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Federico Florian

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Micol Assaël at Hangar Bicocca, Milan

  For Micol Assaël's exhibition, the vast rectangular space of HangarBicocca's Shed looks bare and inhospitable. Evenly illuminated by gray neon lights, the gallery resonates with an intense, mechanical noise-an unsettling symphony composed of the rumbling of fans and the screeching of power generators. Several closed cabinlike structures (including a cubic wooden room, a refrigeration unit and a rectangular glass enclosure) are scattered throughout the space. As Assaël, who was born in Rome... [more]
Posted by Federico Florian on 6/9/14

Thea Djordjadze’s “Oxymoron Grey” at kaufmann repetto, Milan

  The raw material of Thea Djordjadze’s work is memory—of past times, faraway places, and emotions. “Oxymoron Grey”—her new (and second) solo show at Milan’s kaufmann repetto gallery—seems to illustrate this idea entirely and intimately. The exhibition’s title may allude to the “oxymoronic” nature of her art, which hovers between painting and sculpture, completeness and fragmentation, materiality and pure energy. Much like her sculptures, grey is the hue of what is vague, undefinable. It is... [more]
Posted by Federico Florian on 1/21/14

Venice Biennale 2013 Diary #20 - Rudolf Stingel

  Italo Calvino, Invisible Cities (chapter 6: Cities and the sky, 1)   Let’s try imagining Venice as Eudoxia, a city whose structure is contained in the design of an oriental carpet. Its roads make up the woof, while the warp is defined by the network of its canals. The knots of its crimson-colored threads are palaces, houses and theaters; the churches and synagogues, on the other hand, are woven out of cobalt-colored yarn. A broken thread gives rise to a blind alley, flaws in the weave... [more]
Posted by Federico Florian on 11/6/13

Venice Biennale 2013 Diary #19 - When Attitudes Become Form

  Italo Calvino, Invisible Cities (chapter 7: Cities and the dead, 3)   When Attitudes Become Form sounds like the opening of a poem from the Crepuscolari school. Every time I read this title—not the name of a literary work or an anthology of verse, but the title of an exhibition held in Bern in 1969—my imagination takes me back to the beginning of creation, to the telluric storms of an ancestral geological era: the time when life invaded the world and began to take shape. Da sinistra a... [more]
Posted by Federico Florian on 10/30/13

Venice Biennale 2013 Diary #18 - Turkey

  Italo Calvino, Invisible Cities (chapter 7: Continuous cities, 1)   According to Baudrillard, the body of the postmodern human being is a system undergoing continual mutation. The self, in the age of short narratives, is reduced to corporeity: all of its definitions in philosophical or metaphysical terms have given way to a merely operational one—there is no more room for the soul, there is no longer any need for transcendence. “Our being is exhausting itself in molecular linkings and... [more]
Posted by Federico Florian on 10/23/13

Venice Biennale 2013 Diary #17 - Iceland

  Italo Calvino, Invisible Cities (introduction to chapter 9)   Palazzo Zenobio, or Collegio Armeno, is a fairly isolated place, far away from the tourist traps of the city. Its gray walls, encrusted with old plaster, preserve only the memory of the magnificence they had in the 17th century. The atmosphere is entrancing, the palazzo is steeped in a sweet and melancholy sense of desolation. It is one of the places in Venice I love most. Along one side of the building runs a broad swathe of... [more]
Posted by Federico Florian on 10/16/13

Venice Biennale 2013 Diary #16 - Chile

  Italo Calvino, Invisible Cities (chapter 6: Trading cities, 5)   In The Stones of Venice John Ruskin describes the lagoon city as “a ghost upon the sands of the sea, so weak—so quiet—so bereft of all but her loveliness”: Venice is an impalpable, evanescent city, such “that we might well doubt, as we watched her faint reflection in the mirage of the lagoon, which was the City, and which the Shadow.” In conceiving his work for the Chilean Pavilion, Alfredo Jaar seems to have been inspired... [more]
Posted by Federico Florian on 10/9/13

