The PAC Padiglione d’Arte Contemporanea in Milan presents ALBERTO GARUTTI: Didascalia / Caption, the largest show to date dedicated to one of the most emblematic and relevant Italian artists. For the first time, the retrospective traces the unpredictable evolution of this artist’s labor, from the 1970s to the present, grasping more than three decades of research and militant investigation.
The show, curated by Paola Nicolin and Hans Ulrich Obrist, features multifarious languages, ranging from photography to sculpture, writing to installation, drawing to the use of sounds, videos to paintings, conversations to teaching.
Since the second half of the 1970s, Alberto Garutti (b. 1948; Galbiate, Como) has explored the narrative and immaterial dimension of the work of art. In over thirty years of activity, Garutti’s work has revealed a growing interest in the relationship between the production of objects and the way they liaise within the social sphere. The author of some of the most effective public art projects both in Italy and the rest of Europe, Garutti is the interpreter of a moment that is still little-known to Italian artistic investigation, which, since the 1970s, has been reworking the conceptual and figurative matrix of the previous generation in an autonomous and lateral form. The artist has succeeded in relating these instances to the atmospheres of the subsequent decades, marked by the impact of the forms of relational, multi-authorial and self-generative work. His works are capable of triggering mechanisms of participation and of communicating at several levels with different types of viewers, just as with the city’s political and economic institutions. From the mid-1990s alongside the theme of the relationship between the work and the patron, the artist also became interested in the definition of a critical methodology in the production of an artwork intended for public space. The artist’s role in the city became the crux of this activity. With his works, the artist plays the role of the anthropologist, giving the architectural product back to the community and asking himself questions through his study of others. Garutti reactivates the historical and emotional memory of a place, while at the same time compelling the viewer to ponder the relationship between art, politics and civil society.
The PAC has organized an exhibition landscape in which the viewer is invited to build new relationships and pathways between the works, objects, images and fragments on display.
The artist first showed the project at the Serpentine Gallery in London on 14 October, when he participated in the Memory Marathon, a sequence of performances, discussions and presentations conceived by Hans Ulrich Obrist and Julia Peyton-Jones and curated by Hans Ulrich Obrist and Nicola Lees with Antonia Blocker, Lucia Pietroiusti and Stella Bottai. The Memory Marathon is the seventh annual festival of ideas inspired by the annual Pavilion commission, launched by Serpentine Gallery Director Julia Peyton-Jones in 2000. That meeting, which was presented by the curator in a pavilion designed by Herzog & de Meuron and Ai Weiwei, poetically and allusively foreshadowed some of this exhibition’s themes and projects.
The exhibition is thus an archipelago of more than 30 works of different genres. A series of historical works, new productions specially conceived for the PAC, several “reactivations” of recent works and the models of some of the artist’s projects that have never been realized, have been gathered together in a single institutional space for the purpose of reconstructing Garutti’s body of works through his most significant output.
Moreover, the retrospective is closely related to Fuoriclasse. 20 Years of Italian Art from the Courses of Alberto Garutti, a group exhibition curated by Luca Cerizza now underway at the GAM Galleria d’Arte Moderna in Milan. Garutti’s unique teaching approach, which he has developed over his many years at the Fine Arts Academies of Brera, Bologna, and at the IUAV in Venice, is an integral part of his art, as told by the 60 artists who have taken his courses and were selected for the event at the GAM. The two exhibitions are thus complementary and afford the visitor the most complete vision possible of this artist’s methodology.
Thanks to the contribution of BSI Bank, a book conceived in close collaboration with the artist will be published by Mousse Publishing and Walther Koenig Verlag. The volume will include an anthology of essays, interviews, and the artist’s conversations with Hans Ulrich Obrist, as well as a first checklist of his works from 1974 to the present.