October 25, 2007

Forgotten Sculptors: 3. Modigliani’s Heads

Try to imagine the rediscovery of several previously unknown pieces by Modigliani during an exhibition of his works, along with the din of attributions, statements, expert opinions, proclamations and critical hairsplitting that cannot help but follow in its wake. Now try to imagine four high-school students in a garden, armed with hammer and chisel, working on a stone and savoring, in advance, the surprised expression of those who will find it. At least for a few minutes, because the experts will undoubtedly realize soon enough that the statue is a fake. Now try to imagine the faces of the students when they find out that the statue has fooled everybody. At this point, it is up to them to admit to their practical joke.
Twenty-three years have passed since the perpetration of one of the greatest hoaxes in the history of Italian art. Four kids from Leghorn did their part, as citizens, to make a contribution to the loopy adventure of the salvaging of the lost sculptures of Modigliani. Rumor had it that the artist, in a moment of discouraged despondency, convinced that his sculptures would never be as good as his paintings, had tossed them into the Fosso Mediceo (a canal). After having dredged up all kinds of stuff, but no sculptures, people began to make jokes about the entire operation: «Look, they just found Modigliani’s bicycle!», «There is one of Amedeo’s shoes!»…

One night Pietro Luridiana, Pierfrancesco Ferrucci, Michele Ghelarducci and Michele Genovesi, after having sculpted a stone with a Black&Decker drill, stealthily threw it into the canal. The next day, as the dredging continued, the workers did indeed find a sculpted head in the style of Modigliani. But when they saw it the boys were amazed… it wasn’t the head they had made!
Its real author was Angelo Froglia, a dockworker and artist, who later declared that his action could be seen as a work of conceptual art, unmasking the faulty mechanisms of the art world. But the joke got the better of the concept, and as the entire tale emerged the media turned all their spotlights onto the four boys.
The head made by the students was the second to be discovered. Immediately afterwards, the leading experts expressed pompous opinions regarding the artworks and the episode, confirming the authenticity of the sculptures (though we should recall that unlike all his colleagues, Federico Zeri said the sculptures were so "immature" that even if they were authentic, Modigliani had been right about throwing them away).

The four friends, heirs to Buffalmacco and Calandrino, must have had a good laugh, though at a certain point the event took on such importance that it would be hard to resolve matters just by saying: «Hey, it was just a joke». But fortune smiles on the daring, and our practical jokers – who, after all, had committed no crime – demonstrated the truth with photos taken at pertinent moments. In the end, at prime time, they made a replica of the work (with the usual tools) for the television cameras: a perfect Modigliani, in just 45 minutes.
Michele told me he started to make sculptures again, a few years ago, and I immediately understood that the spirit of Modì, together with that of Angelo Froglia, who passed away a few years ago, were still in town, spreading the virus of sculpture.

(Translated by Steve Piccolo)

Forgotten Sculptors is an art project by Emilio Fantin, Luigi Negro, Giancarlo Norese and Cesare Pietroiusti, produced by Sculpture Center (New York) in the context of PERFORMA07, the second biennial of new visual art performance.

Part of the project consisted in a series of short email stories. A performance by the four artists with the participation of Joan Jonas and Steve Piccolo was held at Sculpture Center on November 3rd, 2007. As a final step to the project, the artists invited everyone to join them in a collective performance on Sunday, November 18th.

October 18, 2007

Forgotten Sculptors: 2. Dorothea

The Clay Club, circa 1940. Photographer unknown

In front of me is the face of Annie L.; in her early 60s, she died of a heart attack. Her face is like a ball of paper, crushed in a fist. Her mouth is a box for rings, opened and emptied. “Theft”, I think... then I hear a voice softly say “It won't be easy, Dee”.
Working for the MacAllister School of Embalming hadn't seemed like such an outlandish idea. My father was an illustrator and had a strange passion for anatomy. Knowing the human body gave him confidence; for him it was a sort of guarantee, the way people carry an amulet in their pocket. Who knows if his real desire was to shape bodies rather than draw them. His passion was contagious and anatomy became a path leading to art for me as well. So when I looked at or touched a skull, I began to feel I was simply shaping what was latent in a face; I felt like someone making a portrait, but my action was clearly sculptural. I wanted to create forms.

