As Artissima Opens, the Best Shows to See in Turin

From Michael Rakowitz to Monica Bonvicini, contributing editor Barbara Casavecchia on the exhibitions to catch this week

BY Barbara Casavecchia in Critic's Guides | 01 NOV 19

Michael Rakowitz, The invisible enemy should not exist (Room N, Northwest Palace of Nimrud), 2018. Courtesy: the artist and Castello di Rivoli Museo d’Arte Contemporanea, Rivoli-Torino; photograph: Chase Heishman

Castello di Rivoli
Michael Rakowitz

Until 19 January 2020

In 2005, for the first and only Turin Triennale (co-curated by Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev and Francesco Bonami), Michael Rakowitz presented the inflatable installation Dull Roar. Examining the rise and fall of modernist utopia, the work centred on the demolition of the infamous Pruitt-Igoe social housing project in St. Louis, Missouri, in 1972. This same piece now opens Rakowitz’s retrospective, ‘Imperfect Binding’, a travelling exhibition co-curated by Christov-Bakargiev and Iwona Blazwick (with Marianna Vecellio for its Turin iteration), currently on display at the Manica Lunga of Castello di Rivoli. In Rakowitz’s works, these endless cycles of destruction and reconstruction echo across continents, cultures, traumas and conflicts, such as the Armenian genocide, the Second Gulf War and the devastation inflicted by ISIS. The exhibition’s title refers to a newly commissioned work, Imperfect Binding (2019), for which Rakowitz took a torn 1935 Hebrew and Arabic-Jewish prayer book from his mother’s Iraqi-Jewish community and, instead of burying it per protocol for the disposal of damaged religious texts, brought it to Rivoli to have it repaired, rebound and rescued from silence. 

Officine Grandi Riparazioni 
Monica Bonvicini

31 October – 9 February 2020

The relationship between architecture and patriarchal systems, and how the shaping of public space has been impacted as a consequence, has long been at the core of Monica Bonvicini’s work. Curated by Nicola Ricciardi and Samuele Piazza, ‘As Walls Keep Shifting’ comprises a plain wooden prefab structure simulating a typical Italian villetta (semi-detached house) furnished with works by the artist. Amongst them is the photographic series ‘Italian Houses’ (2019), based on Bonvicini’s ongoing research into the low-cost ‘ideal homes’ created in postwar Italy by Father Ottorino Marcolini. Originally conceived as single-family homes, the houses have consequently been subdivided, reflecting changing modern lifestyles in their now-incongruously painted facades, as well as the complexities and challenges of living together under one roof – or, indeed, a single ideology.

Karol Radziszewski, Karol & Natalia LL, 2011, photography, c-print on Hahnemuehle paper. Courtesy: BWA Warszawa, Warsaw

Boutique Jana
‘Abstract Sex: We Don’t Have any Clothes, only Equipment’

31 October – 3 November

For decades, Boutique Jana on via Maria Vittoria was the destination of choice for Turin’s cultural elite in search of seductive attires. So, it seems only fitting that the space is currently host to the group exhibition ‘Abstract Sex’, curated by Lucrezia Calabrò Visconti with Guido Costa. Exploring the manufacturing of desire at a time when the body, in the words of the curators, ‘has unstable boundaries [and is] seen as a porous platform of information exchange at the level of biochemistry, data and media’, the show features works by Iván Argote, Benni Bosetto, Candice Breitz, Thomas Hämen, Corrado Levi, Jacopo Miliani, Tom of Finland and Wu Tsang, amongst many others. One unmissable standout is Barbara Hammer’s early film Multiple Orgasm (1976).

