I've written about Artissima, Turin's contemporary art fair, in my previous post (Artissima, Turin's contemporary art fair), I'll let the photos do the talking this time, except when they document performances or installations.
Matej Andraž Vogrinčič's installation Untitled (56 Boats) was a collection of 56 upturned rowing boats placed inside the bombed ruins of the Gothic Era St. Luke's Church in Liverpool.
Kutlug Ataman's two-channel projection Journey to the Moon is a docu-fiction about an urban myth that in 1957, a group of villagers in eastern Turkey were conned by a politician into believing he would build a spaceship factory in cooperation with the US, in return for their votes. The film explores the idea that the villagers were the victim of American style westernisation in Turkey in the late 50s and perhaps also of the early stages of globalisation.
In 2006, a gas and oil drilling well created an environmental disaster in East Java that continues to this day. Experts speculated that an earthquake in central Java had triggered the eruption of this unstoppable "mud volcano"; many believed that the catastrophe was in fact primarily due to the negligence of mining company Lapindo Brantas.The toxic fumes still spreading from the well include hydrogen sulphide, which causes long-term neurological and physical effects. The attempts at stopping the mud flow, whether they involve inadequate 15ft high dams of earth or the sacrifice of animals, have all failed.
Since the first eruption, 13,000 families (some 50,000 people) have lost their homes and land. Susan Norries dedicated Notes from Havoc to them.
The Bruce High Quality Foundation's photographs, Public Sculpture Tackle, documents an ongoing series of performances in which the artists dressed in makeshift sports attire and padding hurl themselves and lunge against various public sculptures in Manhattan. In a contest between individualistic energy and engineered public adornment, we all know who will win.
Lara Almarcegui used the debris of a demolished house from the center of St Truiden in Belgium to raise an antimonumental sculpture.
Seen at the booths of Laura Bartlett and Bugada & Cargnel, the Cairns series by Cyprien Gaillard. The photographs depict the aftermath of the demolition of high rise social housing in Glasgow and the Parisian suburbs, shot and printed after Düsseldorf school of photograph's codes and photographers such as Andreas Gursky and Thomas Struth, while pushing them to their ultimate stage: monumentality, frontality, absence of narration and time reference - ie impossibility to identify the season of the year or the time of the day; but instead of picturing an arrogant modernist building, only remains a pyramid of ruins.
Talking of Thomas Struth...
Every picture shot by Hans Op De Beeck for his "Room" series features only one protagonist presented in interiors that are computer-designed but which provide information about the presumed life and social background of the person portrayed, as well as about the specific moment and the stage of life that the individual has reached.
Each of the characters has that kind of introspective gaze one can observe in Old Masters such as Rogier van der Weyden. The references do not end there. The series also alludes to the film noir.
Let's end with a picture seen at the booth of my favourite gallery in Turin
And hop! Another photo set.
Spain has ARCO in Madrid, France FIAC in Paris, the UK do Frieze in London, Germany has Art Cologne and art forum in Berlin, etc. But what is the main contemporary art fair in Italy? Do sit down please because the list is getting longer. There's a contemporary art fair in Bologna, one in Milan, in Bolzano, in Verona. And then there's Turin. Surely there must be one in the South of the country but i don't think i've ever been told about it. I only go to Turin, not just because i have the misfortune to live there, but because Artissima, which closed a few weeks ago, never disappoints me. It is decidedly the edgiest and most exciting contemporary art fair in the country. In fact, you'd almost think that people come here because they love art, not just because they want to buy, invest and speculate.
Over 45,000 visitors visited the fair and the sales went fairly well (at least that's what you tend to hear and read in times of crisis.) Not everybody was ecstatic though. There was the scandal of the catalogs (one of them compiles interviews with gallery owners some of which were not present at the fair and were therefore not contributing to the financing of the catalog printing, the gallery owners who had not been interviewed for the booklet felt they had been cheated), others lamented Turin's decision to focus many of the city's art events in November, with the effect that collectors and visitors had less time to spend at the fair than gallerists might have hoped.
