiry around the issue of ‘inhabiting infrastructures’ – a central narrative from which different lines of research depart (‘who is allowed to claim public space, who is forced to inhabit infrastructure space?’ reads one of the posters of the campaign).
The second moment unfolds around Ahali, a journal that Altay has been publishing since 2007. This journal ‘for setting a setting’ is a growing collection of works, statements and voices from artistic and spatial practices. In the context of this exhibition Ahali is used as a tool for expanding the different subject matters that emerge from the Virgolo and placing them within a wider framework of cultural references and international cases. Rather than being seen as periodical markers, new issues of the journal are treated as hovering frames for matters of concern, with those introduced in this exhibition – ‘Inhabiting Infrastructures’, ‘Landscape of Desire’, ‘Alliance of the Radically Different’, ‘Tremors from Here and Elsewhere’ and ‘Instituting Uncertain Publics’ – effectively forging a link between the project and the publication.
Can Altay’s exhibition operates both as a tool and as a fiction; by founding an imaginary institute (VFI) on the basis of unofficial, hidden, unplanned uses, he composes an archaeology of desire that is able to suggest modes of looking at and addressing the future of the mountain and, by extension, the city. These can be taken as instances of a multitude of possible ways to tackle, as Altay himself says, ‘neo-liberal politics and its counter-hegemonies’.
ar/ge kunst is pleased to present Everything Under Control, the first solo exhibition at an Italian institution by Austrian artist Oliver Ressler.
Focusing mainly on Ressler’s practice as a filmmaker, this exhibition gathers new and recent works from various strands of research conducted over the course of his career. The display and installation, conceived as a unique path through the venue, underlines how these strands are deeply intertwined and part of Ressler’s continuous engagement with a wider idea of social justice.
Central to the exhibition is the opacity of language with which capitalism operates, communicates and tends to conceal the fact that economic, environmental and humanitarian crises in the southern hemisphere are co-dependent sides of a narrative which presents the wealth of the northern hemisphere as victimless and sustainable.
A large-scale photo-based image of the sea showing sinking vessels and container ships obscures the window of ar/ge kunst, addressing the street outside the venue and introducing the broader economic discussion within. Reading this image in relation to the title of the exhibition, Everything Under Control, might lead to the assumption that its intentions are ironic. After all, an economic system that rests on global trade but produces ecological and social catastrophes on a daily basis should really be described as ‘out of control’. However, in the context of the central work in the exhibition – a three-channel video installation entitled Occupy, Resist, Produce (2014–15) – the word ‘control’ actually implies ‘control by the workers’. This latest, on-going work, for which Ressler has been collaborating with Dario Azzellini, documents factories in Milan, Rome and Thessaloniki which, having been abandoned by their legal owners, were occupied by the workers between 2011 and 2013. Each film consists of a discussion with the workers and records their assemblies. The voices of the protagonists elucidate the complex and collective decision-making processes involved in converting these factories from sites for the production of goods into sites for the ‘production’ of new social and economic models, a process entailing the search for a language that could be shared with neighbours, locals and migrant communities whose struggles paralleled theirs.
The Visible and The Invisible (2014) and The Right of Passage (with Zanny Begg, 2013) are two films that take different approaches to dealing with movement across borders, (the denial of) access and plundering. The first looks at Switzerland’s role as a global headquarters for barely visible transnational corporations trading in raw materials usually extracted from the southern hemisphere. The Right of Passage focuses on struggles to obtain citizenship while also questioning the inherently exclusive nature of citizenship. Interviews with Sandro Mezzadra, Antonio Negri and Ariella Azoulay form the starting point for a discussion with a group of people living ‘without papers’ in Barcelona.
The exhibition display has been realized by the Akrat co-operative in dialogue with ar/ge kunst and the artist.
Everything Under Control is part of a cycle of solo exhibitions by Oliver Ressler at four European institutions: Lentos Kunstmuseum (Linz), n.b.k. – Neue Berliner Kunstverein (Berlin), CAAC – Centro Andaluz de Arte Contemporáneo (Seville) and ar/ge kunst (Bolzano), each presenting different aspects of the artist’s work. The book Cartographies of Protest is published as a collaboration of the four institutions.
Oliver Ressler, Cartographies of Protest, Verlag für Moderne Kunst, 2014.
Essays by TJ Demos, Katarzyna Kosmala, Suzana Milevska and Marco Scotini. Edited by Juan Antonio Álvarez Reyes, Marius Babias, Emanuele Guidi, Stella Rollig. In German and English, 160 pp.
With the kind support of:
Provincia Autonoma di Bolzano, Ripartizione Cultura
Forum Austriaco di Cultura, Milano
Comune di Bolzano, Ripartizione Cultura
Segheria Tatz Luis, Appiano
In collaboration with:
AKRAT, Cooperativa Sociale Bolzano
Bolzano Film Festival Bozen
With the first Italian solo exhibition by British artist Olivia Plender (b. 1977), ar/ge kunst concludes its 2015 programme reflecting on thirty years’ activity as Bolzano/Bozen’s Kunstverein and on the meaning of its own name (ar/ge kunst as Arbeitsgemeinschaft or working group).
Plender is interested in the voice as material and an instrument to investigate how forms of authority and power relations can be established. In particular, she is interested in what the act of speaking in public itself means, who exactly feels the legitimacy to do it, who does not and how this affects the construction and the narration of history.
In Many Maids Make Much Noise, Plender carries on her recent research into the history of the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU) – the militant wing of the British Suffragette movement, which, at the beginning of the twentieth century, fought for women’s right to vote – allowing aspects to emerge that official historiography considers minor but that are central in the genealogy of the struggle for civil rights.
Specifically, the exhibition at ar/ge kunst is themed around Urania, a journal founded in 1915 by several suffragettes and active until 1940. It was the first British magazine to produce a cultural and political discourse on gender issues and the demands of lesbian and gay individuals and communities. The name Urania refers to a specific idea of Utopia, as a place where the categories of ‘male’ and ‘female’ do not exist. In the early twentieth century those people who did not neatly conform to social and sexual norms, constructed around ideas of ‘male’ and ‘female’ behaviour, often referred to themselves as Uranians. Subsequently, the journal Urania was a kind of catalogue of incidents of gender troubling and feminist struggles; a collection of articles clipped from newspapers from around the world, republished with very little editorial and analytical commentary and distributed privately to a wide network of friends and supporters. Any commentary was often unsigned or published under a pseudonym used collectively by several writers, which made Urania into an ‘institution’ that constituted itself through the voice of a collective subjectivity.
In a series of posters, banners and a sound piece in which she works with her voice, Plender re-edits fragments, articles, statements and the Index of Urania (Star Dust Index) to construct a textual space that invites the audience to a ‘public’ reading. The title of the show is drawn from a series of voice exercises that the artist practiced for the re-education of her own voice and which reappear in the sound piece where she rehearses them with a voice coach. Plender originally came across these exercises having lost her ability to speak following an illness in 2013 and repeated them daily over the course of her year-long rehabilitation. During that period she began to speculate about the anonymous author of these words and phrases; a care worker employed by the hospital where she received treatment, whose messages are clandestinely distributed through the bodies of individuals attempting to find a voice. Hidden amongst absurd ‘nonsense’ sounds are exercises which seem to refer to recent history, such as the British miners strike of the 1980s, and address militancy and the act of speaking itself ¬– what it means to collectively ‘make noise’ in order to be heard in public.
In the exhibition Plender reflects on the relationship between ideology and institutions, as well as on the modes by which they affect the body as a place where the personal and the political coexist. In this polyphonic exhibition, through which many voices can be heard, Plender remains loyal to the educative, formative and emancipatory dimension of the actions of those ’many maids’ who came together to ’make much noise’.
With this exhibition project by Ingrid Hora, ar/ge kunst continues to reflect on its thirty years of activity as Bolzano/Bozen’s Kunstverein and on the meaning of its own name (ar/ge kunst as Arbeitsgemeinschaft or working group). You play this game, which is said to hail from China. And I tell you that what Paris needs right now is to welcome that which comes from far away. (Der Grillentöter / L’Ammazzagrilli) is the first phase of a body of research that Hora is carrying out under the title freizeyt, or ‘leisure time’. Her research considers leisure time as a key concept through which to observe and investigate the forms of collaboration and organization that operate in and regulate society.
Against the backdrop of the progressive disappearance of the border between leisure time and labour time under semio-capitalism, in this exhibition Hora traces a series of historical references that make explicit how the management of leisure time in ‘productive’ terms is a preoccupation that emerges with modernity. She looks at the institutions and associative forms that began to proliferate in Europe at the beginning of the nineteenth century (mainly in central Europe) and the way the modern state made it possible for people to meet outside working hours. Three focal points of her research are the Vereine (the root of the word Kunstverein), Schrebergärten and Turnplätze  – all of which imply the possibility of combining cultural and recreational activities with the educational, the civic and the political.
At the same time, Hora is also interested in another minor phenomenon that occured in Europe around the same period: the spread of Tangram, a sort of puzzle or pastime imported from China. The game begins with seven elements arranged in a square and then proceeds with the composition of thousands of possible abstract or figurative forms. The title of the exhibition quotes a vignette from the box of a Tangram set from that era and conveys the need to welcome different perspectives on how to ‘pass time’. In answer to this appeal, Hora makes all these apparently disparate elements converge, constructing a personal grammar that facilitates the migration of forms and perspectives.
The time and space of the exhibition are articulated by seven sculptures – translations of sports equipment and the Tangram set itself – which produce a sort of potentially performable and functional gymnasium where two videos and one performance are also presented. These videos and the performance were realized in collaboration with choreographer Claudia Tomasi and the male voice choir of Völs am Schlern, an association from the South Tirol.
If on the one hand this setting appears to favour collective forms of exercise, on the other it implies that ‘logic of competition’ which, to paraphrase the German sociologist Hartmut Rosa’s Alienation and Acceleration, is intrinsic to both sport and economics.
After its first stop at ar/ge kunst, the exhibition will travel to DAZ – Deutsches Architektur Zentrum in Berlin (01.12.2015 – 14.02.2016)
Ingrid Hora’s research project Freizeyt is a collaboration between ar/ge kunst and DAZ
With the kind support of:
Autonome Provinz Südtirol
Abteilung Kultur Autonome Region Trentino Südtirol
Stiftung Südtiroler Sparkasse
Barth – building interior architecture.
A special thanks go to:
Male voice choir of Völs am Schlern
 A Verein is an association or society; Schrebergärten, or allotments, are urban gardens for families gathered in small colonies – their emergence is attributed to the research of German pedagogue Daniel Gottlieb Moritz Schreber (1808–1861); a Turnplatz is an open air gymnasium, the first of which was founded by Friedrich Ludwig Jahn at the Hasenheide park in Berlin.
ar/ge kunst is pleased to announce the first Italian solo exhibition by French artist and designer Clémence Seilles (1984, lives and works in Paris and Amsterdam). This project continues a series of presentations by artists who have been invited to mark the thirtieth anniversary of ar/ge kunst with reflections on the associative institutional model of the Kunstverein and the collective dimension its name suggests (ar/ge is an abbreviation of Arbeitsgemeinschaft, i.e. working group).
Building on a background in product design, Seilles’ artistic practice explores the tools, materials and ‘expositive mechanisms’ that constitute the dispostif of the art exhibition as a space of presentation, communication and legitimation. Having previously worked on the sculptural aspects of plinths and seats as elements of support, Seilles’ current work focuses on the construction of scenarios that facilitate collective, productive and performative situations. From the planning of salons decked out with furniture and accessories to the construction of recording studios for independent musicians complete with musical instruments designed by Seilles herself, these scenarios are a means of reflecting on the social rituals of the encounter and the event.
Bassin ouvert, Seilles’ intervention in the spaces of ar/ge kunst, expands the scope of her current research. A bassin in the proper sense is an artificial pond generally found in public and private courtyards and gardens, mainly in the Mediterranean countries. In this case, as the title suggests, it is an ‘open’ architectural element; it can function as a pure ornament, a fountain, a water source, or a sort of health spa and wellness centre. But its ultimate aim is achieved through the presence of water, creating an associative, hybrid, (re)generative milieu. This ‘object’ proposes functions and modes of operation that differ from those of the institution. Moving from scenography to a fluid form of support over the course of the exhibition, the bassin will actively foster and adapt itself to various forms of encounter as its possible uses are redefined from time to time by the artists, musicians, students and choreographers who gather here.
Bassin ouvert sees the contribution by artists Deborah Bowman, Laure Jaffuel, Theo Demans.
Clemence Seilles has invited artists Estrid Lutz, Emile Mold and Theo Demans to perform An Extra Collision during the opening (15 May, 8 pm).
SAVE THE DATE
On the 2, 3 and 4 July and as part of the current exhibition, artist and choreographer Valentina Desideri will present the project Studio Practice: On the Act of Reading in collaboration with the philosopher Denise Ferreira da Silva and the choreographers Jennifer Lacey, Cristina Rizzo and Mara Cassiani.
The project Bassin ouvert is part of PIANO, Prepared Platform for Contemporary Art, France–Italy 2014–2016, initiated by d.c.a / French association for the development of centres d’art, in partnership with the Institut français in Italy, the French Embassy in Italy and the Institut français, with the support of the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Development, the French Ministry of Culture and Communication and Fondazione Nuovi Mecenati.
Studio Practice: On the Act of Reading, is a co-production with Festival Bolzano – Danza.
With the kind support of:
Provincia Autonoma del Sudtirolo, Ripartizione Cultura
Comune di Bolzano, Ripartizione Cultura
Fondazione Cassa di Risparmio, Bolzano
Nuovi Menenati, nouveaux mécènes – Fondazione franco-italiana di sostegno alla creazione contemporanea.
Bolzano Danza | Tanz Bozen
Special thanks to: Triangle, Marseilles
In 2015 ar/ge kunst celebrates thirty years since its foundation in 1985. To mark this anniversary the entire annual programme will serve as a critical reflection on the history of ar/ge kunst and on the Kunstverein as the institutional model that has characterized it since the beginning.
Through the various practices of the participating artists, this process of self-examination will centre on the exhibition as a mode of research, production, collaboration and restitution; a space and time conceived to facilitate reciprocity and mutual influence between the exhibitions and the accompanying program of public discussions, workshops and performances.
The first exhibition project of 2015 is entitled Spatial Dispositions and has been devised by Italian artist Aldo Giannotti (b. 1977, lives and works in Vienna). As a progressive examination of ar/ge kunst itself, Spatial Dispositions will operate as the introduction to the anniversary program. Beginning with a series of spatial observations on the planimetry and architecture of ar/ge kunst, Giannotti’s research expands into the broad field of relations that have defined and continue to shape it as an institutional space. The history and economics of ar/ge kunst, its mission statement and ambitions, its responsibilities towards members and visitors, its relationship to its cultural and political context are here translated into projects for potential installations and performances.
Presented as a ‘programmatic’ series of ideas or concept drawings, the outcome of Giannotti’s intervention is a kind of cartography that evolves in line with the research and dialogue of all the visitors, members, staff and artists who are and have been involved in making ar/ge kunst what it is today. Drawing, as a planning tool, has always been integral to Giannotti’s artistic practice. He uses it as an occasion or medium for liberating an imaginative, anticipatory practice that gathers up countless interventions and possible ‘exhibitions’ in one and the same space. His ideas function as a commentary, critique and contribution, perpetually reconfiguring the representation of the space. As such, Spatial Dispositions provides an approach to the institution as a system that can be read and altered according to both senses of the word disposition: as a pre-existing quality, tendency or behavioural pattern on the part of the subject, and as the possible organisation, distribution and arrangement of things in space.
In these terms, Giannotti shifts what might be called the ‘affordances’ of the institution (properties inherent in the form or design of an environment and capable of conveying the possibility of its use) beyond immediate perception; ar/ge kunst becomes an object/subject that strives to perform a multiplicity of roles and functions in response to the actual or potential contexts it chooses to engage.
ar/ge kunst Galerie Museum is pleased to announce the opening of the first solo exhibition in Italy by artist Oliver Laric (Innsbruck, 1981).
Laric’s research has always moved in the expanded field of visual culture and its complex relationship to the internet, a research he does by investigating the effects of distribution over the field of production.
Working mainly in the media of sculpture and video, his practice addresses questions concerning how images are appropriated, interpreted, translated and re-circulated in a number of possible versions or iterations.
His interest in iconic images, which he extracts from contemporary culture and mythology alike, derives from an attentiveness to the creation and fluctuation of their value and power; a value no longer determined by any uniqueness or truth in the images themselves, but by the collective and often anonymous dynamics that, through distribution, transform them into icons.
In this exhibition at ar/ge kunst Laric’s research develops in two complementary directions. These consider anthropomorphism, shape-shifting and forms of hybridization as ways of exploring the relationship of reciprocity and continuity between the human figure and other agents, be they animals or objects; a subject spanning religion, science, folklore, popular and sub-cultures.
A new version of the Hunter and His Dog (2014) is presented as a series of bas-reliefs: three copies of the same sculpture by John Gibson (1838), 3D-scanned and hand-cast by Laric himself. The choice of this particular subject, an everyday scene in which Gibson portrayed a boy holding his dog by its collar, derives meaning from its mode of representation, which sets the human figure in a dualistic relationship with the dog. While Laric takes the white marble of Gibson’s detailed neoclassical sculpture as his starting point, he employs a different technique and a different material so as to transform the relationship between the two figures. The man’s former control over the dog becomes a continuity between two bodies, two subjectivities.
In his new video Laric further questions this dualistic system of categories (human–animal, human–object, man–woman…), exploring the notion of metamorphosis through a selection of scenes from illustrations and animations from the nineteenth century to the present. As with the sculpture, he chose not to work with the original material and instead commissioned three illustrators to redraw fragments and imagery from Russia, America, Japan and other countries known for their animated films. This act of redrawing isolates, from the original context, the process of shape-shifting so as to visualise the intermediate state of a character’s transformation from one recognisable form to another, a state existing somewhere in-between classifiable states. Laric actively perpetuates this continuous state of ‘becoming’ as a desirable condition that produces a whole range of hybrid subjects freely moving across gender and identities.
In Coproduction with
New Museum Triennial, New York
Tanya Leighton, Berlin
With the kind support of
Provincia Autonoma del Sudtirolo, Ripartizione Cultura
Comune di Bolzano, Ripartizione Cultura
Fondazione Cassa di Risparmio, Bolzano
IFA – Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen e.V
Land Tirol – Abteilung Kultur
Bundesministerium für Bildung und Frauen, Vienna
Austrian Cultural Forum in Milano
The Uncomfortable Science is the culmination of research conducted by Irish artist Gareth Kennedy as part of the first year-long research project at ar/ge kunst. Invited for his work on expressions of ‘folk’ culture, Kennedy has undertaken an investigation of the troubled history of folklore and visual anthropology in the South Tyrol.
As a German-speaking region annexed by Italy after WWI, the South Tyrol has a fractious history with regard to the ideologically compromised scientific disciplines that were deployed in the region – Italian geographers and Austrian ethnographers both created myths of the ‘true origins’ of this people and place.
Developed during five residencies in 2013 and 2014, Kennedy’s research led him to the SS Ahnenerbe Kulturkommission, which was active in the South Tyrol from 1939 to 1942. In the words of Wolfram Sievers, head of the Ahnenerbe, its primary assignment was ‘the investigation and processing of the entire material and intellectual goods of… ethnic Germans.’ This folk expedition was undertaken during the systematic division of the population between fascist Italy and the Third Reich. Die Option, a 1939 agreement between the Axis powers, planned the relocation of the German speaking population. In a break with Nationalist Socialist ideology, the cultural and ethnic German population was given a choice between Blut oder Boden (blood or soil), i.e. a choice between relocating within the Third Reich and retaining their Germanic culture and identity, or becoming entirely Italianised.
Arguably the largest folklore/linguistic field investigation in history, the Kulturkommission exhaustively documented the material, linguistic, folk and music customs of this Alpine people. Their culture was to be preserved and made available to them after relocation to the newly occupied territories of Tatra Mountains, Burgundy or the Crimea – this was ‘salvage ethnography’ by political diktat.
Having visited research archives and museums in Bolzano, Innsbruck and Vienna, Kennedy has assembled a cast of five characters relating to this uncomfortable episode of anthropology in the South Tyrol. Five Maskenschnitzer (mask carvers) from across the region have each been commissioned to carve one character. These include Richard Wolfram, head of the Kulturkommission; the ethnomusicologist Alfred Quellmalz; photographer Arthur Scheler; and anthropologist Bronislaw Malinowski, who used to vacation in the South Tyrol and was sharply critical of Europeans conducting anthropological studies on other Europeans, something he saw as ideologically contaminated. Also included in this ensemble is Ettore Tolomei, the Italian fascist geographer and irredentist.
In the context of the history of South Tyrolean theatre, Kennedy is interested in what is performable and what still remains taboo within specific cultural contexts. Thus far none of his selected characters have been staged in the South Tyrol. At ar/ge kunst, a 16mm film of the Maskenschnitzer at work will be screened alongside the masks themselves. Additionally, a carefully curated series of photographic and film material from the Kulturkommission will be presented, much of it for the first time in the South Tyrol.
Exhibited alongside the film and archival material, the masks will become props in a public discussion to be held with invited guests.
In collaboration with designer Harry Thaler, the exhibition space will be converted into a ‘Stube’ (the centre of Tyrolean domestic life and a locus for folk theatre) to host this public moment.
This ‘Stuben-Forum’ will explore issues around the invention of tradition, instrumentalisation of folk cultures, identity, territory and performance.
Speakers include Thomas Nussbaumer (University of Innsbruck); Georg Grote (University College Dublin); Franz Haller, visual anthropologist; Ina Tartler and Elizabeth Thaler (Vereinigte Bühnen Bozen); and Hannes Obermair (Bozen Stadtarchiv). The Forum will be chaired by Hans Karl Peterlini, journalist and author.
Gareth Kennedy is an artist from Ireland. His practice includes public art commissions, exhibitions and collaborations. He co-represented Ireland at the 2009 Venice Biennale with Sarah Browne and their collaborative entitiy, Kennedy Browne.
Harry Thaler is a designer from Merano (I), based in London since 2008. Thaler graduated from Royal College of Art in Product Design and was praised with the Conran Award 2010 for Pressed Chair.
(1) An institution for archaeology and cultural history in the Third Reich.
(2) James R. Dow and Olaf Bockhorn, The Study of European Ethnology in Austria. Aldershot: Ashgate, 2004.
With the kind support of:
Provincia Autonoma dell’Alto Adige, Ripartizione Cultura
Regione Autonoma del Trentino Alto Adige,
Comune di Bolzano, Ripartizione Cultura
Culture Ireland / Cultúr Éireann
Fondazione Cassa di Risparmio, Bolzano
Kofler Falegnameria & Interior Design, S. Felice / Val di Non
Deplau, S. Felice / Val di Non
Österreichische Mediathek, Vienna
Dr. Schär, Postal
A special thanks go to:
Egetmann Verein Tramin
Südtiroler Landesmuseum für Volkskunde in Dietenheim
Ofas Architekten, Bozen
Referat Volksmusik, Fotoarchiv Quellmalz (Bereich Deutsche und Ladinische Musikschulen
Making Room is an exhibition exploring the idea of space in relation to the artistic, cultural and curatorial practices that produce it. Accordingly, it brings together works and collaborations by artists, architects and designers from different generations and geographies, each of them stressing the mutual correspondence and influence between social practices and the environments that play host to them.
In all the projects presented, the act of proposing spatial settings and configurations unfolds in line with the desire to establish a bond between past and ongoing experiences – through collaboration, storytelling or simply by posing questions. Hence a domestic environment, a salon or a school, a display system, a cultural association or an art institution can all still be considered as models for facilitating possible encounter and common usership. In this context, the notion of ‘care’ is central to rethinking the way these ‘places’ can be designed, experienced and (collectively) maintained.
‘Making room’ in this sense becomes a gesture that welcomes other practices and knowledge as generative forms of transformation – a way of ‘giving space’ and ‘dedicating time’ to both alliances and conflicts, be that with partners, fellow colleagues, audience members.
In this context, the Manifesto For Maintenance Art 1969! Proposal for an Exhibition ‘CARE’ by American artist Mierle Laderman Ukeles (born 1939, Denver, Colorado) stresses the importance of the unseen activities and periods of time necessary for the ‘maintenance’ and support of a ‘place’. Written after the birth of Ukeles’ first child, the Manifesto reveals the complex set of relations that regulate the life of the artist (woman and mother), both in the private sphere (the house) and the public sphere (the exhibition space and the art institution). In the following years her research continued with The Maintenance Art Questionnaire (1973–1976), a survey that asked the audience how much time they spend on such maintenance tasks. This Questionnaire has to be understood as an affirmative gesture, one that instigates a public sharing of these preoccupations, reflections and responsibilities.
A similar notion of care also resonates in A story from Circolo della Rosa by Alex Martinis Roe (1982, Australia, lives and works in Berlin), part of the artist’s work on feminist genealogies. The film relates the encounter between two women – both active members of the Milan Women’s Bookstore Collective – and their work on feminist pedagogical experiments in the late 1980s. Narrated in the form of a fictional correspondence between the artists themselves, the story describes the reciprocal nature of a relationship built on affidamento or ‘entrustment’: a social-symbolic practice exercised and theorized by the Milan Women’s Bookstore Collective.
The need to accommodate and follow up alternative histories is also central to the collaboration between the Swiss, naturalised French designer Janette Laverrière (1909–2011) and the artist Nairy Baghramian (1971, Iran, lives and works in Berlin), who met and began collaborating in 2008. Laverrière’s drawings, furniture and objects are presented in a display system conceived by Baghramian. This includes a vitrine system for sketches, and walls painted in a watery green that recalls Laverrière’s private living room. The care invested in this arrangement gives eloquent expression to the intergenerational friendship between the two women (Laverrière said they were ‘sisters in spirit’), but it also highlights the interweaving of Laverrière’s professional, private and political life. Alongside her work as a designer, Laverrière was among the founders of the National Front for Decorators and the Decorators Trade Union (both in 1944), and in the latter part of her career she designed ‘useless’ objects in which the need to tell a story prevails over function. A significant example of this is the mirror from her Evocations series: La Commune, homage à Louise Michel (2001), which evokes the French anarchist Louise Michel and her contribution to the foundation of the Paris Commune.
