Céline Condorelli “bau bau” and Juan Muñoz “Double Bind & Around” at Fondazione HangarBicocca, Milan
Céline Condorelli “bau bau”
“bau bau” is the first exhibition devoted to Céline Condorelli that includes the many-facets of her work, such as sculpture, installation, display devices, research, writing and teaching; her comprehensive approach draws from Italian traditions of art and design, such as that of Bruno Munari, as well as conceptual art and relational art of the 1990s. The artist conceived the exhibition as well as its interpretative framework, intervening in all the aspects of the institution through the various objects that narrate it (such as texts, captions and graphics). Condorelli’s work is concerned with how all human action takes place amidst countless structures, or more specifically what she has termed “support structures”—whether emotional, legal or physical. These structures are mostly taken for granted, and therefore often seem invisible. Support Structures is also the title of one of her publications, which has been reprinted for the occasion by Sternberg Press. She says “there’s a whole world in the shadow of the bottom line.”
The exhibition is imagined as a context for co-existence—of objects, participants and public—through doing and thinking. Condorelli inhabits the industrial space of HangarBicocca with quasi-functional structures, and discreet alterations to the physical fabric of the gallery itself, which becomes subject to variations in time and light. The existing boundaries of the space—both temporal and spatial—are thus modified by structures that originate from everyday life, such as curtains, seats, lamps.
Two areas are outlined by curtains—a recurring motif in the artist’s work—into “day” and “night”, light and darkness, white and black, in direct relation to two works on display in the exhibition: White Gold (2012), which unfolds from the artist’s research into cotton production in Egypt, and the new work for HangarBicocca, which makes reference to the use of the carbon black (which gives the title to the work Nerofumo (Carbon Black), 2014), a fundamental binding agent in tyre manufacturing. At the centre of the exhibition, Support Structure, Red (2012-2014) acts as a form of support for these two works and houses the artist’s research into cotton and rubber, in this way acting as an index, or atlas, structuring the exhibition as a whole.
The new work created by Céline Condorelli in collaboration with the Pirelli factory and its staff grounds her interests in manufacturing through the material and social process involved in the making of a tyre. The artist was able to work in Pirelli’s new industrial centre in Settimo Torinese, the company’s most technologically advanced facility worldwide, with a central block designed by architect Renzo Piano. The installation Nerofumo is the result of small interventions during the course of the production process through conversations with the people who work alongside it. This culminated in an installation entitled Nerofumo (2014), articulated through a number of elements and composed of historical documents which belong to the Pirelli Foundation, altered tyres and their tracks criss-crossing the HangarBicocca space and offering perfect testimony to the process that led to its creation.
In the exhibition, a complex set of relations is produced between a series of utilitarian objects, the multiple possibilities they suggest, and the people that activate and produce them. Structures for resting and talking become sites for performance, such as The Weird Charismatic Power That Capitalism Has For Teenagers (to Johan Hartle), 2014. A stepladder doubles as a desk and a viewing platform in The Double and the Half (to Avery Gordon), 2014. A gallery bench becomes an environment for houseplants flourishing in artificial conditions, and a puppet show a site for a refusal of history.
“bau bau” is Italian for “woof woof,” while “Bau” means “building” in German, and also “in construction.” The title of the exhibition, therefore, is both the sound of a barking dog and a reference to ideas of ongoing processes that are underlying all of Condorelli’s practice. bau bau is also the title of an installation from 2014 at GfZK Leipzig (Germany), in which Condorelli transformed one of the museum galleries into a café, whose sign is flashing on the outer walls of HangarBicocca.
Curated by Andrea Lissoni.
until 10 May 2015
À Bras Le Corps – with Philodendron (to Amalia Pica), 2014
Structure for Reading, 2012
Structure for Preparing the Piano, 2012
The Weird Charismatic Power That Capitalism Has For Teenagers (to Johan Hartle), 2014
Structure for Listening, 2012
Céline Condorelli “bau bau” installation views at Hangar Bicocca, Milan, 2015
Courtesy: the artist; Fondazione HangarBicocca, Milan. Photo: Agostino Osio.
Juan Muñoz “Double Bind & Around”
The exhibition covers 5,300 square meters of the nave and aisles of HangarBicocca and, includes 15 works (with over 100 sculptures) by one of the most important artists of our time. It comprises his most significant works, including The Wasteland (1986), Waste Land (1986), Ventriloquist Looking at a Double Interior (1988-2000), Conversation Piece, Dublin (1994), The Nature of Visual Illusion (1994-1997) and Many Times (1999).
