Nature and culture. An exhibition between anthology and ecology at Turin Ogrs

Until September Torino Ogr host Natural culturesone exhibition dedicated at the same time to the theme of ecology and bad art. The exhibition is organized in collaboration with Castello di Rivoli and the Foundation for Modern and Contemporary Art CRT, whose collections include the exhibited works, many of which are acquired from the historical collection of Margherita “Christian” Stein.

Curated by Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev and Marcella Beccaria of the castle Rivoli and Samuele Piazza for the Ogres, the exhibition thus succeeds together with strengthen the city’s cultural heritagein this case bad works of art who have written the history of international contemporary art, while at the same time addressing decidedly current issues, such as the relationship between art and nature and the need to create a deeper and more conscious sensitivity to ecological issues.

This type of sensitivity was already present and alive in the works of artists of the Penone caliber, although the historical period in which his works were conceived and realized had not yet explicitly brought ecology as an urgent need as it does today. But gesture made by the artist to take industrially worked wood and carve it until, in its tender center, one finds the trunk, which is still alive and wild, and reveals the wood still contained in the forest, today it acquires an even more intense and significant value, if possible, than when the works were first presented in 1969.

A display of the NatureCultures exhibition at OGR in Turin with works by Penone and Richard Long. Photo: Andrea Rossetti

Documentation of human intervention in universal gravity instead, it is a workalso from 1969, by Giovanni Anselmo. It’s a seemingly very simple job: a series of photographs taken in the countryside near Turin, one evening after a snowfall. As he walks, the artist photographs the setting sun. He does this repeatedly, every twentieth step, in a certain number of times.

The work was originally proposed as a multiple, although the work is obviously not exactly a multiple, since the photographs, as in the Leibnizian examples of invisible (but also, if desired, like the works of the Impressionists) are different from each other. What stands out is the temporal scan, minimal but very real, as well as the artist’s movement. Human intervention in the cosmos similarly appears invisible, but only at a first and inattentive glance. In reality, the interaction, yes the dialogue, is constant and vital, and it could not be otherwise.

The exhibition continues with well-known masterpieces such as Venus of the cloths of Pistoletto, Richard Long’s Magic Stone Circles and more.

When you move along the exhibition path, you have, in short, the feeling of rattling off like a rosary, a kind of anthology of poor works of art. In addition to the artists mentioned, there are actually works by Marisa and Mario Merz, Pier Paolo Calzolari, Piero Gilardi, Jannis Kounellis and Gilberto Zorio.

A display of the NatureCultures exhibition at OGR in Turin with works by Michelangelo Pistoletto and Pietro Gilardi. Photo: Andrea Rossetti

In parallel with these masters, the exhibition then ends works by two contemporary artists. I am Amar KanwarIndian born in 1964, e Agnieszka KurantPolish, born in 1978. The two artists present gods you always work with the theme of ecology, but redevelop it with the sensitivity and urgency of today.

Kanwar’s project focuses on the theme of biodiversity in his home country, India, through a video work that puts forest life at the center and thus the theme of deforestation. The work is justified The sovereign forest in 2012, when it was first presented at dOCUMENTA (13), in Kassel.

Kurant’s project, on the other hand, explores the borderland between ecological and social issues. In the creative process, the artist uses an algorithm that can alternately create an unexpected alphabet, also because bacterial beings give life to the signs that make it up.

View of The sovereign forest, a work from 2012 by the Indian artist Amar Kanwar, set up in the NatureCultures exhibition at OGR in Turin. Photo: Andrea Rossetti

The exhibition thus provides the opportunity and also the joy of reviewing works of absolute value by placing them in a new context. This both from a physical and concrete point of view, due to the choice of location so different from the baroque curves at the castle Rivoli, where many of us have known them; both for the issues addressed, which stand in a completely different light once they are put into dialogue with current events and with the work of recent artists. There is therefore a dual educational value: historical, artistic and ecological awareness.

But those who love contemporary art will first and foremost visit this exhibition with the almost childlike enthusiasm of those who can see old friends who never disappoint and always have new things to tell us, even learn to read works that have made newer art history with completely new eyes, also by virtue of the dramatically crucial historical context we experience.

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