The School of Narrative Dance is a project that was initiated in 2013 by Marinella Senatore (1977, lives and works in Berlin and London): a model for a multidisciplinary, nomadic, free school, which, through verbal and non-verbal storytelling, centres the educational process on the emancipation, inclusion and self-cultivation of the student. For Making Room, Senatore and the architectural practice Assemble (London) have proposed a display that assembles a number of related documents and preparatory drawings. These visual and conceptual references, presented on a sort of working table, underline the process of translation that was involved in giving the school its first actual architectonic and spatial dimension on the occasion of the Premio Maxxi in Roma.
Working with and on behalf of ar/ge kunst, Brave New Alps & Paolo Plotegher have started a research project that considers all these practices and explores the potential of models of art institutions such as the Kunstverein. Taking the story of the ‘The Troubadour of Knowledge’ by Michel Serres as their starting point, they have produced a visitors’ questionnaire in order to collect experiences that will then form the basis for a forthcoming workshop.
Making Room is the research phase of the project Spaces of Anticipation, developed in collaboration with the EACC – Espai d’art contemporani de Castelló in Castellón de la Plana.
Special Thanks to
Silberkuppe (Berlin) e Ronald Feldman Gallery (New York)
ar/ge kunst Gallery Museum is pleased to present the exhibition I-Ration by Invernomuto (Simone Bertuzzi and Simone Trabucchi), a new phase of the project Negus, which was initiated in 2011.
The title I-Ration is an English-Jamaican word meaning ‘creation’ and is associated with an ecstatic state on the part of the subject experiencing such a moment.
Starting from the appropriation of this key Rastafarian expression and almost embracing and validating the fact that ‘Rastas reserve their right to think, know, name, reinterpret, and define their “essence and existence”, in non-traditional categories,’ Invernomuto continue to write their own narrative in which overlaps and slippages of portions of history connect Ethiopia, Jamaica and Italy. This narrative unfolds around the figure of the Ethiopian king Haile Selassie I, the Italian colonial past, and related personalities such as Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry (a seminal musician in the reggae and dub tradition).
The exhibition consists of a series of new productions with past interventions reconfigured for this occasion. The result is a discourse that spans the multiple phases of the Negus project and suggests possible directions for future development.
Invernomuto’s interest in memory and processes of hybridization is central to Zion, Paesaggio (2014): a reproduction of a staircase-shaped monument erected by the Italian army outside the imperial residency in Addis Ababa (the present University) during the fascist colonial campaign. After the defeat of the invaders, the fourteen stepladders, which symbolized the lifespan of the regime, were ‘reduced’ to the function of a plinth for Ethiopia’s iconic symbol, the Lion of Judah. Invernomuto underline this gesture of reappropriation by producing a landscape where memory and the perception of the exotic are determined by the dimension of time.
MEDO SET (2014) is a banner inscribed with a cut out text by Lee Perry. The text was conceived for a ritual/performance staged by Invernomuto in Vernasca (2013) and was performed by Lee Perry himself.
The apotropaic potential of ritual and the symbolic value of the monument converge in a unique immersive environment where documents, documentaries and sculptural presences are choreographed asynchronously (Negus, 2011; I-Ration, 2014; Negus – Lion of Judah (excerpt), 2014).
Symbols from the visual landscape of Ethiopian history – symbols that acquired new meaning within the social, political and religious context of the Rastafari movement – appear in all the works in the exhibition and are combined with mementos and materials taken from personal archives. In this way, old National Geographic covers and foulards from airline companies and tourist clubs enter the same semantic field of relics that tell the story of the Italian colonial campaign in Ethiopia in the 1930s (when the Rastafari movement began); of the trident star (emblem of Haile Selassie I and of the automobile manufacturer Mercedes Benz); and of the Lion of Judah (symbol of Ethiopia and the Rastafarian people). This semantic field expands and resonates in public space through symbols that once glorified fascist colonial policy and still exist even now in the city of Bolzano.
According to the scholar Carole Yawney, a Rastafari is a ‘constellation of ambiguous symbols which today has the power to focalize and even mediate certain socio-cultural tensions that have developed on a global scale.’ Invernomuto take on this definition and adopt it as a possible perspective: a mode for going back to confront colonial rhetoric and reposition it within a complex grid of movements which criss-cross temporalities and geographies that are perhaps not as distant as they seem.
SAVE THE DATE
The project by Invernomuto will continue in September at Museion – in collaboration with ar/ge kunst – in the context of the Media façade series Il corpo sottile, curated by Frida Carazzato (from 4 September).
Invernomuto was founded in 2003 by Simone Bertuzzi and Simone Trabucchi. Emphasizing the collapse and subsequent mixture of languages, Invernomuto produce works without a set format, such as the editorial project ffwd_mg. Their research ranges from the production of single-channel video and the design of live-media performances to the curating of events and special projects.
Recent solo exhibitions include: B.O.B. (Galleria Patricia Armocida, Milan, 2010), Dungeons and Dregs (Grimmuseum, Berlin, 2010) and Simone (Padiglione d’Arte Contemporanea, Ferrara, 2011), Marselleria (forthcoming, 2014). Recent group exhibitions and festivals include: Ars artists’ residence show (Fondazione Pomodoro, Milan, 2010); Terre Vulnerabili (Hangar Bicocca, Milan, 2010/2011); Nettie Horn Gallery (London), Italian Institute of Addis Ababa, Milan Film Festival (2013).
In 2013 Invernomuto were finalists for the Furla Award (Bologna) and won the MERU ART*SCIENCE Award for their production of The Celestial Path, presented at GAMeC, Bergamo.
Simone Bertuzzi and Simone Trabucchi also pursue individual practices in the field of music, performing under the names Palm Wine and Dracula Lewis respectively. They live and work in Milan.
In collaboration with
A special thanks to
With the kind support of:
Provincia Autonoma di Bolzano, Alto Adige, Deutsche Kultur
Fondazione Cassa di Risparmio, Alto Adige
Città di Bolzano, Ufficio Cultura
Tu-Fr 10 – 13, 15 – 19 / Sa 10 – 13
After its opening series, Prologue Part One and Part Two, ar/ge kunst presents the first Italian solo exhibition by Falke Pisano in collaboration with Paolo Caffoni from the editorial collective, Archive Books.
Pisano’s artistic practice focuses on the relationship between opposing and complementary poles such as language and body. In these terms, the two principal series of works by the artist (Figure of Speech, 2006–2010, and Body in Crisis, 2011– on-going) are reflections on the disjunction, reproducibility and reconstruction of the act of speech and the corporeal realm.
Archive Books has been developing editorial research on the notions of the ‘visible’ and the cinematic image, with all their socio-political implications, since 2009. This research corresponds to a reflection on both the meanings and the practices of ‘exhibiting’ – of exposing oneself publicly (part of the practice of ‘publishing’ itself); an activity that has to be understood as a moment that enacts and transforms productive processes.
The outcome of this artist–publisher collaboration at ar/ge kunst is a shared investigation entitled Constellations of One and Many. It focuses on the relationships of power and affect that exist betweensubject and collectivity. It takes its cues from a series of sources and case studies in the fields of literature, philosophy and political science.
This research is directly reflected in the sculptural display that Pisano and Archive Books have conceived for the exhibition: a specific format of presentation with its own spatial and temporal coordinates. The actual function of the display is to bring together otherwise diffuse, disparate elements into an arrangement or constellation. It could also be read as a diagram where the individual–collective, object–architecture relationship finds form that remains open to possibility.
This ‘openness’ is mirrored in the temporal organisation of the display, which is articulated in three distinct parts covering the duration of the exhibition. Both contents and publics are arranged (or choreographed) into three different, and, by definition, incomplete configurations.
The first configuration, titled The Man of the Crowd, is a direct reference to the novel of the same name written in 1840 by American writer Edgar Allan Poe. In this story, the visual engagement between the two main characters is used as a paradigm to describe the urban crowd pictured in the historical moment of its emergence; during the development of extensive metropolitan areas and all the new social, productive and perceptive relationships these entail.
The first display of the exhibition moves from these considerations to actualize a (hypothetical) individual point of view within the crowd itself; a method that serves as way of exploring the affective interpersonal relationships that result from physical contact, the awareness of individual subjectivity and its negation through the loss of identity in the group.
In the second configuration [from 14 February], Here to There, There to Here, the point of view is shifted to observe the image of the crowd from its exterior.
Beginning with the Arab Spring and Occupy Movements, recent years have seen a proliferation of visual imagery representing crowds – a process that follows on from earlier waves for instance in the 1960s and 1970s. Pisano and Archive Books take this observation and derive a set of questions from it: What are the implications of the mediatisation of subjectivities for the relationship of proximity and distance? What modes of attention pertain to the image of a crowd? And what kind of role does this image play in a recognized rhetoric of the representation of social change?
The third configuration [from 7 March], entitled Flesh made numbers made flesh again, focuses on the crowd as public. It investigates the production of the crowd’s subjectivity and its economic relevance to post-Fordist modes of production. In these terms, the exhibition as such – from the great world fairs onwards – was never just a ‘dispositive’ for observing and exposing; it is primarily a means for organising production and, by implication, the social itself.
Falke Pisano (b. 1978, Amsterdam) is an artist based in Berlin. Recent exhibitions include The Body in Crisis, The Showroom, London (2013), Ways of working: the incidental object, Fondazione Merz, Turin (2013), The Body in Crisis (Housing, Treating and Depicting), performance at Museo Reina Sofia, Madrid (2012), and the 9th Shanghai Biennale, Shanghai (2012). In 2013 she won the Prix de Rome, the most important prize for artists under 40 in the Netherlands, which includes a residency at The American Academy in Rome.
Archive Books is a publishing house and editorial collective based in Berlin (current team: Alexandra Bordes, Lilia di Bella, Paolo Caffoni, Chiara Figone, Nicola Guy, Annika Turkovski). Selected publishing titles from 2013/2014 include: Clemens von Wedemeyer, The Cast (edited by Paolo Caffoni); Fight Specific Isola (edited by Isola Art Center); The Psychopathologies of Cognitive Capitalism (edited by Arne de Bover, Warren Neidich). Recent projects and exhibitions have included: Inventory as part of The Books Society, Peephole and Villa Croce, Genoa (2013); How to Tell a Story, Depo, Istanbul (2013); 3rd Thessaloniki Biennale, Thessaloniki (2011). Journals: No Order. Art in a Post-Fordist Society (edited by Marco Scotini); Archive Journal (edited by Archive Books). www.archivebooks.org
With the kind support of:
Provincia Autonoma di Bolzano, Alto Adige, Deutsche Kultur
Fondazione Cassa di Risparmio, Alto Adige
Città di Bolzano, Ufficio Cultura
Mondriaan Stichting, Amsterdam
Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen, Stuttgart
Following Part One: References, Paperclips and the Cha Cha Cha, the project Prologue continues with Part Two: My School of Architecture. The second chapter further explores themes and practices that are central to the future research of ar/ge kunst under the new artistic direction of Emanuele Guidi.
The title of the exhibition, La Mia Scuola di Architettura, is a direct quote from a work by Gianni Pettena; it portrays the peaks of the Dolomites in twelve photographs. Taking the role that Pettena ascribes to this panorama as its starting point, the exhibition elaborates and reflects upon the notion of landscape, the influence it may have on the formation of the individual (both as artist and citizen) and consequently on the entire community. By drawing on the tensions within the artist’s own biography, this reflection goes beyond the idea of landscape as a geo-physical, socio-political and economic entity and opens it up to an affective dimension. Pettena was born in Bolzano in 1940. He left Alto Adige behind at an early age to find and follow an experimental path that would pass through Florence and the United States and led to him becoming part of what is now considered – along with Archizoom, Superstudio and UFO – as the original core of the Radical Architecture movement in Italy. It was only after a long career dedicated to exploring the limits of architecture that Pettena recognized that the territory he had left behind so many years ago was actually ‘foundational’ for his practice.
La Mia Scuola di Architettura (2011) evokes a desire for reconciliation with that landscape, while also pointing up the conceptual debt that architecture and the built environment owe to the natural landscape. From the two projects Situazione Competitiva (1971) and The Game of Architecture (2013) it becomes quite clear that, in the artist’s view, the space of interaction between nature and architecture is an agonistic environment. Following these two projects – both of which have remained on paper until now – Pettena will rearrange the structure Mutant Matters by Lorenzo Sandoval & S.T.I.F.F. (previously presented in the first chapter of Prologue) and set it up in dialogue with another of his works, Wearable Chairs (1971).
The practices of Otobong Nkanga and Pedro Barateiro also take the ‘personal’ as a point of departure. Measured against this criteria, the landscape around them emerges as a complex environment in which economics, nature and ‘the politics of the body’ exist in a relationship of reciprocity.
Born and raised in Nigeria and educated both there and in France, Otobong Nkanga’s research proceeds from her personal experience and reflects on the dynamics of habitation, in this case through a series of drawings conceived especially for the current exhibition (Social Consequences IV, 2013). The act of drawing here is an exercise in tracing non-linear narratives; the production of a landscape (the exploitation of natural resources and the practice of building) is related to the same modality of individual development within the structure of society.
Pedro Barateiro articulates this relationship somewhat differently in his performance and installation Endurance Test (2012). The endurance test the artist refers to here is the one that Portugal (where Barateiro was born and presently lives) is constantly subjected to by the dictates of the Troika. Performance, which might also be taken to mean the output and efficiency of the international markets, is employed by the artist to reflect on his own practice. In this sense, starting from a linguistic and ontological dimension, Barateiro explores the ‘stress-test’ economic scenario that is currently affecting so many European States and reshaping the landscape in which each individual is compelled to move.
With the kind support of:
Provincia Autonoma di Bolzano, Alto Adige, Deutsche Kultur
Fondazione Cassa di Risparmio, Alto Adige
Città di Bolzano, Ufficio Cultura
Faculty of Design and Art, Free University of Bozen/Bolzano
Prologue is the first exhibition project under the artistic direction of Emanuele Guidi at ar/ge kunst Galerie Museum.
Prologue is a moment that anticipates and prepares the future activities of the Galerie Museum.
Prologue is a beginning in two parts structured around the intention of moving along a line of continuity with the history of ar/ge kunst, and at the same time looking for a modality in which to continue its narrative.
The titles Part One: References, Paperclips and the Cha Cha Cha and Part Two: La Mia Scuola di Architettura (my school of architecture) are composed of keywords, concepts or titles from the artworks exhibited. They outline the constellation of references, themes, artistic practices and narrative methodologies which will be at the core of forthcoming research at ar/ge kunst. These two parts respond to a specific need: that of progressively constructing a conceptual and installative framework to support exhibition projects and discursive programs that follow different strategies and temporalities.
Part One: References, Paperclips and the Cha Cha Cha
Stephen Willats, Curandi Katz, Gareth Kennedy, Hope Tucker, Lorenzo Sandoval & S.T.I.F.F.
In 1982 the artist Stephen Willats publishes the workbook Cha Cha Cha (Coracle/Lisson, London), which tells the story of the Cha Cha Club, one of the most famous venues in the London post-punk scene. The book is the result of a long collaborative process between Willats and the founders, Michael and Scarlett. Daytime photographs of locations and objects are contrasted to nocturnal portraits and excerpts of interviews with the club members, who describe how this kind of self-organized ‘capsule’ represented their opportunity to resist, reinvent or escape ‘normal’ society.
In a Britain of Margaret Thatcher’s liberal-conservative politics and a London marked by strong social tensions and riots, Willats describes the decision to set up a club as an act in which “Money is definitely not the prime motive, much more important is providing a context for the group to become a community and for the manifestation of something very extreme through creative forms of self-identity, clothing, make-up, hairstyles, etc.” The Cha Cha Club in particular “captured the spirit of this new generation’s attitude perhaps more than any other, where everything was possible if your attitude was right.”
The pages of the Cha Cha Cha workbook will be arranged in a site-specific display at ar/ge kunst alongside and in dialogue with the audio installation Inside the Night (1982), as a reflection on the notion of self-organized community that Willats developed during his career and on the possible forms of exchange, collaboration and representation that can be engendered with it. At the same time, Cha Cha Cha – which was published in conjunction with the more familiar work Are you Good Enough for the Cha Cha Cha? – comes to exemplify a practice that acknowledges artist’s books and editorial activities as parallel, autonomous modes of expression.
From the ’sixties onwards, Willats defined the work of art as a “model of human relationships”, an “open-ended process” and a “learning system” which operates as “its own institution and as such is independent of art institutions.” For ar/ge kunst, as an institution of contemporary art, this definition provides a sound basis for self-reflexive confrontation and investigation.
Lorenzo Sandoval & S.T.I.F.F, Hope Tucker, Curandi Katz and Gareth Kennedy expand and enrich this scenario with interventions and artworks specifically conceived or adapted for this first project.
Mutant Matters (2013) is a collaboration between the artist and curator Lorenzo Sandoval and the German architects’ collective S.T.I.F.F. It is a versatile and flexible structure which takes a chair as its basic module and can be transformed into a bookcase, an archive, a wall, a series of seats, or, more generally, a support structure for other works. In its first iteration, Mutant Matters will be arranged as a shelf/bookcase which will allow the audience to access the ar/ge kunst archives for the first time through a thematic selection of publications. Later on, the structure will be turned into an integral part of the institution’s architecture and, in dialogue with Sandoval & S.T.I.F.F., will be reconfigured to accommodate various presentations and projects.
In this context, the duo Curandi Katz (Valentina Curandi and Nathaniel Katz) presents a printed and bound version of twenty-eight translations of the book From Dictatorship to Democracy by Gene Sharp, all available for free download here (The Pacifist Library Action #5: Dispersal 2013). Over the last twenty years this American intellectual has been considered a key point of reference for dissidents all over the world (from Burma to the former Yugoslavia to Egypt) thanks to his research and publications on non-violent methods of resistance. Sharp has said that one of his own formative influences was the clandestine press produced and distributed by Norwegian school teachers during the Nazi occupation.
It was this idea of subverting the role of an institution through the act of smuggling that led Curandi Katz to open a do-it-yourself editorial station at ar/ge kunst. The audience is invited to retrieve archival material from the shelves on the condition that they photocopy it (and subsequently bind it) directly onto the blank verso pages of the printouts of Sharp’s From Democracy to Dictatorship.
The American filmmaker Hope Tucker also shares this interest in Gene Sharp’s work and tells another story of the Norwegian wartime resistance in the video Vi holder sammen (We hold together 2011). At the end of the nineteenth century, the Norwegian inventor Johan Vaaler patented a paperclip which, due to its non-competitive design, was never really produced on an industrial scale. But this paperclip was given a second lease of life when people in occupied Norway began to wear it as a covert symbol of unity and community that remained unintelligible to the occupying forces. Tucker develops a font from the paperclip itself and writes about the collective gesture that transformed the function and the meaning of an object that had become obsolete, thereby reincorporating it into the Norwegian imaginary.
Finally, the Irish artist Gareth Kennedy has been invited to contribute in the form of a presentation and book launch on 24 September. The lecture will introduce his notion of Folk fiction and the invention of tradition, as well as being the first stage in a one-year project. Kennedy will be back in Bolzano throughout 2014 for a series of short research and development residencies during which he will produce a specially commissioned work. The project will be accessible to the public from the outset, not just in order to communicate and document its temporal scope, but also to provide occasion for encounter; a context for the sharing of sources, references and interests that might inform and feed into the research itself.
With the kind support of:
Provincia Autonoma di Bolzano, Alto Adige, Deutsche Kultur
Fondazione Cassa di Risparmio, Alto Adige
Città di Bolzano, Ufficio Cultura
The Occupy phenomenon began with the occupation of Zuccotti Park, Wall Street, New York City, on 17 September 2011, and then quickly spread to 82 countries, unleashing an unexpected global wave of protest, renewal and hope for change in the midst of the economic and social crisis that has gripped most of the Western world.
At the high point of the movement’s political innovation, the curatorial collective Occuprint was formed in the United States to grant visibility to the most outstanding artistic manifestations produced by the Occupy Movements on an international scale. The trigger was an invitation by the Occupy Wall Street Journal to create a special issue on poster art, in a continuously growing digital platform that conserves and promotes the graphic output of the various Occupy Movements scattered across the continents.
The posters gathered by Occuprint concentrate on messages and proposals aimed at changing the relationship between the 1% of the world population accused of perpetrating policies for its own gain, and the 99% that is subjected to their consequences. Precisely the statement “We are the 99%” returns most often as a slogan in the materials on display at ar/ge kunst, bearing witness to the collective, worldwide character of the Occupy phenomenon. Resistance, dismantling of the status quo of privilege and absolute opposition to any top-down, anti-democratic policy are thus the key concepts of the Occupy ideology as it is reflected in the posters.
The main characteristic of the posters shown at ar/ge kunst is their way of representing a true programmatic agenda, ranging from international policy proposals to the renewal of modes of industrial production and labor, all the way to the definition of a new ethical model of collective welfare, based on principles of solidarity and sharing of public assets. The idea of democracy as the sharing of the commons is thus contrasted with the greed of privatizations dictated by neoliberal policies of an American matrix that meet with increasing consensus among European governments.
The Occuprint collection thus reveals political and economic discourse that is much more complex than it might appear at first glance. Slogans, quips, satirical drawings – ranging from Native Americans to the Wall Street bull to protests in Spanish in South American countries, and those in various European cities, form a semiotic arsenal that sums up, in quick lines, all the unsolved problems the Western world will have to approach in the years to come.
Viewers, including those unaware of the Occupy movements, are thus presented with an overview of the new scenarios that enliven the political debate on a global scale; not the official debate of parliaments and governments, but the more authentic discussion, the reaction that comes from the bottom up as the result of the action of the new citizens of the world, in all the cities of the contemporary world.
With the kind support of:
Provincia Autonoma di Bolzano, Alto Adige, Deutsche Kultur
Fondazione Cassa di Risparmio, Alto Adige
Città di Bolzano, Ufficio Cultura
An exhibition is a journey. It takes you to places never seen. This exhibition is a journey through memory, an attempt to rewrite the “cosmic” past of the 1970’s generation in Lithuania. That is why it starts with the Vilnius Television Tower, the tallest structure in Lithuania (326,50 m). Its observation deck reminds you of a (flying) saucer and has a rotating platform that revolves once every 55 minutes. It houses the “Milky Way” café, where you can drink your espresso and have “Vilnius in your pocket”, not as a city guide, but as a picturesque bird’s eye view. Or you can come to the ar/ge kunst Gallery Museum in Bolzano and have a map of “cosmic utopias” in a nutshell.
It all starts here. Close to the TV tower you can still find a kindergarten with a ghostly playground reminiscent of a lunar landscape (though it can be demolished at any moment). It inspired both Cooltūristės and Ugnius Gelguda with Neringa Černiauskaitė to explore the fading memories of what used to be a “cosmic” district of Vilnius. Almost every larger city in the USSR used to have one. But the specificity of the Lithuanian version was a strange mixture of the space race rhetoric and distant echo of pagan mythology. Adoration of nature and belief in technological progress were not contradictory for an atheist state. Lithuanians willingly played the card of being the “last pagans in Europe” to elevate their national self-esteem. Therefore a new residential district Karoliniškės built in the 1970’s had only one clear reference to the Soviet space program – Cosmonauts’ Avenue (now its Freedom Avenue). Other streets, shops and bus stops just had names of celestial bodies or natural forces: Saturn, Mercury, Comet, Rainbow, Thunder, Lightning, Meteor, Whirlwind, Stars, Moon.
No wonder that every kindergarten and children’s playground were equipped with an iron globe and spaceship in a form of rocket. Cosmonaut was the most desired future profession. The anonymous group of artists Cooltūristės together with Nunu performers invite the viewer to join them on their mission to the Moon. They refer to the existing myth that the Apollo mission was staged in Hollywood by Stanley Kubrick and Americans were never actually there. So Cooltūristės & Nunu performs their moon walk in the lunar landscape of Space Kindergarten, (2012). They exit a spaceship at “Memory” stop and follow the old trolley-bus route with “celestial” names of the stations.
History changed on January 13th 1991 when fourteen unarmed people were killed opposing the Soviet military seizure of the tower. Streets were renamed after the heroes. Now the TV tower is a memorial place surrounded by pinewood which hides a secret animal cemetery. This strange juxtaposition inspired young Nunu performer Žygimantas Kudirka to write a poem about animal in space. (page)
Ugnius Gelguda and Neringa Černiauskaitė use a found black and white photograph of the unfinished TV tower as a rabbit hole to the parallel universe. This imagined structure is defined by an unrealised scenario for a first sci-fi in Lithuania. They look for visual inspiration in the same cosmic location, but create different legends and atmosphere. Their film In the Highest Point, (2011) shot on 16 mm, restores the aura of fading architectural utopia.
Kristina Inčiūraitė changes the place without moving very far: Lazdynai residential district is also dominated by the TV tower, and the idea of observation and being under constant surveillance is also present. With the help of a telephoto lens, Inčiūraitė followed three men getting off the trolley and going home in Lazdynai. The stories of their surveillance in her film Following Piece, (2011) are represented alongside images of the forest situated in the same district. Viewers can see an episodic appearance of a few women walking their dogs in this forest. Who is being followed by whom? – asks the artist.
Her new experimental documentary The Meeting (2012) also refers to an imaginary landscape and lofty dreams, although this time inspired by another “flying” construction of Soviet times. A cable car or an elevator, full of childhood memories, carries the artist to a distant city in the Kaliningrad Region of Russia. In the film Kristina Inčiūraitė starts a correspondence with a female resident of the same age from the town of Svetlogorsk who is seeking new acquaintances on the Internet. The author uses a male name and does not disclose to her correspondent that this is part of an art project. Mutations of identity are combined metaphorically with the ambiguous situation of the Svetlogorsk seafront cable car. It is a huge and imposing construction, which is facing destruction from the effects of erosion.
