PAC Padiglione d’Arte Contemporanea in Milan presents MEA CULPA, the first extended Italian anthology dedicated to conceptual artist Santiago Sierra. Santiago sierra was born in Madrid in 1966, where he lives and works. He has undertaken projects in many countries including Argentina, Algeria, Korea, Poland, Cuba and Iceland. He studied Fine Arts at the Universidad Complutense in Madrid and at the University of Fine Arts in Hamburg as well as at the Academy of San Carlos in Mexico City. For almost thirty years now his work has been moving on the rough grounds of criticism to the contemporary socio-political conditions.
As the bearer of the dark truth of our time, Sierra is often stigmatised for his intense and ambiguous performances. Nevertheless, their visual language, their complex and energetic symbolism and the fact that they are plunged into the reality of people give them a rare emotional impact. The works of Sierra have been shown in important museums and institutions worldwide; in 2003, he represented Spain at the 50th Venice Biennale. The exhibition at PAC brings together for the first time the most iconic and representative political works by Santiago Sierra from the 1990s to date, together with the documentation of many of his performances over the world, new productions and reactivations of past installations and actions. Santiago Sierra has carried out provocative actions around the world. Influenced by the formal language of the minimal and conceptual art movements of the 1960s and 70s, Santiago Sierra’s work addresses the hierarchies of power and class that operate in our modern society and everyday existence. Sierra became well known for his actions in which underprivileged or marginalised individuals were hired to perform menial or pointless tasks in exchange for money. underline the situations of labourers’ exploitation, isolation, and repression within capitalist structures. By transforming individuals into consumer goods, Sierra also highlights current socio-political issues while challenging the intrinsic mechanisms of reality. As a result, the essence of his work can often be found exemplified in the tension that is generated and sustained between the ephemeral performance, its documentation, and the spectator. The latter is hence exposed to the edges of morality and permissibility, but also to the formal and poetic articulation of the voices of those who are ordinarily invisible or unheard.
With the exhibition of Santiago Sierra, PAC launches the first of the four storylines on which its annual calendar is based, that is proposing exhibitions of renowned and well-established artists from the international art scene every year in occasion of miart fair. Promoted by the Municipality of Milan and produced by the PAC with Silvana Editoriale, the exhibition will open at the beginning of Art Week, a program of events in Milan dedicated to contemporary art.
Rä di Martino | Monica De Cardenas
Rä di Martino, The Swimmer #3, 2017
The gallery of Monica De Cardenas host in Milan an exhibition of sculptures and photographs by Rä di Martino. Cinema as sculpture is a historically complex theme that has emerged as a central focus in the research of this artist in recent years. For her first solo show in Milan, she delves into the fertile territory shared by these two media – which are only apparently separated by a series of oppositions (stillness/movement, material/immaterial, second/third dimension…). But the stakes are raised by the fact that the artist goes deeper, along the fine line between backstage and film footage, raw material and its editing, protagonist and body double, reality and fiction, original and cover. The exhibition explores the relationship between the sculptural object and the image in motion, through a sequence of photographs and hybrid objects (stands from film sets that support natural elements, with stage lighting). Not just cinema, not just sculpture, the selected set of works springs from the same narrative source, namely “The Stand-In” (slated for release in September 2017), the first feature-length film by Rä di Martino. The film is freely based on the feature film“The Swimmer” from 1964, starring Burt Lancaster. Di Martino takes her cue from both the story and the film to capture the suspended atmospheres of this famous surreal tale, in which a middle-aged man swims from pool to pool to cross the city to return home, re-living his life through a metaphorical voyage. In the re-enactment of the film di Martino chooses to set her version of the story in an equally metaphysical Marrakech, a contradictory city, ancient and modern at the same time, true and false, and in any case the reflection of a bourgeoisie in search of new motivations.
The photographs and stands are two apparently contradictory instruments of a single narrative. Room after room, the viewer is prompted to observe the scenes from the inside and from the outside. These hybrid objects refocus the attention on the making of the image, on cinema in cinema, and on the analysis of the film devices themselves that make it possible to construct new meanings of History.
Rä di Martino, The Swimmer #3, 2017
Rä di Martino
The Day He Swims thru Marrakech, March 22 – May 13, 2017
View of the exhibition Slight Agitation 2/4: Pamela Rosenkranz. Infection, 2017. Photo Delfino Sisto Legnani and Marco Cappelletti
Curated by the Fondazione Prada Thought Council, whose current members are Shumon Basar, Cédric Libert, Elvira Dyangani Ose, and Dieter Roelstraete, Slight Agitation continues with a second instalment by Pamela Rosenkranz (Switzerland, 1979). She follows on from Tobias Putrih (Slovenia, 1972), while Laura Lima (Brazil, 1971) and Gelitin, the Austrian collective active since 1993, will produce future chapters. Pamela Rosenkranz’s work explores how physical and biological processes affect art. Her installation Infection is based on a neuro-active parasite, of which an estimated 30% of the world’s population is affected. A huge, almost sublime mountain of sand is formed inside the Cisterna’s tall spaces. Its scale pressuring against the historic architecture. The sand is impregnated with fragrance of synthetic cat pheromones that activates a specific, biologically determined attraction or repulsion and subconsciously influence the public’s movement. RGB green light illuminates the peak of this chemically altered nature gently evaporating the scent. Following Tobias Putrih’s instalment which engaged with ideas of play, politics and emancipation Pamela Rosenkranz’s chapter continues the Thought Council’s interest in “agitating” the mind and body, senses and space. Rosenkranz’s intervention will be perceived at different distances, which heighten and alter the architecture of the Cisterna. The circular plan, and chemical investigation, is an oblique memory of the Cisterna’s alcohol distilling vats that were formerly housed there. The green light leaking through the Cisterna’s windows, transforms the building into a vitrine, a luminous object sensed from the outside.
