Month: giugno 2011

EASY COME, EASY GO

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Andrea Mastrovito, bergamasco classe 1978, è stato l’artista più votato dal pubblico e ora, nelle stesse stanze che lo hanno consacrato, propone un’eccezionale antologica. Per quanto molto giovane, Mastrovito è un artista internazionale che vive tra Bergamo e New York e ha all’attivo numerose mostre in Italia, in Europa e negli Stati Uniti. Anche grazie alla sua straordinaria capacità nel disegno e nell’utilizzare, trasformandoli, i più diversi materiali, Andrea ha dato vita ad opere installative e multimediali che hanno affascinato i visitatori dei due continenti: dal Museum of Art and Design di New York, alla Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo di Torino, al Museo Pecci di Prato e al MAXXI di Roma.

A Casa Testori Mastrovito realizza la sua personale più ambiziosa, invadendo le 20 stanze della casa con disegni, collage, videoanimazioni, installazioni e interventi site-specific sui muri e gli ambienti della casa. Il titolo, Easy come, easy go (Così come vengo, così me ne vado) è un verso di Bohemian Rhapsody, la celebre canzone dei Queen protagonista di una delle stanze, oltre che degli ultimi mesi di vita di Giovanni Testori; il verso, traducibile anche con “mi lascio trasportare, sono un indolente” è stato scelto dall’artista come espressione della giovinezza in genere, del proprio carattere e della condizione dell’artista a Casa Testori, chiamato a fare i conti con un luogo magico e pieno di storia.

Mastrovito al pian terreno si soffermerà su alcune delle opere realizzate negli ultimi anni, mostrando al pubblico per la prima volta le radici nascoste del suo lavoro in un’inedita raccolta di 26 autoritratti a matita. Ogni stanza riserverà una scoperta e, grazie alle celebri installazioni di libri ritagliati, un’aiuola fiorirà nella stanza del camino, una biblioteca virtuale di fotocopie ritornerà nella biblioteca testoriana mentre la drammatica video-installazione Johnny colmerà di emozioni il grande salone della casa. Molte saranno le novità proposte da questo artista così versatile e capace di non lasciare indifferenti i grandi curatori di mostre come i semplici visitatori. Molti gli interventi appositamente realizzati e, al primo piano, grazie ad incisioni sul muro che disegnano la figura umana attraverso gli strati d’intonaco e vernice accumulatosi nei 100 anni di vita della casa, Mastrovito farà venire a galla la storia di questo luogo e il visitatore verrà “accompagnato” dalla presenza del padrone di casa: Giovanni Testori.

La mostra è curata da Julia Draganovic, responsabile di importanti rassegne internazionali come Art Miami(2009-2010) e Art First (2010-2011), nonché direttrice artistica d’istituzioni pubbliche, come il Chelsea Art Museum di New York (2005-2006) e del PAN – Palazzo delle Arti Napoli (2007-2008).

Il mio Pasolini e Cattedrali

Casa Testori ha organizzato due importanti incontri nello splendido giardino e nel salone della casa:

Il Mio Pasolini
Con Sandro Lombardi e Francesco Colella
20 giugno 2011, ore 21.30
Uno dei più importanti attori del teatro italiano si confronta con lo scrittore più amato e controverso del’900.
Attendendo la grande mostra del 2012 dedicata a Pasolini in Casa Testori, l’Associazione Testori ha proposto uno spettacolo di Sandro Lombardi con Sandro Lombardi e Francesco Colella dal titolo: Il mio Pasolini.

Un’antemprima dello spettacolo sulle colonne del Corriere della Sera.

 

Cattedrali
Con Luca Doninelli e Gabriele Basilico
1 luglio 2011, ore 21
La seconda tappa dell’estate a Casa Testori è stata la presentazione del libro di Luca Doninelli dal titolo: Cattedrali.
L’incontro che si è svolto l’1 luglio nel salone della casa con la presenza dell’autore e del grande fotografo milanese Gabriele Basilico, già  ospite di Casa Testori tra gli artisti della prima edizione di Giorni Felici, e a cui si deve l’immagine della copertina del libro.