The space race generation of artists is searching for the lost past by projecting it onto the present. Exploring hidden memory landscapes of contemporary cities, they create alternative scenarios for the future. Or maybe they just rotate in the “Milky Way” café in Vilnius Television Tower trying to change historical time to mythical time, choosing circles and spirals instead of straight lines. Space travel is always time travel.
What kind of transformation is the world of work now undergoing on a global scale? And what is the relationship among the various models of flexibility and creative work? Has the end of the rigid Fordist model truly generated a freer, more dynamic and humane working environment, or has it only superficially altered its own methods to achieve production aims?
The exhibition approaches these complex topics by presenting the work of two artists who engage the subject with a particular degree of attention and profound analysis. Despite the diversity of their artistic approaches, Marianne Flotron (born in 1970, Switzerland) and Pilvi Takala (born in 1981, Finland) apply comparable modes of analysis, such as role-playing and the simulation of identity, to penetrate closed professional systems so as to analyse how they work. In both cases they examine how dependent employment creates an advanced laboratory of social programming, psychological control and mental submission, ultimately transforming the individual employee into a domesticated instrument of profit in order to prevent any resistance towards the system to which they are bound.
Fired (2007) was realized by Flotron inside a Dutch company during an actual technical and psychological training session intended to teach managers how to fire employees. Applying role-playing techniques, an instructor stages a meeting where she plays the role of an employee who has been called into an office to receive notice of the termination of her employment. In fact, the word “fire” is never once uttered during the dialogue. In this way, managers learn to consciously avoid any term that might be too direct, favouring instead an approach aimed at disarming any potential emotional aggressiveness on the part of the employee, up to the point of convincing the employee in question of the inevitability of the corporate decision.
Work (2011) is the result of a long-term experiment undertaken by Flotron within a large private insurance company based in Amsterdam. It serves as an exemplary structure for a creative working relationship within the greater corporate context of the new millennium: the company offers its employees proper salaries, decent benefits and great scheduling flexibility, allowing the workers a rather free use of the office so long as they achieve target outputs. Realized in form of a workshop for the employees, the work reveals how the contemporary corporate model, founded on creativity, flexibility, flexitime and emotional and personal identification with the job, is in fact founded on an anti-democratic and strongly hierarchical logic, ultimately targeted at turning the employee into a well-trained pawn who voluntarily consents to an attitude of intellectual passivity towards the company.
In order to realize The Trainee (2008), Pilvi Takala spent one month as a trainee at the Finnish offices of Deloitte, a multinational consulting company. During this month, the artist, who had assumed a fictitious name (only a small number of persons were informed about the project), spent entire days seated at her desk without doing anything. She justified this behaviour to her fellow employees as creative brain work. Takala’s impact was like that of a virus, deconstructing from inside in provocative terms the logic of corporate productiveness, going so far as to place in question the actual sense of the corporate profit targets. The inactivity of this brain work, which appears to the Deloitte employees as a threat to their professional identity, in fact represents an open rupture within the cult of obedience to and identification with the company. In this way, Takala’s critique assumes the flavour of a consciously nihilist activism, as it is precisely idleness and absolute inaction that turns out in this context to be the most radical gesture possible, a denunciation of a lack of absolute sense becoming a strong antithesis to the ideology of corporate work as practiced in the new millennium.
With the kind support of:
Provincia Autonoma di Bolzano, Alto Adige, Deutsche Kultur
Fondazione Cassa di Risparmio, Alto Adige
Città di Bolzano, Ufficio Cultura
Mondriaan Fund, Amsterdam
Pro Helvetia, Zurich
boConcept Store, Bozen/Bolzano
In the Wintry Thicket of Metropolitan Civilization refers to an eponymous passage from The Culture of Cities, the first book by Lewis Mumford, published in 1938. His fervid analyses connected the militant power and intellectual lucidity of the attempt to rethink urban development with a profound humanist approach. Thus, the Culture of Cities was the formulation of numerous urban projects and hopes, which were defined within the concrete aspect of a planning praxis that aimed to place attention on the role of cities as decisive centres of contemporary living, in the civilisation of the 20th century and the near future.
The exhibition gathers together the artistic experiences of five artists deriving from different continents who reflect in their work on various topics related to urbanism and the history of urban development. Between the recent past and an imagined future, the works freely echo the enigmatic sense of the title, which according to Mumford was meant as an alarm signal, but at the same time also an urgent need to rethink the concept of human living space, starting with the most important and decisive place of aggregation and collective occupation: namely, the city.
My Father Looks for an Honest City (2010) is a film by Basim Magdy which shows the desolate location of the periphery of Cairo in expansion, marked by anonymous buildings under construction, water-logged streets and stray dogs. As a place of transition between cement and wild plant growth – not yet totally urbanized but at the same time no longer rural – the site is slowly traversed by the artist’s father, who holds in his hands a shining lamp in broad daylight, exploring the territory without any clear aim. Within this work, the reference to Diogenes the Cynic, who provocatively “searched for an honest man” by holding up a lamp in daylight while strolling through the markets of Athens, is clear. Through his paradoxical gesture, Diogenes brought about a radical critique on his fellow citizens’ lack of a more responsible role regarding their social reality. The philosophical re-enactment staged by Magdy evokes the same suggestion in intuitive terms, conferring to his father’s minimal gesture the capacity of reading an anonymous territory in analytical terms. He thus poses questions on the destiny of Cairo and contemporary Egypt.
You Have Never Been There (2010) by Mores McWreath is a 90 minute-long film that freely assembles scenes from 120 different films that have addressed the end of human civilization in apocalyptic terms. The artist has selected scenes in which passages showing devastated urban and natural spaces evidently alternate, marked by the remains of Western civilization and a present reality of decline and dissolution In this way You Have Never Been There is a portrayal of Western civilization after its demise. It is an allegorical description of progressive self-destruction, in which the aesthetics of cinematography as a means of fictional narrative is removed by the artist in order that the scenes become an actual documentary, as evidence presented in advance of a probable future scenario.
End Transmission (2010) by Yin-Ju Chen & James T. Hong is a film of black and white images of metropolitan areas succeeding each other compose an indecipherable landscape, characterized by a sense of surveillance and enslavement. The messages that appear discontinuously throughout dictate the new program of administration of their planet by an indefinite alien entity. From the imperative contents of the texts it is deducible that humanity has failed and that a radical intervention of palingenesis by an extraterrestrial power has been necessary. This science fiction suggestion is supported within the rigorous cinematography of the two artists by authentic images of industrial platforms, endless views of megacities by night, artificial greenhouses and mass consumption ready for export. Shot between Europe and Asia, the scenes of Yin-Ju Chen and James T. Hong allude to the current transformations of the great contemporary metropolitan contexts and industrial production on a large scale. In this way they allow a dramatic image of the alienation of our life and of contemporary work on a global scale to emerge.
Beginning with research in the micro-reality of present-day Sardinia, the Italian artist Pietro Mele presents a critical reflection on the trauma of modernity which was imposed on the pastoral life of the island. Ottana (2008) is the title of his film and also of an eponymous small town in the area of Barbagia, where from the 1960s onwards a giant petrochemical industry with devastating environmental impact has been created. The work speaks of the blatant compromise between the world of heavy industrial production and the everyday life of the workers that maintain – as far as the factory gates – their traditions and residual customs that seem to belong to an almost extinct world. Urbanization and industrial work appear within Mele’s work as a nightmare deriving from somewhere else, a monstrous visual hallucination that places against the rural background the image of the Sardinian workers trudging in a row towards the factory.
The focus of Estádio Nacional (2009) by Camilo Yáñez is the city of Santiago de Chile and the dramatic events it was witnessed in recent decades. The film was shot by the artist on 11 September 2009 in the National Stadium of Santiago, a key place in the contemporary history of Chile. The stadium entered the collective memory of the nation after the coup d’état of 11th September 1973, when General Pinochet liquidated with the support of the US government the democratically elected government of Salvador Allende. In the turmoil of the days following the military‘s seizure of power, the stadium became a prison camp where over 3,000 people were killed by the forces of the newly-established military dictatorship, as official sources document. Yáñez shot the film inside the empty stadium, accompanied by a famous song from the national Chilean repertoire. Thus, Estádio Nacional is a tribute to the history of Chile and at the same time a funeral elegy commemorating the victims of the coup d’état of 1973, but also an invocation of hope in a place that has alternatively witnessed the most dramatic hopes and the most sinister events in the history of the Chilean people.
The work of the German artist Andreas Bunte revolves around his interest in humanist social history related to the metropolitan, political and architectural environment. The byways of recent and contemporary history are analysed by Bunte as he reflects upon the relationship between the urban landscape and civic development, as well as between the history of architecture and social behaviour. Bunte is the initiator of a particular analytical procedure, one that is rigorous yet imaginative, and which blends together historical fact and fiction to create visionary narratives. His 16mm, mostly black and white films depict some of the most dramatic events of modern history. The true focus of his artistic research is in fact modernity itself, from the nineteenth century onwards, with its dual nature of redemptive utopia and impending catastrophe. Bunte thus offers a space-time journey through the centuries of late modernity, by means of his own work, which when viewed as a whole takes the shape of a phantasmagorical epic, stretching towards a scientific encyclopaedism and history of ideas as well as political record.
On the occasion of his first solo exhibition at the ar/ge Kust Galerie Museum in Bolzano, the artist presented his new film: Welt vor der Schwelle (World at the Threshold), which synthesizes many of the interesting points addressed by Bunte in his earlier works. The film revolves around the topic of German post-war religious architecture and owes its theoretical core to two books by the architect Rudolf Schwarz, Welt vor der Schwelle and Vom Bau der Kirche (1947). Shot in 16mm and conceived as a visual exploration of the three German churches of Pope John XXIII in Cologne (Josef Rikus, 1968), the Sanctuary in Neviges (Gottfried Boehm, 1966-68) and St. Anna in Dueren (Rudolf Schwarz, 1951-56), Bunte’s film examines the ideological features of religious architecture in Germany after the societal disaster of the Second World War. The three churches, fruits of the economic boom that swept the country from the mid-1950s onward, show a tendency towards a rigorous, uncompromising rationalism, allowing for a redefined relationship between man and the Divine as well as a reinterpreted role of the Church in a secularized society.
The film concentrates indeed on the intimate relationship binding individual and architecture, determined by the interaction between the place of worship itself and its perception by the senses of sight, hearing and touch. Shots focus on details of raw concrete constructions, the absence of ornamentation and the brutalist severity of the spaces and furnishings. The film transfigures architectural volume into an aesthetic reflection on the relationship between material form and spiritual use, public space and private devotion. In narrative terms, the work is conceived according to the standards of scientific demonstration, with a language designed to clarify phenomena which are otherwise complex and inaccessible to human perception.
In Welt vor der Schwelle, Bunte used tools of formal analysis which are typical of the genre of the scientific research film, such as slow motion, microscopic enlargements, animations, diagrams and commentary. He thus managed to confer a dual nature to the work: on the one hand, the clear logical suggests neutrality, while on the other hand, an underlying ideology adds a manipulative quality which leads the viewer towards a specific and intended interpretation of the facts.
At the beginning of Book VI of the “Metamorphoses”, Ovid tells the story of Arachne, famous for her work in textiles due to her extraordinary skill at spinning and weaving. Pallas Athena, the goddess of spinners and weavers, became jealous of her talent and thus incited a weaving competition. The subject of Arachne’s tapestry for the competition depicted the “Rape of Europe”, when Zeus transformed himself into a white bull in order to outwit the young Europa and abduct her. According to the words of Ovid, Arachne’s work was so close to realistic perfection that the viewer believed every detail of the tapestry to have happened. But Athena, who lost the competition, was so blind with rage that she transformed the talented mortal into a spider. From this moment on, Arachne was forced to incessantly weave her web by producing the thread from her own body.
The myth of Arachne as a metamorphic creature, bound to the art history of tapestry, in one that has traversed European culture throughout the centuries. In the mid-16th century, the painter Titian painted an iconic representation of the Rape of Europa which was subsequently re-adopted numerous times in years to come. Titian depicted the young maiden at the moment of her abduction by Zeus in the shape of a white bull. Half a century later, in the early 17th century, Pieter Paul Rubens repainted the iconography of Europa in a manner close to Titian’s model. In 1656, Diego Velazquez completed his painting “Las hilanderas” (The Spinners, or the Myth of Arachne). His picturesque opus is constructed on two scenic planes. On the first level are the Spinners themselves, several women seated in a workshop amidst bales of wool and spinning wheels, busy at work on a tapestry, while in the background Velazquez also stages the Myth of Arachne on a finished wall hanging.
The textile work of Arachne is the first evidence of weaving as a technical practice, one that subsequently played a primary role in Europe’s economy for many centuries and located itself halfway between the history of handicrafts, such as the spinning and weaving of tapestries, and industrial history, by means of the mass production of textiles. Leander Schwazer locates the point of exchange and meeting between these two poles in the Jacquard loom, invented in 1805 by the French weaver, merchant and inventor Joseph-Marie Charles, known as Jacquard. His loom was the harbinger of the Industrial Revolution within the 19th century textile industry, and began the development of the mechanical production of complex embroidered textiles.
In his current exhibition for ar/ge kunst Galerie Museum, Leander Schwazer focuses on the historical-iconographic aspect of the episode of the Abduction of Europa. He reflects on the mythological theme, which itself became the archetypical model for various multifaceted works and visual terms, with the aim of working out its conceptual resonance within the history of European culture.
In the first room, The Rape of Europe (2012) is a philological reconstruction of Ovid’s mythological scene as depicted by Titian and Rubens, in the foreground there remains the figure of the young Europa perched on the back of the bull Zeus. The work is accomplished through a subsequent assembly of punch cards, perforated according to the modalities of mechanical automation as outlined by the Jacquard loom. Thus, the drawing is a figurative mosaic, the legibility of which is determined by the continuity of the punched holes, which in their entirety draw the features in profile of the figures and also the background space. The work is accompanied by a minimalist shaped cube (Punched Europe, 2012) which consists of the compressed assembly of hundreds of circular fragments of paperboard produced by the key-punching of the punch cards used by the artist during the preparation of the drawing.
The second room, Point Design (2012), hosts the matrix which was applied by Schwazer in order to conduct the perforation of the punch cards according to the Jacquard model. Like a photographic negative or the printing plate of a lithograph print, the work displays itself at first glance as a decoratively abstract scene. Observed in strict relation to the Rape of Europe, Point Design reveals on the other hand that its origins are found in Titian’s painting, and reveals at the same time its nature as a preparatory board for the collage of punch cards.
Different fragments and pieces as indications of the artist’s research are disseminated throughout the exhibition space. Thus, the single detail of the head of Europa is presented by Schwazer as a textile work (The Head of Europe, 2012), woven by an ancient Jacquard loom and displaying the punch cards as the principal work. In addition, on one of the walls is suspended a small portrait of Joseph-Marie Jacquard in woven fabric (Jacquard, 2012), realized after a 19th century drawing; this evokes the physical presence of the French inventor and his role as a source of inspiration for the entire exhibition project. The last sculpture, Grandfathers Stuff (2012), consists of a cylinder wrapped in manufactured linen, made locally in South Tyrol. Thus, the local tradition of hand spun textiles finds in this piece a significant reference to the artist’s place of origin.
This is the first double solo exhibition of Misha Stroj (born in 1974, lives and works in Vienna) and Pascal Schwaighofer (born 1976, lives and works in Mendrisio and Rotterdam) to be held in Italy.
Misha Stroj’s work originates from historic and social researches on the place where he exhibits. In various works Stroj confronts the topics of economic relationships and of the material forces operating within society and cultural industry, and goes on to indirectly question also the mechanisms of the art world itself and the logic of what determines the value and significance of an artwork. The exhibited works illuminate a personal story, one which is revealed in terms of both a paradox and an intimate narration in which the artist’s personal experience becomes comparative in a trans-figural way and which may be read in relation to several aspects of European economic history and late 20th century Italian literature.
Die Säule mit dem Knie (2010) unites in a single sculpture a cast of Stroj’s own knee and a steel pillar the same height as the artist taken from an abandoned factory in Berlin. Almost an ironic self-portrait of the artist in a time of industrial crisis in Europe, the sculpture is an antithetical union of two absolutely different materials, where the chalk cast – as an evocative form of the human body – is intended to animate the steel pillar, as a severe relict dating from the industrial memory of the Nineteenth century. Along similar lines is the work Index Broken (2010-11), which shows a cast of the artist’s hand with the index finger broken. Like an indicative reference to the relationship between personal identity and the external world, between self-awareness and diversity, Index Broken seems to be an attempt at visual communication interrupted partway by unknown and irrevocable forces, and therefore almost an open manifestation of failure. In this sense, certain other artistic interventions of the artist reflect the ideal reference to the pages of Luciano Bianciardi’s La vita agra, first published in 1962. Bianciardi’s work interprets the Italian economic boom of the 1960s and its effect on the social habits of Italians caught up in a consumer society and industrial working rhythms, even in terms of their culture. It therefore serves as a prominent instrument of analysis within Stroj’s contemplations. What is the relationship between creative freedom and cultural industry in contemporary Europe and what possibility for action remains to the artist? Stroj backtracks to Bianciardi’s visionary considerations, interweaving a dialogue with the Italian writer by means of collage, photographs and quotations, and attempting to oppose the existential stalemate in which the book’s lead protagonist ends.
Pascal Schwaighofer disseminates a relentless entropy inside forms created by himself – objectivist constellations full of references to geography, natural history, archaeology and Oriental culture. A dialectic relationship between the closed and indeterminate form, between canon and infraction, determinates the initial matrix of his work. Schwaighofer’s project for the exhibition at ar/ge kunst consists of two independent works placed in relation to each other, both marked by references to oriental culture and by an analytical reflection on the medium of the print as a technique of reproduction and distribution. Within the first of the two works, Atlas (Theatrum Orbis Terrarum) (2009-10), the artist collects a multiplicity of cartographic maps of different countries – published in different eras – in order to subject them to a process of transmuting by means of an artistic technique from Japan known as Suminagashi. The mono-printing of a coloured surface over the maps disseminates a new code of interpretation by distorting the power of representation as instructed by the cartographic canon. Precise geopolitical forms drift towards imaginary and unpredictable dimensions, within a concentric expansion where established cartographic reason is dissolved, with its dissolution shown as a clear process that can be observed by the spectator within the winding lines of ink as drawn in the Suminagashi technique. ¿Que horas son en el Japon? (2011) is an appropriation by Schwaighofer of some 18th century Japanese prints of works by Hokusai which depict the waves of the ocean and people in daily and ritual scenes. These images are reproduced by the artist in the technique of photographic emulsion, which are then projected directly on the walls of ar/ge kunst through means of a camera obscura. In this way they become an integrated part of the plaster. The traditional iconographies are in this way conveyed to new life by means of a multiple passage of translations and formal techniques (photography, emulsion, application on wall). This charges the images with subsequent resonances and stratifications and elevates them to a status of potential eternity within the realm of the exhibition space.
The exhibit of Rob Johannesma (born in Amsterdam in 1970, lives and works in Amsterdam) is organized by ar/ge kunst Galerie Museum in cooperation with the Marino Marini Museum in Florence. The artist’s first solo show in Italy will take place contemporaneously in both institutions.
In the last few years, Johannesma has focused on an exploration of the symbolic qualities of photographic reproductions. By means of a sophisticated comparative methodology of interpreting the images he attempts to establish a resonant relationship between the icons of the artistic-historic heritage of Western society and the materials offered by the globalized media universe. The textual codes that have been used to construct the visual imagination in the Western world from the Renaissance until now are the object of his research, which aims to investigate the nature of contemporary photographic images and their form of historic evidence.
The photographic images that Johannesma selects within his research, are images that accompany the international daily press, as a resource of direct information of global events. The artist focuses and preserves these images, which by their nature serve as visual materials of hyper-accelerated consumerism, since they are meant for expiration within the span of a few short hours after their creation. This involves predominantly photo-reportage of wars, images of violence and scenes characterized by strong geopolitical content. Johannesma unites in his installations – in semantic terms – the mechanical reproducibility of images with the idealized construction of history through the visual paradigms of the European tradition of painting, which the artist points out within the matrix of Dutch and Flemish Renaissance culture.
In this exhibit, the artist will show a completely new monumental photography work, World-Wielding (2012) which reflects on the relation between contemporary photography and art history, beginning with the reproduction of a photograph that was published by a Dutch daily newspaper in May 2011. The photographic work depicts the skeleton of a human being lying on the ground in Srebrenica, the site of the mass murder of Bosnian Muslims in 1995, during the course of the Bosnian War. The artist has subjected the image to a process of photographic de-composition and re-composition by taking innumerable photographs of the same image over and over again, in order to transform it into a form of analysis of its possible meanings in relation to chronicle history and art history up to the conceptual potential of photography within the contemporary world.
A large table hosts Newspapers (2012), a collage of photographs, taken from daily journals. Being composed according to a logic of intuitive research by means of assembly, parallel reading and dissonances, the work is an open scenario that examines the iconographic heritage of Western culture. Historical landscapes, reproductions of art works and international news photographs alternate and thus generate a huge variety of references and suggestions that may reveal the complex ambiguity of the medium of photography as a tool appropriate to reproducing reality.
Two video works, Blue and Orange (1998) and Untitled (2002) complete the exhibit. The videos illustrate the artist’s reflections on the very idea of landscape, transmuted in abstract and symbolic codes by means of the relationship between forms, colours and horizons.
The exhibit emphasises how Johannesma opens his artistic research to two parallel horizons, one following a speculative and the other a narrative order. In doing so, he attempts to re-discover lost and heterogeneous visual fragments and unities to a possible unity of signification. In this way, it is possible to compare the research of the Dutch artist with the trail blazed by the phantasmagoric work of Aby Warburg’s figurative Atlas of Mnemosyne, as well for its re-evocation of the relationship between images and meanings that he stages, as for the polyphonic model used by Aby Warburg in the realization of large-scale iconographic tableaux.
The work of Alejandro Cesarco moves within the borders of conceptual art, as a research project that questions the very idea of narration and the origin of the conditions which enable a text and the mechanisms of its process of meanings. The focus of Cesarco’s work is the autonomy of the text and the modality of the relationship between work and spectator, between the written word and the reader. The act of artistic production itself is for the artist based in the act of reading, and all of his work revolves around problems of hermeneutics and translation, as these can be observed from the privileged perspective of literature.
Index (a Novel) (2003) is an alphabetical index of the names and topics of a book which has never been written, but which is presented by Cesarco in its canonical form, complete with proposed pages. Index is the paradoxical hypotheses of a reverse reading, a classification of names, topics and situations that justify themselves in an autonomous way, independently of the volume to which they are meant to refer. This work by Cesarco consists of a container space, the “detailed index” designed by the artist, which itself becomes the content, a form of narrative hypertext able to trap the reader in an infinite exercise of references, allusions and intuitions. Index can be read by starting from the single parts and moving towards the whole, an attempt to reconstruct the book to which it could belong. In doing so, the artist manages to unify the terms that compose the whole by combining the individual entries – or perhaps in a more anarchic way by trying to incorporate the suggestions of the registered voices without any concern of providing a final synthesis. Heterogeneous registers, however, tend to implicate and overlap, in order to allow the profile of a private existence to emerge from the background, elements of an eventual autobiography of the artist himself.
Everness (2008) is a film structured in sections, composed by Cesarco via means of a script that weaves together five different chapters, which oscillate between literary issues, political history and scenes of domestic intimacy. The structure of the work begins with an opening monologue by the male actor on the significance of tragedy within Western literature and the appearance of the tragic moment as a cultural archetype. The reference to the protagonists Gretta and Gabriel from James Joyce’s short story “The Dead” from the collection Dubliners is emblematic of this approach – the husband and wife discover that they are completely divided by their memories and thus destined to diverge irretrievably from one other. Dividing the narrative and speculative moments of the film are two songs. The first is a song derived from the Brazilian Tropicaliá movement of the 1960s, an artistic and musical movement that arose after the military coup d’etat of 1964 and which was active during the subsequent repression of political and civic rights in Brazil. The second song is a piece from the Spanish Civil War, a heroic anthem of the sacrifices of those who fought for the freedom of Spain between 1936 and 1939. The final section of the film displays the silence and wordlessness of a couple at the breakfast table, which conveys the image of an uncertain and indefinite moment, a pacified resolution of conflicts and contrasts, or more probably just the sign of the actual ending of the relationship between the man and the woman.
The literary echoes continue in The Gift and the Retribution (2011), a photographic diptych formed by the covers of two volumes: “Los adioses” by Juan Carlos Onetti and the “Poemas de amor” of Idea Vilariño, two central figures of Uruguayan literature during the 20th Century. The two books display cross-referencing dedications, as “Los adioses” is dedicated to Vilariño, who on her part dedicated “Poemas de amor” to Onetti. Cesarco gives priority to the dedication, as a tool that is able to reveal the subterranean connections which approximate artistic courses and biographical stories – which are often very close to each other and at the same time distant from each other.
The figure of Onetti is also hinted at in Methodology (2011), a sophisticated dialogue of a couple sitting around a table, focusing on the space of the unspoken. Written words, letters and silent communication form the basis of a dialogue between two protagonists in this work. They attempt to define the borders between private and public space, between what ought to be spoken and that which should not be said. In this way, the dialogue between the couple measures the space of private emotions and of their negotiation regarding relationships with others. Not everything that is said can be dissolved in perfectly comprehensible elements, and the work alludes to the space of irremediable opacity within the dialogue between the two characters.
The work of Alessandro Gagliardo focuses on the impact that the documentary nature of television news exercises on the construction of a mytho-poetic interpretation of contemporary Sicilian history. The project entitled An Anthropological Television Myth (Un mito antropologico televisivo) deals with the decisive years between 1991 and 1994, during which a number of different events changed the course of Sicilian and Italian history. From the Mafia killings endemic to the region, culminating in the murders of Giovanni Falcone and Paolo Borsellino in Palermo, to a spiralling housing crisis in which abusive building practices went unchecked for decades, the first half of the Nineties can be characterised by a growing conflict between state and citizens, and by a general political reorganisation the ramifications of which reverberate to the present day.
