Ed Atkins at Castello di Rivoli Museo d’Arte Contemporanea in Turin

Next week Castello di Rivoli Museo d’Arte Contemporanea will inaugurate the solo exhibition of British artist Ed Atkins. The exhibition will run from 27 September 2016 to 29 January 2017 and is organized in collaboration with the Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo.

The works Even Pricks (2013), Warm, Warm, Warm Spring Mouths (2013), Ribbons (2014), Hisser (2015) and Happy Birthday!!! (2014), in addition to several new interventions by the artist, will be presented at the Castello di Rivoli, while the Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo will host the work Safe Conduct (2016), which features new sculptural wall elements.

Ed Atkins (Oxford, UK, 1982) makes videos, draws, and writes, reflexively performing the ways in which contemporary modes of representation – from bathetic poetry to computer-generated animation – attempt to do justice to powerfully emotional and embodied experience. Atkins’ work is at once a disturbing diagnosis of a digitally mediated present-day, and an absurd prophesy of things to come. It is skeptical of the promises of technology yet suggests that it is possible to salvage subjectivity through a kind of sincere burlesque of love and hate, suspending a hysterical sentimentality within the desperate lives of the surrogates he creates.

The retrospective, held in five rooms on the third floor of the Castello, unfolds as a holistic installation via an innovative arrangement of works that join images, space, sound, language and color into one seamless narrative, allowing visitors to have an immersive, hypnotic and hyper-real experience.

The exhibition reflects on the combination of tangibility and absence found in the phantasmagoric dimension of the venue: an ancient castle “under a spell,” perhaps inhabited by ghosts, where the expression of a material intangibility seems to be exposed by artist via the reality of HD and digital culture.

Curator Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev states: “The event’s originality lies in the installation conceived by the artist, which contemplates the emotional, historical and architectural features of the space where the exhibition unfolds. If the building is a body, then the brain is located at the top floor, in the attic, where Ed Atkins wants to be, the neurologic center of the building-body’s thoughts and emotions. The spacious rooms—formerly used as a military barracks—with their wooden beams on the ceilings and the red brick fireplace’s ascending central column, restore a metaphorical, ancestral place where presence and absence evoke the feeling of a ‘bewitched’ residence poised between the ancient and the contemporary.”

In contrast, the contemporary architecture of the Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo hosts the artist’s most recent work, Safe Conduct (2016), a three-channel video-installation whose images incorporate footage of airports that show travelers the procedure to follow in order to pass security checks. In addition to the video-installation, Atkins will also present a series of new graphic works related to Safe Conduct.

Regarding the Fondazione Sandretto, Christov-Bakargiev adds: “The protagonist gives shape to the anxiety that not only marks our age of fear and vulnerability, but also the exaggerated control of public space that, although guaranteeing our safety, ends up violating our privacy. The ever-transient confine between something real and something that seems real is one of the artist’s themes, as well as that distinctive feature of digital society, where everything is mediated.”

The exhibition is accompanied by a catalog edited by Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev and Marianna Vecellio, and published by Skira. Conceived by Atkins as an artist’s book, the main body is a collage of imagery, text and graphical elements constructed by the artist, gleaned from the worlds of his video works and their influences. With new essays by the editors and by Irene Calderoni and Chiara Vecchiarelli, the book is accompanied by a scholarly timeline and an anthology that includes a selection of the artist’s unpublished writings, plus critical writings by Kirsty Bell, Melissa Gronlund, Martin Herbert, Leslie Jamison, Joe Luna, Jeff Nagy, Mike Sperlinger and Patrick Ward, together with interviews by Katie Guggenheim, Hans Ulrich Obrist, Beatrix Ruf and Richard Whitby.

Castello di Rivoli – Piazza Mafalda di Savoia, 10098 Rivoli – Turin
Opening Monday 26 September 2016, 8pm
27 September 2016 – 29 January 2017