Berlinde De Bruyckere, Nijvel I, 2019, wax, bronze, horse skin, epoxy, iron. Courtesy the artist, Hauser & Wirth and Galleria Continua

Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo
Berlinde De Bruyckere

1 November – 15 March 2020

After Eros, enters Thanatos. For her solo show ‘ALETHEIA’ (meaning ‘truth’ in ancient Greek but also ‘disclosure’, as promulgated by German philosopher Martin Heidegger), Berlinde De Bruyckere has produced a vast, immersive installation. Curated by Irene Calderoni, the exhibition re-creates a vision that continues to haunt the artist: the dimly lit interior of a pelt-trader’s workshop, piled with freshly stripped animal skins, which De Bruyckere visited in the Belgian town of Anderlecht a few years ago. Neatly folded like blankets, and surrounded by flakes of salt, these macabre fleshy heaps offer a sombre metaphor for what James Bridle, in his eponymous 2018 book, defined as our ‘new dark age’.

Navjot Altaf, Soul Breath Wind, 2014-18, two-channel projection with sound, 60’, loop. Courtesy: the artist

Parco Arte Vivente
Navjot Altaf

2 November – 16 February 2020

Combining a public garden and open-air sculpture park with exhibition and community spaces, the Parco Arte Vivente (Park of Living Art) – brainchild of the artist Piero Gilardi – was constructed on a former industrial wasteland to provide a forum in which to unite art, ecology and politics. Curated by Marco Scotini, ‘Samakaalik’ (meaning ‘simultaneous’ in Hindi) reconstructs – through works on paper, video installations and sculptures – the career of Indian artist and activist Navjot Altaf. A founding member of the Mumbai-based Marxist Progressive Youth Movement in the 1970s, Navjot was a significant proponent of intersectional ecofeminism, developing several projects in collaboration with artists and community members of the rural Bastar District.

Greta Schödl, Untitled, 1978, mixed media on paper. Courtesy: the artist, Almanac, Turin and Richard Saltoun Gallery, Turin

Almanac Project
Greta Schödl

1 November – 20 December

Born in Austria in 1929, but based in Bologna since 1959, Greta Schödl started her career experimenting with textiles and calligraphy before embracing visual poetry. As curator Mirella Bentivoglio noted in the catalogue for ‘Materializzazione del Linguaggio’ (Materialization of Language, 1978) – the first section of a Venice Biennale devoted exclusively to women artists – Schödl ‘has written on sheets, shirts, pipes, bins and brought them to town squares to record the reactions of the audience […] as a request for poetic legitimacy’. The non-profit space Almanac, which has a sister venue in London, presents here a comprehensive selection of Schödl’s works from the 1970s and ’80s. 

Franco Noero
Simon Starling

15 October – 11 January 2020

What could be more quintessentially Turinese than the Fiat car company and its glamorous owner, Gianni Agnelli? L’Avvocato (The Lawyer), as Agnelli was universally nicknamed, who loved to drive around the city in his blue Fiat 125 Special, a standard family car, in an apparent bid to demonstrate his down-to-earth personality. In Franco Noero’s central exhibition space, which overlooks the grand Piazza Carignano, Simon Starling adds a new chapter to his ongoing exploration of the theme of the ‘masquerade’. The installation ‘‘A–A’, B–B’’ pairs a section of an old Fiat 125 with a replica of the right-hand portion of Giovanni Battista Tiepolo’s lavish depiction of The Finding of Moses (1736–38), which was split by a former owner at one point to create two paintings. The smaller portion, A Halberdier in a Landscape, which belongs to the Collection of the Pinacoteca Gianni e Marella Agnelli, is concurrently on display, alongside a further Fiat car segment, at Glasgow’s Modern Institute. 

Two extra tips for the weekend:

Norma Mangione Gallery, Saturday 2 November, 7pm to midnight: ‘Ramona x Salvo’ is an evening of music, with a special set featuring Japanese field recordings, by the excellent Turin-based singer, performer and musician Ramona Ponzini.

Associazione Barriera, Sunday 3 November, 10 am: A free breakfast event at this popular non-profit space to mark the occasion of Agnieszka Polska’s exhibition, ‘I Call Your Name’, curated by Sergey Kantsedal.

Main image: Jacopo Miliani, Deserto, 2018, video still. Courtesy: the artist and Rosa Santos, Valencia

Barbara Casavecchia is a contributing editor of frieze and a freelance writer and curator based in Milan, Italy.