It will intensify as day turns to night, engaging with the Fondazione’s nocturnal character. Members of the public will have a direct, intimate experience of the sculptural intervention from a number of angles: at ground level and also from above, emphasizing the formal qualities of the Cisterna: its volume, its heaviness, its religious invocation.
An uneasy feeling around biological determination will engage multiple senses: smell, heat and coldness, mass and density, light and its absence. Pamela Rosenkranz’s intervention furthers the ambitions of “Slight Agitation” by offering immersion into a new sensation of embodiment and collectivity.
View of the exhibition “Slight Agitation 2/4: Pamela Rosenkranz”. Infection, 2017. Photo Delfino Sisto Legnani and Marco Cappelletti
Pamela Rosenkranz Slight Agitation 2/4 February 9 – May 14, 2017
Mohau Modisakeng, Untitled (Test), 2016 Courtesy Mohau Modisakeng Studio
Material, metaphor and the black body are the tools that Mohau Modisakeng uses to explore the influence of South Africa’s violent history that has been ignored in today’s society, on how we understand our cultural, political, and social roles as human beings in post-colonial Africa and in particular post-apartheid South Africa. Represented through film, large-scale photographic prints, installations and performances, his work doesn’t start off with an attempt to portray violence but it becomes mesmerising because although we might recognise history as our past, the body is indifferent to social changes, so it remembers. Born in Soweto, an epicentre of black urbanity and cosmopolitan culture, the multi-award winning Mohau Modisakeng is a product of Cape Town’s Michaelis School of Fine Art. Mentored by Jane Alexander and predominantly working and training in sculpture, he completed his undergraduate degree in 2009 then completed his Masters degree at the same institution. He currently lives and works between Johannesburg and Cape Town. Mohau Modisakeng with Candice Breitz will represent South Africa at the world’s most prestigious contemporary art event: the 57th Venice Biennale in 2017. Modisakeng and Breitz will present a major, two-person exhibition in the South African Pavilion, running from 13 May to 26 November 2017 in Venice, Italy. The South African Pavilion exhibition will invite viewers to explore the artist’s role in visualising and articulating the notion of selfhood within a context of global marginalisation and it will reflect on experiences of exclusion, displacement, transience, migration and xenophobia, exploring the complex socio-political forces that shape the performance of selfhood under such conditions.
The Essop twins, Hasan and Husain, have been collaborating since their graduation from the University of Cape Town. The role of the individual in society is the key of their work, especially the space that Muslim youth occupy and negotiate in a secular environment. The use of the figure as well as the eyes in Islam is controversial and the artists are careful about limiting this representation to their own bodies and assuming responsibility for it. They are not interested in making objective statements, their questions are personal and intimate and they perform these questions and the search for answers with their own bodies. We also speak of the split personality within ourselves. That’s why our previous work was made up of so many (characters) all wearing different costumes representing the different facets of one’s self. They look at the photographs as dreams, a memory or dream they have experienced and which they try to recreate: Our work is quite surreal, in the sense that in some photographs it is impossible for it to be reality. It’s fake, there are five of us. The photographs occupy a space between the spontaneous and the staged, documentation and narrative, between overt expression and what is left unsaid. Their work has appeared in several group shows, including Integration and Resistance in the Global Age at the Havana Biennale, ABSAL’Atelier in Johannesburg and Power Play at Goodman Gallery Cape, as well as various private and public collections, including the Durban Art Gallery and the South African National Gallery, Gallery Isabelle van den Eynde where on November 2016 they opened an exhibition of the series Unrest . They are represented by Goodman Gallery.
