I've just spent the afternoon at the professional sneak peek of Artissima, Turin's contemporary art fair. Since i'm still uploading the hundreds of pictures i took, going through the catalogue, trying to identify the performances and screenings worth attending over the coming days and wondering whether i shouldn't get away from this screen and head to the Share festival right now (whoever decided that the few interesting art events in this town should be crammed together in a couple of days should be submitted to the ordeal of hot water), i'm going to do the lazy thing and give you an easy preview of Artissima using a selection of the press images i received a few hours ago. I promise to be more diligent tomorrow. In the meantime, here are the goods:
I loved this one and i'll add that the Polish galleries rocked the fair this year:
Artissima, Turin's contemporary art fair is open to the public on November 5, 6 and 7 from 12.00 to 8.00 pm.
While in Milan i ventured into the Disquieting Images exhibition at the Triennale. I faced more shock and scandal as i was expecting. The exhibition doesn't shun from showing images that depict domestic violence, decaying corpses, post-war trauma, animal abuse, unorthodox sexual practices, etc. The usual suspects were there - Diane Arbus, Letizia Battaglia, Nan Goldin, Yoshiyuki Kohei, Robert Mapplethorpe, etc. - and so were many photographers whose work i was not so well acquainted with.
Full report on your desk as soon as i'm out of this wifi limbo where uploading an image takes longer than reading a volume of A la recherche du temps perdu.
Speaking of usual suspects.... Pieter Hugo was there.
After the moving and now iconic series The Hyena and Other Men and the stunning Nollywood, Hugo's latest work, Permanent Error, portrays the people, animals and landscape of a dumping ground for computers and electronic waste from Europe and the US. The area, on the outskirts of a slum known as Agbogbloshie, in Ghana, is a shocking contrast to the better faster shinier life promised by the unrelenting advances of technology.
Notions of time and progress are collapsed in these photographs. There are elements in the images that fast-forward us to an apocalyptic end of the world as we know it, yet the alchemy on this site and the strolling cows recall a pastoral existence that rewinds our minds to a medieval setting. The cycles of history and the lifespan of our technology are both clearly apparent in this cemetery of artifacts from the industrialised world. We are also reminded of the fragility of the information and stories that were stored in the computers which are now just black smoke and melted plastic.
The one gallery i never fail to visit when i'm in Milan is Galleria Patricia Armocida. Opened 3 years ago, right in front of a car repair shop, the gallery valiantly promotes young underground artists on the otherwise traditional Milan art scene.
Ben Woodward is one of the founders of Space 1026, an independent gallery and printing facility run by artists. Woodward's prints and paintings are inhabited by anthropomorphic animals engaged in situations that oscillate between comedy and drama.
The young girls of Kris Chau are delicate and dainty. Their behaviour, however, is far too emancipated and bold to qualify for the 'ladylike' adjective.
AJ Fosik pieces together hundreds of bits of wood to build colourful animal heads mounted on walls as if they were hunting trophies.
"Not for Nothing" is a typical expression in Philadelphia. It is not by chance that the three artists exhibiting represent the various facets of the human mind: Ben Woodward expresses an existentialism diluted with irony, Kris Chau expresses a pungent and cutting femininity, AJ Fosik represents an atavistic and purely masculine force; eccentric visions of individual contemporary intimacy.
Not For Nothing is open until November 6, 2010 at Galleria Patricia Armocida in Milan.
Last Saturday i finally dragged myself out of the armchair and visited the PAV, the Parco d'Arte Vivente (Park of Living Art - Experimental center of contemporary art) in Turin. Although i was appalled by the utter wrongness of the 'interactive' displays i saw in some of the rooms, I'll be forever grateful to the place for bringing to Turin exciting artists. Michel Blazy, Andrea Caretto and Raffaella Spagna and now Brandon Ballengee.
In Spring and Summer the artist, activist and ecological researcher was in town for a series of field trips on the river Po looking for tadpoles and frogs.
The amphibians studied by Ballengee are praeter naturam, beyond nature. Because of pollution, parasites or predators, the frogs have morphological anomalies such as extra, deformed or missing limbs.
According to Ballengee, amphibians are environmental canaries in the coal mine. The state of this sentinel group of animals is rather worrying, they are not only declining all across the globe, they are also presenting increasing levels of deformities.
Missing or deformed limbs are caused by dragonfly nymphs. The insect rarely eats the entire tadpoles. Instead, they grab it, chew at a hind limb -often removing it altogether- and then release their prey. If the tadpole survives it metamorphoses into a toad with missing or deformed hind limbs, depending on the developmental stage of the tadpole.
However, scientists don't completely rule out chemicals as the cause of some missing limbs.
Images of the field trip Ballengee, scientists and members of the public made on the river Po near Turin where, unfortunately, they found a few specimens of deformed amphibians:
At PAV Ballengée shows a variant of Styx, a table where glass dish display specimens of "cleared and stained" deformed frogs. The body of each tiny frog has been preserved and chemically altered so that bone is dyed red and cartilage blue with remaining tissues transparent.
