Istanbul - Posts

16th Istanbul Biennial: The Seventh Continent

2 days ago

The 16th Istanbul Biennial – 14 September – 10 November 2019 – will present 38 new commission by 57 artists and collectives scattered around town under the title “The Seventh Continent”.

The three main venues Istanbul Shipyards (Tersane Istanbul), Pera Museum and Büyükada, will present respectively works by: Yuji Agematsu, Deniz Aktaş, Özlem Altın , Jonathas de Andrade, Pia Arke, Korakrit Arunanondchai, Ozan Atalan, Radcliffe Bailey, Rebecca Belmore, Dora Budor, Johannes Büttner, Mariechen Danz, Elmas Deniz, David Douard, Simon Fujiwara, Claudia Martínez Garay, Pakui Hardware [Ugnius Gelguda & Neringa Černiauskaitė], Eloise Hawser, Marguerite Humeau, Suzanne Husky, Rashid Johnson, Feral Atlas Collective, Eva Kot’átková, Agnieszka Kurant, Tala Madani, Jared Madere, Turiya Magadlela, Güneş Terkol & Güçlü Öztekin, Thiago Rocha Pitta, Mika Rottenberg, Max Hooper Schneider, Ylva Snöfrid, Jennifer Tee, Suzanne Treister, Ambera Wellmann, Haegue Yang, Müge Yılmaz, Phillip Zach, Andrea Zittel. Anzo [José Iranzo Almonacid], Charles Avery, Norman Daly, Ernst Haeckel, Evru/Zush, Sanam Khatibi, Melvin Moti, Glauco Rodrigues, Luigi Serafini, Paul Sietsema, Simon Starling, Piotr Uklański. En Man Chang, Glenn Ligon, Armin Linke, Ursula Mayer, Hale Tenger.

In addition to the artists exhibiting in these three venues, Monster Chetwynd will present an outdoor project.

Claudia Malfitano

  • Buyukada. Photo by Sahir Ugur Eren Buyukada. Photo by Sahir Ugur Eren
Spain - News

Hauser and Wirth is Due to Open an Arts Centre in Isla del Rey, Menorca

6 days ago

Planned to open in 2020, Hauser & Wirth‘s new  an arts center on Isla del Rey, located in the port of Mahon in Menorca, will feature an ambitious programme of commissions by gallery artists across all media and exhibitions of 20th-century modern masters, plus educational activities.

Hauser & Wirth Menorca will include an exhibition space, education program, gardens, a gallery shop, and ‘cantina’ restaurant. The architectural project is undertaken by Paris-based, Argentinean architect Luis Laplace.

Iwan Wirth stated: “Manuela and I have been visiting Menorca for several years and long ago fell in love with the island’s wild beauty, the hospitable nature of the people who live here and their tenacious efforts to protect the natural environment and cultural heritage of the island. The kindness and enthusiasm shown to us by the Menorcan community and local government when we first began discussing the idea for this project was overwhelming, and convinced us to go ahead. The Fundación Hospital de la Isla del Rey has worked tirelessly to restore the island and are a huge inspiration – we look forward to joining them as custodians of this precious land and working hand-in-hand to transform Isla del Rey into the cultural hub of Menorca.”

Carla Ingrasciotta

  • Isla del Rey, Courtesy Hauser & Wirth. Photo: Hélène Binet Isla del Rey, Courtesy Hauser & Wirth. Photo: Hélène Binet
Venice - News

Art Night Venice 2019

1 week ago

Ca ’Foscari University of Venice in collaboration with the Municipality of Venice is due to celebrate the ninth edition of Art Night on Saturday June 22, where organizations, cultural institutions, museums, foundations, galleries and bookstores will open their doors to the public for the whole night, giving life to what is now an unmissable cultural event of the Venetian summer.

Check out here more details about the programme.

Art Night Venice
Saturday, June 22, 9pm – 12am
Various venues in Venice

Carla Ingrasciotta

  • Art Night Venice Art Night Venice
Venice - Interviews

“Art Thinking Is How to Navigate the Future”. An Interview with Daehyung Lee

1 week ago

Claudia Malfitano: You curated the Korean Pavilion at the 2017 Venice Biennale. What was the main challenge of such a role? What does it mean to curate a national pavilion?