Venice Biennale 2013 Diary #15 - Russia

  Italo Calvino, Invisible Cities (chapter 2: Thin cities, 2)   Act 1A young man, dressed in jacket and necktie, is seated astride a beam. His expression is gloomy, pensive. He looks like a bank clerk, or perhaps a stockbroker. His mind is a tangle of numbers, exchange rates and currency values, smeared with resentment and bitterness. While he reflects, nursing his rancor, he throws peanut shells on the ground—a slow, mechanical, almost cruel gesture. Every so often he glances at a shower... [more]
Posted by Federico Florian on 10/2/13

Venice Biennale 2013 Diary #14 - Israel

  Italo Calvino, Invisible Cities (chapter 8: Cities and the dead, 4)   There is a hole at the center of the Israeli Pavilion. It’s the end of a tunnel connecting Israel with Venice. A tunnel dug by an eccentric band of men and women. Rather than a speleological expedition, it seems to be an epic exploit. The purpose of the journey: a workshop of sculpture inside the pavilion. Gilad Ratman, The Workshop, 2013. Courtesy of Braverman Gallery. Gilad Ratman, the artist invited to represent... [more]
Posted by Federico Florian on 9/25/13

Venice Biennale 2013 Diary #13 - Belgium

  Italo Calvino, Invisible Cities (chapter 9: Continuous cities, 4)   The Belgian Pavilion, this year, presents a monumental installation by Berlinde de Bruyckere, entitled Kreupelhout—Cripplewood. It consists of an enormous uprooted, gnarled elm tree, resembling a mangled, lacerated, suffering human body. The artist invited the South African writer J.M. Coetzee to contribute to the exhibition as curator and source of inspiration. Out of this collaboration has come an artist’s book, which... [more]
Posted by Federico Florian on 9/18/13

Venice Biennale 2013 Diary #12 - USA

  Italo Calvino, Invisible Cities (chapter 9: Cities and the sky, 5)   In his painting entitled The Ancient of Days, William Blake depicts a powerful bearded man—a sort of pagan demiurge—crouching on the surface of the sun while measuring the exact curvature of the Earth with a pair of golden compasses. According to the myth recounted by Plato, the demiurge composed the universe out of cubes and tetrahedrons: he arranged, assembled and combined geometric shapes, like an infallible... [more]
Posted by Federico Florian on 9/11/13

Venice Biennale 2013 Diary #11 - Romania

  “Your cities do not exist. Perhaps they have never existed. It is sure they will never exist again. Why do you amuse yourself with consolatory fables? I know well that my empire is rotting like a corpse in a swamp, whose contagion infects the crows that peck it as well as the bamboo that grows, fertilized by its humors. Why do you not speak to me of this? Why do you lie to the emperor of the Tartars, foreigner? Italo Calvino, Invisible Cities (introduction to chapter IV)   The Romanian... [more]
Posted by Federico Florian on 9/4/13

Venice Biennale 2013 Diary #10 - Denmark

  water. Thus the traveler, arriving, sees two cities: one erect above the lake, and the other reflected, upside down. Nothing exists or happens in the one Valdrada that the other Valdrada does not repeat, because the city was so constructed that its every point would be reflected in its mirror, and the Valdrada down in the water contains not only all the flutings and juttings of the facades that rise above the lake, but also the rooms’ interiors with ceilings and floors, the perspective of... [more]
Posted by Federico Florian on 8/28/13

Venice Biennale 2013 Diary #9 - Ireland

  Italo Calvino, Invisible Cities (chapter IX: Hidden cities, 2)   “[...] and the life of man, solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short”. With these words Thomas Hobbes, in his Leviathan, described the state of nature, the primitive condition of humanity, in which there is no government nor any laws, in which total anarchy reigns and there is a situation of perpetual war. A “natural” condition in which man reveals his deepest essence, that of a predatory wolf, the enemy of his... [more]
Posted by Federico Florian on 7/31/13

Venice Biennale 2013 Diary #8 - Netherlands

  Italo Calvino, Invisible Cities (chapter V: Thin cities, 5)   As I approach Rietveld’s pavilion at the Giardini, my gaze rests on the animated, broken walls of the building’s surface. The lattice of horizontal and vertical lines of the large central windows expresses a typically neoplastic rigor and geometry—the cadenced rhythm of the architecture of the façade reminds me of the dynamic vitality of the grid of colored shapes in Broadway Boogie-Woogie, one of Piet Mondrian’s last... [more]
Posted by Federico Florian on 7/24/13

