Art catalogues
  • Wael Shawky. Al Araba Al Madfuna

    texts by Abdellah Karroum, Beatrice Merz and Mohamed Mustagab
    pages: 160
    format: 23 x 27 cm
    date of publication: November 2016
    binding: hardback
    language: Italian/English
    isbn 9788877572646


    This catalogue is published on the occasion of the exhibition Wael Shawky: Al Araba Al Madfuna curated by Abdellah Karroum and held at Fondazione Merz from 2nd November 2016 to 5th February 2017. “Shawky is an artist who embraces the exhibition space in a gesture of giving and sharing fragments of a world that is impossible to translate into controlled physical forms. […] Wael Shawky: Al Araba Al Madfuna invites the viewer to walk through elements of the films and their processes of production – architectural artefacts, sculptures, and drawings on animal skins – placed inside a built landscape of sand. The viewer moves in temporal reverse, beginning with the last film, Al Araba Al Madfuna III, in colour, followed by three-dimensional elements taken from the storyboard, and then, finally, Shawky’s older films in black and white. Al Araba Al Madfuna II is second and then, in the last, and most claustrophobic room, Al Araba Al Madfuna I. This film is accessible only after descending twenty metres of stairs at a steep forty-five degree angle, as if entering a mastaba installed in the underground rooms of the museum. This path refers to a conceptual approach of inverted route, from the surface to the underground, from the evident to the mysterious. The inverted narrative was inspired by the inverse and all-too-human process of digging up that which is underground in the hopes of discovering ancient treasures or our own memories. The last film – Al Araba Al Madfuna III – emphasises the fundamental relationship between the artwork’s place of production and the site of its display: a landscape of sand and stones is created in the exhibition space to recreate the ‘temple’ architecture housing the reenacted story. The viewer is confronted in this last film, the most complex of the series, with a technical montage and conceptual visual vocabulary. The scale of the projection renders the characters – human figures – larger than life, and the inversion of the image creates disorientation. […] Al Araba Al Madfuna continues Shawky’s interest in using existing stories and histories that are part of our culture as points of departure for exploring the production of historical narratives and their far-reaching effects, reading official histories and myths through and against one another. […] Wael Shawky’s work is based on historical narratives, sociological interpretations, and fictional writing, from which he constructs his way of looking at past myths alongside the present. The artist’s films interpret political and historical narratives using an original artistic vocabulary and storyboards that scenically convey the subjectivity of all supposedly objective media or official propaganda. The particular storyboards that prefigured Shawky’s Al Araba Al Madfuna films were inspired by a journey taken in the early 2000s, an exploration of Upper Egypt’s history and contemporary context, where myths live among daily encounters, through ethnographic immersion and scientific lens. […] Mohamed Mustagab’s parables from Dayrut al-Sharif (1983) are a main source for Wael Shawky’s Al Araba Al Madfuna. Each of the films retell his short stories, The J-B-R’s, The Offering, Horsemen Adore Perfumes, and Sunflowers respectively. […] Connecting mythological perspectives of metaphysical visions with realities of the physical, material world, the film series ruminates on the ritual of oral communal storytelling which, through repetition and re-telling, transforms tales into mythical histories that themselves become new readings of progress and change in society. The entire Al Araba Al Madfuna project was inspired by a journey, a place within history, and a personal experience of that place. The storyboards, drawings, sculptures, and films that emerged were made between Abydos, the place of the artist’s site of expedition, and the exhibition spaces and museums where the artwork is later made visible. His journey to Upper Egypt is marked and made of places and encounters, of archaeological sites, of the people who care for the memory of the past, the people who wait, the people who dig, and finally, of those who write. It is this latter category, embodied by the work of the Egyptian novelist Mustagab, that is the most influential for Shawky in this project. In a way, the artist looks at humankind’s experience of history as his own experience, of both accountability for some pressing issues in the world and watching as older values die or mutate into other forms of life.” (Abdellah Karroum)
  • Mario Merz. La natura è l'equilibrio

    texts by: Mario Merz
    pages: 16
    format: 23 x 27 cm
    date of publication: July 2016
    binding: paperback
    language: Italian/English
    isbn 9788877572639


