UNSTABLE TERRITORY Borders and identity in contemporary art
Unstable Territory. Borders and identity in contemporary art, curated by Walter Guadagnini and Franziska Nori, will be showcasing work by such international artists as Kader Attia, Sigalit Landau, Richard Mosse, Paulo Nazareth, Oliver Ressler & Zanny Begg, Niccolò Benetton and Simone Santilli a.k.a. The Cool Couple, encouraging us to rethink our notion of territory in a contemporary world characterised increasingly by the obsolescence of such concepts as the nation state and borders, yet at the same time by a renewed interest in the individual in relation to a specific area or community.
What does it mean when we talk about “territory”? The term does not simply refer to a geographical or spatial area, it also refers to a concept of belonging that extends into the personal, psychological and mental dimension, and in a broader context it is also social, cultural and related to the issue of identity.
We live in an era in which the astonishing development of mobility for both people and goods, the digitalisation of communication and knowledge, migration and an increasingly global economy have radically changed people’s perception of territories, borders and boundaries. In view of the instability of these concepts crucial to the definition of personal identity, two different though not necessarily conflicting trends appear to be taking shape, one based on seeking shelter in the safety and proximity of the micro-territory, the region or even the family, the other, as theorised by sociologist Ulrich Beck, involving a new conception of cosmopolitanism in its most democratic and egalitarian sense.
The works of the artists on display in the exhibition reflect different approaches, lifestyles and ways of perceiving the unstable relationship between identity, territory and borders in an age of great expectations (and illusions) regarding a borderless society, a shared global territory. Photographs, videos and installations spark reflections on the notion of the border as discovery or barrier, on the hybridisation between cosmopolitism and territorial claims, on the figure of the artist himself as traveller, nomad or experimenter teetering on the edge of physical and symbolic territories.
The exhibition is scheduled to run concurrently with The Russian Avant-Garde, Siberia and the Orient. Kandinsky, Malevich, Filonov, Goncharova (Palazzo Strozzi, Florence, 27 September 2013–19 January 2014) curated by John Bowlt, Nicoletta Misler and Evgenia Petrova, the first international exhibition to recognise the crucial importance of oriental and Eurasian sources in Russian Modernism, inviting the visitor to follow in the footsteps of the artists of the Russian Avant-Garde as they discover new sources of inspiration.