Venice Biennale 2013 Diary #7 - UK

  Italo Calvino, Invisible Cities (Chapter III: Thin cities, 3) English Magic is the name of Jeremy Deller’s solo exhibition in the British Pavilion in the Giardini. There is little or nothing esoteric or paranormal about the magic to which the title alludes: it is, rather, a realistic, reasonable “magic,” deeply rooted in the present and the recent past of a nation, Great Britain. “Magic” is a way of indicating a set of visual suggestions, poised between truth and make-believe, reality and... [more]
Posted by Federico Florian on 7/17/13

Venice Biennale 2013 Diary #6 - Lebanon

  Italo Calvino, Invisible Cities (chapter IX: Hidden cities, 4) As I approach the Lebanese Pavilion, I think of three stories, each of them different, but closely interwoven… In June 1982 Lebanon was invaded by Israel. In Saïda, this story is still told today: an Israeli pilot, during the days of the attack, refused to strike one of the city’s public schools, jettisoning his bombs in the sea. A few days later, however, the building was hit by another enemy aircraft. The school was... [more]
Posted by Federico Florian on 7/10/13

Venice Biennale 2013 Diary #5 - France

  Italo Calvino, Invisible Cities (chapter V: Trading cities, 4)Taking the road through the Giardini again in the direction of the German Pavilion, by way of exception the venue of the French intervention following an exchange of exhibition spaces between the two countries. It’s here that the extraordinary video-installation of Anri Sala, the Franco-Albanian artist invited to represent France at this Biennale, has been set up. The structure of the work reminds me of a modern tragedy in three... [more]
Posted by Federico Florian on 7/3/13

Venice Biennale 2013 Diary #4 - Italy

Italo Calvino, Invisible Cities (introduction to chapter 3) As I walk along the road toward the Italian Pavilion, in the direction of Tese delle Vergini, I think again of Marco Polo and his accounts of fabulous cities. I imagine myself to be Kublai Khan listening to them, seated on his gem-studded throne — his attitude aloof, his expression inscrutable. For a moment, I seem to see the Venetian merchant’s ship approaching the Gaggiandre dock, on its return from one of those impossible... [more]
Posted by Federico Florian on 6/26/13

Venice Biennale 2013 Diary #3 - Central Pavilion

Italo Calvino, Invisible Cities (chapter III: Cities and desire, 5) I walk along the tree-lined avenue of the Giardini, in the direction of the Central Pavilion. I can make out its white geometric façade, with the unmistakable pronaos of columns: this is the beating heart of the Biennale and it is here that the second section of The Encyclopedic Palace has been mounted. I cross the threshold of the building and find myself in a circular room, an almost mystical setting. My gaze loses... [more]
Posted by Federico Florian on 6/19/13

Venice Biennale 2013 Diary #2 - Arsenale

Italo Calvino, Invisible Cities (Chapter I: “Cities and desire. 3”) I am in the Arsenale, the ancient Republic of Venice’s complex of shipyards. A passage from Dante’s Inferno echoes in my: I imagine the spaces of the building boiling with black pitch, the substance that was used by the Venetians, right here, to tar ships damaged in battle. I turn into the Corderie—the place where ropes were once made for the boats—and look for a first safe landfall. And it’s at this point that I find... [more]
Posted by Federico Florian on 6/12/13

Venice Biennale 2013 Diary #1

Italo Calvino, Invisible Cities, 1972 The Encyclopedic Palace, the title chosen by Massimiliano Gioni for the 55th International Art Exhibition of the Venice Biennale, alludes to the image of an ivory tower carved in stone, enclosed by massive walls and crowned by a long series of pinnacles, domes and turrets: its appearance has the leathery solidity of encyclopedic knowledge—an objective set of facts, steeped in science and accuracy. Unexpectedly, this vision brings to mind an image of... [more]
Posted by Federico Florian on 5/29/13

