POSTMONUMENT – XIV International Sculpture Biennale Of Carrara

Curator: Fabio Cavallucci
June  26 – October 31,  2010
Carrara, various sites

The XIVth International Sculpture Biennale of Carrara, curated by Fabio Cavallucci and entitled Postmonument will take place From 26 June to 31October 2010.

The logical thread running through the whole of this edition is in fact thetheme of the monument, or rather the radical process of de-monumentalisation which in the last century detached sculpture from its celebratory and encomiastic functions.

The monument is an emblem of power, a tool for controlling the masses andmaking them conform, but it is also the catalyst of national values and anirreplaceable piece in the jigsaw of collective memory. It became one of themain targets in revolts and revolutions, and was then wholly swept away whenthe ideals of democracy and freedom of our time took hold. However, intoday’s mobile, changing scenario, in this atmosphere of fin-de-siècle and ofthe rewriting of history, alongside the predominant contemporary iconoclasmwe can sense a gradual re-emergence of the codes and values of the past.Will we again identify ourselves in new monuments?

It is Carrara which provides the cues and suggestions for specific works.Carrara is in fact an authentic town with marked, clearly-recognisablefeatures:  the traces of the hard labour of the quarrymen which remain assediments in the territory; the unique anarchic tradition; the antiquity of thetown centre; and the lively micro-cosmos of the Fine Arts Academy. TheCarrara territory, which has always been connected with the quarrying andworking of marble, and where Michelangelo and Canova took up residencewhile they searched for the right material for their works, has suffered morethan others from the decline of traditional sculpture followed by the collapse ofthe 20th- century symbols and ideologies. The local context thus acts as amirror for the cracks in the symbolic and productive system of the wholewestern world, and it is from a contemplation of this real situation that theguest artists of the exhibition draw their inspiration.

The decision to involve the whole of the town by using multiple exhibition sites(old sculpture laboratories and other abandoned buildings in the centre, wherethe signs of time and neglect are evident) further expresses the dimension oftransition which is the leitmotif of the whole exhibition.  It is perhaps easiest tofind fertile territory for change where disorientation is most evident. In theexhibition, the theme will be introduced by an ample historical section, withexamples of monumental production from the end of the 19th/beginning of the20th centuries; alongside these will be models of statues from the periods ofFascism and Soviet and Chinese socialist realism. But the central part of theexhibition consists of the works of over 30 contemporary artists from all overthe world, including (to name just a few) Paul McCarthy, Antony Gormley,Yona Friedman, Santiago Serra and  Monica Bonvicini. Alongside thesewill be promising young artists such as Kristina Norman, who exhibited in theEstonian Pavilion of the 2009 Venice Biennale, Cyprien Gaillard, a finalist inthe 2010 Marcel Duchamp  Award, and Rossella Biscotti, winner of the Ficoad Artissima 16  Award.

No fewer than 26 of the invited artists will be presenting new productionscreated specially for the occasion. These have been conceived after on-siteinspections and an exploration of the Carrara territory, and they have mostlybeen created in the town laboratories. Besides expressing the main theme ofthe Biennale in sometimes unexpected ways, they have in common anabsolutely experimental and interdisciplinary approach to the practice ofsculpture. The itinerary of the exhibition thus includes more traditionalinterventions such as the commemorative stone for the quarrymen who havelost their lives in the quarries, by the very young Giorgio Andreotta Calò, who has personally extracted a block of marble from a quarry without the helpof machinery. There are also more conceptual works like that of Cai Guo-Qiang, who is bringing back to Carrara something that originated here, in hisvideo-installation of thousands of students of the Peking Academy in the act ofdrawing Michelangelo’s David.

There are also performances like the one conceived by Sam Durant, who getsactors directed by Gianmarco Montesano to perform the play Il Primo Maggio(The First of May) by Pietro Gori. These alternate with exercises in memorysuch as the series of family photos of the family of the Kazakhstan coupleYerbossyn Meldibekov and Nurbossyn Oris, which shows how the urbanlandscape and the monuments of their country, crucial historical/culturalreference points,  have changed over the last few decades since the collapseof the USSR. There are also homages to the local anarchist tradition, like thesound installation of Deimantas Narkevicius, which broadcasts the anarchicalsong Addio mio bel Carrara (Farewell, my lovely Carrara), sung by elderly ex-resistance fighters; and monuments to the everyday, such as the operation byGillian Wearing, which photographs groups of local inhabitants on a marblepedestal. Finally, there are apparently sacrilegious operations such as the oneby Maurizio Cattelan, who has announced that for the period of the Biennalehe wants to substitute the historical monument to Mazzini in the centralsquare of Carrara with a monument to Bettino Craxi.

Parallel to the exhibition itinerary proper, the XIVth International SculptureBiennale of Carrara this year proposes an intense programme of fringeevents, with conferences, performance cycles and  workshops which will addlustre to the main event throughout the opening period.

The fourteenth International Sculpture Biennale of Carrara is organised by theCouncil of Carrara, the Fondazione Cassa di Risparmio of Carrara and theCassa di Risparmio of Carrara, with the support of Regione Toscana andProvincia di Massa Carrara and in collaboration with the Fine Arts Academy ofCarrara, the Agency for Tourism Promotion of Massa Carrara, theInternazionale Marmi e Macchine Carrara Spa, and the Friends of the FineArts Academy of Carrara association.

Artists involved