Lo scrittore Milanese, all’interno del suo ultimo libro compie un viaggio in nove Luoghi che assumono la stessa valenza delle Cattedrali Medievali. Il percorso inizia dalla Basilica della Natività  di Gerusalemme e prosegue con grandi magazzini di Harrods, la Grande Piramide, la Città  Proibita, la Sagrada Familia, il Grand Central Terminal, il Forum des Halles, concludendo con il Duomo di Milano.

Rocco (Siffredi) e i suoi fratelli

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This was the last room I designed and made for the exhibition.
For its achievement I thought of Martin Creed’s work, and of a Luigi Polla’s tale. When Luigi met him – one night he told me – Martin, who was no more then a boy, showed him a salt and a pepper shakers, made in copper and steel. He leaned them on the table where they were eating. They were almost invisible among all the dishes. He explained him that, by his nature, he didn’t want to to anything. But not doing anything, for an artist, is impossible. And so he had always found the way to make the easiest thing, to do the minimal effort.
I have always been struck by this tale (I recall his filled-with-air balloons, his creased papers, his metronomes…). So I thought that an empty room would have been perfect to close the course of the exhibition. Even because, then, I was too tired to do something more.
But actually something was missing, a grip to the slang violence of Testori’s stories, invented and lived stories.
And so I remebered his frienship/unfriendship with Luchino Visconti. Visconti who was inspired by Testori’s Il ponte della Ghisolfa for his Rocco e i suoi fratelli. At that time they were friends, respecting each other; but then happened that Alain, Testori’s partner, didn’t get a part – promised – in Ludwig, Giovanni was very pissed off and started to hate him (so hard that he presented public excuses after Visconti’s death) so bad that in the unpublished epilogue of L’Ambleto, he rails against the “sozzialista registore”, insulting him and saddling him with sins and perversions: “for you, to love, is like having a dog’s cock to lick”.
That’s why I took as a starting point the playbill of Rocco e i suoi fratelli, where is depicted Simone while raping Nadia. The violence of the act is mitigated by the invisible transparence of the image obtained scratching the matt glass of the french door, whose counterpart is, on the left wall, Ceci n’est pas une pipe, a work made for my personal exhibition Postmodern, in 2006. In this work the relationship between man and woman is inverted (literaly, the woman is on the top), and the Magritte quotation is explaining also here “what love is”, playing on the fact that “pipe” in french means – as everybody knows – pipe, and blowjob, as well…

Lo Studio Testori

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To make this room I kept in my mind one of the rare pictures portraying Giovanni Testori in his private study. Here the writer used to guard paintings of naked men that he attributed to Courbet and Géricault. In this picture, over the library, you can spot five painting in the background. About four of them we have informations and dimensions, but about the fifth – a man’s trunk above a black man portrait – we don’t know anything.
Looking at the picture, I reproduced in their precise original position the four well-known paintings, just by using the material that made up the walls, or layers of paint, the plaster  till the cement and bricks, as in the room with the picture of the whole Testori family. In this work who is talking is the absence: whenever we take off from the wall a picture that has been there for a long time, we realize that on the wall, where the pictures was, a darker silhouette remains, saved from the wear of light and dust. Starting from the idea of that trace left by paintings, I got to imagine that the whole image was imprinted on the wall that, pierced, blended and carved, it eventually gave back the memory it was retaining.
Exactly in front of those four carved-in-wall paintings, a plasma TV is proposing a selection of 13 films, all about Art and History of Art, made thanks to Zizi’s (Marco Marcassoli) direction between 2003 and 2006. All these films are a reflection – both critical and not – about Art, its gears, about the History of Art itself and the relationship between artist and work, and they all find here, in that room where Testori used to spend long hours, their natural place. The journey starts from the Haikus – a sort of tableaux vivants or little sketch also about contemporary art claims – to arrive to those 150 plastic tacks to improve your artistic talent where I imagine a number of famous modern artists when they were six years old and give them some plastic tacks to reproduce their most famed works in the simplest forms, to arrive to CH where, with Stefano Arienti and Luca Francesconi as main characters, a museum is stormed – as for Tim Burton Batman – and all of its works are destroyed and defaced in the name of a new and violent ultra futuristic avant-garde.