Daehyung Lee: Curating a national pavilion is very challenging, especially in Korea where the cultural proposal has to pass through the jury members. The jury usually consists of 6 curators and artists who have themselves experienced the Venice Biennale, so their expectations are usually centered on national identity and how to best present Korea. But at the same time, we have to either reflect or go against the artistic direction of the main exhibition. In 2017, Christine Macel was the curator, so I tried to analyse her curatorial practice not so as to emulate it, but to distance my curatorial methodology from hers; I implied Foucault’s pendulum. The pendulum would swing back to the more artistic expressions from that of Okwui Enwezor’s political narratives. In her exhibition “Viva Arte Viva”, Macel encouraged more diverse engagement with the audience; she invited sound artists and performance artists. So that was her taste and that was her curatorial direction. When I chose my Korean artists, I had to respect her curatorial direction, but the world in 2017 was divided by many forces such as transnational conflict, minority issues, and right wing movements (like Brexit, for example), so I tried to focus not just on the artistic forms but also on political, social and economic narratives. Then I realised that Korean problems or other Asian countries’ problems were all linked to global problems, so I conceived my curatorial direction as transnational and transgenerational. I then approached 3 artists: the first a fictitious artist I called Mr. K., representing our grandfather’s generation; the second, Cody Choi for our father’s generation and the third, Lee Wan for our son’s generation. Those generations are different universes: the grandfather’s generation depicted by Mr. K. is dominated by the conflict between Japan and Korea, because he experienced the Japanese colonial period; my father’s generation experienced the Korean war, when Communism was a big issue: Korea and America; Korea and the US Army. His dilemma is squeezed in between generations. But my generation—the son’s generation—we don’t care about Japan, we don’t care about America, and that’s our situation.
I discovered that our perception is increasingly infiltrated by multiple landscapes: we begin with the natural landscape, and then incorporate the social and political landscape, as well as the technological landscape. Since we are all connected 24/7 through our mobile phones and SNS (social networking services), so technological literacy is a key issue. Technological literacy among my grandfather’s generation is lower than among my father’s generation, so his universe is in some ways limited. America symbolises Western culture and our generation, we’re connected and we’ve got all the information. Like, you know BTS?

CM: Yes, they are huge! Not just in Korea.

DL: You see?! That’s because we are surrounded by the same technological landscape, so our path to understanding the world is different; that’s why yesterday we were talking about how the transnational situation, conditions and conflicts impact curatorial issues in many countries, but tomorrow we’ll talk more about transgenerational issues because technology is fast erasing all the boundaries. Then I discovered some similarities between art and technology, because technology also can transcend all the boundaries.

CM: So your analysis of the present and the recent past kind of led me to the second question I wanted to ask you which is, where do you think Korean contemporary art is now?

DL: Ok, that’s a good question…Back in 1980 to early 2000, many of my friends outside Korea described Korean contemporary art by saying “you guys are really good at making things, the fabrication technology is really good.” I think it’s a bit of a derogatory description, because fabrication without philosophy is just the final part of a process. When they said that, I heard “Conceptually weak but the fabrication is good.”
After 2010, we were all talking about the experience economy, and I think that Korean contemporary art is there. Artists are entering that phase and that opportunity because creating is more important that the physical entity; Korean artists have to collaborate sometimes with archaeologists, sometimes with sound artists or programmers, sometimes with environmental activists. So we do more than the fabrication: we ask questions and develop new narratives—really interesting narratives arise from this duality of fabrication. We cannot plan the visual: it is totally open-ended, that’s why Korean artists are very good at making, and really good at collaborating with different people.

CM: During every Venice Biennale there are many exhibitions of Korean art and artists. What is the connection between Korea and Venice, if there is one, or why is the Venice Biennale so appealing for Korean institutions and galleries?

DL: I don’t think there is a connection between Venice and Korea specifically, but the Venice Biennale is an international opportunity. It’s a place to visit, like a pilgrimage: we imagine thousands of curators, journalists and museum directors from all around the world so we really appreciate this opportunity because in Korea, Seoul is not a global city like London, New York or Berlin: it is economically strong but you rarely see any foreign curators.

CM: Why do you think that is?

DL: Korea is still a very homogeneous society. Universities need to hire more international professors like they do in Hong Kong or Singapore; even in Beijing and Shanghai they keep hiring international faculty members, but in Korea we are not. Or we are hiring but the numbers are small.

