Monographies
  • Petrit Halilaj. Shkrepëtima

    texts by Leonardo Bigazzi, Beatrice Merz, Nina Zimmer, Petrit Halilalj, Sala Ahmetaj
    pages: 160
    format: 23 x 27 cm
    date of publication: May 2019
    binding: hardback
    language: Italian/English
    isbn 9788877572769



    €35,00

    This catalogue is published on the occasion of the exhibition Petrit Halilaj. Shkrepëtima curated by Leonardo Bigazzi and held at Fondazione Merz from 29th October 2018 to 17th February 2019. “In recent years, Petrit Halilaj has succeeded in transforming his own biography and the recent history of his nation, Kosovo, into living matter for his works. Despite working with a public and collective dimension, his work often originates from a personal experience, and is usually the result of an intimate process shared with the people dearest to him. Using sculpture, video, performance and drawing, Halilaj has developed a deep reflection on the construction mechanisms of cultural identity, on the value of memory and on the role of art in the shaping of collective consciousness in contemporary society. Shkrepëtima is a project which also includes the solo exhibitions at the Paul Klee Zentrum in Bern and the performance that was held in the ruins of the former Runik Culture House, which for over thirty years had been the symbol of the cultural identity of its citizens. The whole community was involved in the project, through presentations, meetings and a workshop with elementary school students. The last stage of the entire project was the re-contextualisation in the form of sculptures and monumental installations, of the sets, costumes and props of the performance in the exhibition space of the Fondazione Merz in Turin. The images of the performance are shown in a single-channel video (Shkrepëtima, 2018) in which parts of the 4K filming of the performance alternate with those made by the artist in a more subjective manner with his Go-Pro inside the ruins of the House of Culture before the redevelopment. This kind of film, deliberately of an ‘amateurish’ style, is an integral part of Halilaj’s research process and constitutes today most of his video production. Each project generates dozens of hours of footage made by the artist, often for documentation purposes, and in most cases is not used in the production of a work. We might add that the title Shkrepëtima summarises the very essence of the artist’s vision. Art can be a ‘spark’ able to restart a process of reflection on our identity, and represents an opportunity to imagine alternative hypotheses where today’s politics and current economics have already clearly failed. The fate of Runik’s House of Culture remained uncertain, but following the performance the Ministry of Culture ordered the inclusion of the building in the list of property declared to be of national interest, guaranteeing its future restoration. In recent years, Halilaj’s work has therefore sought concrete solutions to real problems using not only the freedom, but also the economies of the art system. Everyone should have the right to have access to beauty, not just those who can afford to enter a museum or live in a Western city. Albeit in different contexts and on different scales, the processes recall the practice of socially engaged artists like Theaster Gates. By intervening directly on the processes of construction of the collective history of his community, and by bringing it closer to its origins, Halilaj proposes a universal reflection on the potential of art and its power to transform reality. But also on the fundamental role it can play in building a people’s historical awareness and in managing the responsibilities of memory, so that this be inclusive and therefore able to reject a nationalist rhetoric. Starting from the story of a small country seemingly far from us, Halilaj reminds us that only through a deep awareness of our past can we assume the correct responsibility to build the future.” (Leonardo Bigazzi)
  • Fatma Bucak. So as to find the strength to see

    texts by Lisa Parola, Maria Centonze, Fatma Bucak, Kaya Genç, Gianmaria Ajani
    pages: 168
    format: 14,5 x 21 cm
    date of publication: April 2018
    binding: hardback
    language: Italian/English
    isbn 9788877572707