The Queen Suite

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The Band Queen has always been a landmark for everything I did. I discovered them 20 years ago, as almost everybody, when Freddie Mercury died. My high school teacher used to teach us english making us listen Innuendo. For the first time I understood what was said in a song… thus is natural that they often come out in my works. I mean, an artist has to talk through what he knows, feels and loves/hates, in his works, and fairly why we should untie ourself from purely consumerist areas while we are totally surrounded by them?
The first video works on Queen born exactly from a meditation about the concept of myth, star and on his possibility of “Technological reproducibility”, paraphrasing Walter Benjamin. So it has been natural to take the band I knew better for having collected its stuff for all the years of my youth. The first step was Sburzum & Zizi Live in Budapest ’86, where, making an accurate assembly and disassembly work of sequences taken from Queen Live in Budapest ’86, I could make Zizi sing with Freddie Mercury – that, among other things, heralds “tonight, for the first time, we are going to sing a new song, a special one, for you all…” reading the song’s lyric written on his hand – a ballad composed by me and my group, the Madhush, reversing the usual canons for which boy bands are covering more famous bands’ pieces.
In the two next works, specially in The Freddie Mercury Photocopied Concert, what is being unhinged is the concept itself of originality of the hic and nunc event, of the concert video, of the artist-audience oneway relationship, and all that just by the “photocopied concert”. Photocopying concerts is actually pretty easy: you take the original DVD of the event, you patiently stay in front of your computer and extrapolate every frame where all the musicians appear clearly, the singer, the instruments, etc. At this point, with a photo-retouch program every frame is increased to life size, divided in small, identical sections and printed one by one in (colour) copy format. Now, with the help of scissors and scotch tape, costumes, faces, instruments and microphones of the actual concert’s protagonists are recomposed and, once that they are worn, the concert is reinterpreted, spreading the music playback directly from the original DVD. And everything is recordered by the audience with a variety of channel, from the video camera to the photo camera to the iPhone, exactly like real concerts. The achieved result allows us to break, temporarily live and depending on the shots in the last film, the boundary between facts and fictions, bringing back to life – in the real world – just with some paper, something that is no longer alive, but in analog or digital shots; and at the same time, this result shows the scene fiction’s boundaries, because the photocopies are covering the onlookers only frontally, and so the disbielif’s suspention is never complete and continuous, but it shows the king naked at each movement. Under the television that constantly broadcasts music and video – photocopied – of Queen, there is a piece of furniture containing my CDs and books about this topic, as it was reproducing a young fan’s bedroom, and it serves as link between the two big mirror works on the wall, both made with the same matrix, one by felt-tip pens and the other by collage.
In this pair of photocopies I focus my attention to Freddie Mercury’s histrionic homosexuality, underlining it just using the colours of the rainbow. His way of living homosexuality was deeply different from Testori’s one, who considered it as a sin.
Nonetheless Giovanni Testori himself was a big fan of Queen, enough to make Bohemian Rhapsody jangles in all the rooms surrounding his one, in his last days of life, choosing it as viaticum for afterlife. That’s why Queen’s room is exactly located between the room of his youth and the one of his maturity.

Cosa importa se sono caduto?