    This dossier is published on the occasion of the exhibition Mario Merz. La natura è l’equilibrio (Nature is equilibium) held at the Fondazione Merz from 4th July to 18th september 2016. After the Fondazione’s inaugural exhibition in 2005, and after three themed exhibitions about the drawings in 2007, about the paintings in 2010, and about his links with architectural design in 2011, and following a number of external collaborations, the Fondazione is now devoting an entire exhibition to present a careful selection of works by Mario Merz that are closely related to the theme of nature. This is a theme that is certainly not unusual for the artist who, with his watchful eyes, never overlooked the subject, either in private life or in his artistic development that saw him constantly asking questions. Have the fundamental elements succeeded in building a complex evolutionary sequence able to overtake us? An extreme desire, therefore, to observe the fundamental laws that govern the universe more closely because living on earth means observing and participating in its evolution. The exhibition foresees the display of works from the Merz collection, including some not shown for many years. The selection will include paintings, installations and drawings, and each work has a selected text alongside by Mario Merz. The idea is to focus the exhibition with a poetic tale of the earth as creator of life rather than exclusively on the concepts related to the work itself. As though it were a reading of forms, figures and words in an attempt to reorganise the pairing between culture and nature.  
  • Botto&Bruno. Society, you’re a crazy breed

    texts by Beatrice Merz, Maria Centonze
    pages: 111
    format: 14,5 x 21 cm
    date of publication: March 2016
    binding: hardback
    language: Italian/English
    isbn 9788877572622


    This catalogue is published on the occasion of the exhibition Society, you’re a crazy breed by Botto&Bruno held at Fondazione Merz from 9th March to 19th June 2016. “The exhibition in the spaces of the Fondazione Merz is the new stage of an artistic journey that starts as always with the history of the place, drawing the infinite possibilities enclosed in it. It is a place subjected to radical changes that time and man have impressed on it either deliberately or through neglect, but which continues to be a container of life and energy. Within this context, the reading of the new world brings with it a thousand fragments of various objects, both recognisable and unrecognisable, which daily appear before our eyes like the ruins of a past that appears to us all the more a lost eden the more time passes. The photographs pervade the exhibition space to the point of creating a new dimension, like a city of the future in which the remains of a civilisation mingle with the present, defining new possibilities of life. Starting from their own experience, Botto&Bruno have for years been bringing into play a personal vision of change, revealing the signs of a transformation that is already under way. Thousands of images collected everywhere, with almost nothing to differentiate between one place and another; coloured and deformed plastic, cement debris, rusty wrought iron, the parched earth that manages to gather nourishment even in these abandoned spaces and shows its strength through the flowering of native plants, the sort that are sometimes hard to cultivate. Botto&Bruno have produced an accurate sounding, a powerful lens open and responsive to every detail, as though with a wish to give back to these abandoned objects, these violated places the dignity impressed on them when they were born”. (Maria Centonze) This book reproduces the photographic documentation of the exhibition and it is enriched by texts by Beatrice Merz and Maria Centonze.
  • Christian Boltanski. DOPO

    texts by Claudia Gioia, Massimo Donà and Beatrice Merz
    pages: 120
    format: 23 x 29 cm
    date of publication: November 2015
    binding: hardback
    language: Italian/English
    isbn 9788877572608


    This catalogue is published on the occasion of the exhibition DOPO by Christian Boltanski held at Fondazione Merz from 3rd November 2015 to 31th January 2016. “Christian Boltanski lays claim to his being an artist of the twentieth century, and indeed all his work takes us into the heart of the contemporary scene. But not the updated and temporary one but the real one made of choices and events that change the meaning of individual anonymous lives that become choral and paradigmatic. It is another way to tell the story that we are. Not the impressive and official one, never that of the winners but the story of all of us, with things desired and also suffered. With minimal language and one not prone to celebration he has succeeded in talking about everything without remaining anchored to anything. There is no elective historical theme but history understood in the sense of long term through which unroll individual lives whose relics, clothes, photographs, heartbeats, enable us to move constantly from the singular to the general, from before to after, making us recognise ourselves in his story and placing us emphatically before history which normally overlooks the little things, the gestures and resistance, and which instead through Boltanski finds the declination of the detail necessary in order to become legible. It is like watching a film, reading a great novel at the same time, listening to music, watching a play at the theatre. Looking at the work of Boltanski, from the first Boîtes de Biscuits and Vitrines de Référence of 1969 to the recent installations, our every sense is involved and the retinal reaction is but the beginning of a more complex process that sets in motion our references, delves into our memory and discovers extracts of stories, other photographs, forgotten encounters, creating connections and references that move us deeply. [...] In accordance with the nature of myth, Boltanski’s tales come from the past and come back all the time trying to include the circularity of an almost Promethean time into linear time of humans. Moving images of immobile eternity. Modified states of perception to celebrate all times and the memory of the world that is reborn with every man. The story of the return, of the persistence and of the after that we all know and which is reborn every time when Boltanski comes back to repeating it. The after must be this. Not the end and nothing more, but the story and another story yet”. (Claudia Gioia)   This book reproduces the photographic documentation of the exhibition and it is enriched by texts by Claudia Gioia (exhibition curator), Massimo Donà (philosopher), Beatrice Merz.  
  • Mario Merz Prize. First Edition

    pages: 24
    format: 14,5 X 21 cm
    date of publication: April 2015
    binding: paperback with dust-cover and leaflet
    language: Italian/English
    isbn 9788877572592



