Wednesday, February 26, 2014
To continue. Notes towards a Sculpture Cycle is a research-based project inspired by a core group of works from the Nomas Foundation collection, which focuses on sculpture, organised in three chapters, each dedicated to a specific aspect of the medium. Through itineraries around the city, a public programme of lectures in collaboration with Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Moderna, visits to artists studios and specific collections, To continue. Notes towards a Sculpture Cycle aims to build a dialogue between the present and the past, between the Foundation and the narrative texture of the city. Matter, the first episode of To continue. Notes towards a Sculpture Cycle, is inspired by the famous series of lectures held by Rudolf Wittkower at Cambridge University in 1970-71. The aim of these lectures, was to examine works on the basis of the working methods used by the artists, while also seeking out lines of continuity and rupture throughout the history of art, from the Archaic period to the present day. In a similar manner, this first episode looks at how works are made, and how their material presence determines their appearance and the way they are perceived. The solid and the void, to carve or to shape, are still the constituent elements of sculpture today – whether the artist works with traditional materials or whether he inscribes the form within a space, or even when giving shape to data, images and sounds that constitute a new and potential matter. (to continue)
Curated by Cecilia Canziani and Ilaria Gianni, assistant curators Michela Tornielli and Stefano Vittorini
Exhibition: Giorgio Andreotta Calò, Rossella Biscotti, Chiara Camoni, William Cobbing, Michael Dean, Luisa Gardini, Helena Hladilová, Oliver Laric, Else Leirvik, Nicola Pecoraro, Diego Perrone, Timur Si-Qin, Jesse Wine. References: On the occasion of the opening a rare documentary dedicated to the Italian sculptor Medardo Rosso, realised for the RAI in 1959 by Alberto Martini, historian and art critic, will be shown.
Opening Tuesday February 26, 2014 6.30 pm Nomas Foundation, Viale Somalia, 33 - Roma February 26 to April 5 | Matter April 17 - May 27 | Vision June 5 - July 25 | Scale To continue. Notes towards a Sculpture Cycle continues Nomas Foundation’s ongoing investigation on visual art’s languages, following A Theatre Cycle, 2013; A Painting Cycle, 2012; A Film Cycle, 2011; A Performance Cycle, 2010.
Sunday, February 16, 2014
Sunday, February 9, 2014
Saturday, February 8, 2014
Anse-à-Pitres, Haiti, 2012.
Late one afternoon, I was walking with a local friend in the small border town of Anse-à-Pitres, Haiti, when we reached what looked like an impromptu public square. “You see the mosaic promenade?” my friend said. “And the benches over there? We know every great city has a public square, so we decided to build one here.” In the center I saw a concrete column with rebar protruding from the top, surrounded by a spiral concrete wall.
“And all great public squares have a monument with a statue, right?” he said. I demurred, but he continued: “Everyone in town can agree about that. But whenever we discuss which historical figure should go up on that column, it turns into a fight. We can’t come to a consensus. So we’ve decided to leave it empty. One day, this person will come. And when they do, we will have a place waiting for their statue. This will bring great pride to Anse-à-Pitres.”
Thiotte, Haiti, 2012
You find examples of this typology all around the world: buildings and structures that are activated or inhabited even though their construction is not complete.  For the past several years, I’ve been collecting photographs, video and anecdotes of cases in Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Mexico, the United States, Jordan, Israel, Palestine and Turkey. Instead of attempting to explain these approaches to construction or indulging in obvious generalizations, this investigation asks: How can we read these objects in a different way? This is not a study of the “creativity of the poor” or an attempt to improve design practice; my research is motivated by an impulse to produce understandings for which we may not have immediate use.
South Quito, Ecuador, 2012
Some months after I left Haiti, I was presenting my research at the International Academy of Art Palestine, in Ramallah. An artist from the older generation, whose work had given visual expression to the concept of sumud — or "perseverance" — offered a thoughtful response: “You are going to meet people who will tell you that this form of architecture is about optimism for the future. But I can tell you that in Palestine, for me, this cannot be the case. When I see rebar coming from the roofs of the buildings, I see a violent fear of the future. A fear that comes from not knowing what is being passed down from one generation to the next. Previously, we had the olive fields, and there was a rootedness to the land. But what was once a communitarian, horizontal mentality is now individualistic and vertical. No matter how hard people work, no matter how far they extend their efforts, they just go higher and higher, never touching, never making contact with those around them.”