CM: Is it because of bureaucracy or is there another reason?

DL: It’s controversial. Before the current director of MMCA we had the first international director, Bartomeu Mari. I respected his new vision very much, but our society was not ready or patient enough to wait for his achievements.

CM: I kind of sensed this in Korea when I was there, but I also felt that people want to open up towards the rest of the world and be more international, and be seen as more international.

DL: I hope that in the next 5-10 years our society and culture will be more open to foreigners. Culture is not a product to export but a sharable creative experience that requires borderless collaboration between many different ideas.

CM: What’s in the future of Hyundai’s art initiatives?

DL: We started our programme based on 3 major museum partnerships with TATE, LACMA and MMCA, and we extended the programme to Bloomberg, do you know why?

CM: No, why?

DL: I think there are three phases or stages of contact between money and art, companies and cultural institutions: the first stage is collection, the second stage is commission, the third stage is perception; this is my analysis. We don’t support collection at the moment. We support commissions because we are not buying the final beautiful outcome, but we support really interesting ideas, either physical or experiential. At Hyundai Motor, we define art and culture not as a collector’s item for a small number of people but as a sharable experience for many people. Then we realised that Tate’s visitor numbers—somewhere between 5 and 6 million per year. It’s a big number but not big enough compared to the number of people that are actually travelling to London. We wanted to share really good ideas through virtual space so that you don’t have to travel to access them. That’s why Bloomberg filmed 75 international artists for 3 years, chosen based on a range of geographical locations and genders, then we asked the artists to find the right person to describe them—it could be a philosopher, a psychologist, or an art historian, for example, and they described the artist with their own voice. So that’s a phase.
Then we switched gears from contemporary art to art and technology; that’s a shift from the question within the art ecosystem to questions outside it. During the first three years we tried to support the art ecology, and now we are raising some bigger questions about what the role of art will be in our society; what will be its role in the future? We revealed this plan to our museum partners, and I had a talk with Hans Ulrich Obrist and Yana Peel at the Serpentine Galleries in London. They agreed because art is such a valuable experience, an asset, so we have to get the art out of the white cube space and bring it to society, to the city. That’s been our new role and that’s why we started the Blue Prize—a curatorial award programme for young Chinese curators. In many countries, when you ask international art curators “what do you think of Chinese contemporary art?” they all talk about the market, the auction houses, the art fairs but they don’t see what’s going on; their understanding of Chinese art is very flat and superficial, so I thought China needed a strong discourse-generating platform. China’s young curators are really, really talented so every year we select two young Chinese curators and we give them prompts. The first year the prompt was “social mobility.” The second year it was “future humanity;” and this year it’s “social intelligence.”

CM: What do you mean by “social intelligence”?

DL: The world is divided by different ideologies, different economic systems, and different political agendas. It’s a fight between humanities. Since 2016, we have all been talking about the fear of a robotised world dominated by AI (artificial intelligence). So we have to think about this from the perspective of the anthropocene; we have to consider what human feature can keep humanity human in the future. Empathy is a big part of it, emotion is a big part of it, but social intelligence is too—we have forgotten how to communicate properly with people, though we are really good at communicating with a digital gadget. Technology and robots and AI, yes…but we keep forgetting, especially younger generations with stronger technological literacy, how to communicate with real people with a different skin colour, background, or culture, because our default world is bigger than our real world and our relationship with technology is dominating our everyday life. So developing social intelligence is crucial for us to regain our real sensorium.
Now we need “art thinking”—everybody is talking about design thinking and finding solutions—art thinking is question-finding because our society and technology are changing so fast that design thinking is not timely enough to provide the real solution. We have to find the right questions, and that is the role of art. This is how we navigate the future.

CM: What are the exhibitions you want to see in Venice?

DL: I didn’t have much time, but my favourite National Pavilions so far, apart from the Korean Pavilion, are India, Ghana, France, Chile, and the Chinese pavilion’s AI augmented cityscape is very interesting.

