Present Future PF 8
Present Future PF 9
Corridor Green 14
Corridor Green 11
Corridor Pink B 8
Corridor Blue 2
Hello, welcome to Artissima! You are listening to audio number 6 entitled Unexpected Objects and you are about to explore a contemporary art fair by following the route designed for you by Elena Patrignani, Arteco's advisor. But, first of all, what kind of fair is this? This fair is a place where works of art are sold, because, like any other object, even art is bought and sold. Works of art can be bought in special shops called art galleries: here you will find 181 of them from all over the world! Once a year they come to Turin, here to Artissima, to show and sell their artwork. Each gallery has its own little room, a stand, and you can tell them apart by looking at the top for the flag with the name of the gallery and the city of origin. And what kind of art will we discover today at Artissima? Contemporary art... that is, brand new art by living artists. In this extraordinary chaos we will become explorers: we will have to be good at finding our way around without getting lost and have keen eyes to observe details. What does every self-respecting explorer and scout need? A map of course! So, map in hand, pause the player and head for the FONS WELTERS gallery, on the black corridor at number 8. Press play once you're there, I'll be waiting!
Here we are at our first exploratory stage, at the FONS WELTERS gallery. Our journey will lead us to discover that art is often much stranger and more amusing than we imagine: it is not just pictures hanging on the wall in elegant frames or precious marble sculptures on pedestals! Contemporary artists often use unexpected, sometimes everyday objects for their works, which they are able to turn into works of art. Take, for instance, the artist exhibited in this gallery: first of all he or she conceals his or her identity, because the artist presents himself or herself with a made-up name, “Tenant of Culture”. As if Culture were an apartment block! How strange that is. But get close to the works and take a good look at them. What does the artist use to make them? There are straps, pieces of shoes and bags, scraps of fabric, shoelaces... It looks like the artist has torn his or her wardrobe to shreds! Well, almost! Tenant of Culture reclaims used clothes and waste from clothing factories and ... reads the labels! That's right, reads the labels! What is so interesting about what’s written on the labels? Well, a lot of information is there, such as the material it's made of and the place where the garment was made. But the artist is not content with what he or she reads, so what does he or she do? Takes everything apart to get a better look at what's inside a dress, a shoe, a bag! And so the artist peels, tears, cuts, irons, wrinkles, washes. And in doing so, he or she discovers that some clothes are made of polluting materials or that they don't last very long at all, thus forcing people to immediately buy new ones, throwing away the old ones and polluting again! And after making these discoveries, what does the artist do? He or she reassembles everything, in a different form. And what comes out of all of this? Somewhat monstrous and creepy clothes or accessories, sometimes as huge as gigantic hanging cloaks or long transparent raincoats! Do you read the labels on your clothes? Do you pay attention to the materials your garments are made of or where they were produced? If in this first stage the unexpected objects are pieces of clothing and shoes, in the next one you will have to look for small boxes. So, pause the player and head for the Nir Altman, on the black corridor at number 7. Press play when you get there, I'll be waiting!
We are at the Nir Altman Gallery, a gallery in Munich, Germany. Here are the little boxes, just look at how many there are! What's inside these boxes? You have to get close enough to look inside, maybe bend over a bit, really put your nose over it. And if you can’t reach it, have an adult lift you up. Be careful not to touch them though, they are super delicate. It seems that this artist, whose name is Curtis Twalst Santiago, does the opposite of what many artists of the past did: their paintings were huge, their sculptures monumental so that they could be seen by everyone even from far away. Curtis, on the other hand, creates miniature worlds, which must be looked at carefully, getting very close, paying attention to the smallest details. To make these tiny wonders, the artist is always in the search of antique shops, those that sell old, antique things, and carefully searches for beautiful little ring boxes, extremely small and precious. Then he goes to toy and model shops and buys the figurines that he then paints, and all the other elements he uses for his microworlds. What he does not find he builds himself. Everything is so small that Curtis has to use a magnifying glass and tweezers to arrange and glue the characters and objects. There are little boxes showing the market with clothes on display, others have a hairdresser's shop with people waiting their turn, others a party in the living room, with pictures hanging on the walls and people dancing... For Curtis, these are little stories to keep in his pocket. What do you think about picking out a small box and imagining a story? Count the characters, look at what they are doing, notice the details, then close your eyes and imagine yourself getting that tiny and entering the box. Listen to the sounds, voices, music, smells and scents. Then open your eyes again, hold the sensations in your memory, as if you were also locking them in a little box, and head for the next stage: Martina Simeti Gallery, on the green corridor at number 14. Pause the player and press play when you get there.
Here we are at the Martina Simeti gallery in Milan, Italy, named after its owner. We saw, in our second stage, that Curtis Santiago makes his micro-worlds in the wonderful boxes that once held precious jewellery... in the gallery where we are now, we find an artist who CREATES jewellery instead. If I say “jewellery”, what comes to mind? ... Mmmmh let's see... diamonds, gold, precious gems, sparkling things, refined, expensive.... Here though, be warned, we are not looking for a shiny jewel... look around, where is the object we are talking about? There it is! A necklace! Once again it is made of surprising objects: fish hooks, can you believe it?! The artist, whose name is Bernhard Schobinger, is first and foremost an excellent treasure hunter, because for his jewellery, as you may have guessed, he uses materials that are generally used for other purposes. Schobinger, for example, dives into the lake in Zurich near his home to look for fish hooks and other interesting objects that people have lost in the water, climbs onto the roofs of demolished houses to pull off lightning rods, sneaks into abandoned buildings to get door handles. And then he use nails, scissors, screws, broken bottle necks. His jewellery looks so dangerous. But back to the work before us... The title is in English: "The mermaid's wedding”. So he imagines a situation and gives it a name. The mermaid's wedding! But how come? Perhaps Schobinger went diving to find objects for his work and down there he met a mermaid? Or maybe he made the necklace for a mermaid getting married, or... what do you say, why don't you make up a great story about this special necklace? Then pause the player and head to the next stage, opposite where we are now: the Art: Concept Gallery at number 11 also on the green corridor. Press play when you get there, I'll be waiting!