Wadi Rum, Jordan, 2012
People often tell me the reason buildings are left unfinished is so that the occupants can avoid paying property taxes. They come rushing up after talks, excited to report that they know the answer. Perplexed that such a tax loophole could exist in a range of markedly different cultural and climatic contexts, I asked an urbanist friend in Italy what he thought. “It’s an urban legend,” he said — one that is informed and propelled by implicit racism. He pointed out that in Italy this approach to construction is almost entirely confined to the South, where a larger proportion of the population is from a migrant background. “The myth generalizes a group of people who those in power would like us to see as selfish and opportunistic.”
Last spring, I found myself in Delhi, talking with a group of young architecture students whose professors urged them to move beyond discursive dichotomies — formal/informal, legal/illegal — and to navigate by other means. We tunneled through several thought-provoking detours until one student lost patience and interjected, “When does all this nebulous talking end? When are we going to do something about this?”
There was silence in the room. After a long moment, one of the professors spoke. “Where is this fear of endlessness coming from? What might we learn when we avoid that urge to do something, and just allow the building to remain endless?
Text by JOSEPH REDWOOD-MARTINEZAuthor’s Note
Research for The Exhibition of a Necessary Incompleteness was supported by a grant from the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts.
Images, video and text from this body of work were included this past fall in an exhibition at the University Art Gallery at the University of California, San Diego. This essay and slideshow are not a summary of that research but, rather, a point of entry.
1. This is variously referred to as vertical phasing, perpetual construction, or incomplete architecture.
Wednesday, February 5, 2014
Monday, February 3, 2014
The Margins of the Factory presents two recent projects by the Rotterdam-based duo Iratxe Jaio & Klaas van Gorkum that are motivated by their interest in art's relationship with labour. Each explores sculptural form and manufacturing processes from the perspective of artists who have not usually made objects. Jaio & van Gorkum undertake what are in part sociological investigations by documenting the local, marginal effects of the displacement of manufacturing industries over the last two generations with the emergence of the global market. Emerging from the artists' personal history and implicating the direct effects of their own vocation as well as work they ask of others, the projects are moreover complicit in asking what kind of industriousness brings value and what political life objects might have.
The exhibition opening features a performance by British “avant-folk” musician Nathaniel Robin Mann, developed in collaboration with Jaio & van Gorkum around the raw footage of Work in Progress and the tradition of work song. Mann interprets the Basque popular song “Oi Peio Peio” – a dialogue between a woman worker and her cruel boss, who insists that she carries on working throughout the night. First collected in Cancionero Popular Vasco in 1918, the song was popularized by singer–songwriter Mikel Laboa, founder of “Ez Dok Amairu” (“No Thirteen”), the cultural movement of Basque poets, musicians and artists whose name was a suggestion of sculptor Jorge Oteiza.
Central to Producing time in between other things (2011) is a selection of wooden objects made by retired factory worker Jos van Gorkum – Gorkum’s grandfather – which the artists documented in the homes of his relations, friends and former neighbours across the Netherlands. During this process, the artists located the original lathe on which these items had been crafted and began to teach themselves woodturning. The forms which they made as they worked at learning a hobby become the means to support the display of the original objects, presented alongside three videos and photography.
Work in Progress (2013) immerses itself in the manufacturing industry of Markina-Xemein, the rural Basque village where Jaio comes from. A video documents the mass-production of rubber car parts, following the pieces from the assembly line in a worker-owned factory to subcontracted workshops where informal workers finish them by hand. Several of these workers are employed by the artists to cast hundreds of replicas of small modernist sculptures. These are displayed on mass-produced shelving to evoke the "Chalk Laboratory" of Basque sculptor Jorge Oteiza, a fierce critic of the commodification of art.
Curators: Iratxe Jaio & Klaas van Gorkum, 'The Margins of the Factory', ADN Platform, Sant Cugat del Vallès, Barcelona, Spain, 25 January–30 April 2014.