    €25,00

    The catalogue is published on the occasion of the exhibition So as to find the strength to see held at Fondazione Merz from 6th March to 27th May 2018. “Examining the work of Fatma Bucak is like looking down on a deconstructed map. Here we find trails travelled and then cancelled out, landscapes designed and then abandoned, a geography that continually redraws itself, intertwining facts and biographies, erased events and non-identities. In the artist’s recent work, these landscapes expand from Turkey to Syria and North Africa and then reach Europe and the United States with the aim of investigating a political framework that is particularly difficult to define. The artist’s research can be understood as a constantly evolving visual practice that refers directly to the etymology of the Greek verb prássein, the meaning of which is not limited to making or doing but also picks up the idea of travelling, walking, crossing.” (Lisa Parola, Maria Centonze) “The place [Fondazione Merz] has huge, white walls and the light travels from right to left; it smells of cement. It was cold, imperfect, and fascinating. Voices echo within it and join together to become a confusion. While I was walking within the space I thought of how the dominance of its industrial nature was meeting with different art, and each time giving a new identity to the place. It is a difficult, stubborn, and ravishing setting – that was my first impression of walking in it. On the industrial outskirts of Turin has its own industrial character, its relationship with the city through industrialisation and the working class movements that shaped it; the very fact that the space was once a thermal power station for a car company. Most importantly its relation to Mario Merz and arte povera made me think about a conceptual and physical place that is at once collective and individual, that has traces of its own imperfect self and historical memory, of war and fascism – those relationships that are strongly tied to politics and mediate between land and culture. The desire to look to this inhabited place and investigate the fragility and tension of history was inevitable for me. To resist to conventional narratives about an “open-ended” resilient place and this time have it become home to my art.” (Fatma Bucak)   “With characteristic buoyancy of spirit, Bucak called this exhibition So as to find the strength to see. Five years after the fall of the Turkish spring, she wonders if we can smell the roses of a country besieged by forces with conflicting agendas and a shared love of violence. Lands that today reek of gunpowder can once again smell of roses. This is the vision we are asked to find the strength to see.” (Kaya Genç)   The catalogue reproduces the photographic documentation of the exhibition at the Fondazione Merz and a selection of Bucak‘s works to nowdays. A conversation between the exhibition curators and the artist explores the site specific installation at the Fondazione Merz. The book also includes a specially commissioned text by Kaya Genç (a contributor to The New York Review of Books and the author of Under the Shadow, I.B. Tauris), and a short essay by Gianmaria Ajani (Professor of Private Comparative Law, University of Turin).
  • Carlos Garaicoa. El Palacio de las Tres Historias

    texts by Leonardo Padura and Claudia Gioia
    pages: 252
    format: 14,5 x 21 cm
    date of publication: January 2018
    binding: hardback
    language: Italian/English
    isbn 9788877572691



    €35,00

    The catalogue is published on the occasion of the exhibition Carlos Garaicoa. El Palacio de las Tres Historias held at Fondazione Merz from 30th October 2017 to 4th February 2018. “El Pensamiento as logos and affection, word and intention, memory and distance, history and attention, metaphor and irony; this is the common thread that Carlos Garaicoa has for years spun with his art. Critical space and enchantment are the prerequisites while the multitudes and the metropolis constitute the adventure from which to draw nourishment […] El Palacio de las Tres Historias focuses on this form of seduction and consensus emanated by architecture. Turin is an emblematic city for concatenations and historical events. Tied to a double tour of industry, he learned about the development and acceleration to slump and decommissioning of industry in the twentieth century and on to the current transformation. Changes in social structure and attitude have changed but history has not passed without trace, leaving tangible signs that identify memories and strains that are in many cases still open-ended. The architecture of the city is like a catalogue index and at the same time a summary of the themes to be developed. As already in Havana, Garaicoa begins to travel around Turin, following suggestions and gathering information and taking note of encounters, photographing abandoned factories and buildings from the rationalist period, finding himself by chance in working-class neighborhoods, where he observes the symbols, enters spaces intended for reuse, listens to stories. What is already known to him serves to establish coordinates but the real compass guiding him is what he does not yet know. The idea of the Palace takes shape from this collection of astonished moments, interrupted journeys, ambitions reduced, bets won and then reimbursed. The need to bring together the distant and the present pushes towards the creation of a new display containing all the information, where it is possible to go back to look at what seems all too well-known and note all the ‘ifs’, ‘buts’ and ‘thens’ of history that have survived to the present day. So what is needed is a building where it is possible to gain access to everyone, where information is available without the need for precise objectives, where one can stop, read, observe, listen, comment, enter and exit but above all walk to follow in the footsteps of Carlos Garaicoa’s adventure. A non-rhetorical building to talk about the constructive rhetoric on which modernity has been founded. The Palace therefore started to shudder. A suspended waltz of stairs, glass, steel to bite at the heaviness, vapourise matter and open to the immense reserve of questions and desires. It has become a square, an open space, an agora, a theatre; in short, a city.” (Claudia Gioia) The catalogue reproduces the photographic documentation of the exhibition at the Fondazione Merz and a selection of Garaicoa‘s works from the 1994 to 2017. A text by the exhibition curator Claudia Gioia enlightens the dialogue between art and architecture, exploring the site specific installation at the Fondazione Merz. The book also includes a specially commissioned text by acclaimed Cuban novelist Leonardo Padura.
  • Massimo Bartolini. Four Organs

    texts by Robert Schneider, Luca Cerizza, Massimo Bartolini
    pages: 144
    format: 14,5 x 21 cm
    date of publication: October 2017
    binding: hardback
    language: Italian/English
    isbn 9788877572684



