Last year, at the occasion of a retrospective of his worked titled Heavyweight Champion, Martin Kersels declared: "I think about my size a lot, moving through the world being tall and overweight. I sometimes feel like I'm out of sync with the culture. I use that feeling in my work, but I don't want it to be finger-pointing -- like everyone's so mean to me or, you know, fat people have feelings too."
Kersels took his plumpness for an absurd and dramatic ride to the gallery Guido Costa Projects in Turin. He squeezed himself into the pants of acrobatic, charismatic, muscle-tastic and 60-something Iggy Pop and re-invented his life as a teenage fans-magnet who trashes the stage and duets with the greatest rockers. The result is both endearing and even more rock 'n' roll than Iggy himself.
It's Sunday, lazy day, so you won't mind if i simply copy and paste the press blurb, will you? This alluring Fat Iggy wriggles lithely in the blazing furnace of stardom, revealing ingredients and cooking times and reconciling us with the algid beauty of these timeless and faultless human beings. At the centre of the exhibition is the diamond, whose purity and preciousness is born of simple commonplace elements, made unique by both the passage of time and their long journey down into the bowels of the Earth. Symbolically, this creative process is antipodal to the destiny of so many stars, whose decline is a reverse life of that of the diamond: they are transformed from almost superhuman into ordinary beings, from Gods into people.
In Fat Iggy, the imposing (larger than life from any angle) Martin Kersels grinds the myths and stereotypes of stardom into a fine powder.
I can't think of a more appropriate gallery than Guido Costa Projects to show Fat Iggy, First because they probably have the most refreshing programme of exhibitions in town but also because it looks like everything but your typical white wall gallery. The space is located at the back of a courtyard, paint of a colour impossible to describe is peeling from the walls, it's never warm in there, nor is it ever brightly lit. I always miss the performances because they would never invite me to the openings (but have i ever asked to be?)... how could i say that? Guido Costa Projects is my type of gallery and each time they open a new exhibition i don't ask questions, i just go.
Images from the show.
Fat Iggy is on view at at Guido Costa Projects until July 15, 2009.
The Triennale in Milan is showing Diritto Rovescio, an exhibition on knitting, embroidery and all those (mostly) feminine crafts that are now so much in favour. I've seen quite a few exhibitions on that very theme over the past few years and this one is definitely not the best but it has merits. The best asset of the show for me was that it made me discover young Italian artists who approach knitting in a truly interesting and personal way.
Generally speaking, the works exhibited are very good, you just can't help but wonder what it is exactly that brings them together apart from the use of thread, wool and needles.
The press blurb sells the exhibition as follows: Diritto Rovescio proposes a reflection on the textile Loom as metaphorical structure of the thought and the company, and at the same time as individual participation and the creative process ,through installations of international artists, design objects and a permanent workshop opened to the audience.
Diritto Rovescio features a bit of everything: the darlings of the blogosphere (Patricia Waller and her circus of ever-suffering animals), the brainy (Daina Taimina's crocheted models of hyperbolic space), the activists (Cat Mazza (microRevolt)), the designers (the Campana brothers, Tom Dixon, Marcel Wanders, Tokujin and Patricia Urquiola), and many more.
Below is a quick selection which doesn't necessarily reflect my preferences. I couldn't find any information about several of the artworks online and the Triennale team being everything but blogger-friendly i had to give up my quest at some point (damn! sometimes i dream of being a 'normal' journalist, you see what i mean?):
Freddie Robins' Skin - A Good Thing To Live In is a man-size pink overall that fits the human body as if it represented an alternative to and a second skin. "I find the medium of knitted textiles a powerful tool for expression and communication because of the cultural preconceptions surrounding the area. It is a "friendly" medium which can be used to engage your audience with a subject which might otherwise cause them to turn away," explained the artist. In the past, she has indeed worked on topics such as the homes of female killers or the houses where they committed their crimes, and even garments for disabled or mutilated people
A video documented Harush Shlomo's woven aluminium catamaran speeding around the lagoon of Venice for the opening of the 2005 art biennial. The boat was made in open weave aluminum and, seen from afar, looked like a miracle that wouldn't sink. During the performance, a transparent plastic coating prevented the boat from taking water in.