Claudia Malfitano

  • Portrait of Daehyung Lee. Photo © ninevonstudio Portrait of Daehyung Lee. Photo © ninevonstudio
  • Hyundai Commission 2017: SUPERFLEX: One Two Three Swing! Courtesy of Tate Photography Hyundai Commission 2017: SUPERFLEX: One Two Three Swing! Courtesy of Tate Photography
  • Korean Pavilion and the 2017 Venice Biennale Korean Pavilion and the 2017 Venice Biennale
  • Installation view of Hyundai Commission 2016: Philippe Parreno, Anywhen 2016. Courtesy of Tate Photography Installation view of Hyundai Commission 2016: Philippe Parreno, Anywhen 2016. Courtesy of Tate Photography
  • Hyundai Commission 2015: Abraham Cruzvillegas: Empty Lot. Courtesy of Tate Hyundai Commission 2015: Abraham Cruzvillegas: Empty Lot. Courtesy of Tate
Naples - Interviews

Naples Clothed In “Oro Rosso”: A Conversation with Jan Fabre and Curator Melania Rossi

1 week ago

Jan Fabre returns to Naples with “Oro Rosso“, a project that involves, with Madre museum, three places of culture: the Museum and Real Bosco di Capodimonte, the Pio Monte della Misericordia and the Studio Trisorio gallery. We interviewed the artist and curator Melania Rossi to learn more about the project.

Carla Ingrasciotta: How did the idea for this exhibition come out and how did your collaboration develop with the institutions involved?

Jan Fabre: From my, purely artistic, point of view, Melania Rossi and Laura Trisorio were the driving forces that allowed these important projects in Naples to happen. For over twenty years I have developed almost spiritual relationships with Laura Trisorio and today the exhibition “Tribute to Hieronymus Bosch in Congo” is held at her historic Neapolitan gallery until the end of September.
I love Naples, every time I go there for some project its energy invests and embraces me, like in a warm and cheerful family-run restaurant. I have been visiting this city since the 1980s, at the time of the Falso Movimento group of friends Mario Martone, Tomas Arana and Angelo Curti, I still have beautiful memories of that period.
My visual art, with “Red Gold. Gold and coral sculptures, blood drawings ”is now at the Capodimonte Museum. Melania Rossi coordinated and supervised the project, also taking care of the recently published catalogue with editor Electa Mondadori.
The story began more than three years ago, when Sylvain Bellenger invited me to visit his museum’s collection and I was impressed by the amount of masterpieces it contains. On that occasion I saw many paintings in which corals appeared and this inspired me to make ten new coral sculptures specifically for the exhibition.
Gianfranco D’Amato, friend, gentleman and great art lover, helped put me in touch with a company with a long family tradition in coral engraving, Enzo Liverino 1894.
Later, one evening when we were having dinner at a restaurant in Naples, the director of Madre museum Andrea Viliani told to me and Melania Rossi that when my bronze sculpture “The man who measures the clouds” was set up two years ago on the terrace of the museum, some visitors had returned several times to see the work and spend time in front of it. So much so that the ticket office had begun to give the entrance free to those who returned to see “The man who measures the clouds”. This work had established a spiritual bond with the Neapolitan public, for this reason Melania Rossi convinced me to give to the Madre museum the Carrara white marble version of the work, as a gift for the spectators and the public of the museum.
“The man who bears the cross”, in its original wax version made with my
own hands, it is located in Pio Monte della Misericordia, a place of great historical and artistic importance. This sculpture speaks about what that place represents, that’s why the curator Melania Rossi chose it. The work questions our doubts, speaks of our search for balance.

Melania Rossi: As often happens in Italy, but actually not only here, the project was built and defined during the work. The collaboration between the various institutions has been organic and animated by everyone’s love for art, from the directors Sylvain Bellenger and Andrea Viliani, to the governor of the Pio Monte Conte Rocco of Terrapadula and his superintendent Barone Alessandro Pasca di Magliano, to the gallerist Laura Trisorio, to the friend and fundamental support Gianfranco D’Amato, up to the art historians and conservators of the Capodimonte museum, the professional restorers etc …
The idea was born, as Jan said, after an invitation from Mr Bellenger, which was followed by three years of work to plan a dramaturgy, a path through four very important places, of real institutions for Naples: the museum and Real Bosco di Capodimonte , the church of the Pio Monte della Misericordia, the Madre museum and the Trisorio gallery.
To be able to inaugurate four exhibitions in the same period of time, great teamwork was needed, an organisation that involved the public workers of the museums, assisted by private professionals. An exhibition work carried out in collaboration with specialised architects saw the study of Jan Fabre engaged for several weeks in Naples. I would say that the Belgians had to agree to improvise a little, they learned to gesticulate and to assume the fact that the agreements, in Italy, are mostly made at the table. On the other hand, the Neapolitans have demonstrated their great professionalism and an incredible passion, helping the artist and his collaborators realise a great exhibition.
The different institutions involved in the “Oro Rosso” project are in excellent relations with each other and believe in synergy for their city, and Fabre is very much loved here so there has always been strong enthusiasm. And then, I would add, when we revealed his works in the various venues, the magic was the same for everyone. The locations were perfect and works of such quality always win.