Gagliardo’s artistic research is here divided into several chapters, in order to build a complex narrative of these events based on everyday life in the province of Catania and its villages. Gagliardo uses archival materials to document the journalistic record made by local television programs at the time.
Mitografia (Mythography, 2011) is a video project comprising more than a hundred and twenty thousand photographs of masses of people, capturing their facial features, expressions, and states of mind. Mythography consists of slow-motion sequences of television footage filmed during public protest demonstrations in the Catania region during the early Nineties. It is intended to lead to contemplation on the anthropological transfiguration of society as revealed through television documentaries.
The cultural sensibility Gagliardo displays in Mythography is echoed in Città Stato (City State, 2011). This work is closely related to an intellectual tradition which since the 1940s has sought to reveal the crisis of the Italian Mezzogiorno, and, at the same time has pointed out the social and political potential of this territory to resist the decline resulting from the practices of Italian neo-capitalism. Gagliardo’s work seems to revive certain traditions—ranging from Carlo Levi’s forays into Southern Italy and his subsequent books documenting these jouneys, the political and literary actions of Antonio Gramsci, Rocco Scotellaro and Danilo Dolci, to Pier Paolo Pasolini’s denunciations of the genocide inflicted on the cultural world of rural Italy—by focusing on the interpretation of the anthropological nature of Sicilian society in the early Nineties. Gagliardo explores the increase in the number of Mafia killings during this period through an in-depth survey of the world around Catania, one in which homicide and brutality were accompanied by a sense of civil unrest generated by an epidemic of unauthorised building activity and the impossibility of finding any source of mediation between citizens and authorities. His work is not composed of refined, elegantly edited reportage, but rather of a chaotic mass of raw archival footage representing hours of film material accumulated by the local television stations in their discovery of the real Catania—before being “cleaned up” and “packaged” for eventual broadcast.
The same logic is at work in Dei poteri e delle povertà (On Powers and Poverties, 2011), an installation comprising hundreds of printed freeze-frame photographs selected from the same original masters of S-VHS material made by local Catanian television at the time. As the title suggests, this work is a dramatic visual composition spotlighting juxtaposition, abuse, and misery, documenting the ebb and flow of everyday life on the streets of cities like Biancavilla, Adrano, Misterbianco, Santa Maria di Licodia and Paternò. The settings range from places where Mafia killings have occurred to tombstones and urban cityscapes, from rural landscapes to the peripheries of cities. The presence of microphones in the foreground is a decisive element of the iconographic metamorphosis of these scenes: this emphasises the mediation that has occurred between the television cameras and reality, between everyday experience and journalistic narration.
This process of anthropological sublimation reaches its peak in Filosofia della miseria (Philosophy of Poverty), the video presentation of archival footage of a small village graveyard in the province of Catania. In the desolation of a walk through the graveyard—amidst anonymous heaps of earth surmounted by crosses, burial niches and grey-haired visitors—these television images exude a sense of devastation and penury. Here again, the simple visual record made by a cameraman and revisited by Gagliardo, becomes a source of universal material of documentation, representing miserable fragments of time in a poverty where even death seems stripped of itself—and is thus transformed into a deconsecrated myth that awaits its possible redemption at some point in the future.
The artists Selma Alaçam (born 1980, lives and works in Karlsruhe, Germany) and Nicolò Degiorgis (born 1985, lives and works in Bolzano, Italy) analyse within their work the crucial subject matter of the relationship between Islamic culture and contemporary Western culture as it exists in Europe. How informed is mainstream public opinion in Europe about Islamic immigration to the European continent, and about the perspectives on integration of the people who actually come from Muslim countries? Moving from the particular matters of their own cultural perspective, Alaçam and Degiorgis develop individual strategies for their artistic research, with both following the common goal of emphasizing a wide range of elements which are suppressed within the public debate in Europe. In this way, both artists contribute to an increasingly complex and articulated reflection on the subject matter which they deal with.
Hidden Islam (2009-11) is a photographic project by Degiorgis, an investigation of Muslim prayer rooms spread all over Northern Italy. Degiorgis’ work began as participation within a research project on the instruments and methods of multicultural integration conducted by the University of Trieste. Degiorgis took photographs of the improvised prayer rooms in which the Muslims in contemporary Italy exercise their faith, i.e. spaces found at the outskirts of big cities, abandoned and precarious locations such as former garages and industrial buildings. The photographic selection chosen by the artist connects specific private and cultual details of Islamic religiosity with images that document the diasporic nature of Italian Islam during recent years. Here, precariousness and decline become characteristics of survival, as the iconic signs of an anonymous and hostile metropolitan area. Thus, Degiorgis shows photographic images that are configured much like complex texts, in which the nullification of the architectural and urbanist context of the periphery of Italian cities appears to be subjected to the possible sense of relief determined by the rise of a different and migratory culture – such as the Islamic culture – which nowadays is present across the entire national territory.
These images are consistently framed by liturgical scenes of prayers conducted within the places photographed. Breaks of light and improvised details of the image narrate the physical presence of the prayer, the moment of unification and consistency of the collective history of the Muslim communities in Italy. In this way, Hidden Islam traces another complex and problematic picture of contemporary Italy, and reveals the difficulties of this country to conceive itself as a contemporary society that has completely developed a sense of civil progress.
The work of Selma Alaçam is focused on the question of identity. Within her work, the artist analyses in many ways her relationship to her own history as a dual citizen of Germany and Turkey who has grown up in Germany according to the educational models of Islam. Using family documents, ready-mades and self portraits, the artist employs a range of conceptual instruments that deal with a sort of reflection, not far removed from feminism, on the role of identity and social history.
Isolated and Protected (2009) is a video installation consisting of seven monitors on which the artist shows domestic scenes of Turkish Muslim families in Germany. Nonetheless, the visibility of the screen is obstructed by patterns on a curtain which veils the screen. The decorative patterns follow the Arabic tradition of applying them on the outside of windows of private homes in order to protect the residents from being visible to onlookers outdoors. The spectator therefore has only limited and partial access to what is happening, an interrupted visibility that “isolates and protects” the image from the gaze of strangers. In this way it is also a symbol of the complex system of communication and cultural exchange between Western and the Islamic societies in contemporary Europe.
The video work Haare (2009) also intervenes with a similar aspect, with the artist here showing herself as she combs her hair. At the end she puts a wig on her head which is identical to her own hair. The scene shows a strategy used by many young Turkish women in order to remain loyal to Islamic interdict (which forbids women to show their own hair) while at the same time refusing to abandon the ambition to dress up. The gesture of the artist alludes in this way – quite ambiguously and without direct comment – to a possible modernisation inside Islam as it exists in Europe, and to a young generation of Muslims that are challenged to re-conceive the rules of their own religion in order to participate in Western life.
The video work Turkish National Anthem (2010) shows the political sensibility of the artist. It consists of video fragments the artist downloaded from YouTube which display some Turkish children in various private and public contexts while they sing with great emphasis and emotion the national anthem of their country. Left with no comments or alterations, the work provokes a restless sense of discomfort and unease in the spectator, because the national anthem appears as an aggressive instrument, a model of division between those who can identify themselves with it and those who are excluded.
The work of Runo Lagomarsino (Malmö, Sweden 1977, lives and works in São Paulo, Brasil) is based in multi-textual research aimed at the investigation of the historiographic, geographic and mathematical models that helped to ensure the colonialist domination of the world by Western modernity. How does the relationship between the invention of the historical-geographic description of the planet on behalf of the European concept and its political sphere articulate itself? The investigations of Runo Lagomarsino attempt to provide an answer to this question, starting from the perspective of comparative cultural analysis, suggesting the possibility of new forms of cultural interpretations that provide an alternative and opposing viewpoint to those asserted and transmitted by modern European thought.
The first individual show of this Swedish artist to be held in Italy – Violent Corners – presents a series of recent and unpublished works based on the relationship between European colonial history and the South American continent from the 16th century until today.
The work A Conquest Means Not Only Taking Over (II) (2010-11) refers historically to figure of Francisco Pizarro, the Spanish conqueror who led the occupation and the submission of the empire of the Incas of South America at the beginning of the 16th century. Historians document how Pizarro was neither able to read nor write, and how the administrative files of his authoritarian power were authenticated by a double curlicue in place of a signature. Between those two squiggles, a notary countersigned a warrant of the juridical authenticity of the file itself. In its subtle form and close to the forms of an abstract drawing, this graphic sign was representative of the Spanish conqueror’s identity. It represented in a way the manifestation of European colonial power, becoming the sanction of acts of violence and oppression, designed to change forever the history of both the New and the Old World. The installation of Lagomarsino reproduces the “signature” of Pizarro in the form of a wallpaper, giving the private and familiar character of decoration to the symbol of Spanish colonial power. The installation is set around the wallpaper in a multitude of minimal and quotidian objects and exhibits Lagomarsino exhibits the sedimentation of modern European, which imposes itself through the most domestic and common forms, keeping the rest of the world in check through a network of meanings and interpretations. Thus, Lagomarsino displays a theatre of colonial experience through the usage of different objects, among them a notice board made of compressed wood, photographs and parts of frescoes, which together form a sort of compass leading through the intellectual matrix of centuries characterized by the domination of European thought.
The research of the artist continues with the work Contratiempos (2009-10), an installation that derives inspiration from the Ibirapuera Park in São Paulo, the huge park which was conceived by Oscar Niemeyer and Roberto Burle Marx in 1954, following the model of the Modernist rationalism of Le Corbusier and implementing it in the South American context. Inside the park a large number of buildings of public and cultural significance for São Paulo are situated, among them various museums. All of these buildings are connected to each other by an extended and sheltered path, the Grand Marquise do Parque do Ibirapuera, which was laid out in cement. Contratiempos consists of 30 slides showing ruptures, cracks and splits in the cement pavement of the Marquise, which reproduce in a surprising resemblance the form of the South American continent. In this way, the artist has built – with minimal means and without changing anything – a random but actual cartography of South America, a resemblance to the continent that was constructed in an approximation of desire and imagination. Thus colonialism, desire and exoticism all converge in a subtle way within this work, with the small-scale presence of the sculptural model of the Marquise complicating again the narration installed by Lagomarsino. In fact, a wooden maquette reproduces in abstract and de-contextualised terms the sinuous forms of the structure of the Marquise in the Ibirapuera Park.
Space, temporality, cartography and appropriation constitute the supporting axes of the research on colonial thought undertaken by Lagomarsino, and these are realized in a strictly metaphoric form in The G in Modernity Stands for Ghosts (2009). This video work displays a cardboard box filled with rolled-up paper balls, fragments wrested out of those spaces that have been classified inside the geographic atlas of Earth as unknown and unexplored. The matchstick on the box sets the entire structure on fire, and thus transforms the box into a coffin that destroys itself, dragging the terrae incognitae of the globe into symbolic dissolution. They are bound to become smoke and ashes, and again are the ghosts of a cartographic network that had destined them to oblivion. As the title of the work alludes, modernity becomes a means of instruction and ideological control, but one which contains ghosts inside it – one of alternative possibilities and diverse epistemological developments which have been deprived of their legitimacy by dint of an act of cartographic exclusion. The artist emphasises that those bodies which are considered to be strange are expelled, and that of these there remains no trace, not even in the letters of the word modernity. Thus, the artist focuses with provocative irony on the excluded, the ghosts of modernity, re-including the “G” of the word ghost into the body of the word modernity.
The artistic research of Zachary Formwalt is based in the philosophical analysis of material, as well as economic events of historical consequence from the modern era continuing until today, which are investigated via a polymorphic and polyphonic line of research which in turn yields manifold and indefinite modes of interpretation. The artist focuses on the relationship between the development of modernity and the complex mechanisms of the capitalist economy. Beginning from a perspective rooted in Marxist analysis, Formwalt opens his inquiry into the impact of economic history in the social and cultural context of Europe and America from the 17th century onwards. In this context, Formwalt mainly uses visual materials deriving from various sources and corresponding to the mass media, to cinema and to art history, in order to provide a critical reading of the basic subject matter of financial cash flow and its cultural repercussions. To what extent are we conscious of the symbolic mechanisms that prevail on the logic of capitalism; and to what extent do we understand the full range of such cultural repercussions within our contemporary world?
Within the development of In Place of Capital (2009), which can be seen as an exemplary work in terms of Formwalt’s artistic procedure, the artist attempts to find parallel traces between the development of pioneering photographic technologies in the middle of the 19th century and the coeval strategies of capitalism. He starts from an analysis of a precise historic moment at the end of the 19th century in England, demonstrating that the photographic technology of the time (developed by William Henry Fox Talbot) was unable to capture the movement of persons and things on film, a problem that represents in an inverted manner the impossibility of tracing the flow of capital in a rational way. In Marxian terms, the movement that produces capital in fact vanishes at the very moment in which the capital is realized, leaving evidence merely of a certain quantity of anonymous capital. The images chosen by Formwalt, depicting the Royal Exchange Building in London, are in fact a confrontation between two possible representations of capital. The official one, planned by the architects of the building, is organized around an allegorical divinity of commerce which presides over the activities of the stock exchange. The second representation deals with the photographic technology of the period, showing the incapacity of capturing the flow of the actual movement of men and commodities within the highly populated streets around the stock exchange.
Similarly, the work Through a Fine Screen (2010) brings together various episodes of photography history and economic history in order to investigate contemporary social reality. The work focuses on the history of Central Park in New York, which was inaugurated in 1856 and has subsequently been the object of numerous photographic studies throughout the 19th and 20th centuries. Formwalt turns a photograph dating from 1880 (published on the 4th of March of that year in The Daily Graphic) depicting the shanties of upper Manhattan into an interpretation key from which to launch a parallel analysis of the construction of the park itself (with all its well-studied aesthetic scenic clichés) and the overall economic development of Manhattan. This work is thematically accompanied by the photographic series Vanderbilt’s Wants (2010) which consists of three pages taken from the Daily Graphic edition of 4th March, 1880. The series describe the entrepreneur’s attempts to dismantle the shanty town of the poor in Manhattan. By doing so, they reproduce in a precise manner the photographic image of the scenario of social misery described in Through a Fine Screen.
At Face Value (2008) deals with these questions by means of focusing to the economics of the 20th century, read and interpreted throughout the perspective of stamps. From the hyperinflation of the Weimar Republic to the economic crisis of 1929 in Europe and the United States, this film by Formwalt shows how the medium of postage stamps can be viewed as a precious and unexplored instrument through which it is possible to read the tumultuous developments of the economic and social history of the 20th century.
The history of modern economic theory is the focus of the work Kritik der Politik und der Nationalöknomie (2009). In this photographic work, Formwalt reproduces the contract signed by Karl Marx and his editor Carl Leske in Paris in 1845. A second image consists of a photograph of the building where Marx lived at the time in Paris, in Rue Vanneau 38. An Episode in The History of Free Trade (2008) also takes its point of departure from the intellectual biography of Marx. This piece reconstructs the events of the Free Trade Congress in Brussels in 1847. Among the invited experts, speakers such as James Wilson, the founder of “The Economist”, as well as Karl Marx were present. The collage created by Formwalt displays documentary materials of their two speeches together with a review of the congress edited by Friedrich Engels for The Northern Star, edition of 9th October 1847. The work reproduces the page of a book published in 1993 for the 150th anniversary of “The Economist”, in which some of James Wilson’s Brussels speech was re-published. The aim of the artist is to re-approach this event of 1847 from different points of view and various chronological perspectives, in order to emphasize its resonances and its influence on the development of economic theory, both in Europe and on a global scale.
Composed of various individuals – artists, critics, philosophers and writers – the St. Petersburg art collective Chto delat? is conceived by its members as a polyhedral platform for cultural and political reflection, halfway between activism and artistic production. With a critical yet practical orientation and by drawing inspiration from the didactic theatre of Bertolt Brecht, the work of Chto delat? attempts to stimulate individual responsibility within the spectator by creating a space for the incitement and reasoning of social change by means of the use of satirical devices similar to the dimensions of the grotesque and the parody. In an innovative way, Chto delat? elaborates on the political tradition of reflecting the relation between praxis and theory – a typical theoretical approach of the European left. Thus, Chto delat? operates inside an artistically hybrid territory, promoting the collective values of a new form of social aggregation under the sign of civil progressivism.
For their first show in Italy, Chto delat? will present a trilogy of works composed within the last two years and focused predominantly on Russian society in the post-Perestroika era. This era has been characterised by the political and civil crisis of the surrounding social structures, which disintegrated due to the pressure from emergent bureaucratic and ideological structures of the authoritarian new capitalist order which is still dominating the entire country.
The definition of the three works as Songspiel refers back to the musical theatre of Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill, regarded as an artistic form designed to approximate popular music forms within theatre in order to transmit messages and political ideas to a broader and increasingly diverse audience. Perestroika Songspiel (2008), Partisans Songspiel (2009) and Tower Songspiel (2010) are characterised by their mixing of performance and narration styles deriving from different traditions. The role of the choir within the classical tragedy, acting as an omniscient voice that evokes comparisons several times within the dramatic development, is introduced by the artists as an approach close to the methodology of critical rigour proposed by the theatre in accordance with the maxims of Bertolt Brecht. They unfold as an accentuated presence of forms which are not only close to anti-realistic Expressionism, but also to the grotesque parody, in order to delineate a nearly allegoric sense of the events being represented.
Perestroika Songspiel interrogates the cultural heritage of the Perestroika period. It displays the political and civil failure of the precise historic moment which immediately follows the liberating euphoria of popular mobilization. The different social groups of the country, businessmen, revolutionaries, conservatives and progressives differ radically concerning the direction of the country, and the work unveils with irony and an element of caricature the difficulty of building a shared political project.
Partisans Songspiel deals with the theme of social reconstruction and policy in contemporary Belgrade, a city marked by radical conflicts and by the difficulties within instauring a process of real democratization of the existing social structure. The country’s neo-capitalism oppresses the most disadvantaged classes, such as workers, Romanies, lesbians and war veterans, to which the work offers individual space within a visibly symbolic formalization. The satirical moment within Tower Songspiel (co-produced by ar/ge kunst Galerie Museum) is addressed instead to the public debate raised in Saint Petersburg by the construction of the Gazprom skyscraper, headquarters of the company that owns a monopoly on all energy development throughout the entire country. By means of stereotypes and satirical effects, Chto delat? dramatizes a meeting of the leaders of both the company and the city, with each group concerned with developing strategies of corruption and populism with the aim of achieving a consensus among all social groups regarding the construction of the tower.
The trilogy constitutes in its entirety a space of dissonance, intended to evoke and develop in the spectator the desire to participate and to investigate further, as well as to create a political reaction by dint of the opposing powers of individual and collective reason.
A second video, Builders (2004), as well as a kaleidoscope of wall drawings accompany the trilogy within the show. Newspapers and graphic inserts on the walls of the exhibition space create a unified space, where diverse expressive modalities of dissent and critical resistance between past and present can find cohesion and choral unison.
Since 2006, Newsome has been investigating the gestural language of African-American women, whose expressive spontaneity turns the body into a vehicle for feelings and emotions. Working to overturn the common stigmatization of such language as a ghetto phenomenon and sign of the social decay produced by low literacy and marginalization, Newsome has taken an anthropological approach, trying to show the cultural dignity of African-American gestural mannerisms. Who does this language really belong to? How has it developed over time, and what are its geographic boundaries? These questions have opened the artist’s theoretical horizons of research and turned it into a complex investigation of issues of belonging and cultural diversity.
The first personal show of the American artist within a European institution is focused on the presentation of the performance Shade Compositions. The expressiveness of the African-American women presented in its spontaneous form by Shade Compositions becomes a linguistic symphony, a choral work based on connective rhythm which unifies and transcends the singularity of individual gestures with an energy that resembles the fluidity of song.
As a result of a research process developed by the artist since 2006 in Paris with several African-French women, Newsome has shown in New York in 2009 the most current and complex version of Shade Compositions. Staged as a collaboration with over twenty African-American women, the performance shows the natural character of their gestures and vocalizations inside a musical score arranged by the artist. Organized into five intercut sections, the performance resembles a composition for classical orchestra. Its expressive coherence is given by the fluidity of the linguistic and gestural patterns performed by the young female participants, such as finger snapping, lip smacking, huffing and puffing, head swiveling, and sassy vocalizations.
As well as the video of the New York performance, which has become an autonomous work, the shows presents Shade Compositions (Screen Tests 1-2), two video works which present part of the casting by the artist, with a great number of young women, in order to study their expressive language. Articulated as exercises, attempts and repetitions, the Screen Tests constitute a rich video archive accumulated by Newsome over several years of research in Europe and the United States.
Newsome’s most recent project, Five (2010), also investigates a marginalized linguistic form found in the African-American culture of expression. This is Voguing, a dance style that emerged in the Seventies and Eighties in gay and lesbian dance clubs. Vogue dance is a type of street dance: free and creative, yet at the same time complex and sophisticated, it is closely tied to other forms of modern dance. As in Shade Compositions, Newsome is interested in exploring the evolution and cultural significance of the communicative model of Voguing. Five is also a multimedia live performance structured around the five primary movements used in vogue, composed of the rotations and fluctuations performed by the dancers.
Untitled (2008) and Untitled (New Way) 2009 show Newsome’s intention to repurpose the seminal aesthetics of original Voguing, as it is preserved in traditions of African-American street life, between free improvisation and the fluidity of expressive gestures.
Conceived as free dialogue between two artists, the show presents for the first time in Italy the work of Katarina Zdjelar (Belgrade, 1979; lives and works in Rotterdam) and Michael Hoepfner (Krems/Donau, 1972; lives and works in Vienna). The two artists try in different ways to produce a reflection on the dynamics of collective memory within European culture, by raising a number of questions about the results of the recent political and economic developments in the industrialised West. Covering differing time periods, strained between past and future, Hoepfner and Zdjelar ultimately propose a reflection on the geography of cultural erosion by their raising of doubts as to the idea of progress being the matrix of Western society.
Katarina Zdjelar’s reaearch is focussed on the use of language as an instrument for transcultural analysis. In A Girl, the Sun and an Airplane (2007), Zdjelar asks some citizens of the Albanian capital Tirana to speak Russian. This mnemonic approach allows her to recall the age of Enver Hoxha’s dictatorship, when Russian was the language of the country’s political and cultural life. The work allows memories to emerge from the depths of the collective unconscious, giving evidence of language as the privileged space in the sedimentation of cultures, policies and memories. The contrast between contemporary Albania and the fragmented memory of its citizens regarding their country’s recent past marks a place of indetermination, which turns Zdjelar’s work into a gesture of radical examination.
The video work Everything is Gonna Be (2008) was been realized in Norway. For this work, the artist involved a group of middle aged persons who had grown up in the ease of the Norwegian welfare system created in the Sixties. The artist asked the group to perform the celebrated Beatles’ song “Revolution 1” as a dialogue in two parts, focussing on the events of 1968 and on the unresolved relationships between revolution and violence, social change and political extremism. Zdeljar’s work transforms the flawed English of the singers, into a representation of participants’ inadequacies regarding the content of the song. A work emerges which focusses on the discomfort generated by the dissonance between the ambitions of youth and the actual biographies of the adult participants. Thus, the work questions a whole generation: the one that participated in ‘68 in Europe. It questions the relationship between wealth and civic commitment, and between political activism and social benefits.
In the last few years, Michael Hoepfner’s art has concentrated on the practice of geographical and cultural errancy. The artist’s approach is to hike through entire regions, cities and natural landscapes on foot. In An Outpost of Progress (2009; titled after Joseph Conrad’s novel) Hoepfner spent several months walking the high plateaus of Tibet, thus covering territories in which foreign citizens are not permitted to walk freely, and territories which are among the least-known worldwide. These regions emerge as places of unfinished, deserted highways and abandoned military bases; places of environmental and architectural devastation of various types. Far from any ideal of natural idyll and environmental purity, the area appears as an outpost of a global decay caused by the industrialised world. Presented as a installation composed of slides, objects, diary entries and documentary materials, Outpost of Progress is the result of the Austrian artist’s radical view of the present times and the ambiguous space of our collective imagination.
This is the first solo show by Mark Boulos (born 1975, Boston, USA, lives and works in Amsterdam) to be held in an Italian institution. The project consists of three works: All That Is Solid Melts into Air (2008), The Origin of the World (2009) and The Word was God (2006). It aims to offer an exhaustive overview of the Swiss-American artist’s most significant output. The works of Boulos approach the complex relation between religious fundamentalism, ideology and terrorism, and are proof of his will to open a radical artistic practice based on the partaking of observation within extreme and relatively impervious social contexts. His films experiment with a socially critical use of the medium of video, in which the spectator is not directed towards a predefined truth, but rather accompanied through a procedural itinerary of analysis, reflection and evolution.
The first part of the double-screen video projection All That Is Solid Melts into Air was shot in Nigeria, in the delta of the river Niger, one of the main sites for crude oil drilling in the world. It is also the territory of a violent conflict between the local population and oil companies, operating under the authorization of the country’s government. This oil drilling has not in fact produced any economic benefit for the territory; on the contrary, it has contributed to the further impoverishment of the already fragile subsistence economy of the indigenous people through ecological devastation and pollution. Boulos spent several weeks living with members of the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta, simple fishermen who became guerilla fighters in order to oppose the neo-colonialist exploitation of natural resources. The video follows the fierce crescendo of their rituals from an internal perspective by accompanying them; it follows the growing manifestations and sense of community shared by the members of the Movement For Emancipation as they try to restore dignity to themselves and to their country. The second projection in the work takes place in the rooms of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, i.e. the Stock Exchange of Chicago, the main marketplace for oil price negotiations. This part of the video installation was shot in the first days of the international credit crisis, when the American bank Bear Sterns collapsed. It forms a mise-en-scène of a different type of ritualism: the ritual of the speculative frenzy of Chicago stockbrokers as they are busy dealing with the economic value of crude oil through the financial instrument of futures. Thus, the double perspective of All That Is Solid Melts into Air gains its title from a quotation by Karl Marx taken from the Communist Manifesto, as it shows the material commodity of oil in two different phases on its travel through the global capitalist system – from the initial extraction from beneath the soil of the Nigerian swamps, to its financial dissolution within the electronic indices of the Chicago Stock Exchange.