As i mentioned a few weeks ago, the fair had the objective of being affordable, introducing young artists at "prices you can buy." The definition of 'affordable' being open to debate, Artissima opened THE STORE, a shop curated by Adam Carr, at the back of the exhibition space. Plebeians like you and me could snap a poster, bag, lollipop, video, postcard, mug or balloon for 0 to 450 euro (i was told you were even allowed to bargain) by artists such as Nina Beier, Stella Capes, Tomas Chaffe, Claire Fontaine, Ryan Gander, Liam Gillick, Loris Gréaud, Arunas Gudaitis, Henrik Plenge Jakobsen, Jonathan Monk, Paola Pivi, Mario Garcia Torres, etc. I got the Jonathan Monk bag with the press kit so i'm as happy as a clam (never inquired about the degree of felicity of a clam but i found the expression on google and thought it sounded adequate.)
Now I'll just throw a few pictures and artworks at your face, go back to my "English Period drama tv series" viewing and come back to you tomorrow with a post focusing on the photographic works i discovered at Artissima.
The entrance of the fair was particularly eye-catching thanks to the Constellation section which presents a museum-style selection of installations, sculptures, videos, and large-format works selected by Heike Munder, from the Migros Museum Für Gegenwartskunst, Zurich. I only paid attention to it at the end of my visit when i saw these alpine lads falling half-asleep during a dancing marathon on a rotating podium:
Stas Volyazlovsky's artworks are painted on bed-sheets, pillow-cases and towels dipped into a strong tea which is very popular among inmates of Russian prisons. They figure Pushkin, Hitler, "lolitas", mutant nurses and Dracula among obscene words and motives that remind criminal tattoos.
Naïma Bourquin, Johan Wacquez, and Vassili Lavandier are three fictive persons. Artist Jonathan Delachaux sculpts then photographs them for the realization of his paintings. Everything in the painting is very realistic. Except the characters, they retain their eerie puppet appearance.
Carsten Höller reminded us that he was trained as a biologist by filling a series of vitrines with Doppelpilze (Double mushrooms). Each replica of mushroom was halved and then coupled with a different kind of mushroom.
Amusingly, this slot machine which seemed to work like your usual slot machine was defined "an interactive sculpture." You'll notice an artwork featuring skulls just behind this -now that i think of it- rather uninspiring 'interactive sculpture'.
I saw an awful lot of skulls at Artissima.
See you tomorrow!
Picture on the homepage: Seb Patane, Absolute Körperkontrolle, live audio-visual mixed media installation, 200. Courtesy Maureen Paley, London and Galleria Fonti, Naples
On Thursday, i did a tour of Artissima, the contemporary art fair in Turin. One of the objectives of the fair this year was to be 'affordable'. "We are not interested in having artworks that costs 10 million euros. We want to enable young people and those who have a passion for art but a limited budget to become collectors," explained to La Stampa Andrea Bellini, the Director of the Turin art fair. I didn't ask for any price so i'll take his word for it. I did notice a fair amount of young and i must say rather exciting artists in the booths.
Well, that was a pretty inappropriate introduction because i'm actually going to focus on a photographer who gained fame in the '70s and '80s for her documentation of the internal war of the Mafia in Sicily at its bloodiest, and its devastating impact on the rest of the society.
In 1974, when the mafia moved from organised crime to heroin trafficking, mafiosi became more brutal. They murdered anyone who would stand in the way of their business, from the chief of police to family rivals. By 1981, there was one killing every three day. Sometimes many more.
At the time, the Cosa Nostra was identifiable. It had faces one could photograph and associate with crimes. Today, mafia is much less visible. Battaglia's pictures, because of the corruption, silence, violence and suffering they laid bare, played a crucial role in the anti-mafia campaign. They show anti-mafia Judge Cesare Terranova shot in his car, corpses of mobsters abandoned by the road, tears of the wives and mothers when they discover the scene of the crime, arrests of a mafia boss, teenagers pretending to be though guys with attitude and guns.