Here at the Embalming School, I handle a material that is not clay. I touch the lips, smooth the forehead, comb the hair, touch up the eyebrows, imagine the movements of that face, its character, its tics, all its expressions. Over time I have developed a technique for reshaping the faces of corpses. Slender but strong elastic threads stitched inside the cheeks make it possible to restore the skin's tension, to keep the mixture of wax, parafin and cornstarch in place, which I have always used to fill the oral cavity and, where necessary, to restore the smooth firmness of the face. I feel that working on the head of a dead person is much more than making a sculpture: of course the sculptor's challenge has always been that of giving life to his creation, but those faces grant me an emotion that is hard to describe. It's not so much in the idea of imagining the person alive, or coming back to life, and it's not the thrill of creating an illusion, or having a feeling of power over life or over bodies.
Maybe it is simply a state similar to the one certain dreams confusedly leave behind them. I've always known that no one would come back to life, that my hands could not restore life, but lately I have felt that the face of the deceased, in my hands, takes on a particular power, very great and very fragile at the same time; something that calls forth an idea of life as potential, an instant in which time inexplicably loses its dimension and its very reason for existing, and goes back to being absence. The thrill of this suspended moment in which I feel like something could happen, like something is about to happen.

Inspired by the life and work of Dorothea Denslow (1900-1971), sculptor, founder of the Clay Club (1928), later re-named SculptureCenter. Denslow taught anatomy at an embalming school from 1946 to 1951.

(Translated by Steve Piccolo)

Forgotten Sculptors is an art project by Emilio Fantin, Luigi Negro, Giancarlo Norese and Cesare Pietroiusti, produced by Sculpture Center (New York) in the context of PERFORMA07, the second biennial of new visual art performance.

Part of the project consisted in a series of short email stories. A performance by the four artists with the participation of Joan Jonas and Steve Piccolo was held at Sculpture Center on November 3rd, 2007. As a final step to the project, the artists invited everyone to join them in a collective performance on Sunday, November 18th.

October 15, 2007

Forgotten Sculptors: 1. The Nanocafausu

Lu Cafausu, San Cesario di Lecce, Italy. Photo Maurizio Buttazzo

Dusk. I knew my way around that suburb. Lu Cafausu was in the reflection on a puddle, together with a scrawny pink pepper tree. Surrounded by tract houses and condos that still emitted odors of construction dust and mortar. It looked like a Cyclops with a droopy single eyelid. The totally ungovernable nature of its beauty, and at the same time its complete autonomy with respect to my sentiments, had never been so clear before. It had been raining for days, and a dark dog had taken shelter under the roof: from a distance the dog was just a blotch, like a little tar pit.
Two hours later I was in a room full of Canon printers: Professor C was seated in front of me, in his studio at the Nanotechnology Research Group. I had explained things to him openly: I felt a physical need to contain that place, to incorporate it in me. Lu Cafausu had to be able to travel thanks to my body, I wanted to become its vector, I felt an urgent need to hide it, wrapping it inside me like a fetus. To become its living frame. I also told the professor that the first time I talked about this with Cesare (a mutual friend) he immediately urged me to swallow it. SWALLOW IT. I was fascinated by the word, more than the act in itself. Digestive processes exist to transform or to expel, but the nano-Cafausu would never have to be transformed.