The Word was God is a work that consists of two successive parts and approaches the problem of how to represent and thematize the metaphysical experience of the numinous by starting from concrete material reality. In the first part of this video, Boulos shows an old hermit who lives in a remote region of Syria – in one of the first settlements of the ancient Christian communities, where until today a few thousand people continue to speak Aramaic, the language of Revelation used by Jesus Christ. The second part of the work was shot by the artist in the Shiloh Pentecostal Church of London, a community of Pentecostal Christians of African origin, where communal prayer assumes disconcerting forms of mystical ecstasy within a crescendo of vocal expression following linguistic codes unknown to everyone, including those who are praying, and known only to God. The members of the Shiloh Pentecostal community are pushed to exceed themselves and transcend the limits of discursive rationality by praying “in tongues”, and thus become in the eyes of the artist a metaphor and metonymy for the relationship between man and God, that is to say, the representation of the passage between earthly and unearthly by means of the intuitive force of language.
The problem of the representation of oneself and the relationship between authenticity and fiction has been analyzed by Boulos in the third work on view, The Origin of the World. In this work, Boulos set up a video camera behind a double mirror, in order to generate a play of images and cross-references in which the artist’s face is reflected in his own pupils, which are displayed in the foreground. Inspired by the work of Gustave Courbet, the cinematography of Dziga Vertov and the thought of Jacques Lacan, The Origin of the World is a sophisticated experiment realized through the codes of psychoanalysis, theatrical fiction and of narrative deception.
Bakroman is the first solo show of Gianluca and Massimiliano De Serio (born Torino 1978, both live and work in Torino) to be presented in an Italian institution. Their new production is a video work realized in 2009 during a several week-long stay in Ouagadougou, the capital of Burkina Faso. The artists focused their attention on a community of boys and girls living on the streets of the city, or the Bakroman as they are called in the mòoré language. Being orphans or children without families, the Bakroman live and grow up in conditions of extreme poverty in the streets of the city, left to take care of themselves and moreover subject to violence, rape and other forms of aggression.
Placed on the low end of the precarious social system of Burkina Faso, the Bakroman have neither a place to stay nor educational skills or jobs. Their daily routine alternates in roaming through the streets of the capital searching for food and water, as even these very few primary needs are uncertain and exhaustive in terms of finding access. These difficulties, as well as the loneliness and danger to which they are subjected, eventually led the older ones to found an association. The Ajer – Association des jeunes en situation de rue, was founded to provide a sense of regularity and order to their days and a structure for dialogue and reciprocal support among each other. The association itself is a form of spontaneous first aid association, constituted by daily reunions, meetings and collective rules. It resembles a platform of reciprocal opportunity and solidarity, attempting to reduce the permanent emergency situation that arises in consequence of the difficulty of street life.
Broken up into a multiplicity of projections and screens, Bakroman is a hybrid and multi-layered work, in which images from the social life of the association and the various factions in it emerge and overlap with each other, along with snatches of conversation between the adolescents during their long days on the street and other biographical fragments drawn from their everyday lives. The mediation and essential filter of the film camera have transformed the work of the artists, which at first consisted in approaching street people, into a more participatory, observational work. This began in a neutral way but revealed itself to be confidential in nature, increasingly suspending the distance between the artists and the Bakroman.
In this way, their work refuses to conform to the closed dimensions of the traditional documentary and its reportage-like character of providing solid testimony, established on codified and consequential narrative unities. Bakroman is rather based on an attempt to establish an intimate equality between the young street people of Ouagadougou and the artists, by means of depicting both together within the temporal and geographic space offered by the images. As an analysis of a community of “invisibles”, yet still opposed to the failure of the existing social order, the work of the De Serio brothers contributes to the research of the ethical dimension of the documentary by revealing the formation of a growing collective identity which is enclosed within the space of a diasporic experience of resistance.
The exhibition travels from the spatial dimensions of the Atlantic Ocean as a crossing point of cultures and populations over the last centuries. Moving on from the formulation “Black Atlantic”, as articulated by the English theoretician Paul Gilroy, the project narrates the cultural entanglement between European, American and African identities. It presents a selection of four artists from these three continents whose work re-traces historical events and memories bound to the history of colonialism and its heritage of contemporary racial politics. The ideologies connected to the birth of the European nation states, the heritage of slavery in the United States and the complex post-colonial situation in contemporary Africa make up the principal themes of the artists’ approaches. Voices and memories as well as personal and collective geographies form the labyrinthine itinerary of the show, designed to provoke reflection on the nature of individual freedom and the political emancipation of the contemporary world.
In the background the image of the Atlantic Ocean remains a symbolic and real reminder of the circularity of cultures, of oppression and freedom. These conditions have indelibly marked the modern history of the continents that border this ocean.
Kiluanji Kia Henda (*1979 Luanda, Angola where he lives and works)
The artist concentrates his artistic approach on his own country, Angola, which witnessed a ferocious civil war from 1975, the year of its independence from Portugal. In the civil war that followed the two principal political movements of the country fought the Cold War by proxy, conducted behind the scenes by the United States and the Soviet Union. Both superpowers competed for geopolitical control of the country and its oil resources. Until 1979 Angola was ruled by President Agostinho Neto, a Marxist intellectual and poet, and after his demise the completely defenceless country was crushed between the two superpowers of the Cold War, paying an incredibly high price in terms of human life and territorial devastation due to this latest version of colonial violence. Karl Marx, Luanda (2006) is a photographic triptych that depicts the image of the ruined remains of a giant Soviet fishing ship donated by the USSR to Angola. Today the wreck lies abandoned on the Atlantic coast of Luanda, as a remnant of the trade relations between Angola and the Soviet Union during the decades of political collaboration between the two countries. Ideological violence and Atlantic colonialism as well as Cold War strategies, Marxism and the national liberation movement collide in concentrated fashion within the images of Kiluanji Kia Henda, strained between past and present, vectors of a denied future that even today appears impossible for the country of Angola.
Maryam Jafri (*1972, Karachi, Pakistan; lives and works in Copenhagen and New York, US)
Independence Day 1936-1967 is a work composed of a series of photographs from the respective days of independence in a wide range of Asian and African countries, among them Indonesia, Ghana, Senegal, Pakistan, Syria, Lebanon, Kenya, Tanzania, Mozambique and Algeria. From these images, the celebrations of independence ceremonies appear as formalized festivities, a codification of rituals and diplomatic speeches held in both public and private places. The entirety of this official protocol, from the swearing-in ceremony of the new government to the signing of documents and the pomp of parades and military salutes, has been orchestrated and directed by the colonial country entering retirement. Thus, the photographic materials collected by the artist from archives around the world – covering three decades of 20th century history – are surprisingly similar to each other, notwithstanding their geographical and historical diversity. They demonstrate the perpetuation of the European colonial model at the very moment of its official closure. In this way, the work is an oblique and indirect testimony on the difficulty of leaving behind colonial history, but at the same time it is – by virtue of its retrospective view – a sinister prelude to the political and social tragedies that have devastated the vast majority of these countries in the years following their independence.
Hank Willis Thomas(*1976, Plainfield, NJ; lives and works in New York, US)
The thematic approach of the artist is based in the examination of the history of slavery throughout the Atlantic space, the memory of black labour in the American plantation economy, and the pervasive heritage of colonial and racial discourse within contemporary society. The Curious in Ecstasy The Day (2006) picks up the story of Saartjie Baartman, a young South African woman who was taken to England and France as a slave at the beginning of 19th century, where she was exhibited as an exotic object of curiosity before the eyes of the European bourgeois audience. Dubbed “the Hottentot Venus”, her physical aspect was considered a symbol of primitive beauty, closer to the animal kingdom then the human world, and thus incomprehensible to the European gaze. Hank Willis Thomas reproduces articles from French press of the time, removing the image of Saartjie Baartman being observed by a group of curious spectators and substituting instead the image of Botticelli’s Venus as a canonical European ideal of female beauty. In this way, the artist overturns the logic of the white European view by unveiling the racial construction behind this ideal. The Day I Discovered I Was Colored (2006) reproduces an American illustration from the Sixties, giving voice to discontent regarding the discovery of an identity imposed as a form of diversity and racial inferiority. Afro-American Express (2008) reproduces the graphic trademarks of three well-known credit cards by substituting these official logos with images of the slave trading ships that carried slaves from the west coast of Africa to American plantations. Thus, the immaterial circularity of financial goods controlled by international banking institutions is equated with bitter irony to the circularity of the slave trade conducted along the routes of the Atlantic Ocean in centuries past.
Nanna Debois Buhl (*1975, Aarhus, Denmark; lives and works in New York, US)
The work of the Danish artist is a complex enquiry into the colonial heritage within Danish history. Looking for Donkeys (2008-2009) narrates a week in the life of the artist, spent on the island of St. John looking for donkeys. The island is part of the Virgin Islands, in the Atlantic Ocean, and was the property of the Danish government between 1718 and 1917, the year in which control of the islands were ceded to the government of the United States. Together with the black slaves collected on the shores of Western Africa and carried on slave ships to the Virgin Islands, the Danish also shipped large numbers of donkeys across the Atlantic to St. John at the beginning of the 18th century. These donkeys were then used as working animals on sugar plantations. When the colonial period ended at the beginning of the 20th century, the donkeys remained on the island, which nowadays is home to approximately 400 of them, as they have become quite prolific in feral conditions. Within this video work, the artist speaks about her encounter with the donkeys of St. John as phantasms of the Danish colonial past. They are mysterious, elusive creatures, cultural enigmas of a collective memory that has been removed and remains to be investigated. Incredible Creature (2009) is a further enquiry on the part of the artist into the colonial past of Denmark, revealing stories of Danish merchants and missionaries who travelled across the Atlantic looking for places to colonize and resources to exploit. The Danish participation in the history of the transatlantic slave trade still finds echoes today in the country’s architecture, such as the 18th century harbour warehouses of Copenhagen, where the floral motives of the tapestries dating to that time depict typical flowers of the Caribbean region.
The cultural history of sexuality, ideologies of power and strategies of social control are the main themes of the first single show by the American artist William E. Jones in Europe (born 1962, Canton, Ohio, USA, lives and works in Los Angeles).
The work of William E. Jones unfolds along the social history of the Twentieth Century, investigating events that have fallen into oblivion through the use of visual materials and archival research. Pornographic films of the Sixties, footage of judicial investigations and undeveloped photographic negatives all become the raw material through which the artist undertakes an operation of interpretative excavation, to the point of activating a surprising semantic renewal of various cultural documents which are not usually considered relevant.
Tearoom (1962/2007), the main work of the exhibition, consists of footage shot in the summer of 1962 by the police departement of Mansfield, Ohio with the aid of hidden video cameras. The resulting film, technically an objet trouvé presented in its entirety by the artist, shows the frenetic exchange of homosexual intercourse in public restrooms, located on a main square of this city in the American midwest. As a pioneering experiment in social control by means of the usage of technology, Tearoom describes the strategies of the criminalization of homosexuality in the America of the Sixties, as a reflection on the repressive exercise of authority and at the same time a fascinated and nostalgic portrait of homoerotic sexuality prior to the emergence of AIDS. Created with the precise intentions of investigative documentation, almost fifty years after its production Tearoom is still a cultural object which is difficult to fully grasp, a work full of mystery within the almost inexhaustible stratification of its signifiers.
Other works in the show, such as Killed (2009) and the photographic series Sailors, Pan, Orpheus (Francis Benjamin Johnston and F. Holland Day) (2008), both assembled from images derived from the archive of the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. also bear witness to the unwavering interest of the artist in working with archival materials, which are treated here as a powerful philosophical catalyst for the rediscovery of hidden narratives, ideological manipulations, events and their possible interpretations.
The work of William E. Jones is thus a journey through the labyrinthine dimensions of contemporary history, the outcome of an impure and penetrating gaze capable of challenging the most consolidated and traditional images of modernity.
Text Luigi Fassi
Structured as a philosophical investigation between recent works and new productions realized specifically for the exhibit spaces of ar/ge kunst, Dictation is the first individual show of the Czech artist Eva Koťátková (1982, Prague) in an Italian institution.
Within a dialectical thesis between experience and formation, between habit and punishment, Koťátková constructs performative models of social analysis in order to investigate the forms of common sense and to show the ideological construction of behaviours and individual habits. Within this strategy, a relevant part is played by the body of the artist herself, as she tests habitual and well-defined gestures, re-organizing them according to completely new coordinates. Thus, the practice of the artist is a process of permanent re-assembly, dictated by the desire to involve the observer in the space of a completely new, social environment, one hybrid in nature and undefined.
One of the favorite territories of Eva Koťátková is the field of childhood and its educational space, the school, with its paradigms of integration and social control, against which the artist conducts her research regarding its sedimented rituals and behavioural models. In Sit straight with your arms behind your back (2008), simple wooden structures underline the bodily posture of pupils during the school hours, emphasizing the strategies of social control transmitted by the institution of school. The educational environment is once again at the center of the work Dictate (2009), an audio installation in which the voice of a teacher dictates in imperative cadences a series of commands and punitive instructions, recalling the atmosphere of control that has been standardized and transmitted from teachers to students.
The work is structured according to a performative dimension, in which visitors can take place at a table and “sustain” the impositions of the punitive dictates. Dictate is characterized as an open and shared registry, a paper archive destined to increase during the duration of the exhibit by collecting written assignments submitted by the visitors, who will be invited to re-experience the buried practice of their own memories of childhood and school. Other works, such as Drawing Archives (2005-2009) present a sort of archive of the thought processes and obsessions of the artist, between memory, fear and experimental social analysis.
Through the obsessive registration of events, memories and commonly accepted social mechanisms, Eva Koťátková dismantles piece by piece the certainties of individual and collective identity. She exercises a continual questioning of socialized norms and models, undertaking in the final analysis an interrogation on the very nature of freedom and the idea of free choice.
“A Letter Concerning Enthusiasm” takes its title and starting point from a philosophical letter written in 1707 by the british thinker Anthony Ashley Cooper, earl of Shaftesbury. The exhibition explores the dark sides embedded in the understanding of enthusiasm during modernity in Europe, when this feeling was devalued and dismissed, being considered a source of obsession, fanatism and violence.
The works of the artists on view in the exhibition reenact this understanding describing in a variety of ways the defeat, during the XX century, of revolutionary ideologies overloaded by enthusiasm, showing the point in which enthusiasm reveals its failure collapsing into boredom and inactivity.
Influenced by the social upheavals of California in the 1960s and attracted to the philosophical ideas of the Far East, as well as being situated far away from the New York art market, artists like Paul Kos, Tony Labat, Dennis Oppenheim, Terry Fox, Tom Marioni and Bruce Nauman from the Bay Area around San Francisco, joined together to form the group California Conceptual Art.
Thanks to their novel and creative forms of expression and use of new media, incorporating works on video as well as performance and installation art, for which transitory and mutable materials were used (such as ice or dust), their collective focus was directed on the concept and the idea of the artistic endeavor as something interconnected with a specific situation and place, rather than towards the commercialization or marketing of the artwork itself. For this reason it was primarily the ephemeral and transitory artworks within the group’s oeuvre that achieved a new significance in terms of their poetic-narrative approach.
Paul Kos and Tony Labat, two of the primary figures deriving from the San Francisco scene of the time, will exhibit from 16th January to 28th February 2009 a selection of their objects, installations and projects within the rooms of the dell’ar/ge kunst Gallery Museum of Bolzano. For this show the two artists have also specifically created some new works.
Several generations of artists have until today been influenced by these two artists, who also teach at the San Francisco Art Institute.
“Fantasmata” is a key word within Western philosophical language. Strictly tied to reflection on the role of imagination and fantasy, the meaning of this term constitutes a complex philosophical problem within itself, from its origins in the history of classical Greek thought through to its contemporary usage.
In his work De Anima, Aristotle defines the imagination as a place situated at an intersection halfway between perception and thought, thus making possible a fluid connection between these two processes while still remaining different from both. In Aristotle the imaginative faculty, or fantasy, is capable of generating fantasmata, defined as images that are derived from the memory of the perceived; in other words, created from the experience of sensory perception of singular objects and events. These fantasmata play a role of primary importance, within the development of thought. In fact, in the Aristotelian psychology, every mental and conceptual operation inevitably refers back to the fantasmata and is tied to them. As a consequence, there can be no images without perception, as there can be no thought without images. Therefore, the fantasmata serve as bridge between perception and meaning, posing themselves as the true catalyst of cognition – although due to their ambivalent and ephemeral characteristics, they don’t however constitute a precise ontological identity. In this way the phantasm becomes an ambiguous, diaphanous and variable entity, no longer merely sensorial, but not yet completely intellectual, although capable of representing exemplarily the region of the possible and its various evolutions.
The current exhibition intends to synthetically re-attain the complexity of the original philosophical meaning of the “fantasmata”, also by virtue of adopting its own nuances and ambivalences.
The works of the artists in the show are testimony of this particular nature of the phantasm, actuating imagination, memory and perception, but without endowing any of these elements with more power than the others. The works on display produce images as a part of the mental space which becomes visible as a border between the world of sensation and perception, and the world of rational and conceptual thought. In this manner the fundamental role of the imagination and the fantasmata within the arts can be delineated, and at the same time the topicality and importance of classical philosophical reflection within the contemporary art discourse can be highlighted.
Following the main principle of Manifesta 7, and positioning the specific and organic situation of each exhibition space at the centre of attention, the Gallery Museum will display the works of some of the most exciting current artistic positions of regional artists through two exhibitions held during the period of the Manifesta. By means of the works presented, the focus will be on our exterior living space (environmental, cultural, architectural etc.) as well as on our interior living space (psychic, interpersonal and daily issues etc.). These will in turn be analyzed, reflected, questioned and reconceived, with the aim of looking behind the facades. The concept is to create visible transformations, intersections, conjunctions and form processes. Disjunctions, horizons and distances are positive, as they are effective as nuances. Interstices are constitutive. Approximations and distances are more important than rigidly held positions and definitions.
Following the main principle of Manifesta 7, and positioning the specific and organic situation of each exhibition space at the centre of attention, the Gallery Museum will display the works of some of the most exciting current artistic positions of regional artists through two exhibitions held during the period of the Manifesta. By means of the works presented, the focus will be on our exterior living space (environmental, cultural, architectural etc.) as well as on our interior living space (psychic, interpersonal and daily issues etc.). These will in turn be analyzed, reflected, questioned and reconceived, with the aim of looking behind the facades. The concept is to create visible transformations, intersections, conjunctions and form processes. Disjunctions, horizons and distances are positive, as they are effective as nuances. Interstices are constitutive. Approximations and distances are more important than rigidly held positions and definitions.
Which strategies can we use to heighten our perception? Which forms determine our natural and as well as socialised environment? How can we peer behind the curtain of the ordinary? And which processes help us to define internal and external positions and to situate proximity and distance? And what kind of dynamic is set in motion by which forms?
Different artistic positions will be demonstrated, alongside presentation of research about the meaning of the “own” and the “other” regarding artistic positions that deal with external, spatial and constructive parameters. This gives rise to questions of the forms and structures that define our organic as well as constructed cultural surroundings.
In the field of experimental, intermedia contemporary art, the synaesthetic connection of audio and video becomes increasingly prominent. The Graz-based art association Kunstverein Medienturm presents 18 works of a younger artists’ generation, which is more and more recognized in an international context.
The chosen works exhibit a discussion of an abstract conceptual idea of production; a concise visualization rather meets delicately woven sound, in order to concentrate to complex audio-visions.
Confronted with the aging of our society and the challenges this raises, it becomes clear that we need new images to address the subject of aging. These two exhibitions investigate this subject by presenting contemporary artworks dealing with the topics of family and society, paying special attention to the aging body and moving between deprivation, anxiety and intimacy. Thus, the exhibitions offer impressive portrayals of the issues of aging, of nostalgia and of remembrance. They move between self-perception and the myths of youth by focussing on the view younger family members have of their parents and grandparents. The video and photographic works exhibited in the Gallery Museum in Bolzano aim to point out both the problematic and the enriching moments provided by the presence of old people in our families, documenting their integration as well as their exclusion.
An intimate look at the presence of old people in our families is provided by the artist Marcell Esterhazy in his video “v.n.p. v.2.0.” (2005). For the duration of a family supper the video camera focuses on the grandfather, then the artist increases the tempo of the film, adapting it to the grandfather’s slow movements through providing an acceleration of the movements of the other family members.
In his video work “Kitchen” (1997) Aernout Mik stages three elderly men fighting in front of the backdrop of a recently installed kitchen. Following the instructions of the artist they change their roles, playing in turn the aggressor and then the victim – reprising roles that they might have played long ago in the schoolyard. Nonetheless one can still recognise who used to be the loser at that time, and who the winner.
In the video “Elocution” (1996) of Imogen Stidworthy a negotiation of power is performed between an old man and a younger woman, reflecting upon the roles of parent-child, father-daughter, teacher-pupil, man-woman.
Elisabeth Hölzl accompanied the old people of the “Seisenegg” nursing home in Merano over a fixed period with her still camera. In her installation “Souvenir” (2007) she arranges scenes that show everyday objects and photos, objects that in the old people’s eyes represent their past lives.
Marina Ballo Charmet in her video “frammenti di una notte (2005) explores in the most sensitive way a single night in the geriatric hospital department, her work moving between the themes of illness, advanced age and medical care. Her pictures explore how sleep presents us with the possibility of dissociation, at the border of consciousness and unconsciousness, how they follow the rhythm of the nursing shift changes, the rhythm of the hospital’s medical staff, characterized by ritual gestures of taking care.
The photographer Melanie Manchot exhibits portraits of her mother, a means not only of pointing to their close relationship but also of presenting the skin as a projection screen for advanced age. No other organ can act as such a sensitive seismograph of how we have lived than our skin, which seems to bear the traces of every scar, every past and present action that we perform.
David Zink Yi took pictures of his Italian grandmother in his work “Roma 395-6” (2006). Despite having emigrated from Italy to South America a long time ago, she still keeps and arranges the porcelain figures and lacework that serve as a remembrance of Europe. The artist focuses on the cultural memory all human beings possess, and on the importance of the family roots that link us to our pasts and to our sense of belonging. We have a great variety of images at our disposal when we talk about aging, but have so few images that genuinely reflect our present time. These two exhibitions try to move in this direction by focussing on the beauty of the old.
„What I have seen, I won’t talk about” is what Jeanne Faust entitles her exhibition in the Gallery Museum, Bolzano, and so focuses attention on one of the central themes of her artistic work: the relationship between images and language. Moments of imagination, of projections and feelings that stick to the perception and interpretation of images play a major part in Jeanne Faust’s films and photographic work. The pictures which form her new series and are exhibited here, for the first time and to this extent, as a solo show, pick up these elements. They refer to media pictures that try to capture significant events in a concise image, and through the repetition of the same or similar motifs they coagulate to become stereotypical signs. Jeanne Faust uses such pictures as patterns for her silhouettes and photographs them again. The work then passes through various stages of medial transformations and interpretations, until a connection to the motif of the initial picture becomes almost impossible. Yet a feeling of discomfort results, though – or precisely because – an almost frightening beauty inhabits the works. For example, when the picture of a festively decorated street of houses fails to reveal that a fire had recently broken out there. Jeanne Faust is intrigued by the power of seduction that beautiful surfaces possess – and distrusts it completely. In her film IV she shows in a similar way the discrepancy between the linguistic approach to the image and the picture as described. Here we can see a young woman giving two different descriptions of a picture – or, more precisely: a still from a vampire movie – while she fumbles for words. As the title of the exhibition ironically suggests, sometimes it is best to say nothing. Yet, Jeanne Faust’s pictorial language is extremely eloquent. Jeanne Faust was born in 1968 in Wiesbaden and lives in Hamburg. She has had numerous exhibitions and was one of the four final nominees for the National Gallery’s Prize for Young Art, Hamburger Bahnof, Berlin, in 2007. „What I have seen, I won’t talk about” is Jeanne Faust’s first solo show in Italy.
On the occasion of his solo show in the Gallery Museum Philipp Messner (born in 1975 in Bolzano, lives and works in Munich) creates a large-size, room-filling sculpture that consists of many single pieces. These pieces will be assembled by the artist as a construction of architectural character depending on the room’s requirements. The single bodies consist of a alluminum and synthetic material interconnexion, coated on both sides to obtain a glassy surface, in such a way that the surface of the sculpture reflects itself on the inside, generating a kaleidoscope effect, and at the same time reflecting the environment on the outside. Thus, the observer will see an ever changing game of reflections, mirrorings and doublings, that will continiously catch the eye and challenge it.
Messner’s works are conceptual, they focus on function, form and surface, and through their huge size they involve the observer with his physical and psycic presence. Messner’s objects distinguish themselve by the direfully precise and exact treatment of these most delicate and smooth surfaces. They are exclusively made of industrial materials and are manufactured in an industrial manner. Thus, these works function as mirrors which the artist uses to get us to look at ourselves.
Formally considered, Philipp Messner’s sculpture refers to former works in which he dealt with flags in their symbolically visualised forms, for example the movable wall partition „Arsenale“ of his show in the Tyrolean Art Pavillon in Innsbruck 2006, or his performance „flah back“ that was presented for the first time on the occasion of the International Performance Festival 2006 in Trent, as well as his filmwork „Flash Flag“ (35 mm, 15 “, 2006), a cinematic piece in which the flags of the UN member states were reduced to Black and White and were shown in such a rapid cinematic projection that the eye had barely time to discern the individual symbols from each other. This work will be shown every day throughout the exhibition in the Filmclub of Bolzano.