 C.I: The exhibition is spread throughout 4 locations in Naples. What is the fil rouge of the route?

M.R: When Jan Fabre told me he wanted to make ten new sculptures completely in red coral for the Capodimonte Museum the first thought went to the symbolism linked to this material, the “red gold” to which apotropaic power has been conferred since antiquity, its preciousness, its mythical birth. The coral, as told by Ovid in “Metamorphoses”, was born from the blood of the Gorgon beheaded by Perseus. Medusa had the power to petrify with her eyes and her blood became stone in contact with the earth and the sea. There is a reference to the blood of San Gennaro, to the mythical magic of this liquid gold that keeps us alive. Je suis sang, is also the title of a theatrical performance by Jan Fabre for the 2005 Avignon festival.
Hence the idea of also exhibiting drawings made by the artist with blood since the seventies, along with gold sculptures. All precious, symbolic materials.
At the centre of all the art of Fabre there is always the humankind, the body, the bodily fluids. But there is also the urge to go beyond our mortal destiny, to question ourselves about our actions and to celebrate our doubts and dreams, as shown by iconic sculptures such as “The man who measures the clouds” and “The man who bears the cross”. The first one is an invitation to never stop trying the impossible, to measure a cloud, the sky, the greatness that is outside and inside us, to keep on dreaming; the second is the staging of the constant search for balance that distinguishes us as human beings, between matter and spirit, between finiteness and faith in the infinite. A nine-metre large version of this same sculpture, in bronze covered with gold leaf, is now on display in Venice, as part of the 58th Art Biennale. From the garden of Palazzo Polignac it looks at the Grand Canal and whoever looks out from the Ponte dell’Accademia suddenly sees this man measuring the clouds that, even in its grandeur and preciousness, also in this case, in this wonderful location that becomes magical and rarefied at night, shows all the fragility and strength of the human being, his eternal duality.
Going back to the Neapolitan project, at the Studio Trisorio the theme becomes more political and the terrible history of Belgian colonisation in the Congo is told, but Fabre always starts from the man and his relationship with nature, in this case recounting the encounter between the “predatory western culture” and that “exotic, indigenous usurped” in powerful images composed of mosaics of iridescent jewel beetles.
After all, all of Fabre’s art is political, whether it deals with philosophical, religious or existential themes, or with historical facts, there is always the story of humanity and there is always the attempt to condense into a shape a history, an idea and a thought, which becomes universal. The art of Jan Fabre is explosive and always consistent because every work is connected in a sort of personal universe, fabresque, which is also universal. The fil rouge of this project, for me, is the magic that is created between the works of Fabre and the various venues, between historical and contemporary works, the love for the artistic materials, the amazement in front of the work of art that today as yesterday raises questions and communicates, gives relief and leads to contemplation.

C.I: The dialogue with artists of the past is central to the work of Fabre, who on this occasion confronts Caravaggio and Bosch. Where does this need to measure up with the past come from and how does it develop in your artistic research?

J.F: I often say that I am a dwarf born in a country of giants. The house where I was born and raised in Antwerp was very close to Rubens house and my father always took me to observe and copy Flemish masterpieces. I trained by observing the masterpieces of Rubens, Van Eyck, Brueghel, Bosch, Jordaens. I find that their art is still more avant-garde than a lot of contemporary art. They have been and still are constant sources of inspiration for my work.
I was the first contemporary living artist to be invited to make a solo show at the Louvre in 2008; later I received the invitation to hold a major exhibition in Florence, in direct dialogue with the masterpieces of Piazza della Signoria, with Michelangelo and Donatello; and then in 2017 I received the invitation from Michail Borisovič Piotrovskij to build a personal exhibition of mine at the State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, where I chose the gallery spaces of my Flemish masters.
My sculpture “The man who bears the cross” is like a friend to me and my friend is happy to come face to face with the spectacular canvas “Seven Works of Mercy” by Caravaggio.
I received the fire of passion for art from these great artists and I hope to be able to pass it on to future generations. The anarchy of art of all times is like the anarchy of love, it has no rules and participates in a vital, human and humanistic afflatus.
The same humanistic afflatus animates the projects of the artists of all times, in this regard Melania Rossi and her colleague Bianca Cerrina Feroni have curated a beautiful and small collective exhibition in Venice in which I have four of my works, still on show until 8 July at Palazzo Novecento, entitled “Looking for Utopia”. Here these two young and talented curators have decided to exhibit the unrealised projects by the artists, some modern and other contemporary, the utopias and the dreams that are the basis of thought and the work of art.