    This catalogue is published on the occasion of the finalists’ exhibition of the First Edition of the Mario Merz Prize, held at the Fondazione Merz from January 29 to April 12 2015. “The International Mario Merz Award was created with the desire to start a new project which through the skills of an extensive international network of experts, could identify new emerging talent in art and, in parallel, enable young composers to present themselves with an innovative project of contemporary music. With this publication we aim to document the final phase of the first edition of the prize, with some pictures of the works exhibited at the Fondazione Merz in Turin. Since it is impossible to enable the reader to listen to the musical pieces by the five finalist composers, selected after a difficult and careful consideration of 132 nominations, we invite you to log on to the website where it is possible to watch and listen to the concert held in the exceptional setting of the Villa della Tesoriera, headquarters of the Biblioteca Musicale Andrea Della Corte in Turin. An important feature that distinguishes the music section of this award from others is the decision to conclude the final competition with the execution of the score composed for the occasion in a specific concert and inviting the public to vote for their favourite composer online, thus enabling it to participate in the selection of the winner. This process has been adopted also for the art section. The selection of the 512 applications received has made it possible not only to bring five artists of great stature to the attention of the jury and the public but also, through their contribution, a varied exhibition has been created, adding impetus to the message launched by the prize. [...] In the work of the contributors the prize seeks characteristics of internationality, generosity of thought, interest in social affairs and innovation. These qualities have been found in the works of Lida Abdul, Glenn Ligon, Naeem Mohaiemen, Anri Sala, Wael Shawky and in the compositions of Paolo Boggio, Arturo Corrales, Vassos Nicolaou, Cyrill Schürch and Vito Žuraj.” (Beatrice Merz, Willy Merz)
  • MASBEDO. Todestriebe

    texts by Olga Gambari, Michel Houellebecq, Michel Maffesoli, Beatrice Merz, Chantal Nava, Walter Siti and Monique Veaute
    pages: 192
    format: 14,5 x 21 cm
    date of publication: November 2014
    binding: hardbook
    language: Italian/English
    isbn 9788877572585


    This catalogue is published on the occasion of the exhibition Todestriebe by MASBEDO (Nicolò Massazza and Iacopo Bedogni) held at Fondazione Merz from 3rd October 2014 to 11th January 2015. “The mantis waiting in the shadows is a still taken from the latest video by the Masbedo, entitled Todestriebe, which means death wish, a concept identified by Freud as an unavoidable aspect of the human unconscious, which aspires to the enjoyment rather than to one’s well-being. […] Todestriebe is also the title of the exhibition that Iacopo Bedogni and Nicolò Massazza are presenting at the Fondazione Merz, because it is an instinct that permeates every work in their exhibition project. Conflict, dramatic relationships, loneliness all appearing together in an atmosphere of aggression and passiveness. It seems that life itself is cannibal by definition, like a kind of mantis. The vision of all this is a real, deep, titanic lack of communication, a silence that comes like a glaciation and envelops the universe, with all its protagonists, organic or otherwise, including the gods and the space beyond the known world. The Masbedo speak of this vision by creating a sensible appearance dense with perceptions, forging a mythical and hallucinatory imagery, which speaks an ancestral language in which many elements have been absorbed. They stage universal stories forged into visual icons, with a hybrid language which, within the moving narrative, merges the styles of other artistic alphabets in a continuous creative and technological experimentation. […] The exhibition at the Fondazione Merz is a long journey that involves the city with several other initiatives. The observer enters and follows a story done in stages, which traces out the last twelve years of the artists' work and offers a debate on the issue of incommunicability as a characteristic aspect of the human condition. Historical works and other, new, ones explore breaking moulds and experiments in the light of what they call “technological humanism”: artistic research as a critical investigation of the anthropocentric dimension exasperated by postmodernism, in the context of new media. A theme that has been developed by the artists at the workshop conducted at the Holden School with a group of students including pupils from the Accademia Albertina di Belle Arti, the results of which were presented at Artissima. The Fondazione is transformed into a place of apparitions, parables of contemporary mythology. The screens and projections are presented as entrances, as living narrative elements. The works in the exhibition investigate the idea of contemporary failure, an aphasic emptiness born of the impossibility of relationship and communication with oneself, first of all, and then with others and with society, but also with history and nature”. (Olga Gambari) This book reproduces the photographic documentation of the exhibition and it is enriched by texts by Olga Gambari, Michel Houellebecq, Michel Maffesoli, Beatrice Merz, Chantal Nava, Walter Siti, Monique Veaute.