Claudia Losi, showed the result of two of the "collective embroidering" events she organizes. For one of them, she had six elderly women sit down and turn into delicate embroidery the answer to the question "What is the thing that you fear the most?"
Anila Rubiku's The 16 Ways was inspired by Pietro Aretino and Confucius' concept of Chinese box. The series of textile boxes gradually open to reveal very intimate tableaux. The boxes were produced together with a group of nuns in Tel Aviv which must have led to rather awkward moments.
Stephanie Syjuco's Counterfeit Crochet handbags. The artist created a website inviting crocheters to join her in hand-counterfeiting designer handbags. Participants choose a design that they covet, work off of low-resolution jpgs, downloadable PDF instructions and start knitting. With The Counterfeit Crochet Project (Critique of a Political Economy), the artist draws parallels with contemporary manufacturing and distribution channels, in particular the idea of "outsourcing" labor. All along however, participants are encouraged to take liberties with the handbag, changing colors, adding materials to suit their needs and tastes.
I make it my duty not to be impressed by what designers do, it was very easy to ignore the room dedicated to knitting inspired design. However, i couldn't help but admire Christien Meindertsma - Flocks Pouf just as much as i've been admiring pretty much anything she's been doing since she graduated from Design Academy Eindhoven.
On view until March 29 at the Triennale in Milan.
Related stories: PIG 05049, a conversation with Christien Meindertsma, Pricked: Extreme Embroidery, Subversive knitting, Interview with Cat Mazza (microRevolt), 24c3: The history of guerilla knitting, Book Review: KnitKnit: Profiles + Projects from Knitting's New Wave, Delirious knitting show at Craft Council, Gales and Gasps, Cruel Crochet, etc.
Milan is probably one of the worst European cities i know art-wise. Milan doesn't do risky, innovative exhibitions the way its smaller neighbour Turin does, for example. Milan is many things but it's not a place that breathes, thrives or banks on art, at least not the thought-provoking, cutting-edge one. This of course doesn't mean that there aren't fantastic galleries in Milan.
Galleria Patricia Armocida, for example, is pretty unique in the Milan panorama (and no, i don't think there's anything similar in Turin but please do let me know if i'm wrong). On Thursday, i went to there to visit the solo exhibition of artist Ericailcane whom i had discovered a year ago in Florence.
Famous for his work as a street artist, Ericailcane shows with this exhibition the full palette of his talents: drawings, prints, engravings, a video, and a site-specific installation. Each artwork is satirical, delicate and very evocative.
The title of the exhibit, 'Civil War', expresses the undeniable state of crisis which characterizes our society. It's the internal war we wage upon each other, everyone against everyone. Divided, separated, diffident to the point of inevitably clashing. After the conflict, all that remains is smoke, desolation, and ruins, but also a peaceful silence.
Previously at the gallery Patricia Armocida: Os Gemeos in Milan.
I'm sad to read that the The Fondazione Sandretto Rebaudengo which remarkable programme of exhibitions i've regularly covered in these pages has had to postpone the opening of Le Ali di Dio (The Wings of God), the first Italian exhibition dedicated to Adel Abdessemed.
Pressures and complaints about the video installation entitled Don't Trust Me, which documents the practices of butchers in the Mexican countryside, prevented the art space to open the exhibition according to the original plans.
Six television screens show video images of six tethered animals - a sheep, a pig, an ox, a horse, a goat and a doe - being killed by workers with a sledgehammer. When the show opened at a San Francisco gallery last year it was shut down within four days after Abdessemed and gallery staff received death threats from activists describing the installation as ''animal snuff videos''. These videos were shot in a Mexican slaughterhouse where animals are raised in order to be turned to meat and eaten.
Art curator Francesco Bonami reacted: "Contemporary art that talks about violence doesn't impose violence upon us but asks anyone who has decided to cross the threshold of the exhibition space to reflect on violence and its various nuances, from the ones of the animal world to the ones of human beings. The art of Algerian artist of Berber origin Adel Abdessemed does not try to provoke, it simply talks about responsibility and violence of life.'