Talinjit was from New Delhi and had been Professor C’s assistant for a couple of years. Together, with boundless patience, they tried to explain how I should guide the flywheel with which I could create, “freehand”, the nanosculpture of Lu Cafausu. Later, though, we would have to come up with about 10,000 euros: the average cost of a hypothetical material with which to “work”. Otherwise, the use of the laboratories and the work of the team were free, because everyone seemed to like the idea. But something seriously bothered me; in that moment I tried out my sculpture using a material that was easy to shape, but toxic:
«It’s the most ductile and flexible of all elements, but it is not suitable. This is because we cannot know what will happen inside your body in ten years’ time. We can inject it into a muscle, under the skin, or if you prefer we can use a long needle to place it in the parenchyma of an organ. No one can tell you what will become of your little Cafausu if it starts to freely circulate inside your organism...»
The fact is that I continued to complicate matters. I thought about a material that would remain stable, in its shaped form, only inside a living human being. I imagined my death and Lu Cafausu as it came apart within me, with me.
I took some journals home with me that day: “Mechanical and Electrical Behavior of Carbon Nanotubes”, “Rivista Italiana di Compositi e Nanotecnologie”.
Over the next few days the attempts to construct a form similar to the Cafausu failed repeatedly. The scientists who were helping me thought it was excellent news and tried to convince me to abandon my sculptural compulsion, saying I would not be able to achieve much more, even after a full year of trying. I remember that during the first days they kept urging me to make a computer-aided construction, based on a photograph but the results seemed cold, impersonal, like an architectural model. It wasn’t the work I wanted to contain, to carry, to feel, to frame. The sculpture had to be less like a caption, it should have been more symbolic, more emotional. At a certain point Talinjit, without taking his eyes off the monitor, said that I was building myself a non-functional organ.

(Translation: Steve Piccolo)

Forgotten Sculptors is a project by Emilio Fantin, Luigi Negro, Giancarlo Norese and Cesare Pietroiusti, produced by SculptureCenter in the context of PERFORMA07, the second biennial of new visual art performance. Part of the project consists in a series of short email stories like this one. A performance by the four artists with the participation of Joan Jonas and Steve Piccolo will be held at Sculpture Center on November 3rd at 3pm. As a final step to the project, the artists will invite everyone to join them in a collective performance that can take place at home, on Sunday, November 18th. For more info on how to participate, please email forgottensculptors@sculpture-center.org

With the support of the Italian Cultural Institute, New York
Thanks to the Nanotechnology Research Group, Lecce

Founded by artists in 1928, SculptureCenter is a not-for-profit arts institution dedicated to experimental and innovative developments in contemporary sculpture. SculptureCenter commissions new work and presents exhibits by emerging and established, national and international artists.

44-19 Purves Sreet
Long Island City, NY 11101
t 718.361.1750

PERFORMA07 (November 1-20, 2007) is the second biennial of new visual art performance presented by PERFORMA, a non-profit multidisciplinary arts organization dedicated to exploring the critical role of live performance in the history of twentieth century art and to encouraging new directions in performance for the twenty-first century. www.performa-arts.org

October 11, 2007

Meeting Through Fasting

This project was conceived and developed by Emilio Fantin, Giancarlo Norese, and Cesare Pietroiusti for the "First International Lunchtime Summit. A coming together of collective initiatives and socially engaged art in 16+ cities" (September 26th, 2003), organized by Sixteen Beaver Group, New York.

The three of us, each one in his own place and city (Bologna, Novi Ligure, Rome), observed a whole day of fasting on September 26th, 2003. During lunch and dinner time we introduced an original subject that became the plat du jour and conferred on it instead of eating. We also tried to guess what the other two were thinking about the chosen topic.
Our project tried to reach an indirect, neither personal nor auto-referential, common thinking. We then collected our considerations together with some pictures of the sites where our action took place.

Click here to download the booklet (redesigned in 2007; PDF, 1.65 MB)

October 9, 2007


PERFORMA07, the second biennial of new visual art performance, opens on October 27 in New York City, launching a four-week program of performances, exhibitions, screenings, symposia, and live events including ten major PERFORMA Commissions by Carlos Amorales, Sanford Biggers, Nathalie Djurberg, Japanther, Isaac Julien, Daria Martin, Kelly Nipper, Adam Pendleton, Yvonne Rainer, and Francesco Vezzoli. PERFORMA07 features the work of over ninety international artists at more than fifty leading cultural institutions and venues throughout the city, with the participation of more than thirty curators, and is organized under the artistic direction of its founder, RoseLee Goldberg.