    €28,00

    The catalogue is published on the occasion of the exhibition Massimo Bartolini. Four Organs held at Fondazione Merz from 3 July to 1 October 2017.  

    “It’s the first time that works planned individually are presented together and play together, like in a concert. There is a polyphony. The instruments of this quartet are four organs, called Otra Fiesta from a poem by Roberto Juarroz, Voyelles from a poem by Arthur Rimbaud, In a Landscape from a piece by John Cage and Three Quarter-tone Pieces from a piece by Charles Ives. Maracas, instead, comes along with the title of the Four Organs exhibition. I had been listening to a lot of Steve Reich for some time. There is a very good record (Four Organs): it seemed like a suggestion that I could not allow to go by. So I extrapolated Reich’s title. […] For me the organ has this pathetic component of tending towards something that cannot be reached, and that this is its purpose. So the innocent tubes tend upwards like the organ’s music, and once the supply of this air has been effected and the resonance produced, or the edifice constructed, both music and scaffolding disappear into nothingness.

     

    This forced geometric building with scaffolding, and the more mathematical and aerial one of music, are two ways of covering an extension. That’s why I came to associate them.here at the Fondazione Merz, the interaction of the viewers consists in their moving within the space and thus perceiving ever-different acoustic relationships.” (Massimo Bartolini)

     

    The catalogue reproduces the photographic documentation of the exhibition at the Fondazione Merz and a selection of Bartolini‘s works from 1989 al 2016. A conversation between the artist and Luca Cerizza enriches the site specific installation at the Fondazione Merz.

  • Marzia Migliora. Velme

    texts by Beatrice Merz, Marzia Migliora, Alberto Salza
    pages: 152
    format: 14,5 x 21 cm
    date of publication: May 2017
    binding: hardback
    language: Italian/English
    isbn 9788877572677



    €30,00

    This catalogue is published on the occasion of the exhibition Marzia Migliora. Velme curated by Beatrice Merz and held at Ca’ Rezzonico in Venice from 13 May to 26 November 2017. “Attracted by the charm of the lagoon city, with its complex history and its most current contradictions, Marzia Migliora relates Venetian affairs and those of the world of labour through a series of legendary, literary and social implications, conceiving a project steeped in elements drawn from history and current events, making use also of some works conserved in the historic building. The artist accomplishes this by extrapolating some elements from the collection, making them ‘her own’, using them in installations and including them under a new guise: she starts with the crest of the Rezzonico family and the sculptures of the vase-holder 'Moors' by Andrea Brustolon, and then collects a series of stimuli, passing from the fresco of the ‘New world’ by Giandomenico Tiepolo (the Younger) to paintings by Pietro Longhi depicting scenes of daily and family life, from the workplace to occasional or exceptional moments. The works that result from this approach are marked by a strong ideological and emotive intensity and shift the visitor’s point of view back to our own times: upper-works, wetted area. Ca’ Rezzonico is thus transformed into a meeting place between old and contemporary, where the stories appear to us in all their complexity, packed with differing values: our gaze turns toward the horizon and accompanies the decline of glorious eras, like the one represented by the palazzo or that of today. The velma, which gives the exhibition its title, is the ‘place’ of conjunction between water and land, the symbol of something submerged that must never stop emerging, ‘an urgency of the present’ and a bridge that connects us with the past.” (Beatrice Merz) The catalogue reproduces the photographic documentation of the exhibition at Ca’ Rezzonico and a selection of Marzia Migliora's works from 2002 to 2016. The project drawings realized by the artist in preparing of the exhibition stands by the curator Beatrice Merz text. A conversation between anthropologist Alberto Salza and the artist enriches the site specific installation by Marzia Migliora, whom works are on display in several rooms of the Museo del Settecento Veneziano in the historic Palazzo Ca’ Rezzonico.  
  • 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



    €35,00

    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)