The images of the videos are taken out of context and that's probably and very understandably what disturbs protesters but i believe that The Fondazione Rebaudengo would have shown the videos in the most delicate and informed way. I'm quite sure i would not have the guts to watch the videos (i can't even stand the sigh of a piece of meat in my bf's plate) but it pains me to see that an artist is being censored for documenting an action that takes place almost all over the world every single day so that people can enjoy their burger, their 'prosciutto crudo' or their 'albese'....
Adel Abdessemed - The Wings of God was due to run at the FSRR from Wednesday until May 18.
I've posted 28, 237 pictures on flickr so far. Most of them fal into oblivion as soon as they are uploaded. Other generate an insane amount of 'favorite' tags. The latest in the band is one photo i took at the Fondazione Re Rebaudengo which is currently showing one third of the Turin Triennale. Proper report will follow. All i feel like saying right now is that it is a good art event. In a clinically clean sense. All is tasty, carefully selected, i just wish there were more surprises. Wait! i wish there were surprises. But i guess that no surprise is better than bad surprise.
Alll that blabla to say that one of the most popular photos i made at the Triennale is the one of the Keyboard cemetery by Paul Chan. It is a physical referent to Alternumerics, a work on fonts that explores the relationship between language and interactivity by transforming the simple computer font into an art form that explores the fissure between what we write and what we mean. By replacing individual letters and numbers (known as alphanumerics) with textual and graphic fragments that signify what is typed in radically different ways. Alternumerics transforms any computer connected to a standard printer into an interactive artmaking installation.
The Torino Triennale runs until February 2009 in various venues.
Robert Kusmirowski does copies, simulacra, forgeries, mock-ups. Meticulously and masterfully. The result of his craft is an illusion. You believe you're in front of a relic from the past, complete with patina: a sepia photography, old newspapers, cigarette packs, but also a graveyard, the wagon of a '40s train or an entire train station. I never used to be fascinated by sculptures but the young artist put such a eerie, retro-innovative' spin to the genre that he won me over.
Information about the artist state that he started to make deliberate mock-ups as a child, building toys he couldn't get in socialist Poland. Elsewhere you will read that from an early age he painstakingly forged bus passes and postage stamps for his entire family.
The Polish artist currently has two works in Turin, one is UHER.C at Guida Costa Projects. The second one, DATAmatic 880, is on show at the Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo as part of the Turin Triennale.
Both use mechanics and electronics as symbols of a broader reflection on 20th century European history. They are suggestive, non-functional machines, they are nostalgic and absurd. They play with time and place. They evoke a period the artist is too young to have experienced.
DATAmatic 880 is a 1960's computer lab that comes straight from the time machine. Its name recalls the DATAmatic 1000, a large-scale electronic data processing machine, launched by American company DATAmatic in the '50s. As you can guess, Kusmirowski's DATAmatic 880 never existed.
UHER.C is another non-relic from the '60s.
Especially conceived for the Guido Costa Projects gallery, UHER.C is a recording studio. It is meant to be manipulated by rockers, not by neat scientists in white gowns. UHER.C is as cluttered, messy and dusty as DATAmatic 880 is glossy and hygienic.
You can only observe UHER.C through a window panel. In turn, the recording studio lets you take a peak at the future that has been (or might have been) but which appears obsolete today.
UHER.C is a classical, archaic sculpture that has gone berserk: it is both the nightmarish and joyous side of machine.
The press release says: UHER.C gets its name for phonetic, geographic and historical reasons (respectively Hertz; UHER a mountain region in the environs of Lubin; and Mr UHER.C, a researcher into the physics of sound). It is an extraordinary sculpture with a thousand souls, keyboard, oscillators, microphones, amplifiers, recording devices, cables, mysterious objects, pure inventions, sounds, voices and lights. It is a living sculpture that now and again unplugs one of its souls, caged in its circuits for decades, or it gives a voice to other souls born especially for the occasion.
Slideshow of the exhibition:
On view at Guida Costa Projects, Turin, until Saturday 28 February 2009. At the end of the exhibition a limited edition LP will be produced of music by Robert Kusmirowski.
See also Vernissage TV coverage of the opening of DATAmatic 880 in Berlin.