In his artistic approach Philipp Messner reduces, deconstructs, makes collages, overlaps, and samples. He deletes what is superflous and reduces picture schemes to a minumum, he dissects the ensemble to its smallest pieces and puts different parts together again to obtain a virtual ensemble. His aim is to make the art object an experimentation ground on which a unique experiment can be carried out again and again: an experimental examination of the observers perception regarding the fiction of the surface.
Starting from the point of religious and political symbols and their proportions, Philipp Messner has developed for his construction in the Gallery Museum single elements as hollow bodies capable of including the geometrical forms of the star, the halfmoon, the cross, the rectangle (for the coloured areas) and so on.
By the alternating of hollow spaces and limitation areas the perception of the observer oscillates between two and three-dimensionality. It is here that the question of authenticity, reality and image will be raised. Regarding the geometry of the surface, as well as the schemes and materiality, these objects refer to the esthetics of Minimal Art or to Constructivism. It is not Messner’s intention to trace the form back to its beginning and to purify it of its embellishments as it was the task of the interwar and postwar artists. Messner reduces in order to focus as exact as possible his inquiries into the relation between form and perception.
The central topic of Philipp Messner’s artist work is to challenge human perception. The crucial point is the question of our expectation attitude in the light of what we see; it is about images and their identity-establishing function. Philipp Messner is not working with forms and flags to make an active political statement, but to explore, for example, the Flag as a form of highly concentrated visual symbolic content. Therefore it can be seen as a prime example of symbolic shaping, something that provides meaning and significance. From the Flag, to begin with, to the formal language of our architecture, the design of our cars and clothes etc., these artificial artifacts define our real space as morphemic elements and create, at the same time, “psycho-spaces” that greatly effect our existential orientation.
Every visual perception produces virtual connections in our head, docking at the reservoir of memories full of stored visual information. Coinstantaneously it awakens our feelings that stand in connection to them. Within this context arises the question of affiliations and standards. Messenr’s project ” Haus in Gröden” ( 2003) took the same line. Overnight he built an optical mock-up of an average family house in Gardena, so posing the question of reality and appearance. Or, in other words, the question of the appearance of reality.
Messner’s interest is not the object itself, but rather the object as morphemic element, its context, the question of the attitude and perspective of the of the viewer. Through his work Messner deconstructs putative truths, aiming to unmask the “Construct” of reality. with his interventions he challenges us to review, scan and rearrange our perception of reality in regard to its functioning. By this means he challenges to check our perceptive and cognitive skills. In this way, Messner creates forms that are always bridges, making connections between what we are and what we see. Between these two the event of construction of identity takes place.
The exhibition “Ophelia’s world” is the continuation of a project that began in 2004 with the group show ‘Innocence and Violence’, which deals with the work of women artists in responce to gender specific questions.
The topic of the present show is Ophelia, a character in William Shakespear’s “Hamlet” (1602), who has grown to become a collective myth relating to beauty, madness, nature and death. In nineteenth-century France the suicide of Ophelia inspired artists who portrayed her in innumerable works. The veneration reached a point where women began dressing themselves in the style of Ophelia, braiding garlands of leaves in their hair. As a result Ophelia became a character in the arts, designating the interface between what is nature and what is human.This nexus accredits to women all those attributes that the “civilized” assigned to “nature”: to be extraordinarly beautiful, pure and defenceless on the one hand, and exceedingly dangerous, chaotic and seductive on the other.
Within music, art and literature, one can constantly find this connection of (* here is a change) Woman with the element of Water, but also in the reinterpretions in feature films, comic-strips and advertising.
Following the trend towards “wellness” and ecological tourism, this connection is undergoing a revival. But, in what consists this incredible fascination that the Ophelia characters, sirens, nymphs and mermaids exert on us?
The meaning of this invisible embrace of water and woman arises primarily out of the concept of life. Nature and femaleness stand for the the creative power as well as the capacity to give birth, they represent motherhood, Eros and sexuality, and at the same time they symbolize power over life and death. However, in this assignation lies the power of both creation and destruction. To be restrained this prolific, and at the same time minatorial power has to be transmitted to the realm of the Symbolic, i.e. to be safely consumed as art object, the attracting woman must symbolically die. Ophelia is the dead woman who has been solidified as a piece of art, she is the seductress who has lost her minatorial nature. Her beauty and power are no longer exerting anxiety, from now on they exert only fascination.
The purpose of this exhibition consists in inverting the principle of removing these menacing female strenghts, and instead encourages a versatile approach through the work of young contemporary artists. Furthermore it seeks out the significance of Ophelia-related arguments and attempts to grasp their importance for today’s gender concepts. By picking up this connection between femininity and nature, water and sensuality, the artists ensure that the principle of “removing the Other” no longer works, it is in fact defussed, since they are not dealing with the “Other” but with their “Own selves“. In fact they often use their own body as an example.
Yet, today, this no longer happens in the form of a painful examination, which partly induces to affect violently ones own body, as it was the case in the 1970′s (for example Gina Pane). It happens rather by means of an astonishing self-conciousness and a subtle review of our cultural self-conception – revealing great potential for self-mockery.
Continuing the exhibition-series promoting young South-Tyrolean artists, the ar/ge art Gallery Museum now displays works of the artist Siggi Hofer in a solo-show. Born in Bruneck in 1970, the artist now lives in Vienna.
Based on the title of the exhibition, constituted by a German pop song line that was transformed into the English language by the artist, Siggi Hofer compiles a complex and well-choreographed show, with specific focus on the premises of the Gallery Museum.
The show consists of various different items, e.g. a series of small- and large-size watercolour paintings, a model of a castle, a video clip, as well as newspaper articles and a pair of wooden horse legs, dangling from the ceiling.
The underlying master concept is displayed by the mutual dependence of the single pieces, one somehow emerging from the other. In their contraposition they constitute the leitmotif, guiding the visitor to the exhibition’s main theme: “A Reality-Overkill” (by means of which at the same time the contraposition of the exhibition’s title is indicated).
The invitation card shows a newspaper-article-section selected by Siggi Hofer. Content of this article is an occurrence embedded in the artist’s own biography (which he herewith claims to be publicly relevant): Namely the fire blight in his flat in Vienna after a gas explosion. This event is concatenated in the artist’s thought-memos to the destruction of the World Trade Centre in New York 2001. At that time Susan Sontag commented the 9/11 TV-reportings in the following way: America has never been further from reality than to this point of time, in which a reality-overkill barged in on us.
The lettering „Übermaß“ (overkill) flaunts above the model of a medieval castle which was supplemented – revealing utmost care for detail work – with contemporary building extensions, thus leading us from the text level onto the spacial level: an exercise which for Siggi Hofer generates meaning.
The objects and drawings allow for a critical and challenging glance at the conventional concepts of space and order. Here, the quality of systems made by humans is being scrutinized, giving rise to questions of the dimension (resp. overkill) of reality at the very same time.
Private and public, idyll and sudden destruction constitute antonyms, create polarity, and then come into conflict and finally exchange signs and value. In a critical and ironical way, Siggi Hofer thwarts the traditional equation in which privacy is associated with idyll and peace and the public world is associated with danger. Small-size “beautiful watercolour paintings” show galloping horses, Alpine huts or intimate self-portraits of the artist in his own flat. But one day the idyll burns down, the flat explodes or human mankind faces a fatal threat.
The big-size drawings (appr. 3 meters breadth) that show views of cities resp. landscapes of bird’s eye view, allow for the obsessively detailed celebration of putative control over such unpredictable and chaotic processes. Serialized grids of settlements, Industry, highways, bridges and rivers spread across jagged regions and constitute the elements of a utopian architecture. Power and control are exercised by means of a rigid order, determined by the artist himself. The execution of power and control is then interrupted in different places in such a way that it leads to a final disorientation.
The architectural structure incorporates inserted textual paragraphs, like „Der Schrei“ (the scream), „Licht“ (light) or „Übermaß“ (overkill), whose interpretation can hardly be deduced from the picture per se. They do have the function of compositional and contextual irritation though and map the narrative level onto a parallel level beyond conventional interpretations of picture – content – text. Therefore, Siggi Hofer´s messages always gain their understanding by combining the different “codes”: the exhibited pieces enforce a cross-reading.
The little girl just wants to express her feelings, but thereby sparks off a disaster: The beloved horse shies away, rears up…. Will we, the visitor, get off scot-free?
“There is one reproach that you cannot avoid. You forget that man must be “himself”. Go climb the mountains and let books and society lie untouched and go rotten. Go climb the mountains, I tell you, and eat strawberries. Eat strawberries, I tell you, and forget that you are alone.” Sigmund Freud wrote these sentences to his school friend Eduard Silberstein at the age of seventeen. Mountains stand for wilderness, for the desert, for the uncivilized world beyond urban complexity. Sigmund Freud advised his friend to renounce the exacting demands of daily existence, of interpersonal relations.
Perhaps therein we can find the notion of a timeless idyll which reaches out to the over-organized, drilled, life based on the humanist education, to offer authenticity based on physical experience and nature.
Strawberries, seen in the Middle Ages as a symbol of the blood shed by Christ and the martyrs, is now perceived differently. Today it clearly stands for joie-de-vivre and erotic desire. Freud probably refers to sensuality too in his advice recommending both restraint and pleasure. The enjoyment of strawberries in the mountains should help overcome disappointments, or stands for powers which need to be re-discovered – a substitute for (erotic) renunciation. The role of strawberries as found in his youthful letter, Freud later attributes to art.
In his theory of art, Freud sees it as a symptom of unfulfilled wishes on the part of the artist. In Freud’s view, the artist works through his conflicts, whereby he is driven by precisely those powers which cause neuroses in others. Yet the path from the artist to the neurotic is a short one, according to Freud: “He is driven by excessive drives and needs, the yearning for honor, power, wealth, fame and the love of women; yet he lacks the means to achieve these various forms of satisfaction.” The result is that art turns into a sort of gratification of desire, whereby the artist reshapes that which is offensive in his wishes, adapting it to certain aesthetic rules. Freud’s notion of the sublimation of ideas has inspired many artists in the twentieth century, especially those who wish to integrate desires and dreams into art. Yet Freud also disappointed many artists, Breton for instance, who had high expectations of his meeting with Freud, only to find himself sitting opposite a doctor who saw art as consolation, as ersatz therapy. The exhibition in the Galerie Museum Bolzano examines critically patterns of sublimation, exploring the problems of substitution, projection and imagination. The suggestion by the youthful Freud to seek both self-fulfilment and pleasure is the point of departure for selecting international perspectives on modern art. The artworks, some of them commissioned for this exhibition, develop the themes of mysteries, yearnings and conflicts as subjects for an imagined life.
The exhibition con – sens stresses the importance of the five senses as an essential means of experiencing what is around us. That may sound like a truism, but Western man today has more or less instituted a distance between himself and his body that also distances him from the world and from others. And yet, we are as much feeling subjects as thinking ones. Indeed, the two go together.
Further, it is in this world that we encounter each other, whether or not we come to that meeting with curiosity. And without others, we do not exist. The title con – sens also conveys the plurality that, for the philosopher Hannah Arendt, is the overwhelming law of the Earth.
The idea, then, is to heighten experience of the five senses with works of art, each of which constitutes a moment of encounter.
In addition, the aim is that the works of the eight featured artists should become part of the town and of what constitutes it (an inhabited space-time, made up of visible constructions and invisible connections, of memories and projects). Thus the point is not for these works to be autonomous objects or, on the contrary, to disappear into the urban fabric; rather, they are here to partake of what is going on and to contribute their own capacity to ask questions, their way of playing with conventions and expectations.
Their mode of presence, founded on the experience of the senses and on an activation of what is there, will be conducive to real participation on the part of visitors and inhabitants, who will thus be more than simple spectators. The works will invite them to listen, to others and to themselves, to enter into dialogues, to taste and to drink, to smell and to see, to move through the town in all directions, and with all their senses, on both sides of the rivers, in the Italian and Germanic quarters; to stop and take their time. Connections will be formed between works and places, and perhaps between individuals who previously did not know or speak to each other. For each person, these connections will form a new way of thinking about their own being-here, made of words and feelings, of walks and discussions unfolding through four dimensions, from the body’s memory to urban structures, from mother tongues to the horizon of the mountains.
How will artworks – set against the scale of the town and the landscape – manage to become active presences within the urban fabric and its incessant movement? Art, which is materialised in works or manifested in actions, is something to which we cannot remain indifferent. As some time, somewhere, we have all had that experience of finding ourselves shaken to the core by a work of art. Our breathing changes, and so too, perhaps, does that centre of gravity in relation to which we measured the magnitude of our gestures and words. This change within us is hard to express, and yet the event has happened, and it may affect the way we relate to the world and those around us. When this event occurs outside the museum, or outside the museum world, in the heart of the city, then its resonance potentially has a public character that reaches beyond the personal dimension of the encounter. The active presence of art is felt at this point of articulation.
In his first solo show in Italy, the Swiss multi-media artist Yves Netzhammer – born in 1970 in Schaffhausen – transforms the space of the Galerie Museum by means of wall drawings and projected computer animations into a mysterious, poetic, pictorial cosmos.
Yves Netzhammer’s works evolve from computer-created drawings. He uses them to compose very strange stories, which in a model-like way reflect our lebenswelt. The drawings are of an enigmatic nature, they are full of ciphers, which in the head of each individual viewer lead to new associations and connections. The protagonist in Netzhammer’s films is a faceless and sexless jointed doll. This figure appears highly artificial and technoid, nevertheless it is an ideal representation of the human being as such and a projection screen for our phantasies.
In his stories, Netzhammer creates chains of action that are all about links and transformational relations between the human world, the world of objects and fauna and flora. By means of dramaturgic and optical ruptures, embedding and branching, sequences of images are strung together which address the proximity of perfect world and catastrophe.
The artist translates the philosophically and psychologically loaded problem of the border between the self and the other, between internal and external reality, into images reminiscent of Ovid’s metamorphoses. The main topics are the fundamental questions of life, illness, love, sexuality, and death. Netzhammer never overburdens the viewer with dramaturgic effects, which in turn allows for her to access the subtly powerful stories with utmost openness and receptivity.
Netzhammer’s techniques of imaging are reminiscent of visual simulation in the sciences, which are employed as a means to make invisible processes visible (for instance abstract representations of virus as red balls). Netzhammer’s stories are comparable to such scientific set-ups for experiments. Although the stories’ events are reminiscent of real patterns in our everyday life, they cannot be explained according to logical laws. Netzhammer rather traces subconscious links, his images evoke thoughts and links in the head of the viewer; they evoke feelings.
The natural and the artificial converge, fiction and reality merge. The absence of place, time and scale blur firm borders; therefore, meanings may be shifted over and over again. Netzhammer’s model-like pictorial language creates mental landscapes, which in their remoteness and coolness describe our world all the more precisely, sensually, and painfully.
One of the striking characteristics of the discourse on painting which started after modernity and led up right to the present is that painting is considered an alternative to the now not so new “new media” and artistic practices. In the end, such an approach is always closely tied to a reactionary attitude, since it implies a retreat to a setting where painting is a fixed and unquestioned position and where it can thus signify an apparent essence of art. Today especially, the medium of painting is often celebrated in a totally uncritical way and set in traditions which- in the worst case- are highly problematic politically or- in the best case- remain entirely meaningless for the present. As opposed to this, an alternative tradition exists, which has dealt explicitly with the crisis of painting in modernity in the 1960′s and 1970′s and has employed that crisis to question tableau painting vis-a-vis alternative artistic agendas like conceptual art, minimal art, or installation in a way which actually led to new results and allowed for the formulation of new problems. Frank Stella’s preoccupation with the alleged immateriality of the painting is one of many examples, as is Christopher Wool’s subsequent investigation of text and image or Albert Oehlen’s questioning with respect to the problem of figuration after the monochrome painting. In these discourses the painting as an autonomous object often dissolves and becomes part of the space and therefore installation. It is the very thin line between the autonomous object on the one hand and spatial dissolution on the other which creates the tension in this kind of painting.
The artists exhibited here can be seen in this tradition, yet they also have to be regarded as representing a new, young generation, which continues and elaborates this investigation.
Lecia Dole-Recio and Will Fowler did their graduate studies at Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, where art is taught in that specific Californian mixture of conceptual art, sculpture and installation, which makes an aloof study of painting quite impossible.
Fowler’s work draws heavily on sculptural and installational factors. In his earlier work he often built sculptures out of the painting, thereby dissolving the borders between painting and the surrounding space. These effects are achieved in a different way in his recent works, namely by means of stackings or stratifications within the painting which create friction and through formal elements which reach beyond the margin of the painting. In spite of the massiveness of the canvases, we never perceive autonomous objects with a surface, but rather detect paths which lead into the paintings as well as out of them. In Lecia Dole-Recio’s case there are contradictions of a different nature. The lightness of the material- paper and adhesive tape- could indicate the dissolution of the pictorial object, were it not for the depth and complexity that emerge from a complex system of the arrangement of materials and color. In these works, opacity and transparency are not in opposition, but rather oscillate in front of our eyes. This work is not collage, as might be inferred by the material, rather, the parts converge and form a whole, the theme here being composition and its limits. The third artist in the exhibition, the Austrian painter Doris Pivonka studied in Vienna at the Academy of Fine Arts, yet she was never seduced by the strongly expressive and material-oriented style of painting practiced there. Her work is usually focused on constructing or detecting fissures in a very reductive setting and a superficial calm. The fissures lead beyond the painting in the same way as was described above and thus hint at something exterior to the painting. Even though the paintings shown in the exhibition might suggest that this reductive practice has been abandoned, a closer look reveals that the various colorful figures condense into a spatial overlapping which in a comparable, yet completely different, manner imply something beyond the painting just like in the case of the other two positions.
The idea of this exhibition is not to make use of painting as a means for making new claims in art but rather to document the contingency of a development which puts this medium into the framework of other media and developments whilst still elaborating it autonomously.
Martina Steckholzer’s conceptual artwork depicts contemporary figurative art spaces in which artistic-cultural media transmission (exhibition rooms, museums, galleries, TV studios) or the reflection on aluminium sculptures or wall projections occurs. The artist moves along the boundary between geometric abstraction and figurative representation, leading us towards a totally new point of view, in the centre of which are the most unimportant and insignificant elements.
Martina Steckholzer films and paints art spaces. She captures shots, single moments that serve as models for her artworks, which, in turn, immediately recall their cinematographic origin. The artist paints shady imprints, reflected light, mirror surfaces, hints and details of environments, exploring image temporalization and elusiveness, where spaces dissolve in their contours. Colour or black and white surfaces and lines, perspective cracks on the ceilings or floors recur in her paintings.
Martina Steckholzer explores the concept of image identification, with many levels of meaning embedded in her themes. Traces of space and light find their place on the canvas in a direct and fresh manner, and the painted image is both a trace and déjà vu. The exhibition “set” is much more than single image units placed side by side. The themes, all derived from the art context, suggest a corporeity only hinted at and rather fugacious, projections for the observer and his/her perception. The real centre of the “set” is the gap between the canvases and the observer in that place and that moment; an art representation in which functions and aesthetic, cultural and economic mechanisms are just some of the possible associations.
Martina Steckholzer maintains a free relationship with her themes and brush, creating an immediate effect on the artwork. The complex content level of her paintings balances with the aesthetic-sensorial effect. The paintings of Martina Steckholzer create a tension in which the observer, is continuously questioned, reflected, illuminated and moved. Martina Steckholzer, born in 1974 at Sterzing, lives and works in Vienna. After studying architecture in Innsbruck, she attended the Freie Kunstschule in Stuttgart, Germany. From 1997 to 1999 she studied painting at the Mozarteum in Salzburg, and in 2001, obtained the diploma of Multi Media Producer from the SAE Technology College in Vienna. In 2003, she finished her studies with Gunter Damisch and Heimo Zobernig at the Akademie der bildenden Künste in Vienna. In 2003, she received an award from the Ministry of Culture and, in 2004, the “planquadrat” prize, in Bozen. She has exhibited in many group shows since 1998 in Salzburg, Vienna and New York, and in 2005, in the Prague Biennale.
Solo exhibitions include Studio Galerie 5020, Salzburg (2001); “studio”, Kabinett, Salzburger Kunstverein (2004); “messe”, Galerie Meyer Kainer, Vienna (2004).
“A relaxed field”, a huge plane of soft cotton wool spreads at the entrance of the gallery. For Gostner, cotton wool represents “softness”, “malleability”, which represents an analogy to the “softness” of official and private historiography.
This material, which is both sensual and highly associable, acts as an imaginative reservoir of one owns projections, as well as of the programmatic representation of Gostner’s code, Martin Gostner delves into history not as a linear evolution, but as a circular process. Two works await the visitor in the inner hall of the gallery: “After my death.” (2003), and “Odour within its model” (2005), created especially for this exhibition.
Martin Gostner’s formal language is full of allusions; he wants to bring to light what lies behind, without, however, freeing it, but cutting through the reality that hides under the surface. This gives rise to an intermediate space full of tension, in which the interpretation and assignment of collective memory by calling into question political, social and cultural phenomena, viewing meaning are left to the observer’s imagination. Gostner’s works should be considered as an invitation for the visitor to confront himself/herself with the past, present and future, both personal and collective.
Martin Gostner was born in 1957 in Innsbruck (A). From autumn 2004 he leads a class for sculpture at the Accademy in Düsseldorf (Germany). Important solo shows: Museum Folkwang, Essen, Of Milk And Honey. El Gato Ranch, Big Sur, Dear John. Gabriele Senn Galerie, Vienna, Karma again (2003). Galerie im Taxispalais, Innsbruck, Seitlich aus der Requisite kommend (2002). Secession Wien, Kupferpfandl – und darüber. Neue Galerie Graz, steirischer herbst, All I See I Cover. Gabriele Senn Galerie, Vienna, Entwürfe – Kupferpfandl (2001.) Rupertinum, Salzburg, Apparat für Sonntag. Tiroler Landesmuseum Ferdinandeum, Innsbruck, Video 14. (2000) Kunstraum Johann Widauer, Innsbruck, Leeres Haus, voll von Lärm (1999). Kölnischer Kunstverein, Erinnerung weich (1998). Galerie Hoffmann & Senn, Vienna, Altes, liebes Schlachtfeld (1998). Villa Merkel / Bahnwärterhaus, Esslingen, öde Galle. Galerie Hamelehle & Ahrens, Stuttgart, Guten Tag, kaufen Sie auch Skulpturen? (1997). Galerie Giorgio Persano, Turin, Stepping Into the Shit of History. (1996). Studio Oggetto, Mailand, Vacant Posessions, Erratic Boulders. (1995). Selected group exhibitions: 2005 Fundación Marcelino Botín, Santander, Blancanieves y los siete enamitos. Galerie im Taxispalais, Innsbruck, Arbeit*. – I.Biennale internazionale di scultura, Gorizia/Nova Gorica. Art Metropole,Toronto, Artist Books Revisited. 2004 Büro Friedrich, Berlin/ BAWAG Foundation, Vienna, Funky Lessons. DaimlerChrysler Contemporary, Berlin, Foto, Video, Mixed Media 2. 2003 ZKM Karlruhe, Bankett. Neue Galerie Graz, M_ars Kunst und Krieg. 2002 Palais Tokyo Paris, Je veux, One Star Press.
“Extension point – Ampliamenti su nuclei di realtà” is a group show curated by Guido Molinari, taking place at the AR/GE KUNST Galleria Museo from May 6 to June 11, 2005. The seven artists invited, representing the contemporary art scene in Italy, present photos, videos, ready-mades, installations, in which modifications are carried out on nuclei of reality. There is a tendency in modern art to present fragments of reality that convey emotional concepts and density. Furthermore, there is an expressive line based on the idea that, besides collecting pieces of world (“ready-mades”), it is possible to modify them by adding portions of “other” elements, which are destabilising, sometimes even incongruous. In this way, the initial nucleus of reality, though always recognisable in its morphology, offers new interpretations through minimum amplifications.
The seven artists invited have already made this type of intervention in the past, as have some protagonists of the international scene. Of course, the initial choice is crucial: it is necessary to isolate a nucleus of reality that is particularly pregnant and able to synthesise concepts and aesthetic tensions. After which, it is possible to make additions, modifications and alterations. It is a new form of intervention that can surprise the observer with unexpected margins and can reveal indirectly the most complex and deep motivations tied to personal poetics. The final result leads towards the idea of breaking the rigid boundaries created by reality, through minimal aesthetic interventions, thus amplifying the existing limits towards new levels of sense and shape.
Karl Unterfrauner presents his photographic works in various formats perfectly arranged in pairs, which introduce a dialogue with the spaces of the gallery itself. With the concise title “Trees”, he exhibits photos of leafy trunks free of plants and background, which seem to wave on the walls. The origin of the themes and their initial context remain hidden to the observer: these representations should not be interpreted in the traditional sense of a “window” onto another reality, but as border lines between imaginary places that belong neither to nature nor to art.
“Just like ornamental structures at the border of abstractionism, the images emerge from nothing and reach the walls with an effect that makes them seem without context or origin. What previously occurred between photography and objects far from an art concept (such as, for example, heaters, carpets or garage doors, present in the artist’s work up to now), between spaces devoted to art and spaces out of art, seems to be more generalised here, referring to naturalness and artifice only in a very vague sense”, affirms Martin Prinzhorn in his review of the catalogue.
Karl Unterfrauner’s photographic works should be interpreted according to the exhibit’s character and historical context of conceptual photography. Martin Prinzhorn writes: “It is no longer a matter of understanding how the external world is transposed to the art world, whether truth and authenticity are reflected in the artwork, but of understanding whether truth and authenticity are expressed as a basically complex and problematic concept, which, in conclusion, may not exist at all”.
Lately, Drawing is enjoying a period of extraordinary growth at European level. It is for this reason that the Galleria Museo wishes to offer a view of the fascinating and varied forms of contemporary Drawing in both a regional and international context. Drawing, like many other artistic dimensions, has been strongly influenced by the technological innovations that have taken place in the last few decades. Computers, films and photos have irrevocably become part of the heritage of this expressive form so rich in traditions.
