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Visitor Detaches Aldo Giannotti's Work With Chainsaw

The performance of the artist, who had left directions under the drawing, during ArtCity Bologna, May 10, 2021 - Don't worry, it was just a performance. It must have taken everyone by surprise when a visitor to artist Aldo Giannotti's exhibition on Sunday, during Art City, entered the museum and took an electric chainsaw to cut a piece of plasterboard wall, taking away a drawing from his exhibition, 'Safe and Sound'. "It really happened! In Bologna they were cutting murals out of the city walls and bringing them into museums. Yesterday we cut them out of museums to get them out." These are the few lines on the Facebook page of MAMbo (Museum of Modern Art of Bologna), with a 30-second video. No spectacular theft, but a move suggested by Giannotti himself, who under the work depicting a chainsaw placed on a wall had written: "This drawing can be taken for free by a collector who shows up with a chainsaw and cuts a piece of wall". Museum staff, however, had been instructed to let in those who showed up with a chainsaw, and the performance took place safely for the public, who watched the scene from a safe distance.

Aldo Giannotti (Genoa, 1977) is a visual artist who has lived and worked in Vienna since 2000. He studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Carrara, the Wimbledon University of Arts in London and the Academy of Fine Arts in Munich. His works have been exhibited and created in collaboration with numerous institutions, including: Albertina Museum, Vienna; Kunsthalle Wien, Vienna; Lentos Kunstmuseum, Linz; OK-Zentrum, Linz; Kunsthaus Graz; Kunstraum Niederösterreich, Vienna; ar/ge kunst, Bolzano; Künstlerhaus Dortmund; Museum der Moderne, Salzburg; Austrian Cultural Forum, London; Donaufestival, Krems; Muzeum Sztuki, Łódź; Museum of Contemporary Art, Zagreb; MAMbo - Museo d'Arte Moderna di Bologna. He is represented by Projektraum Viktor Bucher, Vienna. He has received multiple awards and grants, such as the Pollock-Krasner Foundation Grant (2020), the first prize of the Austrian Graphic Art Competition, Kunsthalle Innsbruck (2019), the Pomilio Blumm Prize, Milan (2015) and the recognition prize of STRABAG Kunstforum, Vienna (2016).

About the Show:

Aldo Giannotti. Safe and Sound Safe and Sound, a solo exhibition by Aldo Giannotti, arrives in the Sala delle Ciminiere of MAMbo - Museo d'Arte Moderna di Bologna, from May 5 to September 5, 2021, after the postponements and a long wait caused by the Covid-19 emergency. Ranging from the existential aspect of security, to the rules that regulate the social sphere, until you get to the impact that technology has in these fields, the exhibition invites you to reflect on the perception and position that each of us has with respect to these concepts. Regulations, laws and codes of conduct, and applied in different social spheres are the themes that Giannotti observes for a personal reflection on safety. The visitor is welcomed into a space in which he is free to exercise potential behavioral alternatives: the invitation is to challenge and bend his own sense of rules and behavior to foster new decision-making processes within structures, such as the museum, in which the concepts of safety and security are deeply rooted. Safety is often defined as freedom from danger. In this sense Giannotti, investigating the paradoxical nature of this negotiation between freedom and security, asks us what freedoms we are willing to give up in order to feel protected and remain in a reassuring comfort-zone. Although drawing is at the center of Giannotti's artistic practice, the activation or realization of the actions sketched in the drawings often take other forms: installations, performances, video works or readaptations of spatial structures.

‘Safe and Sound’ is configured, in part, as an intervention on the architectural structure capable of rethinking the museum space and the way visitors interact with it. The paths created by Giannotti's structural interventions inside the museum take into account the specificity of the building while producing a completely personalized adaptation, which has forced the institution itself to participate in the remodeling of the rules, both conceptually and in practice. The exhibition is therefore not only an intervention on the spatial structure but also a way to explore the network of relationships that define a museum experience as such.

Aldo Giannotti - ‘Safe and Sound’. Installation view - MAMbo – Museo d’Arte Moderna di Bologna. Photo: Valentina Cafarotti and Federico Landi

It is also peculiar to realize how a project imagined in 2019, when the Covid-19 threat was for everyone an unimaginable scenario, had already prophetically identified its main theme of investigation in the dialectic between the concepts of security and freedom, in a horizon that from the microcosm of the museum widens to the wider social context. When the restrictions linked to controls, obligatory routes, interpersonal distancing, and protective devices were still reserved for specific and limited areas and no one could foresee their explosion and consequent spread in every aspect, however trivial, of everyday life, Aldo Giannotti and the curators of the exhibition thought of an installation that would provide "forced routes", determining a precise order in a space normally lived with minimal limitations, with the possibility of building a completely personal experience among the (potentially) infinite ones available. Conceiving a guided path that, together with the works, provides support devices and sets of rules means making orientation and understanding of the place effective. The exhibition therefore raises a series of questions about how a museum can be experienced and what interactions take place within it, in an experience that is never "objectively determined", but is experienced subjectively and inevitably influenced by the role played from time to time by the individual actors: central to this for Aldo Giannotti are the guards, embodiment of the concept of safety, protagonists of the most immediate relationship with the public, spokesmen of the "can" and "cannot" do. The hall staff and a "manual" of instructions on how to relate to visitors designed by Aldo Giannotti, are the constituent elements of The Museum Score, the performance-work awarded by the Italian Council and destined for the MACRO in Rome. The theme of these figures to whom the protection of places and people is entrusted also returns in other works, such as Vis a Vis, which interchanges the position of two different types of guards (Swiss Guards and Russian Soldiers) in front of their respective places of worship, or Security I, a large-scale photograph depicting the artist in an embrace with a security guard.

Looking up, the public will be able to observe a series of large site-specific drawings that the artist will create in the spans of the room, while there are several video stations in the smaller areas of the exhibition space. Among these, Mutual Surveillance pushes us to reflect on how control can be a mutually shared action. The work is realized in a specular game of collaboration with a museum that, on the other side of the world, bears the same name as MAMbo: MAMBO, Museo de Arte Moderno de Bogotá, currently under the direction of Eugenio Viola. In the two museums, in fact, a video-surveillance system is put in place that allows you to monitor from Bologna, 24 hours a day, what is happening in a room of the Colombian museum and vice versa, in Colombia, you will be able to observe what is happening here.

The originality of ‘Safe and Sound’ leaves us with the awareness that the most important thing has actually already happened, before it was set up and opened: the impact that the project idea itself has had on the conventions that dominate the museum environment, which have been questioned, challenged, brought into play and, perhaps, overcome.



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