New collaboration between the Fondazione Merz Torino and the Fondazione Querini Stampalia Venezia.
Mona Hatoum Still Life
26 September – 22 November 2009
(opening with the artist on September 26, at 11 am)
Luisa Rabbia Travels with Isabella. Travel Scrapbooks 1883-2008
16 October – 22 November 2009
opening with the artist on October 15, at 6 pm
Fondazione Querini Stampalia
The new project originating from the collaboration between the Fondazione Merz in Torino and the Fondazione Querini Stampalia in Venice involves the exchange of some artworks by artists Luisa Rabbia and Mona Hatoum, respectively on exhibition at the two Foundations: Luisa Rabbia. In viaggio sotto lo stesso cielo (Traveling under the same sky Fondazione Merz 19 June – 20 September 2009, curated by Beatrice Merz) and Mona Hatoum. Interior Landscape (Fondazione Querini Stampalia 4 June – 20 September 2009, curated by Chiara Bertola). The aim of this exchange between the two museums is to promote their artistic production, while coinciding with the opportunity to present the two contemporary artists to the larger audience brought to the two cities by two important events: Artissima 16 in Turin and the 53 Visual Arts Biennale in Venice.
Mona Hatoum will feature at the Fondazione Merz from September 26 to November 22, 2009, with the works Natura Morta and Measures of Distance, while from October 16 to November 22, 2009, the Fondazione Querini Stampalia in Venice will host Travels with Isabella. Travel Scrapbooks 1883 – 2008, a video installation by Luisa Rabbia.
Natura morta (Still Life) consists of a series of beautifully crafted and colourful Murano glass objects that closely resemble the appearance of hand grenades. The idea of using this particular seductive mirrored glass in the form of hand grenades, shapes that ambiguously recall the lethal weapons, but also sensuous fruit – Pommes et granades was in fact the working title of the first glass samples – was inspired by the colourful shapes and the different glassmaking techniques observed in Murano.
Among the works showcased at the Fondazione Querini Stampalia Mona Hatoum had already presented her re-interpretation of the techniques and tradition of Murano glass-masters, with her colourful mirrored glass objects set in the unusually reverent context of the museum; at the Fondazione Merz the same objects will be displayed on Mario Merz’s spiral shaped glass table, Doppia Spirale (Double Spiral), thus taking on a different feel and a new and particular dimension. Poised on that spiral, which the artist perceived as representing a vortex, the grenades/fruits seem to be endlessly multiplying; only the memory of the convivial and physical connotation of Merz’s tables can defuse and overturn the sense of displacement suggested by the spiral into the anchoring feeling of hospitality and sharing, more commonly associated with the idea of a table.
The video Measures of Distance is constructed from a series of grainy stills shot in extreme close-ups of Hatoum’s mother in the shower of the family home in Beirut. The images are overlaid with a mesh of Arabic writing, like a curtain or a veil, which represent her mother’s letters from Beirut to her in London. On the soundtrack can be heard an animated conversation between Hatoum and her mother overlaid with Hatoum’s voice reading a translation of the letters into English. The video is concerned with the artist’s separation from her Palestinian family and in particular, her relationship with her mother. The personal and political are inextricably bound up in a narrative that explores identity and sexuality against a backdrop of traumatic social rupture, war, exile and displacement.
The video Travels with Isabella. Travel Scrapbooks 1883-2008 by Luisa Rabbia, showing at the Fondazione Querini Stampalia, was conceived during the artist’s residency at the Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston. Rabbia was inspired by the photographs collected by Isabella Stewart Gardner (1840-1924) during her journey through China in 1883, to create a fascinating animated trail where images from ancient China become the scenery for a personal diary made of drawings, video footage and works from the museum collection.
The result is a fantasy-like narrative suspended between the artist’s contemporary imagery and historical China, between past and present, between two women’s lives weaved together. A continuous flow of images appears from right to left, accompanied by the music score composed by New York based musician Fa Ventilato, originally from Switzerland. The rhythm of his musical arrangement finely relates to the two worlds, connecting and disconnecting them at once, blending them into a rare composition of visceral sounds that belong to the past, as well as to this present, far and yet inevitably close as they are.