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This work initially arises from a song, the cover of Soft Cell’s Tainted Love.
I refer more to the video then the song, the constellations coming to life, and, as made-of-stars dancers, pushing a guy to leave his home and his insane love.
I instantly thought to use the fluorescent stars, the sticky ones that are used in children bedrooms, to get a situation that defuses the Nietzschean emphasis of the work in the next room – 120578, in which I represent myself and the world piercing the sky by grapeshots – and that were a prelude for the following one, genuinely playful by using the pop icon Freddie Mercury in his ’80s style version.
Of course the work would have been too light without linking  the fluorescent stars with a modest and ancient material, meaningful of opposite meanings, as the carbon paper is, that, matt, it catches and chews lights and colours, swallowing them into the darkness.
Thinking of this work and of the powerful contrast between a shiny white and a total black, I figured the image of my mother in the day of her church wedding. Inspite of all the brides she was total black dressed. I remember that when I was a child, every time she was showing to friends the family pictures, I used to ask her why she was dressing like that. “I liked that way” was her answer.
So I started to look for one of those pictures, I wanted one of them, where both her and my father were distracted by anything. And I got to find it! You can clearly see both of them (and my grandfather as well) observing and pointing something in the ground. I took them and moved in the wood, at night, where without lights you can’t see in your own hand. And like this is the wood drown in the carbon paper that reproduces in negative the original big pencil drawing (not showed here). Of course, presented in negative, my mother’s dress is lighter than the black of the background: the whitening process is totally achieved on the in-front-wall where, lights off (a timer alternates one minute of light and one minute of darkness), you can spot the mirror and shiny images of Anna and Nicola, made by thousands of fluorescent stars. On the ground, in a messy pile, there are other thousands of shiny stars, the only item that you can see whether lights are on or off and directly matched with the two images that otherwise wouldn’t cross: it’s about a love that lasts every day, in spite of everything. And it’s natural, spontaneously adapting to the soil, contrary to the violent vision of love in the opposite room: Rocco (Siffredi) e i suoi fratelli.

120578

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This work,expressly made for Casa Testori, has deep roots, in fact it rises from an idea for a lightbox entitled My Birthday that I presented in Ginevra a couple of years ago, during an unfortunate trip with Zizi and Eugenia. The work was representing myself, with a gun in my hand, shooting skyward and thus redrawing, with the back light, the precise position of the constellations that could be seen from Bergamo the 12th May 1978, my birthday. During the several inspections at Casa Testori, I was always pointed out the importance of the big room upstairs, where Testori was conceived, born, where both his parents passed away and where, after his mather’s death, he moved. It seemed natural to me to think to repropose that concept of birth, but extending it to the whole room and at the same time making it global and intimate, through the videoprojection in two separate rooms. In the room next to that big patriarchal room, in the dark, here I am (video projected and animated) repeatedly shooting to the opposite wall, the one next to the big room where, as the shots go on, and thus drawing on the ceiling that precise position of constellations that could – indeed – be seen from Lombardy the day of my birth. This goes well, I thought. But I needed something more, and so I started to plick fleas off young Testori’s pictures, until I looked up the biography and read: Giovanni Testori (Novate Milanese, 12th May 1923 – Milano, 16th March 1993). Astonished, I realized that I no longer have to look for anything, we were born in the same day.

Appunti per una guerriglia

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In this room are collected three works (two videos and one installation) that continue backwards the walk of Testori family until Testori’s birth, alternating the levels of narration from my story to his one.
This is the children room.
Appunti per una guerriglia, made just with plastic tacks for children and with polystyrene, is a clear cross-reference, explicit even in the title and in choice of matierials, to the Arte Povera and its manifesto that Celant posted on Flash Art in november of ’67: the tautology is in the children (my grandchildren and one of their friends) who try, digging in the polystyrene, to find other tacks to re-enact the “human-nature identification”, the primordial monster with a human skull, to “go back to that limited and ancillary planning, where the human was the centre and the spark of the reaserch, and not its instrument, not its vehicle”.
The work was made in 2008 for L’origine delle specie at Biagiotti Art Project in Firenze, and it was completing a seven pieces cycle, all made by plastic tacks on polystyrene.