The “Strangely familiar” exhibition presents the works of ten young artists coming from different European and American countries, as well as from South Tyrol. Drawing is the main expressive instrument for all participants. The theme of the exhibition depicts the many access keys that contemporary drawing offers: works on paper in all kinds of formats, cartoons, computer animations, architectural and photographic aspects.
The exhibition proposes, on the one hand, abstract subjects coming from the oneiric world and artist’s imagination and, on the other, objective means of access to the real world and introspective glances at private and familiar enigmas. In this context, Drawing shows its role as a privileged tool that can transform and redefine what is known and familiar to us, making our everyday world slide towards uncommon dimensions. Under the searching glance of a broken line, the unusual reveals itself as familiar.
Five architectural firms have captured attention “far and wide” across the region, taking part in competitions and discussions. They all have something to do with South Tyrol, some of them left, others returned, others still have remained away and only move to work on single projects or collaborate with partners of other nations.
They all work in contextual dimensions, where context does not only have a geographical connotation, and proceed building what they find in an intelligent, demanding and responsible way.
They witness the potential of this land, blessed with a “unique ideological philosophy”, and how an architecture with conceptual connotations may lead to excellent results. It is symptomatic that, except for one single case, they are engaged in public projects, virtually the only platform that allows ambitious architects to transform the stratified potential of this land into an architecture that is coherent, demanding and far from the philosophy of terrace houses or other “realsocialist hotchpotches”.
They are five different principles with no pretence of perfection, which emit an architectural fire, reviving topics of discussion and disagreement. It is not a question of an anthological principle, therefore consciously imperfect, as the aim is to originate dialectic principles related to the South Tyrolean architectural scenario, principles that are so fundamental to this region.
It is not by chance that the exhibition is held here. Indeed, since its foundation, the Museum Gallery AR/GE KUNST has focused on the relationship between art and architecture. And it is not by chance that the five participants have one evening each to free architecture from the essence of its specific technical function and explain these principles, which are linked and interdisciplinary, by means of the architectural exhibition.
Depending on the status given to it, a work of art is usually considered an artistic or ‘ingenious’ product, meant to last for eternity. When the creative process in the artist’s atelier is complete and the work is exhibited, it immediately assumes a passive, irrevocable role, which, institutionally speaking, is its final value. The work of art is kept in an immutable state, where there is no place for the natural ‘ageing’ process. Hence it becomes a passive matter, which can acquire a new meaning on an intellectual level only, through its contextualisation and interpretation.
The exhibition “Entropy: on the vanishing work” collects the creations of eleven international artists who do not view the work of art as an inalterable, measurable and physical object, created for eternity, but as uncertain and mutable, processable and variable, even chaotic. In this context, the term entropy, which is used to indicate the instability and contingency inside the system, assumes a conceptual definition.
The works exhibited – live performances, site specific installations, objects, documents, 16mm films and videos reproduced on DVD – express this idea of perpetual mutability and fleetingness, existing only as a product of their annihilation.
Therefore, the essence of these works lies in the exhibition of their future dissolution. This ‘destructive’ orientation results, paradoxically, in a moment of extreme vitality: what disappears is what continues to exist (forever). The evolutionary character, that is the transition from one condition to another is nothing more than the representation of the fragility of human essence.
Esther Stocker’s exhibition at the Galleria Museo is divided into two sections. A structure at the front illustrates an organisational principle that is characteristic of many of the artist’s works: an internal, geometrically structured space, adorned with square shapes, yet resulting in a grid with fractures and movements. The decoration of the surface, which is apparently simple, precise and rigorous, is actually disorientating because the observer cannot fix his/her gaze at any one point.
In the rear section, the artist exhibits a series of photos in which she analyses the relationship between the features of the human body and geometrical shapes.
With her works, Esther Stocker does not aim at producing immediate significant contents. Her structures, which are both simple and complex at the same time, surprise the observer already during the perceptive process, making him/her refrain from making schematic classifications, rational interpretative schemes or brief readings, and hence awakening an almost frenetic attention for all that cannot be clearly defined.
The theme that ties the artist’s works together is the question about the perception as movement in which it is not possible to define, and above all, formulate a clear boundary between visual perception and thought.
Even though at first sight Esther Stocker’s works may seem linked to historic Op-Art works, the artist is in no way interested in experimenting with optic effects in themselves, but in continuously redefining things through the perception process. During this process, even those who come in contact with the space and image situations are involved, becoming an element of completeness of the work itself.
There’s a lot of whirling, gurgling and swelling… in Brigitte Mahlknecht’s paintings, drawings and photos. The observer comes face to face with an obstinate collection of changes and developments. Creations and series of luxuriant and lush figures personify hybrid existential forms. Lines, numbers, symbols and figures fleetingly fill the portrayed space, sowing germinal cells for further precarious reproduction. They are not illustrated stories but a utopian cartography, an endless repetition, in the vital space of urban memories, biologic visions and cosmic formulas. Brigitte Mahlknecht’s theme is life, depicted through temporary scenarios in its extraordinary fullness to arouse observations and remarks from ever-new points of view. The artist’s answer to shaky certainties and great probabilities is an open project, which explores, in an obstinately humorous way, the space between her very existence as an artist and the challenges of the world in search of the new.
In the show conceived for the Ar/ge Kunst Gallery Museum of Bolzano, Brigitte Mahlknecht’s works acquire a new space quality. Her paintings, drawings, photos and videos alternate with elements exhibited directly on the walls of the Gallery, creating an open, practical circuit. In this way the self-imposed border line snaps, and the scenario of signs spreads all over the Gallery walls.
Brigitte Mahlknecht was born in Bolzano in 1966. After attending the Akademie der Bildenden Künste in Vienna, she lived for some time in New York and Berlin, and presently lives in Vienna. Her works have been exhibited in Salzburg, Bolzano, Vienna, Rovereto, Munich, Berlin, Genoa and Innsbruck. Furthermore, she has published several books in collaboration with writers such as Oswald Egger, Schuldt, Robert Kelly and Aage Hansen-Löve.
Innocence & Violence are the two poles embracing the representations and contents of this exhibition. Five artists from different cultural and social contexts present their idea of femininity at the beginning of the 21st Century. The exhibition shows images of everyday life and modern lifestyles of young women, raises the curtain on glimpses of life, and moves around myths of femininity and the necessary strategies to face reality. The works shed light on intimacy and cruelty, innocence and violence, narcissism and self-destruction: a survey and a discovery of opportunities and limits in the relationship with ourselves and with others.
Through their films, photographs, drawings and performances, the 5 artists represent themselves and their body as protagonists, in their integrity or laceration, always set in their cultural background and referring to the history of art and to their socialisation. At the same time, they intentionally thematise their position as women in a male art market by definition. The “Woman Mystery”, the Freudian ” obscure continent “, is enlightened by the female point of view, presenting a stratified and intense image of a new modern woman. The main subject of the film “Mathilde, Mathilde…” (2000) by Mathilde ter Heijne (Strasburg) is split personality. The artist presents the theme of women as victims, casting herself in the role of a young woman who, through her death, becomes the eternal beloved (like Dante’s Beatrice). However, she gives a new meaning to the content by creating her “Double”, an Alter Ego that, in a violent scene, is thrown from a bridge into a raging river. The artist kills her image, thus becoming victim and executioner at the same time.
The main subject presented by Nadine Norman (Canada) is female reality in its socially mediated corporeity, as the concept of desire and all its contradictions. She focuses her attention on the sphere between the fiction and reality of different representations and roles of women in advertising and other media, as well as in the artistic context.
The film “Dedicated to my Ex Lover” (2001), by the Japanese TANY, deals with the end of her relationship with an artist. The dramatic scenes are set in a gloomy park where she follows her ex-lover with her moped and finally beats him. The extreme aggressiveness of this representation astonishes and overwhelms the observer, because the artist corrupts the theme of violence within the relationship between man and woman.
The films by Zilla Leutenegger (Switzerland) recall many of Cindy Sherman’s self-portraits and Elisabeth Peyton’s codified, pop cultural pictures. In her cartoons, she represents and expresses her innermost and private desires and sensations with no exhibitionism, but through lyric and simple images of herself. She drafts and gives life to her portrait as in a cartoon, through which deep intimacy is entrusted to the figure, which is represented as an identification platform.
Even the works of the German Maike Freess deal with the female body and the image of herself and others. In the film “The river around me” (2001), the artist plays the role of the three typical female models, “the blond”, “the brunette” and “the redhead”. This film is projected frontally on a transparent film, so that the three women are reflected in the eyes of the spectator. Continuously dressing and undressing themselves, these women waver between self-affirmation and flirting with the observer. Anyway, female body is never an end in itself, but the fruit of fantasies, which surround it and become the real subject. The self-portrait of these artists becomes the projection of our desires and absurdity, a game of innocence and violence in a minefield.
Josef Rainer studied at the Akademie der Bildenden Künste of Munich (until 1997) and received a scholarship from the city of Vienna (2001-02), awarded by the Ministry of Science, Education and Culture. He has been living in Bolzano since 2003. In summer 2003 he was Artist in Residence at the Glenfiddich Distillery in Dufftown, Scotland. He has participated in several exhibitions in Innsbruck, Cham, Suzarra, as well as at the Galleria Civica of Bolzano(2000), Art Innsbruck, Phönix Art Sammlung of Hamburg (2002), Panorama 03 Bolzano, Tiroler Wasserkraftwerk of Imst, edited by Prof. Christoph Bertsch, and Glenfiddich in Scotland (2003).
With this exhibition at the Galleria Museo, Josef Rainer wants to continue the METROPOLIS series started at the Glenfiddich Distillery, in Scotland, and at the Wasserkraftwerk in Imst. Josef Rainer’s art plays with the relation between reality and fiction, expressed, in the METROPOLIS exhibition, through the example of a city. Scenes are represented through a structural, scenographic language and photographs. The architecture in which these scenes are represented is not a mere background, but it becomes an important contentual point of reference. The artist shows us a play of proportions, passages and architectural fragments juxtaposed to plaster figures. These figures are 30 cm high, painted and two-dimensional and move among the architectural elements, causing a metamorphosis in the relationship between dimensions and, consequently, an alienating effect. This exhibition is characterised by two different kinds of protagonists. On the one hand, there are the plaster and wire figures, men, women and children, the real inhabitants of the city who move in an apparently known context, carrying out their daily activities. On the other hand, there are the visitors of the Galleria who, in the play of moving dimensions, become extras, and end up in an unusual situation that requires a new perception.
Josef Rainer plays with dimensions and their relationships: the space inside the gallery becomes the urban area, the unreal becomes real through moving dimensions and vice versa, in a mixture of different levels of meanings. “What dimension becomes more important?“ wonders author Sigrid Hauser, or “Where are the boundaries of artistic space?”, “How far are these boundaries from our reality?” and “Do we belong to this structure, do these themes also include the fact that we are observing?”, “What is imaginary and what is real?“
Figures, “three-dimensional on the floor and two-dimensional on the walls, take part (…) in the life of our reality” (Sigrid Hauser) The artist’s stories are inspired by personal events and memories, which give birth to the intellectual content and here are inserted in a broader and more general context. They act only as an example, as an “illustration of the journey of an individual through that city which is the world”. The figures tell moments of the story of a life. Photographs depict forgotten places, non-places, marginal places which capture the artist’s attention: sewage pipes in hidden dirty yards, pipes and machinery parts or cables under an office desk, radiators and wooden boxes, forgotten and dusty corners in which the artist puts his figures, which suddenly acquire a new meaning.
Josef Rainer’s art is carefree and calm, the humour of everyday life peeps out of the legs of a chair or a drain pipe, nameless places which take on an unknown charm and act as a background to the stories of simple protagonists, expressing in this way the charm of alienation and its relative meaning. At this point, a question arises spontaneously about the actual greatness of the situation, from a real as well as metaphorical point of view, and also about our greatness with respect to things: actually, where are we and who is directing our actions…?
Three years ago, in autumn 2000, Peter Kaser created an art site near the Brenner highway: 84 steps on the edge of a waterfall, leading to a small observation bunker of the Second World War. Since then, artistic initiatives are periodically held in this place of art. One of the projects carried out in this place of art “scalini 84 stairs” near the Brenner village was “: heaven & hell”, a lyric stair installation by Kurt Lanthaler and Peter Kaser. Kurt Lanthaler composed the poem especially for this place. 84 verses for 84 stairs written on plexiglas panels fitted on each stair rise so that visitors could read them as they walked up the stairs. For 26 months.
The exhibition in the Museum Gallery of Bolzano (12.12.2003 – 10.01.2004) represents a further development of the work of art “: heaven & hell”, but also a redefinition of the whole story. The main theme is the fascinating cooperation between the two artists who come from two different cultural contexts, figurative art and literature. The theme explores the challenge to combine these two arts in order to create a unique experience that goes beyond the two subjects themselves. Indeed, at Brenner, the writer was required to create a lyric poem for an art site and therefore to present it visually, whereas for the exhibition at the Museum Gallery, the artist has to create artistic representations that, on the one hand, can be illustrated in book form and, on the other, recall the lyric poem of the “walking reader” in a merely figurative way. In order to obtain this effect, Peter Kaser lets a golden potato roll down the 84 stairs, through which Tschaekk Madia, the protagonist of Lanthaler’s poem “heaven & hell”, manages to escape from his demons who are chasing him. Visitors read Lanthaler’s epic poem as they actually walk up the 84 stairs that lead to the bunker, whereas they comfortably watch the potato drama, as if they were at the cinema: the “walking reader” thus becomes a “reading hand”. Kaser believes that figurative art originates in the minds of people: first of all, in the mind of the artist, and then in that of the viewer who completes the work of art through a subjective process. But why does Kaser intentionally represent the fall from “heaven to hell” with a potato? Replying to this question, the artist gives a laconic answer: “Why not?” The drummer Paolo Jack Alemanno is famous for his collaboration with bands like Westbound, Cherry Moon, Skanners, Burning Mind on the Road, Skanners and many others.
“I like sharing the study of these communities with people who go to galleries and museums, which are just those places where complex issues such as beauty, form and idea are woven. Beauty is a singular concept. You can try to explain beauty rationally, but in the end, your are struck by it only when your body understands its essence.” (Marjetica Potrc) The exhibition “Marjetica Potrc – Urban strategies” at the Galleria Museo Ar/ge Kunst (24.10.-06.12.2003) explores a crucial modern trend, that is the marriage between architecture and art. In the last few decades this trend has been growing and has become a fundamental subject of aesthetic discussion and architectural and artistic activities.
The theories of architecture and urban planning are increasingly influencing modern art theories and aesthetic criteria, in a way that not long ago would have been dismissed as inconceivable. A profound analysis of shapes is taking place, coinciding with a deep understanding of current social phenomena and giving rise to works of great beauty, sense and interest. Marjetica Potrc was born in 1953 in Ljubljana, Slovenia. She received degrees in architecture (1977) and fine arts (1986) from the University of Ljubljana. Her work has been featured in numerous solo exhibitions from 1988 onwards all over Europe and the United States. The artist represented Slovenia at the Venice Biennale in 1993 and has participated in numerous group exhibitions, such as the 23rd Bienal Internacional de Sao Paulo (1996), Skulptur Projekte in Münster (1997), Manifesta 3 in Ljubljana (2000), Art Unlimited in Basle and the Venice Biennale (2003).
In 1996, Marjetica Potrc won the Philip Morris award for art promotion and in 2000 a stage with solo exhibition at the Künstlerhaus Bethanien in Berlin. In the same year she was the recipient of the Guggenheim Museum’s Hugo Boss Prize (New York). In her projects, Marjetica Potrc investigates the edges of the contemporary city, analysing the housing models of so-called poor areas; cities that frame the strident contrast between richness and poverty, with their underdeveloped areas that lack all primary constituent elements and, due to the poverty of their inhabitants, have very limited material resources. She is an observer of the slums on the urban fringes of big cities such as Caracas, Sao Paulo or Rio de Janeiro, and dwells mainly on the human sphere, from a geopolitical point of view.
The artist is especially concerned with urban planning and creative settlement models, as well as the way in which people adapt to the continual changes and conditions in the various architectural contexts of a modern city. Last year, Potrc was engaged in several projects presented as studies in numerous exhibitions throughout Europe and the United States, and subjected to a continual artistic metamorphosis and development of contents, such as Duncan Village. The artist shows her Western audience these structural solutions with respectful and authentic admiration, without any moralising social comment, yet representing them as anthropological facts that, in an exhibition context, assume the form of architectural concepts.
In a world that is characterised by globalisation and migration, these settlements depict life on the fringes of society and document the individual involvement and self-sufficiency of their inhabitants. Besides the planned sections of the urban layout, Marjetica Potrc is concerned with the creative opportunities lying in these temporary dwellings, which are the fruit of necessity. In this way, she depicts how a discriminated economy frames the official economy of an organised city and how this allows the inhabitants of favelas, borgate and townships to enjoy an autonomy that can certainly represent a challenge in the scenario of the city.
In other words, Marjetica Potrc’s works can be interpreted as antithetical models of the urban utopia of an efficient city. In the Galleria Museo, Marjetica Potrc shows many examples of her artistic discussion with urban strategies:
First of all, Duncan Village, an example of self-organised architecture in South Africa. This project represents the fourth generation of “Duncan Village”. After her participation in the Galerie Nordenhake in Berlin (2002), Duncan Village has also been displayed at Badischen Kunstverein di Karlsruhe and Art Unlimited 2003 in Basle. The fourth generation of the South African model has been created specially for the Galleria Museo in Bolzano.
This work is a hut that Marjetica Potrc observed in an architectural plan in Duncan Village, East London, South Africa. It features various elements, such as the tight co-operation between town planners and colonisers in the realisation of these structures, the fusion between formal city and informal city, which make this work a perfect study. For this project and an aid programme, the city of East London has authorised the construction of urban infrastructures for drinking water and electricity supplies and waste water treatment in Duncan Village, leaving to its new inhabitants the responsibility of building their own houses on free initiative. Furthermore, the exhibition includes various objects that, through a fusion of high-tech and low-tech elements, offer functional and creative solutions, in order to make people’s lives easier by means of elementary solutions. Not to mention the photographic works of the “City States” series and Urban Independent Web Project that give an overall view of the artist’s works.
What is Balkan? Where is Balkan? Does the Balkan even exist?
There is no doubt that such a place as the Balkans exists, although the highly pejorative associations that the word invokes, combined with the lack of any political or cultural unity, make the region easier to identify as a state of mind or cultural condition than as a place on a map. The geographical, linguistic, and ethnic borders of Balkania have always been contested, and this ambiguity and resistance of classification is in fact one of the first signposts of Balkan territory. In some ways, the Balkans are a considerably more defined region than Central Europe; the geopolitical fate of the Balkans is indeed quite complementary to that of Central Europe in that both share the fate of undefined and unconfined geopolitical space, consisting of various small language groups, nations and states which exist on the periphery of larger nations, language groups and civilizations–between West and East, Christian and Muslim, Latin and Arabic.
Almost everybody has some idea of what “Balkan” means. If we take just a few of the criteria that are most widely used to define the Balkans, the list would probably include definitions such as: place of ethnic tensions, place where old traumas are replayed again and again, place whose inhabitants fear dangerous neighbors across the border, place full of problems which refuses solutions.
A mixture of horrific and exotic qualities has hunted the Balkans from Middle Ages right down to our Modern and Post-Modern times, giving it its stereotypical image. This stereotype is however constructed as an ultimate ambiguity including both: positive-romantic as well as negative-barbaric aspects. As Vampire, a Balcanic type of eternal being thirsting for blood and death represents the ultimate evil which at the same time inspired many writers and film makers to create deeply challenging narratives endowing this subject-character with universal meanings and qualities.
Searching for and imagining the Balkans, we have to acknowledge the complexity of a subject that is not only full of creative potential, historical contradictions and cultural prejudices, recently made infamous throughout the world due to the tragic wars in former Yugoslavia. It is this explosive set of conditions and promises that has recently made the idea of “finding the Balkans” fashionable again in Western Europe, especially in the German-speaking countries where a large number of cultural events dedicated to the Balkans have been held during the last two years.
The exhibition BALKAN VISION, which opens on September 5, 2003 in the Arge-Kunst Galerie Museum in Bolzano, will offer select glimpses into the mystery and phenomenon of the modern Balkans as articulated by the ten artists and video makers presented in the show.
ATHANASIA KYRIAKAOS will execute a //”Coffee performance” to the visitors on the opening night, cooking and serving a real “Turkish” or “Greek” coffee and telling the future from the coffee grinds to those interested in having their futures read or their secrets told by a practioner of an ancient Balkan art. Bulgarian performance artist and fashion designer MARIELA GEMISHEVA will take the viewer into her own vision of fashion and femininity, unlike anything seen in the fashion centers of Italy. Croatian IVANA KESER will display her bold critical statement about the relativity of the borders between the so-called civilized and barbaric worlds. Serbian TANJA OSTOJIC will show the documentation of her radical and provocative work in progress “Looking for a husband with EU Passport. Macedonian //TOME ADIJEVSKI will show us a critical view of European humanitarianism during the former Yugoslav wars. Video by ANDREI UJICA will show us the fall of Nicolae Ceaucescu in Romania. ANRI SALA’s film //Intervista will present a very personal and emotional view of the young Albanian artist’s attempt to come to terms with his mother’s political coming of age under dictator Enver Hoxha Albania. KRISTINA LEKO’s film “Sarajevo International” presents stories of the foreigners who for various reason decided to stay and live in Sarajevo during and after one of the biggest bloodsheds of the last years of the 20th century. If New York is known for homeless people, then Bucharest is known for homeless dogs, whose lives form the touching subject of the film “Dog’s Life” by Romanian cinematographer and film director ALEXANDRU SOLOMON. Finally, the video installation //”Hey You” by Kosova artist ERZEN SHKOLOLLI tells us a poignant story of displacement through the lyrics and images of a local folk singer. Together, these BALKAN VISIONS are intended to create a composite picture which will encourage visitors to think about the Balkans not as a world unto itself, but as a mirror onto all selves, and to recognize the Balkans as a source of archetypes and symbols out of which cities, wars, experiments, ideas and visions have been and still are being composed, irrespective of boundaries or nationalities.
In 2003, Sergio Risaliti, once director of the Palazzo delle Papesse in Siena and active at the moment as an independent curator, has created the project: “Multitudes-Solitudes. More other and I”. A general reflection on the dualism “multitudes-solitudes”, which inevitably starts from the complex relationship between “crowd” and individual, born out of the event of the twentieth century metropolis. Intuitively it had already been made subject by authors like E.A. Poe, Baudelaire and Benjamin, it finds multiple declinations in the world of art, which, without ever “illustrating” the theme, proposes other questions, different paradigms of interpretation.
Thus not a thematic exhibition, but a theme able to open new hypothesis, a series of works which draw from several environments, but which – at the end – lead to a common denominator, as these works can be subdivided into nuclei of meaning. Works of art which enter more into a comparison with merely spatial and architectonical situations and stage actual “cells of habitations” become the subject of a complex exchange between the inside and the outside, the world and the self, among these we find works by Pierpaolo Campanini, Loris Cecchini, Atelier van Lieshout, Costa Vece, Andrea Zittel, and a video by Absalon. The hard, sometimes violent relationship with the others is to be detected in the video by Francis Alÿs, as in the works by Canevari; solitude tout court, as seen in a moment of estrangement from reality and meant as a solipsistic experience is differently faced by Marco De Luca, Armin Linke, Sabrina Mezzaqui and Luca Vitone; solitude in the midst of a crowd felt by Hassan Khan, Kim Sooja, Marco Vaglieri and Cesare Pietroiusti; alienation as the effect of a multitude in the photographs by Anri Sala and in the video by Melik Ohanian. Multitude is interpreted as an indispensable burden, as a condition of a necessary enrichment or simply as a state of chaos by Letizia Cariello, Lara Faveretto, Domenico Mangano and the Stalkers.
As background of the project, the city of Bolzano, crossing of cultures, cradle of multitudes, but at the same time bulwark of solitudes. The show will take place in the rooms of the Museum of modern and contemporary art in Bolzano, but also in different spaces of the town (at the EURAC – European Accademy, Carambolage, at the main-post office, inside courts, at banks, the airport, the university, the municipal swimming-pool).
New works will be exhibited, together with already shown works by both national and international artists, offering therefore an articulated program of video, photographs, installations and paintings.
On the occasion of the Mostra Panorama (Panorama Exhibition) in the old post office building, the ArGe Kunst Galleria Museo is pleased to introduce the work of three South Tyrolean artists: Anna Maria Innerhofer, Urban Grünfelder and Markus Delago. This exhibition wishes to approach a subject that in the 20th century has provoked artistic controversy and lead to discussion between the sexes: the interest in the human body, the attempt to express outwards, through the corporeal surface, a psychic and social reality, the analysis of the meanings of image and representation. In a broader sense, the debate on the work of art as representation of the body. In the course of the history of art, the structural tie between human body and image has generated much discussion, leading, from the 60′s onwards, to a great variety of results and shapes, up to the dissolution or destruction of the image as symbolic action representing the destruction of the body.
All three artists who exhibit here approach these subjects, even though each approach is visibly different. “Corporeal ideas” means, on the one hand, the representation of the body in itself, while on the other hand, the representation of what is behind the surface, that is the psychic and social reality, expressed by the body itself. This is exactly what the three artists are concerned about: the relationship between visible and invisible, body and ideas, representation and imagination.