Vito Acconci / David Adamo / Carlos Amorales / Francis Baudevin / Ei Arakawa & Amy Sillman / Are You Meaning Company / assume vivid astro focus / Fia Backström / Ronnie Bass / Jérôme Bel / Tamy Ben-Tor / Sanford Biggers / John Bock / Ulla von Brandenburg / Pablo Bronstein / Trisha Brown / Tania Bruguera / James Lee Byars / John Cage / Kabir Carter / Dimitri Chamblas / Boris Charmatz / Zoila Imaculada de la Concepción / Douglas Coupland / Tom Cole & Lovett / Codagnone / Tony Conrad / Marie Cool & Fabio Balducci / Nick Currie (aka Momus) / Philippe Decouflé / Nathalie Djurberg / Pete Drungel / Brock Enright / Nicolás Dumit Estévez / Emilio Fantin / James Fei / Ryan Gander / Gang Zhao / Rainer Ganahl / Grand Union / Nicolas Guagnini / Deborah Hay / He Yunchang / Karl Holmqvist / Hans Isaksson / International Festival / Christian Jankowski / Joan Jonas / Japanther / Isaac Julien & Russell Maliphant / Allan Kaprow / John Kelsey & Christopher Williams / Jon Kessler / Alison Knowles / Elke Krystufek / Tove Leffler / Shaun El C. Leonardo / Xavier Le Roy / Long March Collective / Robert Longo / Daria Martin / Eva and Franco Mattes (aka 0100101110101101.org) / Dave McKenzie / David Medalla / Gustav Metzger / Meredith Monk / Robert Morris & Stan VanDerBeek / My Barbarian / Bruce Nauman / Maurizio Nannucci / Luigi Negro / Kelly Nipper / Giancarlo Norese / Michael Northam / Darren O’Donnell / Yoko Ono / Serkan Özkaya / Adam Pendleton / Mai-Thu Perret / Cesare Pietroiusti / Michael Portnoy / Emilio Prini / Qiu Zhijie / Yvonne Rainer / Zach Rockhill / Robert Rauschenberg / Aïda Ruilova / Jelena Rundqvist / Carolee Schneeman / Second Front / Dexter Sinister / Markus Schinwald & Oleg Soulimenko / Snöfrid / Barbara Sukowa / Agathe Snow / Elaine Summers / Emily Sundblad / Eva Svuje / Min Tanaka / Javier Tellez / TM Sisters / Tomas Vanek / Francesco Vezzoli / Marianne Vitale & Agathe Snow / Tris Vonna-Michell / Jennifer Walshe / Lawrence Weiner / Michael Williams & Melissa Brown / Ian Wilson / The X-Patsys / Xu Zhen / + MORE

Anthology Film Archives / Artists Space / Art in General / Art Radio WPS1.org / Aperture Foundation / Baryshnikov Arts Center / The Bronx Museum of the Arts / Brooklyn Academy of Music / China Institute / Creative Time / Dance New Amsterdam / Dance Theater Workshop / Dispatch / The Drawing Center / Electronic Arts Intermix / Elizabeth Foundation for the Arts / The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum / Japan Society / The Jewish Museum / The Judson Memorial Church / The Kitchen / Lower Manhattan Cultural Council / The Museum of Arts and Design / Museum of Chinese in the Americas / New York University / Participant, Inc. / Performance Space 122 / P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center / SculptureCenter / The Studio Museum in Harlem / Storefront for Art and Architecture / Swiss Institute—Contemporary Art / WFMU 91.1FM-NYC and www.wfmu.org / White Box / White Columns / The Whitney Museum of American Art / WPS1 Art Radio / + MORE

590 Madison (The Atrium) / The Box / Columbia University / Dexter Sinister / Freemans / The Highline Ballroom / The Hudson Theatre at the Millennium Broadway Hotel / Joe’s Pub / Passerby / The New School / Second Life / Stephan Weiss Studio / World Financial Center / The Zipper Theater / + MORE

Canada / Chambers Fine Art / Deitch Projects / Fruit and Flower Deli / Greene Naftali Gallery / James Cohan Gallery / Metro Pictures / Salon 94 / Smith-Stewart / + MORE

October 3, 2007

Torno Subito! (in Berlin)

26.10. - 17.11.07

Mit Giona Bernardi, collettivo NISKA, Anna Leader, Sonja Feldmeier, Oppy De
Bernardo, Aldo Mozzini, Angelika Markul, Una Szeemann, Katia Bassanini, Giancarlo Norese.