In the same room is a series of Malamp Iris prints, large-scale portraits of deformed frog specimens.
Also on view at PAV, the Turin Po River Eco-displacement, a portion of the aquatic ecosystem, small paintings made from polluted pond water, coffee and ash and two videos documenting Ballengee's field trips in the UK and in Turin.
Praeter naturam opens until September 26th, 2010 at the PAV, inTurin.
Leigh Ledare's photo portray of his relationship with his mother, currently on show at Guido Costa Projects in Turin, is everything a PC family album should not be.
Ledare's mother, Tina Peterson used to be a delicate and precocious ballerina performing with the New York City Ballet. As years went by she became a model. Then a porn actress. She would also describe herself in personal ads as an "exotic dancer and former ballerina seeks wealthy husband, not somone else's". Today she's a sixty something woman, still glamorous, still spectacularly charismatic. In an old letter exhibited in the gallery, Tina complains that the model is at the photographer's "mercy".
The way she performs in front of her son's camera proves how much she has since found a way to be in control of the images. Her son shoots, she fingers herself. Ledare takes picture after picture of his muse as she is giving head, having sex with her young boyfriend, spreading her legs. In Mom After the Accident, she stands on two chairs, wearing nothing but a neck brace. It's far too intimate even for our time of brash reality-shows and online exhibitionism. It's also irresistible. Tina is so alluring, even with heavier thighs and a grim black wig. Most of all, we want to know how far these two are ready to go.
Journalists and art critics have repeated over and over again the words "Oedipus Complex." Meanwhile, Tina's career has been given a new breath and Ledare has found fame. Somehow, i wonder how his other works, in particular Russian Biker Gang and Personal Commissions, will ever manage to emerge from Tina's shadow.
The gallery is also showing two short movies. One of them, The Gift, is an edition of an amateur softcore fetish spanking movie that Tina shot with two friends. The artist explains: The story was so flawed that the tapes sat for 2 years without being able to be made into anything. One day a package arrived with the mail at my door. Inside were two tapes and a small note from my mother telling me they were a gift and now it was my responsibility to make something out of them. I edited out the failed story the initial artists had attempted to film and left my mother playing to the direction of these two men, leaving what can be seen as a real armature for the missing narrative.
The exhibition Le Tit, by Leigh Ledare, is open until September 15, 2010 at the gallery Guido Costa Projects in Turin.
Something i couldn't understand happened at the last Venice Biennale. I had read that
Turns out that the work was -to put it diplomatically- canceled. Without any explanation.
Yet the Biennale had at first approved the project and so did the council and the vaporetto company. All the artist could find out, second-hand, was that the company had 'received pressure from an outside source to shut it down for political reasons'. The company claimed that the problem was with the city authorities in Venice. Jacir, who had won a Golden Lion at the Venice biennale two year earlier, spoke to the vaporetto company in person but she couldn't get any clear answers. 'Oddly,' she told Art Monthly, 'the man I spoke with mentioned the attacks on Gaza last December and said that this played a role in shutting down the project as it made the parties involved in the project nervous. I find that completely bizarre, as the work has nothing to do with Gaza.'
The work was indeed peaceful, it was meant to illustrate cultural exchanges through history. Jacir is an artist of Palestinian descent, she lives and works in Ramallah and New York and Stazione was her contribution to the official off-site exhibition, Palestine c/o Venice. The arabic inscriptions would have placed each floating platform in direct dialogue with the surrounding architecture and urban design, linking them with various elements of Venice's shared heritage with the Arab world.
Jacir was only allowed to distribute a map in Italian, Arabic and English of the number 1 route. It contains a map of the location of the project, as well as the Vaporetto map translated into Arabic and a brief explanation of the background to the piece. However, she was forbidden by Palestine c/o Venice organizers to include a text describing the cancellation of her project by the Venetian Municipal Authorities. She was only permitted to include the following note: THIS PROJECT HAS BEEN CANCELLLED.
The architecture on either side of the Grand Canal testifies to bonds that have connected Venice with the Arab world over the centuries. By placing translations of the stations on either side of the Grand Canal, Emil Jacir would have prompted tourists and Venetians to reflect on these bygone relationships, age-old cultural and mercantile exchanges, and forgotten legacies (glass blowing was invented in Palestine and the first Arab book with Arabic characters was printed in Venice) as they crossed to 'the other bank'. Stazione was hoping to demonstrate that the barrier between two spaces that are considered different, even counterpoised, can be crossed.
The Alberto Peola Gallery in Turin is exhibiting the proposal digitally retouched photographs that show what stazione would have looked like. The gallery is also exhibiting other works by the artist and distributing copies of the map that Jacir distributed during the Biennale.
Stazione is on view at the Alberto Peola Gallery in Turin until Saturday 24 April 2010
Interview with the artist in the New York Times.