We have already reached our fourth stage at the fair! Since you are becoming an expert explorer of contemporary art and by now you have realised that artists really do use anything for their artwork, try to imagine, here, at the Art: Concept Gallery of Paris, which work will we talk about... again we have to look for an object that we would never expect to find in a work of art and which the artist, strange as it may seem, completely mixes up. Have you spotted the work I am talking about? There is a table, a very normal table, even a somewhat banal table, made of wood, unpainted... a table! But how is it positioned? Well, for a start, it has its legs in the air, so we can't put anything on this table at all! And then, if we look closely, the artist has poured blue-coloured water into it; it almost looks like he has turned it into a small swimming pool! You should know that the person who made this work is called Roman Signer, he is a very nice Swiss gentleman who makes artwork that looks absurd. He has a passion for common objects and he makes them do crazy things: he puts armrests on a pair of skis so that they can float on water, he makes umbrellas fly in the wind by tying them together, he places swivel chairs in streams, making them spin, spin, spin endlessly... But this is nothing! Signer often performs actions that become works of art, such as when, in a museum, he donned a pilot's helmet and gloves and climbed into a small van that some very strong gentlemen turned to stand vertically. At that point the countdown started: "Ten, nine, eight..." like when the rockets go into space and... poof, the van disappeared! Did it really take off? His absolute favourite things are: making things explode, so much so that they call him the “pyrotechnic artist”, and he uses water, perhaps because when he was a child he lived in a mountain village and always played along the stream near his home. For Signer, making art means experimenting, even if people sometimes, he says, “think I'm doing incredible nonsense”. Try looking around and see how many of Signer's works are in this gallery, and if you feel like it, search the internet for videos of his actions by typing "Roman Signer artist", you will see that they are not silly at all and in fact, they will make you laugh a lot! Art is not always serious, even Signer says so: “It's not forbidden to laugh”! Now, pause your player and head for the Blue Velvet Projects Gallery on the pink B corridor, at number 8. Then, press play when you get there, and as always, I'll be waiting!
Here we are on the second to last stage of our journey. We’ve arrived at the Blue Velvet Projects Gallery, located in Switzerland. Oooh, here we can walk and pick mushrooms! ... What did you say? Are they works of art? Oh boy, I guess you're right! On the other hand, I told you at the beginning: we are at a contemporary art fair! So no, you really can't pick them! As you may have guessed, contemporary artists sometimes trick us a little bit, because they don’t aways make it clear to us whether what we are looking at is real or fake. In this case, for example, Marius Steiger paints so well that he confuses us. These mushrooms look like real ones... but it is actually all painted. But then are these works of art paintings? A painting usually has a more or less rectangular shape, a frame and objects, figures fill the whole space... What does Marius do here instead? He paints a mushroom and the picture is shaped like a mushroom! If we look at these works from the front we can still fool ourselves, but what if we move to the side? The artist reveals his trick: we see the thickness of the support and the material he painted on. So these works look a bit like paintings, because they are painted, but also a bit like objects, like sculptures because they are in 3D and have the shape of what is represented! And now, speaking of strange paintings, move to the Persano gallery on the blue corridor at number 2 and look for a mirror there!
And here we have finally reached the last stage of our exploration in this jungle of incredible and wonderful works of art. We've arrived at the Persano Gallery, located here in Turin, in a beautiful courtyard! On our journey together we have seen works of art that look like monstrous clothes, others that can be kept in your pocket because they are small boxes with tiny worlds, still others that can be worn like jewellery, we have met an incredible artist who turns tables into swimming pools and disappears into space in a van, and we have fooled ourselves looking at paintings that look like real objects. What now? What should we be looking for? Ourselves! Ourselves? But in what sense? Remember how I already said, “you will have to search for a mirror”? What does the mirror do? It reflects! So look for your reflection! There you are, you found it! But... let try us understand. This is no ordinary mirror: there is something on this mirror: a mobile phone, held by a selfie stick, and on the screen the face of an elderly gentleman. Who is it? That gentleman is called Michelangelo Pistoletto and he is the artist who created this work! I told you it wasn't a normal mirror, it's a work of art! If this work is created with a mirror, what is reflected on the mirror also becomes a piece of the work. It's no coincidence that it's called “Mirror painting”! So you, whoever is reflected in there, is now a part of the artwork, and so are the other people who pass by and are reflected. What if this “painting” is brought somewhere else? It will reflect different things! This work is special because it is never the same, it is always changing and transforming so that we can enter into it! Have you ever been INSIDE a work of art? What an adventure today, we saw some incredible things! We realised that art is not so far from us: artists often use common objects in their works, but even though they are common, they transform them into something extraordinary. So hold onto this magic, wear it like Schobinger's necklace or keep it in your pocket like Curtis Santiago's little boxes. You never know it might come in handy outside of here too! Thank you for travelling with me, enjoy your continued exploration and ... see you at the next Artissima!!!