Gastausstellung des Kunstraums La Rada (Locarno).
Eröffnung am Freitag 26.10, 19h bis 23h.

Raum für aktuelle Kunst aus der Schweiz
Torstrasse 159
10115 Berlin
Öffnungszeiten: Mi / Do 16h-19h, Fr 16h-21h, Sa 14h-18h

Vom 26. Oktober bis 17. November zeigt der Kunstraum La Rada aus Locarno im Substitut die Gastausstellung «torno subito!».
In Schaufenstern von italienischen Geschäften, besondern in süditalienischen, findet man häufig ein Schild mit der Aufschrift „torno subito“ („Bin gleich zurück“). Die Worte sind besonders oft auf den Türen von Quartierläden zu lesen. Torno subito“ signalisiert, dass der Ladenbesitzer mit grosser Wahrscheinlichkeit gerade ein Kaffee trinken gegangen ist und eben gleich wieder zurück sein wird....
Die Kundschaft kennt die Gepflogenheiten und weiss sofort Bescheid. Zu Missverständnissen kommt es aber immer mal wieder, wenn ein Tourist aus nördlicheren Gegenden, oder gar ein Amerikaner auf das Schild stossen und natürlich nicht verstehen, dass „gleich wieder zurück“ nicht unbedingt so genau gemeint ist.
Auf die Ausstellung im Substitut bezogen, soll der Titel den flüchtigen Geist einer Ausstellung unterstreichen, deren Ausgangslage die Begegnung eines Kunstraumes aus der tiefsten Schweizer Provinz mit der blühenden Berliner Szene ist. „Torno subito“ ist nicht unbedingt als reine Ausstellung zu verstehen. Eher als „arbeitsfreie“ Zeit oder als Transfer einer Fussballmannschaft ohne Torhüter und Mittelstürmer. Der provisorische Charakter entspricht auch dem Wunsch, den Kunstraum La Rada adäquat vorzustellen: Der Kunstraum ist weniger eine Kunsthalle die grosse Events organisiert, denn ein Labor, in welchem künstlerische Arbeitsweisen erforscht werden.
In diesem Sinne sollen nicht einfach Werke von Künstler/innen gezeigt werden, sondern auch La Rada repräsentiert sein. Das Tessin war Anfang des 20. Jahrhunderts ein überwiegend armer Kanton. Die Leute sind kaum aus ihren Dörfern herausgekommen und wenn, dann nur um anderswo ihr (finanzielles) Glück zu finden - immer mit den Ziel möglichst bald in ihre Heimat zurück zu kehren.
In Italien oder Deutschland haben die Tessiner zu miesen Löhnen als Kaminfeger gearbeitet oder Kastanien feilgeboten. Heute ist die Situation natürlich anders. Aber für Künstler ist sie in gewisser Weise ähnlich geblieben. Diese müssen mangels Möglichkeiten in ihrem Heimatkanton zwangsläufig auswandern - dieses Bild nimmt La Rada mit nach Berlin.

