• Misha Capnist

Caravaggio's Narcissus in SEX

Caravaggio's ‘Narcissus’ is on display at the Castello di Rivoli, part of the SEX exhibition dedicated to the German artist Anne Imhof on the new forms of narcissism and alienation dictated by social networks.

The Castello di Rivoli, finally reopened to the public, hosts a masterpiece by Caravaggio from the Gallerie Nazionali di Arte Antica in Rome: Narcissus (1597-1599). The presence of the famous work is linked to the SEX exhibition dedicated to Anne Imhof (Gießen, Germany, 1978), an artist awarded the Golden Lion at the Venice Biennale in 2017. The exhibition includes paintings, sculptures, objects, architectural elements, drawings, and a sound installation inspired by the public concert form, as well as a performance. Through a curatorial experiment, Anne Imhof's installation incorporates a number of historical artworks belonging to the group exhibition Espressioni. The Proposition, running concurrently in the building and which become in effect characters of the exhibition.


Anne Imhof Photographed by Mark Peckmezian

The central sculptural element in SEX is a long glass and steel wall that Imhof stages to ambivalently define the space. Untitled (Glass Wall), 2019-2020, is an architectural and sculptural work, structured in glass panels mounted on steel bases. While evoking the walls, barriers and transennas erected to manage crowds, separate and remove people in our cities, the "glass wall" denies their function, proposing itself as a traversable structure, discontinuous and defined by a constant transparency. Like a long spine, the work crosses the entire space of the Channel, dividing it into two symmetrical corridors, which host works intentionally set up according to the concepts of double and mirroring. SEX includes large-scale pictorial works that manifest the tension towards the image and at the same time its possible destruction through a language that includes the repetition of silkscreened female portraits, far from the canons of fashion, the appropriation of images of nuclear explosions in the Sunset series, 2019, and the use of scratches and abrasions in Untitled, 2017-2019. Also featured is a large body of new drawings, specially made by the artist in 2020 during the lockdown in Berlin and in preparation for the exhibition, in which her attention to body language and the ways in which gestures draw space emerges.


Narcissus, Caravaggio, Licence Creative commons.


The exhibition will also focus on other works such as San Lorenzo, c. 1640-1649, by Jusepe de Ribera (Cerruti Collection) and Scena Allegorica, c. 1521-1522, by Mannerist painter Dosso Dossi (Giorgio Cini Foundation, Venice). Also on display will be the works La Maddalena penitente, c. 1645, by Baroque painter Andrea Vaccaro and Sansone e Dalila, c. 1630-1638, by Artemisia Gentileschi courtesy of the Gallerie d'Italia, Naples. In addition, on the occasion of the return of Caravaggio's Narcissus to Palazzo Barberini in Rome, Anne Imhof will present the previously unseen performance House of Narcissus. Caravaggio's Narcissus is in fact considered by Imhof to be a character that is part of the exhibition at the Castello, and his return to Rome, in the artist's imagination, is configured as a return to his own home.

Says Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev, Director of the Castello di Rivoli Museo d'Arte Contemporanea, "We are very happy with the collaboration with the Gallerie Nazionali di Arte Antica, whom we thank for the loan of Caravaggio's Narcissus. This synergy marks a new chapter in which today's artists can work creatively and directly in relation to the works of the past, as has happened many times in history."

The SEX exhibition will be accompanied by a bilingual (English/Italian) scholarly catalog co-published by Castello di Rivoli Museo d'Arte Contemporanea with Skira, Milan, in collaboration with Tate Modern, London and the Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago. The catalog will include new essays by Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev, Marcella Beccaria, Catherine Wood, Hendrik Folkerts, Flaminia Gennari Santori, with a rich selection of images related to the project in London, Chicago and Rivoli. It will also include accurate bio-bibliographical apparatuses, collecting for the first time unpublished materials related to the artist's performance projects and retracing the entire exhibition history also through a selection of anthological texts.


About Anne Imhof


Anne Imhof (Gießen, Germany, 1978) lives and works in Berlin and New York. Since 2012, her paintings, sculptures and performances have been exhibited internationally. She has had monographic exhibitions at Tate Modern, London (2019), Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago (2019), German Pavilion at the 57. Esposizione Internazionale d'Arte - Biennale di Venezia (2017), Hamburger Bahnhof, Berlin (2016), Kunsthalle Basel, Basel (2016), MoMA PS1, New York (2015), Carré d'Art - Musée d'Art Contemporain de Nîmes, Nîmes (2014) and Portikus, Frankfurt (2013). In addition, the artist has participated in numerous group exhibitions at Tai Kwun, Hong Kong (2019), La Biennale de Montréal, Montréal (2016), Palais de Tokyo, Paris (2015), Centre Pompidou, Paris (2015) and Museum für Moderne Kunst, Frankfurt (2014). The artist represented Germany at the 2017 Venice Biennale, at which she received the Golden Lion for Best National Participation. She also won the Absolut Art Award (2017) and the Preis der Nationalgalerie (2015). Imhof is guest professor and artist-in-residence at the Akademie der Bildenden Künste, Munich (2015) and visiting artist at Städelschule, Frankfurt, Yale University, New Haven, and ArtCenter College of Design, Pasadena, among others. She composed the music for her works Angst (2016), Faust (2017), and SEX (2019) together with Franziska Aigner, Billy Bultheel, and Eliza Douglas. In 2016, Galerie Buchholz released its first single ‘Brand New Gods’. In 2019, Faust, her first album, produced by PAN, was released. A new album, SEX, is currently being released.


Imhof is internationally recognized as one of the most innovative voices of her generation. Through her durational performances, Imhof offers unprecedented expression to the experience of the contemporary world in which physicality is increasingly mediated by digital communication. The new forms of narcissism, alienation, and detachment dictated by the massive diffusion of social channels and the new related gestures are an essential component in the artist's research.


The main material shaped by the artist and his imaginary universe is the social gathering itself. This fact makes the exhibition SEX as topical and problematic as ever. The exhibition constitutes the first experiment in Imhof's career which, in compliance with the obligatory physical distancing, reflects on the contradictions of a narcissism and a correlated mass solitude typical of our new era. The assemblage thus becomes not so much a literal technique as a poetic universe of the work.


The SEX exhibition will be accompanied by a bilingual (English/Italian) scholarly catalog co-published by Castello di Rivoli Museo d'Arte Contemporanea with Skira, Milan, in collaboration with Tate Modern, London and the Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago. The catalog will include new essays by Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev, Marcella Beccaria, Catherine Wood, Hendrik Folkerts, Flaminia Gennari Santori, with a rich selection of images related to the project in London, Chicago and Rivoli. It will also include accurate bio-bibliographical apparatuses, collecting for the first time unpublished materials related to the artist's performance projects and retracing the entire exhibition history also through a selection of anthological texts.


SEX is a project in three chapters, commissioned by the Castello di Rivoli Museo d'Arte Contemporanea, Rivoli-Turin, Tate Modern, London and the Art Institute of Chicago.

Consistent with the health situation, a major performance by Anne Imhof in relation to Caravaggio's Narcissus is scheduled for September 25 and 26, 2021, and will be installed as part of the exhibition. The exhibition also includes a performance in Rome on October 2, 2021, in collaboration with the Gallerie Nazionali di Arte Antica. All performances will be held only if public health circumstances permit.


Sources:

http://sguardisutorino.blogspot.com/2021/05/al-castello-di-rivoli-e-esposto-il.html

https://www.castellodirivoli.org/mostra/anne-imhof-sex/