Interview with Adrian Paci

Vies en transit. A retrospective that we will have the opportunity to see, although in a new guise, at the PAC in Milan next fall. Adrian Paci. Vies en transit, Jeu de Paume, Paris, 2013. Photo: Romain Darnaud © Jeu de Paume You were born in 1969 in Shkodër, Albania, the city that used to be known as Scutari. You came to Italy, to Milan, for the first time in 1992, at the age of twenty-two, thanks to a scholarship. In 1997 you decided to leave your country because of the political... [more]
Posted by Federico Florian on 5/13/13

Anri Sala. Rotture nel suono

Melodia in loop, eco di rimandi polifonici: così si potrebbe definire la personale sull’artista albanese Anri Sala, allestita alla Serpentine Gallery di Londra. Concepita come un percorso circolare, scandito da richiami visivi e uditivi, la mostra presenta video e installazioni dell’artista accomunati dalla medesima riflessione: quella sul suono e sui rapporti tra musica e immagine. I film Answer Me (2008) e Le Clash (2010), registrazioni di performance sonore, indagano la relazione tra... [more]
Posted by Federico Florian on 3/27/13

Gerhard Richter e lo struggimento della pittura

“Of course I constantly despair at my own incapacity, at the impossibility of ever accomplishing anything, of painting a valid, true picture or even knowing what such a thing ought to look like. But then I always have the hope that, if I persevere, it might one day happen”1: in queste poche righe, Gerhard Richter descrive il senso di necessità, frustrazione, attesa, disperazione che accompagna l’atto creativo del dipingere. La mostra dal titolo “Gerhard Richter: Panorama”, fino all’8 gennaio... [more]
Posted by Federico Florian on 3/27/13

John Latham e Lee Ufan. Alternative costellazioni di pensiero

Quella presso la sede milanese di Lisson Gallery è una mostra che induce alla meditazione. Richiede un visitatore concentrato, dall’attitudine peripatetica, incline alla sosta e alla riflessione: questo è l’effetto che genera l’opera di John Latham e Lee Ufan, due artisti di differente cultura e provenienza, ma entrambi impegnati in una costante ricerca filosofica, volta a spiegare – attraverso l’arte e la creazione artistica – il senso del mondo e le leggi che lo governano. Gli spazi della... [more]
Posted by Federico Florian on 3/27/13

Cardiff & Miller: The Walk as Artistic Practice

For Janet Cardiff & George Bures Miller art is an extraordinary imaginative machine driven by the nebulous matter of dreams and memories. It is a very gentle meditation on the meaning of life and being - a sort existentialism sung in verses - through the most natural act of man in the space: walking. Testimony to such is the recent video walk of the Canadian couple made in Kassel - together with the sound installation entitled  in Karlsaue Park - on the occasion of the 13th edition of... [more]
Posted by Federico Florian on 3/27/13

Interview with Carsten Nicolai

Unidisplay Let’s start with your most recent work: Unidisplay, on show at the Hangar Bicocca in Milan. The installation consists of a screen about 50 meters long over which move abstract images of a minimalist aesthetic that expand ad infinitum through the mirror walls at each end. The visual component is strongly correlated with the aural one, in a close dialogue between graphic forms, sounds and noises. The viewer sits in front of the screen, on a bench that vibrates with continuous... [more]
Posted by Federico Florian on 3/27/13

Interview with Tomás Saraceno

On Space Time Foam. Your work calls to mind a celebrated declaration of Italo Calvino’s: “Take life lightly, for lightness is not superficiality, but gliding above things, not having weights on your heart.” All your art seems to take this advice literally, doing its utmost to attain an exemplary lightness, in the physical sense of the term. You want people to live on artificial clouds floating in the atmosphere; you have designed a flying and traveling installation, Museo Aerosolar; you... [more]
Posted by Federico Florian on 3/27/13

Interview with Matteo Pericoli

New York Times, the Observer, the New Yorker, La Stampa and the Paris Review. He lives and works in Turin, where he teaches architecture to students of writing at the Scuola Holden. Last month he held a solo exhibition at the Casa dei Libri in Milan, entitled Finestre di scrittori (Writers’ Windows): an ode to the intimate and hidden face of the urbs, the one visible from the windows of writers all over the world. Matteo Pericoli, Gay Talese Almost all your drawings are of cities: at times... [more]
Posted by Federico Florian on 3/27/13
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