Carla Ingrasciotta

  • Jan Fabre © Carlotta Manaigo Jan Fabre © Carlotta Manaigo
  • Melania Rossi © Giuseppe Zizza Melania Rossi © Giuseppe Zizza
  • "Jan Fabre. Oro Rosso, Sculture d'oro e corallo, disegni di sangue", Museo e Real Bosco di Capodimonte, Naples © Luciano Romano
  • "Jan Fabre. Oro Rosso, Sculture d'oro e corallo, disegni di sangue", Museo e Real Bosco di Capodimonte, Naples © Luciano Romano
  • Jan Fabre, Jan Fabre, "L’uomo che sorregge la croce", Pio Monte della Misericordia, Naples © L.Romano
  • Jan Fabre, Tribute to Hieronymus Bosch in Congo © Luciano Romano Jan Fabre, Tribute to Hieronymus Bosch in Congo © Luciano Romano
  • Jan Fabre. L’uomo che misura le nuvole © Amedeo Benestante Jan Fabre. L’uomo che misura le nuvole © Amedeo Benestante
Basel - Interviews

“IKEA, Modern Horror, Edward Hopper and Kodokushi”: An Interview with Nadim Abbas

2 weeks ago

On the occasion of his solo exhibition Poor Toy, which opens on Monday 10 June to coincide with Art Basel 2019, Hong Kong-based artist Nadim Abbas discusses his new work and influences. Incorporating references from design, the domestic and the every day, Abbas explores how contemporary living conditions have produced particular psychological patterns, trends, and subcultures. He positions the domestic space as a site of horror, using groupings of sculptures – produced from hacked flatpack furniture, cast concrete, and custom-made mattresses – and vacuum-packed drawings.

Susie Pentelow: Could you start by telling me about the title of the show, Poor Toy, and how you choose it?

Nadim Abbas: In a roundabout way… it’s a quote from the Dhammapada that I found in a book by horror fiction writer Thomas Ligotti, The Conspiracy Against the Human Race, which deals with the problem of pessimism and/or nihilism; often associated with the genre of supernatural horror and H. P. Lovecraft.

Susie Pentelow: Poor Toy explores an overlap between domestic space and the horror genre. What inspired your interest in this?

Nadim Abbas: IKEA, in part. Who hasn’t had that humbling moment in an IKEA megastore, trapped in a vortex of repetition; where life slides into an empty void of meaningless consumption?  I say this, but with equal awe for IKEA’s integration of global logistical infrastructures into all aspects of their designs. In other words, no item in the IKEA inventory exists unless it can be fabricated within a certain price point, en-masse, and is easily broken down and transported according to standardised methods.  The lengths at which IKEA has gone to achieve this is staggering. Then there is the strange intimacy of a homeware manufacturer peddling goods that sit somewhere between desire and banality.  The way I see it, modern horror, starting with Lovecraft and inherited by Ligotti, also sits on this intersection between desire and the banal. There is a mystique that draws you in, even to the most ordinary of things, only to discover lurking beneath the surface, not monsters and demons, but something even more terrifying: a ruthless and efficient system of pure rationality. The way in which modern horror capitalises on this relationship is to accentuate the ambiguity of the everyday, where the most innocuous object or setting has the potential of creating a situation of abject terror. The point here is that one cannot differentiate between the ordinary and the terrible, as they have become one and the same. There are certain classics of the horror film genre that have exploited this ambiguity to great effect, such as The Thing (John Carpenter) and The Shining (Stanley Kubrick).

