We are on a pilgrimage to Turin! Part of what makes the treasured art institutions in the city so exciting to see is the beautiful town that inspires them and the jaw-dropping post-Renaissance buildings they are housed in. Balancing the public collections of contemporary art is world-renowned, private foundations with post-Modernist buildings, these new architectural gems point to Turin as the model post-industrial city of our time. Turin is always in flux and now even more so with the anti-establishment Five Star movement in government. Turin is small, but we’ve mapped out each corner of the city for you. Here are our top six shows that are must-sees.
Ed Atkins at Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo and Castello di Rivoli
The work of Ed Atkins hits you deeply from the first time you view it, yet even still it grows in mind over time. Growth (or tumors), both emotional and visual, are tropes Atkins uses with great effect. He is seduced by his medium of computer generated 3D imaging; you can see this in the incredible flowing streams of perfectly rendered hair in his 2013 video “Warm, Warm, Warm Spring Mouths” on view in Castello di Rivoli. On the other hand, he is critical of the contemporary condition where we live bodiless lives online, much of his work references the tortured body that is suffering. He presents a new work, “Safe Conduct” (2016), that includes sculpture and video in a single image-object installation. Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev tries to recontextualize his work in this show, placing it in the specific history of this unique architectural framework. Like Turin itself, this exhibition is poised at the juxtaposition of ancient and contemporary.
Before any art fair did it, Artissima was the first to invite curators to have a primary role. This year for the 23rd edition, more than 50 curators are involved in focusing the fair on experimentation and research and introducing young artists to the possibilities of institutional shows. True to being curatorial driven, the fair is divided into seven sections, the newest is “Dialogue,” dedicated to the youngest emerging art. As the name suggests is about the current conversations happening in emerging art, including galleries like BWA Warszawa (Warsaw), Antoine Levi (Paris), and Vitrine Gallery (London). Three other sections “Back to the Future,” “Present Future” and “Per4m”, are also led by curators and include galleries such as Frank Elbaz which will present a comprehensive booth of Jay DeFeo’s work inspired by the time she spent in Italy. Artissima gives galleries a chance to present less commercial work that is more suited to museums than the market.
Artissima, Via Giacomo Mattè Trucco 70, 10126 Turin
The launching of a new fair in Turin was only a matter of time, but DAMA is unlike any other fair. It is more like a group show inside an incredible Palace. In this sense, it is a tightly curated selection of artists and galleries that are all part of the dialog around ultra smart and hip young emerging programs. The theme of this inaugural edition is Le città invisibili (Invisible cities), which is the title of a novel written by Italo Calvino in 1972. Inside the palace of Palazzo Saluzzo Paesana, ten international galleries have been invited to install the work almost in the way the owner of the Palace might. There are no tables or booths in DAMA, only artwork juxtaposed in an architectural jewel (this is the new trend among art fairs). Perfect inspiration for collectors!
DAMA, Palazzo Saluzzo Paesana, Via della Consolata 1bis, 10122 Turin
Allora and Calzadilla at Quartz Studio
One of the openings during the week we are looking forward to the most is Allora and Calzadilla at Quartz Studio. The mounting (or remounting) of the project The Great Silence presents the single channel version of a video that the Puerto Rico-based art duo presented in 2014 in Philadelphia. The video is a science fiction collaboration with author Ted Chiang centering around the world’s largest single-aperture radio telescope, located in Esperanza (Hope), Puerto Rico. Like much of their work the act of translation opens up metaphors that traverse fictions and realities.
Quartz Studio, Via Giulia di Barolo, 18/D, 10124 Turin
Henrik Olesen at Galleria Franco Noero
Part of the resurgence of artists from the 90s is rise again of “identity politics,” which was one of the pillars of Postmodernist art. Olesen does not fit easily into this (at times dismissible) category but he also proves that we cannot do away with examining the role of identity in culture and history. Olesen is a deep researcher whose mainly conceptual practice requires deep understanding by the role of the beholder, diving deep into historical biographies and queer subcultures that give rise to new possibilities. He directly challenges heteronormative histories, with themes that touch on all aspects of an embodied life: punishment, authority, death, and redemption.
Galleria Franco Noero, Via Mottalciata, 10/B, 10154 Turin
Wael Shawky at Fondazione Merz and Castello di Rivoli
Shawky won the first Mario Merz Prize last year, and now he will present a site-specific installation at Fondazione Merz around his new trilogy Al Araba Al Madfuna. As with his last jaw-dropping trilogy and retrospective exhibition at PS1 in New York, his work draws from histories, fictions, storytelling, sociology, and his own observations in villages in Egypt. The main protagonists in the new trilogy are portrayed children dressed in turbans and given fake mustaches while acting out adult roles. The adult children speak the fables of an Egyptian writer, and the Arabic language itself is also the main protagonist as it carries so much of the culture in it. While the Castello di Rivoli focuses on a retrospective which includes the epic last work of his Cabaret Crusades, The Secrets of Karbala is the pinnacle of his, using Murano glass blown marionettes blending of human/ non-human animal traits.
One ultimate truth about Italian art and food is its beautiful simplicity. It is no wonder that the Arte Povera masters were also great minimalists. We look forward to the perfection of simple ingredients in the local cuisine. Nowhere is it truer that “less is more.” Of course, we will be having seconds of (culinary) art paired down to only its essentials. You can catch us having a doppio in Nuvola Lavazza, HQ of the coffee giant (soon to be a museum).
– Justin Polera