A store full of Italians

Le Magasin is showcasing the young Italian scene (in Grenoble, until January 2nd). There are artists already somewhat known, like Francesco Vezzoli, Paola Pivi, Claudia Losi (above, left, with the two brains attacked with acid, now porous; I missed it in Pollino this summer), Lara Favaretto (seen at Sharjah, and who occupies the principle space here, with a tranquil army of gas cylinders whistling on kazoos (Platon), as well as cubes of confetti, one white, the other three glittering black), Rosa Barba (who has a show at Tate Modern, and who’s piece here is a projector vacillating on its pedestal, its projected text wandering from wall to wall), Salvatore Arancio (passionate for volcanoes; he had one of the most interesting presentations in the jeunes galeries section at Frieze), but also many others whom I came upon for the first time here.

One nice discovery: the series by Swedish-Italian Linda Fregni Nagler (è italianissima, con un fisico da modella ed una compostezza tutta nordica), that lines up Rorschach-like grounds of black and white (above) that reveal themselves to be photographs of a pair of women in strict black mourning robes (Unidentified Mourners), their hair in nets, their faces hidden (it would have please Bill Hunt). From which Puritan sect do they come from? They are different women but so alike: the trouble begins. These photographs seem to be silhouettes, promising to reveal the depths of their souls (I return to Lavater). It is a series of twelve photographs, and a very successful work.

The work of Marzia Migliora is based on writing, and the majestic use of quotations; one, on the ground, the tragic black sheep of cycling, Marco Pantani (“I got uphill so fast in order to shorten my agony”), the other, no less tragic, of another ‘black sheep’ of genius, Pasolini, in his last interview, a few hours before his death (“Maybe I’m wrong, but I still say that we are all in danger”): it is inscribed on three walls of an alcove which one enters carefully, and once it registers, we realize that the letters are mirrors that reflect us.

I will mention again Patrizio Di Massimo’s ‘anti-colonial’ two-channel video, about a (fictional?) dialogue between Négus and the Duke of Abruzzi (the great explorer, and colonizer of Somalia), videos shown at perpendicular, mirror images (so to speak) of mutual ass-licking (Facetta Nera Bianca Facetta). Facetta Nera was a colonial and fascist song from the 1920s, pretending to lend a humanist air to a colonial enterprise (one thinks of this piece by Rubin…)

I must also mention the alpine video by Rossella Biscotti accompanied by the sound of rocks themselves, the skull jewel ORFEO by Giorgio Andreotta Calò, and the stony face of a young girl with holes for eyes by Alex Cechetti (who also had a performance that I didn’t see). The negative aspects of the show: a few too many works at the frontiers of design, a few heirs of Arte Povera unable to free themselves of their heritage, and a few too-simplistic pieces, particularly in the main hall (excluding Favaretto).

Here is commentary just as informed as mine, and here, a short piece in Italian, and photos.

Texte en français

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