On the wall in front of the installation there is a TV set offering two films with six years of difference between them but sharing the playful revisiting of classic tales for adults.
In Nickelodeon, the Tim Burton’s Frankweenie (about a little Frankenstein that revives his dog)  is photocopied frame by frame and reassembled by sliding, by hand, all the 10000 photocopies in front of the camera, obtaining again the original movie’s string in which both the assembly and the direction are actually entrusted to the artist’s visible hand.
In Bawitdaba two toy animals, a monkey and a pig made by plastic, through a blob movie in which every scene is reconstructed with recycled materials and the sound is exaxctly the one of the original movie, they play the myths of the great cinema, from Dr. Strangelove to Shining, from The Blair Witch Project to Nosferatu and One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, and so on. I always offer this video with heart: it’s the first work I showed in an actual exibition (Italian Boys at Analix Forever, in Geneva) and it was also the first one I sold for my happiness and Zizi’s (the director of the movie) one, because we got 125 euro, each!

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Family Matters

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Otto sotto un tetto (lit: eight under a roof) is the italian title for the american sit-com Family Matters.
Eight members were, indeed, composing Testori family: mother, father, two sons and four doughters. When in the evening you don’t have TV to watch, you get busy!
The represented image is taken from a photo, the only one I found with the whole family posing in front of one of the big trees of the house.
The work is directly made by carving the wall and thus unearthing, time after time, all the layers of painting, the plasters, the cement and the bricks: I used this technique just once, for The Pindemonte in Geneve.
I remember it, it was Christmas. When it’s Christmas I always get new ideas, I don’t know why. I was in the toilet – like Freddie Mercury composing Crazy little thing called love, but he was in the bath, instead I was exactly on the toilet bowl – glancing at a Cuneo’s CesaC catalogue. Suddenly it’s presented in front of me a picture of William Anastasi’s work. A streak of a wall carved by pickaxes, and all the rubbles left there, precisely under the streak, as a god had passed there to engrave the rock with his litte finger. Enlightening, I thought. So I wrote an e-mail to Barbara, who was asking me a new idea for the planned May exibition at Analix. I thought of these figures, these carved-in-wall “guardians” and of their ashes, contained in the polls below. I clearly remember that on those walls had painted a lot of artists, from Julian Opie  to Martin Creed, from Matt Collishaw to Alex Cecchetti and Luca Francesconi, from Jessica Diamond until myself, a couple of time, and I thought that gradually, with a crop and a bunch of patience, all the layers of painting could be found, rebuilding the archaeological history of the gallery just by unearthing all those colours.
Step by step the idea became concrete and trasformed itself in Pindemonte, a sort of funny danse macabre where eighteen characters, jumping, playing and shagging, they run straightly into death’s arms. And their ashes are contained in eighteen small polls, as a little cemetery of painting. I remember that, for the first time in my life, once I ended the work after having passed sleepless nights scratching tens of square meters with the crop, I cried for the emotion.
So here as well, at Casa Testori, I let the wall speak: as they were soaked of photosensitive substances, they give back to us the images of the people who lived here in the passed years, presences that still soak (believe me, I passed a lot of nights in here), kindly, all the twenty rooms.

Gesù di Bergamo

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Gesù di Bergamo born in summer 2010, when the guys of Cantieri d’Arte in Viterbo asked me a project for an art book, Drawing a New Memory, where every artist was asked to read back the past, and to reinvent it. It was a long time that i was looking for an opportunity to put an old project down in writing, or the draft of a screenplay for a movie about the finding of Christ’s body.
I remember that still in 2007 I went on purpose at Chi vuole essere Milionario to collect the 300-500.000 euro I needed to start the movie’s production, and actually I was doing pretty well shooting random answers, but then Gerry Scotti made me get wrong the 70.000 euro question. Damn it…
This was the starting idea but then, you know, when you start writing, as Verga said, the novel seems to be written by itself. And so this Gesù di Bergamo came out, half true story and half second reading – summarized and easygoing – of the Gospels, whose events are replaced, just for the occasion, not in Palestine but in the charming Bergamo, proposing a tipical Testori’s modus operandi, who rewrote Hamlet, Macbeth and Oedipus Rex setting them in his dear lands of the milanese region.
The room with the 500 copies of the Gesù di Bergamo – available, for free, for the onlookers – stands as an ideal beginning for the first floor: as it’s known, the religious faith was the founding principle around which the family core of Testori was formed, and from here starts as well a small five rooms cycle, dedicated to it.