Susie Pentelow: Due to the positioning of VITRINE’s gallery space on the public square, your exhibition will be visible to the public 24 hours a day. Has this informed the way you’ve developed this work?

Nadim Abbas: There is an image that I have in mind, where the windows of the gallery are transformed into virtual screens of light, throwing all the objects inside into sharp contrast. More importantly, there is an uncertainty about where this light is actually coming from, much like the eerie stillness of paintings by Edward Hopper or Giorgio de Chirico. With the VITRINE installation, I have attempted to reverse this relationship somewhat: instead of having light coming from nowhere, the objects manifest their own material “shadows” by nature of their construction/modification. So there is this impression that no matter what hour of the day, this image of a shadow is fixed in place, unaffected by the actual changing light conditions.  

Susie Pentelow: Your work draws thematically from a large variety of sources – from art and literature to psychology and biology. How do you balance a research-rich practice with the need for your work to ultimately exist independently of this?

Nadim Abbas: I have an obsessive compulsion to get lost in my subjects of enquiry before lifting a finger to make anything. This potentially endless condition of accumulative mental wandering and physical immobility usually lasts until an imminent deadline forces me to act. When I am faced with the material reality of the construction process, a whole host of limitations come to the fore, which I see as liberating rather than a hinderance. The material acts as a kind of editor or guide that sharpens the focus of ideas, or introduces new possibilities altogether. Another way to put it is that I make in order to forget.  But there is always something that is translated into the process of making, even if not in an entirely conscious manner. There is always this push and pull between one’s intentions and where the process ends up taking you. When I look back at my own work, I usually notice the things that have been left out, or things that I wish I had left out. Perhaps these absences are a way of keeping things open to interpretation, to let the work take on a life of its own when confronted with changing contexts and audiences.

Susie Pentelow: In your recent installation 4 Rooms (一梯一伙) for the 12th Shanghai Biennale, a performer occupied a space furnished with simple white structures suggestive of flatpack furniture. Is there a thematic link between this installation and the work you will be producing for Poor Toy?

Nadim Abbas: To date, all of my work with performers has attempted, through various choreographed languages, costumes, masks and settings, to achieve a state of assimilation into the environment. The performer wants, effectively, to become an object, to mimic and succumb to his/her surroundings like a stick insect does with a twig. Poor Toy is really just another manifestation of this death-drive, where the assimilation is complete, leaving only questionable traces of a former existence. The irony is that in the absence of the living, it is the objects that come alive, in our heads, going through the motions as it were. 

An interesting parallel here would be the phenomenon of “hikikomori”, or urban shut-ins which informed 4 Rooms, and some haunting photos that I recently discovered of “kodokushi” (AKA “apartment of lonely deaths”) in Japan. From the latter, there is this particular image of a pair of false teeth left behind by the deceased on a stained mattress that I have borrowed explicitly for Poor Toy.  What is significant for me is how both hikikomori and kodokushi have this relationship to domesticity and confinement as forms of social alienation in an excessively positive achievement society. When all is said and done, is there something other than “positive” that can be gleaned from these extreme cases of negativity?

Exhibition details:
Nadim Abbas: Poor Toy
11 June  – 25 August 2019
Vitrine, Basel
Private view: Monday 10 June, 7-11pm
Artist in Conversation with Aoife Rosenmeyer: Thursday 13 June 2019, 11am-12noon

My Art Guides Editorial Team

  • Nadim Abbas © Roberto Chamorro Nadim Abbas © Roberto Chamorro
  • © Nadim Abbas, Poor Toy, 2019. Installation view, Vitrine, Basel. Courtesy Vitrine © Nadim Abbas, Poor Toy, 2019. Installation view, Vitrine, Basel. Courtesy Vitrine
  • © Nadim Abbas, Poor Toy, 2019. Installation view, Vitrine, Basel. Courtesy Vitrine © Nadim Abbas, Poor Toy, 2019. Installation view, Vitrine, Basel. Courtesy Vitrine
  • © Nadim Abbas, Poor Toy, 2019. Installation view, Vitrine, Basel. Courtesy Vitrine © Nadim Abbas, Poor Toy, 2019. Installation view, Vitrine, Basel. Courtesy Vitrine
Venice - Posts

Plastic Free Venice Lagoon – International Clean Up Day

2 weeks ago

A press conference at Ocean Space in Venice will take place for the presentation of the first edition of Plastic Free Venice Lagoon, International Clean Up Day on Wednesday, June 5th at 11am.
Speakers include:
David Hrankovic, CEO TBA21 and Executive Director of Ocean Space and Davide Poletto, Vice President of Plastic Free Venice Lagoon.
Representatives from the following associations involved, will also be present:
Ava, Fare Verde, JONIX, La Salsola, Legambiente, Poseidone, Prontopia, Venice Calls, Veritas.