Some of her photos were even used as evidence of corruption against Giulio Andreotti, a man whose authority in Italian politics was so powerful he was known as Divo Giulio, "divine Julius" an epithet of Julius Caesar. In 1993, when prosecutors in Palermo indicted the ex-prime minister, the police searched Battaglia's archives and discovered two 1979 photographs of Andreotti with an important Mafioso he had denied knowing. These pictures were the only physical evidence of the politician's connections to the Sicilian Mafia. Battaglia's life, after she retired from photography, is as awe-inspiring as her images: she's a photoreporter known for taking risks but also an editor and environmental writer and politician.
The Cardi Black Box gallery in Milan brought the work of Battaglia to Artissima, along with two other photographers of tragedy: Enrique Metinides and former Swiss police lieutenant Arnold Odermatt who during almost 50 years recorded car accidents.
Wikipedia has a list of webpages where you can find more photos of Battaglia.
A quickie on painted and drawn goodies seen at Artissima, the international fair on contemporary art that closed on Sunday in Turin.
One of the few artworks that made me feel alive at Artissima is the series of clown paintings by Shane Campbell (at the booth of NYC-based Bortolami Gallery). His clowns are depressed and pathetic which has always been the way i saw clowns.
Galleria Perugi from Padova had many interesting paintings. They didn't have the one below but that won't prevent me from introducing you to Laurina Paperina.
Alexander Gray Associates had set up a solo exhibition by performance artist and political activist Karen Finley.
With Artissima 15 opening immediately after the United States Presidential election, the gallery decided to dedicate its booth to Drawings from the Bush Administration, 2000-2008 , a selection of Finley's works on paper made over the past eight years of Bush's presidency. The works reflected on social and political events such as 9/11, the War of Iraq, the rise of Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice, fictional journals of Laura Bush's dreams, the execution of Saddam Hussein, and Sarah Palin's vice-presidential candidacy.
Besides, visitors were invited to inscribe on the booth's walls the names of those killed in the War on Iraq, creating a collective witness, site for mourning and, ultimately, a call to action. The names of the nearly 150,000 deaths were gathered from internet sources.
The 15th edition of Artissima, the international fair of contemporary art in Turin, closed yesterday. 128 galleries from 19 different countries gathered under the roof of the city's historic FIAT factory building at Lingotto.
The event is certainly not as glamorous as Frieze nor is it as vibrant, invigorating and edgy as Art Forum Berlin. Artissima nevertheless scores a few points in the 'emerging galleries and artists' category and i'm going to document some of them this week.
Prometeo is also representing Regina José Galindo, a Guatemalan performance artist who received the Golden Lion award at the Venice Biennale in 2005, in the category of "artists under 30", for a video (click only if you're very brave!) that depicted the surgical reconstruction of her hymen.
Galindo's performances address social injustice, gender discrimination, racism and the governmental atrocities of her own country. In March 2008, she enrolled her family in a performance that protested against the U.S.' booming industry of private prisons.
The artist, her husband and their 2-year-old daughter locked themselves in the mobile prison unit for 36 hours. Gallery visitors could peep through the narrow windows of the brightly-lighted cell and observe the family as they tried to occupy themselves with books and drawings during their voluntary detention.
The performance refers in particular to T. Don Hutto "Family Residential Center," a for-profit private prison located in Taylor, near Austin, and operated by Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), the largest private jail company in the world with one of the highest stock market values on Wall Street.
T. Don Hutto is the first prison authorized by the state to lodge whole families: men, pregnant women, adolescents, children, women, and even babies. The inmates are not necessarily criminals, very often they are detained there while their immigration status is determined.
A 3 part documentary in english and spanish describing the conditions of life inside T. Don Hutto:
The lucrative market of private prison took off in the 1980s under the Reagan-Bush administrations, prospered throughout the 1990s, and today flourishes due to anti-terrorism measures and tougher immigration laws. Many organizations for human, political, and social rights consider these facilities a new form of human exploitation.
The private prison business is huge. It has its own commercial exhibitions, conventions, websites, and mail-order catalogues. It works with hundreds of partner companies --from architecture and construction firms to plumbers and vendors of food, security equipment and uniforms-- that provide services, equipments and goods.
It all started when i almost fell on my knees in front of an installation by Michel Blazy. The first time i saw his work was at the Palais de Tokyo in Paris. The installation Post Patman stank, rot, crumbled and formed mushrooms, attracted insects and birds but i love it.