The exhibition centres on his most significant work, Double Bind, an installation made in 2001 for the Turbine Hall at Tate Modern in London. It is now being shown again for the first time since then.
Defined as one of the most complex and unique contemporary artists, Juan Muñoz saw himself as a “storyteller”.
One of the most important artists to emerge in Spain after the Franco dictatorship, he was a visionary who placed the human figure at the centre of his art. His alienating settings and fictitious worlds inhabited by bizarre characters such as acrobats, ventriloquists, ballerinas and solitary dwarfs, give rise to countless possible narratives.
“Sculpture twists the space it occupies, squeezing it from edges to middle, in all its extension, like a sheet that flaps in the air before being laid on the table-floor” (from Juan Muñoz, “Writings/Escritos“, edited by Adrian Searle, Ediciones de la Central, Madrid 2009).
Fascinated by Roman statues and by seventeenth-century Baroque architecture (he spent a year in Rome in 1991), Juan Muñoz investigated the relationship between the human figure and the exhibition setting. He explored new ways of distorting space, using daring perspectives and variations in scale, not just to engage the viewer’s at the level of perception and the senses but also, and especially, to create a psychological tension within the individual who interacts with the work. His interest in the art of illusion led him to convey a powerful sense of ambiguity and enigma, in which the boundaries between reality and fiction are blurred, creating an increasingly complex play of contradictions and paradoxes.
The artist thus broadened his field of investigation to the emotions and to a greater psychological interaction with the viewer, and he did so by working with the languages of sculpture, architecture, drawing, installation, sound and writing, using references to the cinema and photography, as well as magic.
The Double Bind installation is the most significant work created by the artist, who died in 2001 aged 48, just a few months after presenting it to the public. Designed for and shown in the Turbine Hall as part of the Unilever Series at Tate Modern (London, 2001), it has never been reconstructed since.
Double Bind is now being represented – adapted to fit an area of 1,500 square metres – and exploiting the vertical volumes of the former industrial space of HangarBicocca. Consisting of a series of dark scenarios with architectural elements that play on the contrast between the visible and the invisible, reality and illusion, in structural terms it consists of three levels and two constantly moving elevators. From the top level, the visitor can look out over a surface of geometric shapes, which contains holes or shafts that may be real or illusory. On the intermediate level, on the other hand, figures appear, alone or in groups, locked into poses that belong to an indefinite space-time dimension. Muñoz creates an aseptic architectural world, using structural elements such as barred windows and gratings, recreating an atmosphere of an underground car park. It is the artist himself who defines the viewers’ experience, as though they were in a city rather than a museum (from Double Bind at Tate Modern, Tate Publishing, London 2001).
The Double Bind & Around exhibition as a whole modifies the HangarBicocca spaces, and brings together some of Juan Muñoz’s most important works, including The Wasteland (1986), with an optical floor and a ventriloquist’s dummy sitting on a shelf, Waste Land (1986), in which the ventriloquist, once again, is placed on a wall above an optical floor, and Many Times (1999), which consists of a “crowd” of figures with oriental features and caustic grins arranged around the space.
There are also a number of Conversation Pieces dating from the early 1990s. These consist of anonymous figures arranged in equally generic spaces. The characters, whose shape makes them look vaguely human, have spherical structures in place of legs. Each figure occupies the space in a different pose, conversing, observing or listening to facts and events that are unspoken, and thus incomprehensible to the viewer. The characters of the series Hanging Figure, on the other hand, are shown in implausible poses as they flutter like acrobats in the air. This work is inspired by Miss La La at the Cirque Fernando, an 1879 masterpiece by Edgar Degas, which shows an acrobat in a daring perspective from below.
Curated by Vicente Todolí.
until 23 August 2015
The Wasteland, 1986
Ventriloquist Looking at a Double Interior, 1988-2000
The Nature of Visual Illusion, 1994-1997
Conversation Piece, Dublin, 1994
Double Bind, 2001
Double Bind, 2001
Double Bind, 2001
Many Times, 1999
Juan Muñoz “Double Bind & Around” installation views at Fondazione HangarBicocca, Milan, 2015
Courtesy: Fondazione HangarBicocca, Milano; The Estate of Juan Muñoz, Madrid; MACBA Collection. MACBA Foundation. Private long term loan. Photo: © Attilio Maranzano.