Lara Morrell

Oslo - News

osloBIENNALEN: A Five-year Art Programme in Public Space

3 weeks ago

Curated by Eva González-Sancho Bodero and Per Gunnar Eeg-Tverbakk osloBIENNALEN 2019-2024 is an evolving five-year programme of art in public space.

Currently opened to the public for the inaugural weekend (25-27th May 2019), the osloBIENNALEN features a set of works and projects, complemented by a series of symposia, talks and public programmes. In October 2019, the second set of projects will be launched. The expanding programme for the years ahead will be announced at regular intervals as the biennial moves forward in time.

Participants of the first set include:
Michelangelo Miccolis (MEX), Mikaela Assolent (FR), Mônica Nador (BR), Øystein Wyller Odden (NO), Rose Hammer, Sigurd Tenningen (NO), Benjamin Bardinet (FR), Bruno Oliveira (BR), Carole Douillard (FR), Ed D’Souza (UK), Gaylen Gerber (US), Hlynur Hallsson (IS), Jan Freuchen (NO), Jonas Høgli Major (NO), Julien Bismuth (FR), Lisa Tan (USA), Marianne Heier (NO), Mette Edvardsen (NO), Michael Ross (USA)

In October 2019, a second set of projects will be launched, featuring confirmed works by Adrian Balseca (Ecuador); Marcelo Cidade (Brazil); Jonas Dahlberg (Sweden); Anna Daniell (Norway); Edith Dekyndt (Belgium); Tomaš Džadoň (Czech Republic); Oliver Godow (Germany); Javier Izquierdo (Ecuador); Graziela Kunsch (Brazil); Belen Santillan (Ecuador); Oliver Godow (Deutschland) Katja Høst (Norway) and Knut Åsdam (Norway).


Myntgata 2
0151 Oslo

Carla Ingrasciotta

  • In front of Nobel Peace Center & Oslo City Hall In front of Nobel Peace Center & Oslo City Hall
Basel - News

My Art Guide Basel App for iOS and Android

3 weeks ago

Discover My Art Guides’s brand new App for Android devices, the twin of My Art Guide App for iOS and explore Art Basel and the Art Week in Basel and Zurich.

My Art Guide Basel contains the best and most interesting art spaces and exhibitions in town and features a selection of hotels and restaurant in town.

Explore the art scene in Basel with our free guide! Type “Art Basel Art Week 2019” on the App Store or Google Play, download the app and start planning your visit.

With My Art Guide Basel you can create your agenda and choose the art spaces you want to visit, the exhibitions you want to see, the special events you want to attend and how you want to spend your leisure time.

Click here to download the iOS or Android app:
App Store
Google Play

Carla Ingrasciotta

Moscow - News

Graft: Allora & Calzadilla take part into the Garage Square Commission series

4 weeks ago

The Puerto-Rico-based duo Jennifer Allora and Guillermo Calzadilla present, as part of the Garage Square Commission series, their first major solo project in Russia under the title of Graft.

Visitors to both the park and the Museum have the unique opportunity to witness the phantom blooming of Roble Amarillo trees (Tabebuia chrysantha), a native species in the Caribbean. Recreating the delicate artificial, yellow blossoms of these tropical trees scattered across Garage Square throughout the summer and winter as an ongoing reminder of the fragile existence of the planet’s biodiversity, alluding directly to global climatic transformations.

Allora & Calzadilla’s poetic and scientific approach creates an installation that brings about a subtle yet powerful visualisation of the ecological crisis to be collectively confronted. In Graft, tropical tree flowers, scattered under the trees on Garage square become the ghosts of fallen trees that haunt the place where they now are present.

Lara Morrell

  • Allora & Calzadilla, Tabebuia chrysantha flowers. © Garage Museum of Contemporary Art. Allora & Calzadilla, Tabebuia chrysantha flowers. © Garage Museum of Contemporary Art.