LA LEGGE É RELATIVA PER TUTTI (LAWS OF RELATIVITY)
Curated by Anna Colin and Elena Sorokina
Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo
23 May - 30 September 2007
Alterazioni Video | Ana Maria Bresciani | Paolo Chiasera | Claire Fontaine | Formazero | goldiechiari | Isola Art Center (organised by Bert Theis and Katia Anguelova) | Armando Lulaj | Lupo&Burtscher | Elena Nemkova | Orfeo TV-Telestreet | Paolo Pennuti (Shoggoth) with Lorenzo Pazzi and Gianluca Stazi | Annapaula Passarini | Andrea Salvino | Lorenzo Scotto di Luzio | Mario Spada | Eugenio Tibaldi | Italo Zuffi |
Laws of Relativity brings together work that reflects on the tensions between legal and illegal in Italy and abroad. The project sheds light on practices which query the way constitutional laws as well as unwritten rules function, their stability and rightfulness both on the short- and long-term. The relativity -- ensuing from cultural, historical, economical, political and geographical difference -- of the very notions of legality and legitimacy are being put forward for thought and comment in this exhibition. Using film, video, documentary, audio recording, photography, drawing and archival solutions, the works and projects presented -- whether existing or produced specifically for this exhibition -- provide different takes and strategies to address this topic and to navigate the spaces in between legal and illegal.
Some artists opt for a journalistic or sociological approach, such as Elena Nemkova, the silent interviewer of a Russian art dealer who recounts his involvement in crooked businesses up until becoming a full-time gallerist. And while Mario Spada has localised and photographed the delirious villas of detained gangsters which, following their instructions, have been burnt to prevent access, Eugenio Tibaldi has spent some seven years mapping the illegal architecture of Naples' suburbs through primary research. Paolo Pennuti, like the aforementioned artists, approaches his topic -- New Orleans only four months after being hit by Hurricane Katrina -- through the documentary and act of mapping, which he then takes the freedom to reinterpret.
Detachment from the subject under scrutiny is not a rule; some artists contribute their own experience or one they have chosen to make theirs. goldiechiari have made visible some documents related to the two public prosecutor's seizures they have been the subject of. And through their work Legal Support, Alterazioni Video have brought attention to another legal case: one resulting from the material damage demonstrators have caused during their protest in Genova in 2004. Also contesting a governmental decision deemed arbitrary, namely evicting sans-papiers squatters from a building in Rome in 2004, Formazero have been providing support of a structural and diplomatic kind to the group of people affected by this very decision. In all three cases, what is known as legal action is presented as defendable by the artists who dispute its applications.
While operating according to similar incentives -- weighing the juridical against the human - some collective initiatives such as Isola Art Center or Orpheo TV-Telestreet go one step further in their attempt to bring citizens more rights than they think they have. Instituted in Milan in 2002 by critics, curators and artists, Isola Art Center is a project which acts against speculation by developers over the public space, demanding the groups' legitimacy to co-decide on it. And following the 1970's tradition of free radio in Italy, Orpheo TV-Telestreet exercises the Brechtian claim over media as a two-way communication apparatus. For Laws of Relativity, Isola Art Center like Orpheo TV-Telestreet presents works that characterize their approach to artistic action.
Favouring critique to action, Claire Fontaine brings light, literally, to an excess of power: that by which the plaque commemorating Giuseppe Pinelli's death and reading "killed innocent" (written. 'ucciso innocente' in the original text) was replaced for a new one saying "died accidentally", following the order of the Mayor in Milan in 2006. In Flessibilita' Negativa (2006), Annapaula Passarini also approaches questionable decisions and rules. The artist examines the precariousness of current working conditions, as observed in European industries increasingly threatened by outsourcing.
And between all the abovementioned strategies remain less tangible modes of address. Equivocal such as Italo Zuffi's film Rural Faith (2006) (original title. Fede Rustica), whose portrayed interactions suggest uncertainty; metaphorical as in Ana Maria Bresciani's transparent drawings alluding to surveillance, Andrea Salvinos collection of icons of protest and power from political and cinematographic sources, or Armando Lulaj's choice of imagery to represent the porous notions of illegal and legal in a post-communist state like Albania; finally ironical, with Lorenzo Scotto di Luzio's Dreams and Conflicts (2003), a fake pass to access the Venice Biennale, which contests the legitimacies of the artworld or Paolo Chiasera's myth, the Young Dictators' Village, where aspirant but idle "famous dictators", from Idi Amin to Mao, cohabite.
Laws of Relativity will be designed by Lupo&Burtscher, also responsible for the design of the archive compiled by the curators together with Jimena Acosta during their research throughout Italy this spring.