Athi Patra-Ruga | WHATIFTHEWORLD
Athi-Patra Ruga, performance of Over the Rainbow as Versatile Queen Ivy for Performa Gala 2016, New York. All images by Max/Lakner/BFA.com. Courtesy of Performa Athi Patra-Ruga, It Has a Golden Sun and an Elderly Grey Moon,2016 (still) Courtesy the artist and Art : Concept, Paris Photo: Martin Argyrogla
Born Umtata, South Africa in 1984 and lives and works in both Johannesburg and Cape Town. Exploring the border-zones between fashion, performance and contemporary art, Athi-Patra Ruga makes work that exposes and subverts the body in relation to structure, ideology and politics. Bursting with eclectic multicultural references, carnal sensuality and a dislocated undercurrent of humor, his performances, videos, costumes and photographic images create a world where cultural identity is no longer determined by geographical origins, ancestry or biological disposition, but is increasingly becoming a hybrid construct. A Utopian counter-proposal to the sad dogma of the division between mind and body, sensuality and intelligence, pop culture, craft and fine art, his works expresses the eroticism of knowledge and reconciles the dream with experience. Athi-Patra Ruga was also recently included in the Phaidon book ‘Younger Than Jesus’, a directory of over 500 of the world’s best artists under the age of 33. His works form part of Private, Public and Museum Collections here and abroad, namely: Museion, Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Bolzano Italy; CAAC, Pigozzi Collection; The Wedge Collection, IZIKO South African National Gallery. In 2015, Ruga was awarded The Grahamstown National Arts Festival’s 2015 Standard Bank Young Artist for Performance Art and presentedThe Elder of Azania, a work that is part of his ongoing performance series The Future Women of Azania, first conceived in 2010. Other recent performances of The Elder of Azania were included in the Johannesburg Pavilion during the 56th International Art Exhibition of the Venice Biennale in Italy All The World’s Futures curated by Okwui Enwezor in 2015 and Public Intimacy, Yerba Buena Centre/SFMOMA, San Francisco in 2014. In 2016, Ruga was commissioned to do a performance piece entitled Over the Rainbow for the Performa Gala in New York. Other solo exhibitions include: Athi-Patra Ruga, Bass Museum of Art, Miami, Florida, USA (2016); A Land without a People… for a People without a Land, In Situ Fabienne Leclerc Gallery, Paris (2015) and a tapestry commission and exhibition for Espace Culturel Louis Vuitton (2014).
Ulla von Brandenburg, It Has a Golden Sun and an Elderly Grey Moon, 2016 (still) Courtesy the artist and Art : Concept, Paris Photo: Martin Argyrogla
Alluding to diverse histories rooted in Western traditions, Ulla von Brandenburg, 1974, born in Germany and lives in Paris, makes films, drawings, performances, wall paintings, and installations to create multilayered narratives. Her work often references late 19th century expressionist theater, magic, occultism, pre-Freudian psychoanalysis, color theory, and early 20th century Hollywood cinema to investigate how these pre-archaic forms relate to modern-day social norms. She creates her own visual vocabulary, combining a range of media to make immersive installations that reconsider contemporary collective experiences. Von Brandenburg often uses the motif of the theater curtain—a threshold between reality and artifice-interpreted as a tool to challenge the relationship between actors, audience, and the stage. She is also interested in the study of European carnival as a legitimate form of social transgression when individuals employ the notion of mask to explore alternative identities. Engaging with popular customs, von Brandenburg’s work takes the viewer to the space that separates reality and imagination, where time is insignificant, prompting new collective associations. At PAMM, the artist will produce a large-scale installation at the museum’s double height project gallery.
Project Gallery: Ulla von Brandenburg is curated by María Elena Ortiz, Assistant Curator, at PAMM
It Has a Golden Sun and an Elderly Grey Moon, 2016
Ulla von Brandenburg
Image and artworks courtesy of the Estate of Ana Mendieta Collection, LLC and Galerie Lelong, New York
Sweating Blood is a 3-minute long silent film created on super-8 color film in November of 1973. Mendieta’s stance and facial expression in Sweating Blood evoke images of self-sacrifice and martyrdom. Her silence adds to the spiritual, ritualistic aura as cow’s blood slowly trickles over her face. The integration of blood, as a primal and primitive element, reduces Mendieta to her essential self. Drawing the viewer into her spiritual space and presenting this reduction of herself, she traces phenomenological terms of identity. In the fall of 1973, Mendieta began teaching art at an Iowa City public school. Eight months after the rape and murder of fellow University of Iowa student Sara Ann Otten, Mendieta was still actively creating response pieces surrounding violence enacted on women and rape. She employed blood as a powerful symbol with strong violent and political connotations. Many of her pieces created around this time, such as Untitled (Rape Performance) and Untitled (Bloody Mattress), involved very literal implications in her usage of blood. She clearly communicated an emotional response to Otten’s death and a call for awareness and action on violence against women.
Frank Benson | The Rubell Family Collection Contemporary Arts Foundation
Frank Benson, Juliana _ Image courtesy of The Rubell Family Collection
High Anxiety: New Acquisitions presents selections of artworks from 32 artists acquired since 2014, many of whom explore polarizing social and political concerns through a broad spectrum of contemporary artistic practices. In gauging the output and energies of these artists we find creative currents that speak to our shared state of uncertainty, nervousness and pessimism. Frank Benson, one of the artists, gained widespread attention for his piece in the 2015 at the New Museum Triennial Surround Audience, a realistic sculpture of the transgender artist and poet Juliana Huxtable whose work was also included in the exhibition.