Each November the art world casts its attention on Italy’s art centre of Turin for the annual Artissima art fair. However, its not only the fair that attracts the international art cognoscenti to the Piedmont capital. With a history steeped in the cultural avant-garde of the Arte Povera movement and with strong philanthropic arts circles, the city’s public and private art institutions have much to offer.
Rachael Vance lists the best institutional shows to visit during the Artissima art fair.
Established in 2005, the Fondazione Merz pays homage to the legacy of leading local Arte Povera member Mario Merz, and to his artist wife Marisa Merz. Today, across 1,400 square metres, the foundation explores a new generation of artists through a regular exhibition schedule within a former industrial heating plant.
From November 3 2015, the Fondazione Merz presents a solo exhibition of works by French artist Christian Boltanski. Rising to prominence in the 60s, Boltanski’s practice has become synonymous with the investigation of the lived experience and individual and collective memory through various media.
Christian Boltanski. Dopo presents audiences with a selection of newly created installations inspired by Turin’s cultural and social history. Across several spaces, the multi-media exhibition comprising photographs, video, clothing and sculpture is juxtaposed against a soundtrack set to the human heartbeat. Around 200 images of anonymous cropped faces from photo portraits and images from everyday life are found in the first room. Upscaled and printed on suspended pieces of fabric, the images create a sea of snapshots that visitors are invited to negotiate. Each image represents an artefact from the artist’s personal archive. Each set of eyes staring back at the viewer offers a window into a past encounter. Also in the show, Boltanski’s theatrical piece, Shadow Theatre, involves a projection of silhouettes of various figurative shapes within a dimly lit room, whereas his film Clapping Hands captures the temporary action of an applause archived forever; intended as a tribute to the late Mario Merz’s oeuvre.
From the 6th of November, in conjunction with the Artissima art fair, the Castello di Rivoli Museo d’Arte Contemporanea will hold a solo presentation by American artist Rachel Rose as part of the illy Present Future Prize Exhibition. Dedicated to emerging talent, the prize is awarded each year during Artissima and offers the recipient the opportunity to hold a solo show in Turin the following year in parallel with the fair. Known for her innovative use of film, new-media and presentation of immersive installations, Rose has received a string of accolades since winning the illy Present Future Prize in 2014, including the 2015 Frieze Artist Award and solo exhibitions mounted at the Serpentine Gallery, London and the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York. For her exhibition at Castello di Rivoli Museo d’Arte Contemporanea, Rose presents a new installation, curated by Marianna Vecellio, utilising film projections conceived specifically for the museum space.
During Artissima the Pinacoteca Giovanni e Marella Agnelli presents the exhibition Ed Ruscha: MIXMASTER, curated by Paolo Colombo. Taking its point of departure from the museum’s focus on the theme of collecting, the hybrid show is made up of objects associated with areas of interest within the acclaimed American artist Ed Ruscha’s practice. Artefacts within the exhibition are sourced from public and local collections throughout Turin by the artist himself. This historical counterpart is contrasted with a selection of drawings, photographs and paintings by Ruscha, many of which have been taken from his personal collection. Unique dialogues and aesthetic affinities are thus engendered, offering alternate points of access into the art dignitary’s practice.
Holding pride of place during the first week of November, the Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo presents a solo exhibition by Argentinian artist, Adrián Villar Rojas. Rising to prominence in 2011 when representing Argentina at the Venice Biennale, Villar Rojas has since been featured in dOCUMENTA (13) (2012), the Sharjah Biennial 12 (2015) and the Istanbul Biennale (2015).
Recognised for his investigations into contemporary sculpture informed by narrative references to art history and pop culture, Villar Rojas’ practice communicates simultaneously on a prehistoric and futuristic level. Employing organic and inorganic materials, the artist enlivens discussions concerning evolution and entropy. Curated by Irene Calderoni, Rinascimento (Renaissance) presents a major new production conceived especially for the exhibition spaces at the Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo.
The GAM-Galleria Civica d'Arte Moderna e Contemporanea houses the city of Turin’s collection of modern art, counting over 45,000 artworks under its roof. Pieces by major 19th century Italian artists, such as Fontanesi, Fattori, Pellizza da Volpedo and Medardo Rosso are shown alongside an exhibition space devoted to current artistic production. Such inter-generational depth is embodied in the collection on display and in the public programme during the Artissima art fair.