The work on show at Artissima, Le tombeau du poulet aux quatre cuisses (The grave of the four-legged chicken), is a skeleton laying on a bed of earth and surrounded by mushroom. The skeleton looks indeed like the one of a chicken, a giant chicken and as it is made of dog biscuits (made themselves from animal products) will be slowly desintegrating over time.
The PAV was also exhibiting one of Jun Takita's sculpture Jusqu'aux recoins du monde, the sculpture of a brain recovered with bioluminescent algae. For years, the Paris-based artist has been interested in bioluminescence.
According to traditional classification, photosynthesizing organisms
It is easy to perceive a figure in the landscape within 10° of one's line of sight (the size of the visual field of a fist held out at arm's length). For example, constellations are based on the principle that one reads stars at a distance of up to about 11° from one another as part of a group. Even when we look at the sky, the human hand is the unit of reference for measuring an image. If an object exceeds this 10° visual field, we have to move our eyes in order to perceive it in its entirety. Vision is then constructed by the accretion of several images memorized by the brain. In 1998, the artist started to work on a garden project based on this phenomenon.
The elevated garden is to be situated on top of a building in Tokyo. As Tokyo is a very polluted city, it is not unusual to see gardens being grown on the top buildings by inhabitants in order to cool down a bit the temperature of the city.
The central element of Takita's own garden is a mineral sculpture composed of three walls forming a cave and a bush pruned into a hemisphere. The inside of the cave is to be covered with a bioluminescent moss produced with genetic engineering technology. The moss will emit light via photosynthesis. The visitor is led to a viewpoint along the axis of the sculpture, where the bush is framed by the cave. The distance from this point to the bush will permit the eye to perceive the whole installation at once.
The visitor is invited to discover a visual experience made possible through genetic engineering. During the day, the light of the sun is much stronger than the one emitted through bioluminescence, therefore the form of the bush will be lit by the sun, and its shape will serve to distinguish it from a dark background. After sunset the opposite happens: the bioluminescent background will be broken up by the silhouette of the bush, forming a negative figure (via Takita's paper and the notes i took during the artist's presentation during the round table, titled Places and creative processes of the living arts, and organized by the Parco d'Arte Vivente at artissima).
Last week i went to the temporary headquarters of the PAV to check out their exhibition Living Materials. It closed yesterday but will be traveling to Austria. I do not have the details about that second show yet. But when i do, i'll let you know because Living Materials is a very charming exhibition.
Every work presented involves the public in a timed process cadenced by the cyclic rhythm of biological and ecological phenomena. Life and death are simultaneously present and aesthetically represented in the continuum of procedural works which ask us about the man-nature relationship in the age of biotechnology.
The works on show include Le Poulet and photos of Jun Takita's work but also:
An array of hundreds of lemons are pierced with small metal sheets, they are in fact Volta batteries supplied with citrus energy which powers tiny Leds, one every 4 lemons. Originally the lemons looked like the ones you can see on the image above but when i visited the PAV, the lemons were a yummy green as you can see on the image on the right. I actually liked that a lot, in yellow, they were too perfect, too plastic looking, but covered with decay they were more living than ever.
The artist writes: I imagined that the lemons during their "work" of withering and decomposing would give back the sun stored by the tree in his fruits during its productive phase in form of small flares.
I think it's fascinating that a fruit of nature through an electronic device can palpitate for some days. It seems the proof to me of our dependence on the environment, of our tight and deep bond to nature.
The project proposes a reflection on the energetic resources of our planet and re-explores one of the artist's theme of predilection: time. Six months of ripening, several days of life for the work and very short flashes of light, like snapshots of the passing by of time.
The last work on show is Food Island, by Andrea Caretto & Raffaella Spagna. The complex water system feeds several interconnected little islands containing various natural elements: stones, plants or animals.
A pump dipped in a water container sends water which reaches each island through transparent tubes. The water produced through various natural mechanism or which is not needed by the island is then collected and sent back to the main water container. the whole installation constitutes a kind of hypertextual narration which explains phenomena of growth and transformation of the material, from inorganic to organic and vice-versa.