Aldo Mozzini ist im Tessin geboren, aber schon sehr früh nach Zürich gezogen. Er hat die Beziehung zu seiner Heimat nicht aufrecht erhalten, ausser dass in seinen Arbeiten mehr und mehr Motive und Reproduktionen von typischen Tessiner Objekten auftauchen.
Katia Bassanini lebt derzeit in New York und nimmt aus Entfernung an der Ausstellung teil, während der Italiener Giancarlo Norese eingeladen wurde, die italienischen Wurzeln der Tessiner Mentalität zu erkunden. Noreses Werk nährt sich von der Idee des Scheiterns. Er ist von der Art eines Maurizio Cattelan, aber menschlicher und weniger mediatisiert. Seine Arbeiten neigen dazu, die Widersprüche der zeitgenössischen Kunstproduktion aufzudecken.
Una Szeemann ist nicht nur Tessinerin, sondern auch Tochter von Harald Szeemann. Sie verkörpert alles, was ein Künstler aus dieser Region nie sein wird und nie sein kann. Ihre Arbeit widmet sich der Naturistenkolonie auf dem Monte Verità Anfang des letzten Jahrhunderts. Der Zusammenhang mit dem, was vielleicht eine wesentliche Passion ihres Vaters war, erscheint hier komplett verdreht und nimmt einen clownesken, wenn nicht gar grotesken Charakter an.
Giona Bernardi ist eine Tessiner Hip Hop-Künstlerin. Sie entwickelt ihre Arbeiten aus dem Graffiti und Comic. Die Hip Hop Szene ist im Tessin ein wichtiges gegenkulturelles Phänomen und Giona eine wichtige Repräsentantin. Das colletivo Niska (Niska ist finnisch für Nacken) ist eine Vereinigung lokaler Künstler die sich zum Ziel gesetzt hat, ausserhalb der Schemata zeitgenössischer Kunst
Anlässe zu organisieren. Als erste Aktion hat die Gruppe einen selbstreferenziellen Roadmovie gedreht, der sie auf einer Reise von Locarno nach Sodankyla im hohen Norden Finnlands zeigt, wo sie am Midnight Sun Film Festival teilgenommen haben, welches von den Kaurismäki-Brüdern initiiert worden war. Als Gegenstück dazu gibt es eine Art Italienreise, in der sich die Spuren der europäischen Zivilisation allmählich verlieren und zerstreuen. Heute führt das colletivo Niska einen Raum, wo sie Ausstellungen zeigen, die ausserhalb des Kunstkanons angesiedelt sind. Oppy de Bernardo ist auch Tessiner, der fast in Manier eines Don Quichote versucht, in der Provinz Kunst zu machen. Seine Arbeiten zeichnen sich durch scharfen Sinn für Humor aus und suchen die Provokation. Angelika Markul ist in Polen geboren, und lebt und arbeitet in Paris. Sie ist Assistentin von Christian Boltansky. Durch diesen hat sie Geschmack gefunden an der Welt des Finsteren; ihre Videos haben oft autobiografische Wurzeln und streifen das Kino von Regisseuren wie Polanski oder Lynch, ohne aber je narrativ zu werden. Ihre Protagonisten sind oft Insekten und Nachttiere auf die immer ein unausweichliches und tragisches Ende wartet. Anna Leader ist eine englische Fotografin, die sich in ihren Arbeiten auf die Geschichte der Fotografie und der Malerei bezieht. Die Künstlerin lebt seit fast zwei Jahren im Tessin und hat in dieser Zeit einige typische Aspekte des Kantons dokumentiert. Die Arbeit von Sonja Feldmeier (Basel) dreht sich um die Verdrehungen der medialen Sprache und ihrer Konventionen. Die Künstlerin hat schon mehrmals in der La Rada ausgestellt, war an der allerersten Ausstellung im White Space (Zürich, gegründet von Urs Küenzi) beteiligt und hat auch am ersten Akt von „torno subito“ im White Space teilgenommen. So schliessen sich die Kreise...
(Text: Noah Stolz, Übersetzung: Urs Küenzi)

October 2, 2007

Spacecraft. Fleeting Architecture and Hideouts

Editor Lukas Feireiss will present the latest release from dgv "Spacecraft: Fleeting Architecture and Hideouts" at the Pro qm bookstore, Almstadtstraße 48-50 in 10119 Berlin-Mitte starting at 8:30 pm on Friday, October 5.

Spacecraft presents projects that meet the changing spatial needs of our modern lifestyles and that are simultaneously expanding our current understanding of architecture. On the one hand, the book features flexible, fleeting structures that only exist for a limited time. On the other hand, Spacecraft focuses on spaces that are used temporarily. Whether vacation homes, urban hideouts, art projects, pavilions or studios, all of the included work is distinguished by a playful, unconventional use of space.
Giancarlo Norese is a contributor to this book.

Editors: R. Klanten, L. Feireiss
Language: English
Release: September 2007
Price: € 50,00 / $ 70,00 / £ 35,00
Format: 24 x 30 cm
Binding: 240 pages, full colour, hardcover
ISBN: 978-3-89955-192-1