Urban Grünfelder depicts images of human beings in their physical and psychic dimension. He exhibits a triptych in oil on linen canvas and five drawings. The images show people, or more exactly, what we can define as their “logo”, the symbol or metaphor of man, namely abstract contours, with no face, unrecognisable, without any features that determine sex. Bodies are reduced and concentrated to mere colour. The artist meticulously avoids gestures and “personal” characteristics. Urban Grünfelder’s men are striking because of their simple complexity, their shapes, colours and essential surfaces, through which he confines the bodies in a two-dimensional level. The search for essentiality is expressed by reduction. Anna Maria Innerhofer, in a way, moves in the opposite direction. The title of her work, “Die Fremde” (Foreigners), represents distance that, nevertheless, vanishes in her work of art, expressing exactly the contrary. Indeed, the artist allows the observer to come close to her and her corporeal experience, and to deeply understand her radical creative act. The work exhibited in the Galleria Museo is the photographic documentation of “Die Fremde”, a wax mould of the artist’s body, in its realisation phases. Anna Maria Innerhofer depicts the split between perception and perceived, the search for the “Self” within the boundary of the body. The question about the perception of the body is indissolubly tied to the question about the perception of the Self. Markus Delago expresses his relationship with the body through shapes and materials, which he seeks and finds in Nature and then transforms into superior objects that are both generic and personal. He does not find the shapes for his sculptures in his experience but in natural phenomena, such as snow crystals and rock formations. The materials he uses are artificial derivatives produced by man, such as polyurethane foam or silicone, which on the one hand represent distance and imperfection, and on the other, bear witness to their natural origin. Man and his social reality play a role that must not be underestimated: in the artist’s imagination, the shapes of nature become the representation of human beings, of the individual and his relationship in society. In this sense, Delago’s works are border lines of imperfection or representations of the distance between one and the other, describing the space between artificial/dead identity and natural/living identity.
In his art, the South Tyrolean artist Thomas Feuerstein (born in Innsbruck in 1968) deals with the mediatisation of reality, the artificiality of the real and the relationship between virtuality, mediality and reality. Feuerstein’s work questions and interprets mediatic and biotechnological interventions and manipulations as identity and reality construction exercises. The artist captures social oppression, mediation and artifice, by comparing biological and sociopolitical processes, and points out the interference between politics and biology, culture and nature, by thematising the media structures of the so-called real and the biotopic structures of the so-called natural as issues linked together. The title of the exhibition, Fiat, expressly conceived for the Galleria Museo, refers both to the Latin word “fiat”, taken from the Bible passage “Fiat lux!” (“Let there be light”, Genesis 1,3), “let it happen!” or also “to be treated…“ (on medical prescriptions), and to the Italian car manufacturer, FIAT. The subtitle “radical individuals – social companions” wishes to underline the relationship between social and biological phenomena. The exhibition is composed of two elements that are combined in a modular manner, a mural work and a video projected in the front exhibition area. The exhibition area lying behind is dedicated to the “Biophily” project, in form of “biophilist room”, in the middle of which is the structure “Plus ultra: the artist as Avatar #29“. fiat operates with the aid of two metaphors taken from biology, the vegetative body of mushrooms or mycelium, as symbol of the radical individual, and the siphonophora, as emblem of a social meta-organism. His work “Leviathan”, which represents a siphonophora, refers to Thomas Hobbes’ work of the same name. The body of hydrozoans, which in nature is made up of thousands of polyps, in the “Leviathan” is made up of transparent crystals, unequivocally referring to the most ancient representation of society that pictures it as a crystalline net: Goddess Indra’s net. Society is viewed as a net formed by a multitude of single faceted crystals. It is only thanks to a reciprocal game of reflections that the individual is able to shine in the brilliance of collectivity. The work “Mycelium – radical individuals, social companions” exhibits a bioreactor in which a mushroom sprout develops. The mushroom acts as a “radical” individual, disgregating its environment in a parasitic manner, by subjecting it to a dissolution process.
The DVD FIAT (presentation on 11.04.03 at 7 p.m.) presents a video containing interviews with sociologists and experts in political matters. Furthermore taking the present crisis of the Fiat group as starting point, it deals with modernity and globality. Besides exploring sociopolitical themes, also technological matters are tackled, which, among other things, put forward a possible autoevolution of technoculture, thus placing fiat in a context of technologically generated life. The crystal-studded siphonophora is sponsored by Swarowski, the work Mycelium was created in collaboration with the Institute of Microbiology of the University of Innsbruck, the structure “Plus ultra: The artist as Avatar #29” was conceived with the support of the E+K Thoman Gallery of Innsbruck.
In this one-man exhibition, the Galleria Museo presents many of his new works in a structure that has been conceived expressly for the spaces available in the exhibition areas. Prenner’s leitmotiv is „The Mill“, a subject in which he has been engaged for some time.
The first room of the gallery is mainly occupied by the mill: 2 millstones crush grains of wheat making two white heaps of flour throughout the exhibition. In the other room there is video equipment with two projectors one opposite the other, reflecting each other’s image. Moving in very, very slow-motion and through extremely enlarged shots, the images evoke the main subject, represented through the miller and his work.
Prenner’s work offers the cue to discuss a topic which plays an important role in human subconscious and at the same time is of fundamental importance in relation to our everyday life: the eternal spiral of the passing of time and becoming, expressed by the constant rotary motion of the mill. We usually think that it is possible to see a wood and granite mill only in an antiquity museum. Its archaic aesthetics evokes nostalgic feelings that make us think about the past. This has been determining for popular belief and spirit that recall it in many songs, folk songs, operas, novels and films. The atmosphere of poems whose topic is the mill can be romantic, melancholic, happy, deep, fanciful, bizarre, etc. It has become the model of human nature which, freed from its transience, assumes a mystic character. Today, as in the past, work cycles determine our everyday life. All things considered, the mill was the first machine that simplified the life of many people. At the beginning women did the grinding.
Operating a mill was hard physical work, often linked to slavery, where suffering was symbolised by the eternal spiral of the passing of time and becoming, expressed by the constant rotary motion of the mill. In this association of ideas, the mill also represents the eternal cycle in which continuity is linked to the return of the same past experiences. In a figurative sense, it never stops, but continues its unaltered cycle from existence to existence, turning every day into routine. Every man creates in his soul not only an inner world, but also a future world, new and real, in which he wishes to change his present and realise a better world. Today, we no longer have mills to remind us of a limitless existence focused on becoming and the passing of time, which gives meaning and a right dimension to our everyday life. Everyone must look for meaningful moments on his own. Prenner does not deal with the subject of the mill only from a mystic point of view. The eternal spiral of the passing of time and becoming, expressed by the constant rotary motion of the mill, offers links with the past, present and future. In this way, the artist wants to demonstrate that the mill is a mirror of the consciousness which reflects in our human nature, producing an aesthetic sense.
Architettura tra ordine ed arbitrio. Proseguendo la serie di mostre su “L’architettura dei Paesi confinanti”, dopo la mostra sugli architetti tirolesi Norbert Fritz e Rainer Köberl (1997) e la quarta edizione del Vorarlberger Hypo – Bauherrenpreis (2001), l’Ar/Ge Kunst propone una personale di Valerio Olgiati, un architetto dei Grigioni. La famiglia Olgiati è originaria di Flims, una cittadina che dista circa venti chilometri da Coira, dove il padre Rudolf ha esercitato il mestiere di architetto fino al 1994, influenzando decisamente l’architettura moderna nei Grigioni. Valerio Olgiati, nato nel 1958, si è imposto di recente sulla scena architettonica internazionale soprattutto attraverso due progetti: la scuola di Paspels nel 1998 e “Das Gelbe Haus” a Flims nel 1999. Questi edifici hanno ottenuto diversi riconoscimenti, tra gli altri nell’ambito di “Architettura contemporanea alpina, 1999”, il Premio di Architettura di Sesto, l’”Architekturpreis Beton – 2001” e una segnalazione di “Gute Bauten Kanton Graubünden – 2001”. La mostra dal titolo bilingue “idee” pone l’idea ed il principio informatore al centro dell’attenzione. Valerio Olgiati non deriva i progetti dal disegno, bensì essi vengono definiti concettualmente e poi concepiti direttamente al computer. Non gli interessano tanto gli aspetti scultorei e figurativi dell´architettura, né il significato particolare del materiale e delle superfici, quanto i nessi strutturali ed i principi generali, indipendentemente da correnti di stile e dal gusto comune. “Preferisco decidere i parametri in modo tale che definiscano in larga misura il progetto. Se li dispongo in forma strategica, si presenta sempre una strada per arrivare ad un progetto. Per modo di dire, faccio nascere una casa da sola sotto l’influsso di questi fattori di condizionamento. Il progetto non mi deve piacere dal punto di vista formale: io lo devo trovare il più corretto possibile dal punto di vista del contenuto. E per arrivare fin lì la strada è lunga.” Un altro aspetto particolare nel lavoro progettuale dell’architetto è la presenza di fratture e scostamenti che spogliano i suoi lavori di qualsiasi carattere accademico. “Infrangere la regola è un colpo di mano che fa apparire sotto una luce nuova quanto si conosceva fino ad allora. Solo quando esco da una cornice comincio a pensare. E’ una questione d’istinto. L’infrazione infine è anche una forma di composizione. Quando le cose restano assolutamente nella regola, allora viene a mancare molto. La situazione comincia a farsi interessante quando un edificio rappresenta cose che non si possono spiegare. Nasce per così dire una sorta di evento metafisico. Se un pensiero oppure un’azione non si fanno decifrare oppure anche soltanto seguire fino in fondo, allora un edificio resta magico per chi vi abita o per chi lo osserva. Questa deformazione, una specie di mutazione, è arbitraria ed è priva di qualsiasi logica. Attraverso questo gesto nascono magnifici spazi modellati. E proprio qui, nella tensione tra ordine ed arbitrio si manifesta la mia capacità di operare la scelta ‘giusta’. L’architettura è una disciplina dalle regole proprie. Il suo materiale grezzo per me ha a che fare più con la matematica che con la fenomenologia.” Queste intenzioni vengono visualizzate in mostra attraverso fotografie, proiezioni, disegni al computer e plastici.
The artist kept these entries for twelve years as a kind of subjective photographic diary that discloses not only the panorama, but the whole universe of different scenes that document the fullness of village life in the county. These expressive and suggestive, intimately charged photographs show particular landscape’s spirituality and beauty, enhancing and shading it by the presence of local inhabitants. Blended with the environment, fitted into it by the artist’s gesture, they seem to be grown together. “‘Das Land’ means the familiarity with this region, meeting the people and families that live there, their work, their homes, their friends”, says Willmann.
To Actuality side steps mediated forms of representation to explore the possibility of art as an actuality more directly connected with different life experiences and realities found in an urban environment. The project proposes a number of diverse artistic positions that attempt a directly experiential engagement with their public: to reach communicational power the participants in To Actuality search out alternate possibilities for art that exist next to, but also beyond retinal, aesthetic and textual premises.
Although quite diverse, the artworks in To Actuality strive to closely relate to social, cultural and political situations in Bozen/Bolzano. The artwork will take place in various indoor and outdoor locations throughout the city and will involve both pre existing infrastructures and situations specifically created for the project. Thereby, To Actuality hopes to offer diverse audiences opportunities to more directly experience contemporary art. In the process, the work in this project strengthens the bond between art and life, reminding us of that we have art so that we do not perish from reality.
The performative practices in To Actuality are less interested in the metaphorical or the mytho-poetic, or in a conveyance of “deeper meaning” than in instrumentalizing the artwork-public relationship in sensitive and critical, and more concrete terms within a broad urban arena. Consequently, To Actuality provides novel ways to experience art as a pro active relevance. (Maia Damianovic)
This exchange exhibition result from a cooperation between Ar/GE Kunst Museum Gallery, the Municipal Gallery of the City of Bolzano, Galerie Prisma of the Südtiroler Künstlerbund, and Phoenix Art in Hamburg, with the goal of promoting creative exchanges between two European cultures as expressed in two exhibition projects in Bolzano and Hamburg.
Simon Lamunière, chose several examples of current Swiss video art, with a view to discovering the points at which this no less fascinating than improbable limbo starts and stops. On crossing the threshold of the Museum Gallery, visitors find themselves projected into a waiting room that’s not much different from what one finds at airports and bus stations. The ability to distinguish between fiction and reality, and to find one’s way across that shifting and uncertain ford where the real lets off and invention begins: this divide is the narrow terrain on which this exhibition takes place: Another Swiss Version, dedicated to a series of recent video works from Switzerland.
Vorarlberg is one of the few regions of Europe in which the best of contemporary architecture is to be found in considerable concentration. There is no need carefully to track it down, since it meets the eye on every normal trip one makes within the region. On May 18, 2001, the “Voralberg Hypo-Construction Prize, 2001″ was awarded. Ar/ge Kunst presents an exhibition of the works of the //prizewinners. The show is concerned with the conscious, creative construction of the spaces in which we live.
Christoph Hinterhuber has created a spatial installation especially for the Museum Gallery, with the use of works on the walls, objects in space, sound projections, and the elaboration of a text by the artist and theoretician Thomas Feuerstein. The theme is the dominant world of consumer goods, the commercialization of the world of visual experience, and our society’s flight from the active perception of the events of the times in which we live. The pop-world combinations of pastel colors and a luxuriously inviting context confront, provoke, and raise questions.
The southtirolean Artist Peter Senoner (born in 1969 in Kastelruth) takes life, his artistic existence and art without compromises. He awaked international interest for the first time with his project “Transition 1-…”, carried out from 1998 until 1999 in New York. It consists in an intervention on the urban space of “dissolving” drawings. The “Kunstforum” of Köln reported in detail about the project, now it will be presented for the first time as an exposition in the Gallery Museum. “Transition 1-…” represents a radical artistic action: more than 1.600 drawings have been exposed between 1998 and 1999 in the public area of New York and left literally to themselves. The corresponding indications of time and space are written by the artist in his atelier with pen on a big canvas. The sum of the transcriptions leads, so the artist, to a graphical condensation or drawing: “This act of drawing, leaving and codifying in a second time corresponds in my opinion to today’s tendency towards dematerialisation in every day’s life brought along by the use of digital media and the therefore necessary transformation process into binary code.” The leading line in the work of Peter Senoner – this applies also to the exposed drawings – are drawn, painted and full-sized carved images. Not portraits, but general images, something like pawns set on the chess-board of reality in order to explore the net of relationships between art and life, naturalness and artificiality, context and identity. Subjects for his dramaturgies are the destruction of accepted costumes and the feeling of exposure and alienation. Paolo Bianchi defines the artist as a “foreign worker between art and life”.
The video art of Thomas Eller, a 25-year-old South Tyrolean artist gives origin to a game between reality and irrationality, between the one reality and the many possible realities. The positive perception falls apart like in a kaleidoscope originating a new grey area, a no-man’s-land, which must still be defined. His installations question reality so that it seems paradoxical. You can see his work “TRAFFIC PART/ONE”, composed of six different film segments. On every screen an actor plays different situations of life: he rides a motorbike on a winding street, pilots a plane, runs in a city centre etc. Moreover you can see individual and mass movements at the JFK airport in New York: contemporary tendencies of globalisation and mobility, connections between social structure and architecture, incessant and unique vibrations. To complete the picture his video shows the continuous movement of an industrial shock absorber. Everything is in movement – nothing can be stopped. “rapid sleep” – with a reference to dreams that connect reality and fiction, slow and fast pictures, and the confusion of actions with the urgency of pictures.
This exhibition presents the works of three German artists for the first time in Italy. Havekost is a painter, but has found a conception of the picture that is in opposition to traditional painting. His favourite picture format is the size of a TV, and his pictures are very close to the digital picture elaboration that is the main characteristic of his painting. Sophia Schama also belongs to the inner circle of the new Dresden painting. Her pictures are influenced by the “High-speed Design” of the 90s: she creates tube labyrinths, cable pyramids, jungle biotopes of a polyurethane foam generation.
Markus Draper’s works of art deal with space room as a changeable element. With the help of installations he wants to represent horror situations using the symbol of fire. He works with a virtual space that – together with the paintings of his colleagues – poses the question of reality and unreality.
Introduction: Christoph Tannert, Künstlerhaus Bethanien, Berlin
In the first room of the gallery a light installation using the existing neon lights radically transforms the perception of space. The second room contains several light boxes showing various slide sequences. There is also a shelf containing copies of the artist’s diary for 2001, which visitors can use as a catalogue and as a diary. Two large prints show the archives of a photographic studio. Despite their apparently documentary character, there is a close relationship between the photographs and the other works shown – the light, the concept of archives, which is also reflected in the diary being a public and functional object as well as the artist’s personal archive of memories. The exhibition deals with the complex structure of reality, its perception, its duplication in our memories and its reflection in the photographs.
Heinz Mader’s exhibition and the accompanying catalogue effect a parallel and overlapping montage of an exultant installation of patchwork-style sheets of cloth and a narrative wall of images, in the form of felt-pen sketches. In this most recent exhibition, the artist’s development clearly sets its course towards a humorous game-often charged as well with parody-between daily life and the making of art.
With the help of: Christian Jung, Brigitte Niedermayr, Kathy Leonelli und Nelly Putzer, Marion Piffcer Damiani, Mr. Alex und DJ Hubert, Ruth Bernardi.
In this collaboration between the two institutions, the exhibition in Tyrol is devoted to the younger generation of this scene, while the exhibition in Bolzano documents works by Florian Beigel and Tony Fretton, who in a certain sense represent significant points of reference for the younger generation’s theoretical debate and provided the momentum for their putting it into practice. The two parts of the exhibition offer a comprehensive insight into a particular line of development in contemporary British architecture.
In collaboration with the Architekturforum, Innsbruck Introduction: Peter Allison, Caruso St. John, Maccreanor Lavington, Sergison Bates und Adjaye and Russell, East.
Atlante is the title of a sensitive photo essay that constitutes a voyage of discovery through the pages of an atlas on the part of one of the most significant of Italy’s contemporary photographers: Luigi Ghirri. The artist sees this work to hold “the place where all the signs on the face of the earth, both natural and artificial, are represented: mountains, lakes, oceans, cities, villages, stars, the sun.” He views these things through a trusted and universally recognized system of cursory signs, treating them like every other daily object, and thus as an image.
Inmtroduced by Christine Frisinghelli ( Camera Austria)
JEAN NOUVEL – L’EXACTE REPRÉSENTATION D’UN VOLONTÉ
29 October – 4 December 1999
10 September – 16 October 1999
09 July – 4 September 1999
Jan Fabre, Ilya Kabakov
WORKS FOR BOLZANO
04 June – 26 June 1999
WALTER NIEDERMAYR – MOMENTARY RESORTS
13 April – 22 May 1999
TRANSLOCATION – NEW MEDIA ART
12 February – 27 March 1999
Maurizio Arcangeli, Tom Barth, Ulli Vonbank-Schedler, Ernst Tragwöger, Wolfgang Temmel, Augusto Maurandi, Thomas Feuerstein, Volker Hildebrandt, Werner Hofmeister, Liliana Moro, Gertrud Moser-Wanger, Möslang Norbert/Andy Guhl, Flora Neuwirth, Permanent food, Stoph Sauter
04 December – 30 January 1999
Anna & Bernhard Johannes Blume
MANFRED A. MAYR – COLORS
30 October – 28 November 1998
ARCHITECTURE FROM TYROL
11 September – 17 October 1998
Norbert Fritz, Rainer Köberl
10 July – 5 September 1998
YOUNG ART OF SOUTH TYROL 2
05 June – 4 July 1998
KARIN WELPONER – THE WAY OF A CUBE
04 June – 28 June 1998
WILLIAM GUERRIERI – OGGI NESSUNO PUÒ DIRSI NEUTRALE
23 March – 18 April 1998
YOUTHFUL ART IN SOUTH TYROL 1
23 January – 28 February 1998
Barbara Tavella, Klaus Pobitzer, Werner Moser Dorfmann, Carmen Müller
AGLAIA KONRAD – WORKS 1997
07 November – 10 January 1998
ARCHITECTUR IN CORTINA D’AMPEZZO 1950-56
12 September – 25 October 1997
MEETING POINT NIEMANDSLAND
26 July – 9 August 1997
Bernhard Kattan, Werner Klotz, Dan Peterman, Heinz Pfahler, Four Walls, Ute Weiss-Leder, Stefan Micheel, Hans Winkler, Walter Niedermayr
ERICH KOFLER FUCHSBERG
06 June – 12 September 1997
JOHN HILLIARD – WORKS 1990-96
04 April – 24 May 1997
22 March – 27 April 1997
Siegrun Appelt , Alessandro Gatti , Erwin Lantschner , Carsten und Olaf Nicolai , CALC
LUIGI GHIRRI – ALDO ROSSI
21 February – 29 March 1997
RICHARD LONG – DOLOMITE STONES
11 October – 30 November 1996
06 September – 5 October 1996
Antonio Cruz, Antonio Ortiz
27 June – 3 August 1996
CARMEN MÜLLER – BERLINER ZIMMER
22 May – 22 June 1996
13 April – 18 May 1996
Michael Hofstätter, Wolfgang Pauzenberger
MICHAEL HÖLLRIGL – THE BLACK WOMEN FRIEZE
01 March – 30 March 1996
GUIDO GUIDI – VARIANTI
19 January – 24 February 1996
GAIETY AND SUBVERSION
08 September – 21 October 1995
Stefano Arienti, Corrado Bonoi, Maurizio Cattelan, Emilio Fantin, Amedeo Martegani, Antonio Riello
12 August – 31 August 1995
07 July – 5 August 1995
MARINA BALLO CHARMET – CON LA CODA DELL’OCCHIO
26 May – 1 July 1995
THREE CONTEMPORARY ARCHITECTS FROM PORTUGAL
08 April – 13 May 1995
GonValo Sousa Byrne, Joao L. Carrilho da Graca, Eduardo Souto de Moura
18 February – 31 March 1995
01 January – 5 January 1995
02 December – 10 February 1995
PROJEKT FÜR BERLIN
08 October – 19 November 1994
Hans Kollhoff, Helga Timmermann
09 September – 1 October 1994
JOHN BLAKE – MEHR LUFT
23 July – 27 August 1994
18 June – 16 July 1994
WALTER NIEDERMAYR – HOTEL & CAFFÈ KUSSETH
15 June – 28 June 1994
JUAN NAVARRO BALDEWEG
07 May – 3 June 1994
ERICH DAPUNT – SOLNHOFEN
09 April – 30 April 1994
05 March – 2 April 1994
MARL’S 5TH VIDEO ART PRIZE
22 January – 26 February 1994
Angela Melitopulos, Volker Schreiner, Bjorn Melhus
GOTTFRIED BECHTOLD – GRAZ-BREGENZ-BOLZANO
04 December – 15 January 1994
WALTER NIEDERMAYR – THE PALE MOUNTAINS
29 October – 27 November 1993
18 September – 23 October 1993
HANS KNAPP – THOLOS
09 July – 14 August 1993
ARCHITEKTUR IN SÜDTIROL – 1900 TO THE PRESENT
04 June – 3 July 1993
17 April – 22 May 1993
Marius Pfannenstiel, Peter Saurer, Günther Unterburger
05 March – 10 April 1993
NOBUYOSHI ARAKI – ARAKI : AKT TOKYO
22 January – 27 February 1993
L’ART EST INUTILE
20 November – 9 January 1993
10 September – 9 October 1992
31 July – 5 September 1992
INDUSTRIAL ARCHITECTURE – SOUTH TYROL-TYROL-VORARLBERG
19 June – 25 July 1992
06 May – 13 June 1992
20 March – 30 April 1992
21 February – 14 March 1992
17 January – 15 February 1992
ABSOLUTISM AND ECCENTRICITY
30 November – 11 January 1992
11 October – 9 November 1991
BEHNISCH & PARTNER
06 September – 5 October 1991
31 July – 31 August 1991
06 July – 27 July 1991
01 June – 29 June 1991
HEINZ GAPPMAYR – FIELD AND SPACE
24 April – 25 May 1991
OLIVO BARBIERI – PAESAGGI IN MINIATURA
23 March – 20 April 1991
23 February – 16 March 1991
THESIS IN ARCHITECTURE
25 January – 15 February 1991
07 December – 18 January 1990
25 October – 24 November 1990
21 September – 10 October 1990
24 August – 15 September 1990
20 July – 18 August 1990
22 June – 14 July 1990
22 May – 16 June 1990
27 April – 19 May 1990
30 March – 24 April 1990
HEINZ MADER – MONDMANN
07 March – 28 March 1990
09 February – 2 March 1990
ARNOLD MARIO DALL’O
17 January – 6 February 1990
15 December – 13 January 1990
MANFRED A. MAYR – IMAGES AND VISUAL OBJECTS
21 November – 12 December 1989
18 October – 15 November 1989
14 September – 14 October 1989
08 August – 2 September 1989
THREE ARTIST OF NÜRNBERG
12 July – 5 August 1989
Harald Pompl , Wolfgang G.Bühler, Huber Lackner
PHOTOGRAPHY OF THE BAUHAUS
15 June – 8 July 1989
19 May – 10 June 1989
26 April – 17 May 1989
31 March – 22 April 1989
03 March – 29 March 1989
03 February – 28 February 1989
13 January – 30 January 1989
02 December – 24 December 1988
11 October – 26 November 1988
YOUNG ART IN SOUTH TYROL
23 August – 1 October 1988
06 July – 27 July 1988
ARCHITECTURAL COMPETITION FOR THE DESIGN OF A NEW SQUARE IN SAN CANDIDO
17 June – 2 July 1988
20 May – 15 June 1988
29 April – 18 May 1988
08 April – 27 April 1988
11 March – 6 April 1988
WORDS/PICTURES – 33 ARTISTS FROM 5 COUNTRIES
19 February – 9 March 1988
MINIERE DI MONTENEVE
08 January – 30 January 1988
Peter Kaser, Walter Niedermayr, Fritz Pichler
15 December – 6 January 1988
JUNGE KÜNSTLER AUS DER STEIERMARK
11 November – 15 December 1987
09 October – 4 November 1987
18 September – 3 October 1987
28 August – 17 September 1987
11 August – 26 August 1987
ARNOLD HOLZKNECHT, HUGO VALLAZZA
17 July – 8 August 1987
17 July – 8 August 1987
19 June – 16 July 1987
27 April – 21 May 1987
14 April – 24 April 1987
20 March – 11 April 1987
27 February – 18 March 1987
06 February – 25 February 1987
08 January – 3 February 1987