April 4, 2015 - HangarBicocca - Juan Muñoz
April 4, 2015

Juan Muñoz

Juan Muñoz, Double Bind (detail), 2001. Tate Modern, London 2001. Photo © Attilio Maranzano. Courtesy The Estate of Juan Muñoz, Madrid.

Juan Muñoz
Double Bind & Around

9 April–23 August 2015

Opening: 8 April, 7pm

Via Chiese 2
Hours: Thursday–Sunday 11am–11pm
Free admission

T +39 02 6611 1573
info [​at​] hangarbicocca.org

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Curated by Vicente Todolí

HangarBicocca, the contemporary art space promoted by Pirelli, presents Double Bind & Around, the first solo exhibition in Italy devoted to Juan Muñoz, curated by Vicente Todolí. The exhibition covers 5,300 square meters of the nave and aisles of HangarBicocca and includes 15 works by Juan Muñoz. The core of the exhibition is Double Bind, his most significant work made in 2001, just a few months before his passing away. 

The Double Bind installation was designed for and shown in the Turbine Hall as part of the Unilever series at Tate Modern (London, 2001) and it has never been reconstructed since. The work has been reconstructed and adapted to fit an area of 1,500 square meters—and exploiting the vertical volumes of the former industrial space of HangarBicocca. Consisting of a series of dark scenarios with architectural elements that play on the contrast between the visible and the invisible, reality and illusion, in structural terms it consists of three levels and two constantly moving elevators. From the top level, the visitor can look out over a surface of geometric shapes, which contains holes or shafts that may be real or illusory. On the intermediate level figures appear, alone or in groups, locked into poses that belong to an indefinite space-time dimension. Muñoz creates an aseptic architectural world, using structural elements such as barred windows and gratings, recreating an atmosphere of an underground car park.

The Double Bind & Around exhibition brings together some of the most significant works by Juan Muñoz, including The Wasteland (1986), with an optical floor made of coloured geometric patterns and a ventriloquist’s dummy sitting on a shelf, Waste Land (1986), in which the ventriloquist, once again, is placed on a wall above an optical floor, and Many Times (1999), which consists of a “crowd” of figures with oriental features and caustic grins arranged around the space. There are also a number of Conversation Pieces dating from the early 1990s. These consist of anonymous figures arranged in equally generic spaces. The characters, whose shape makes them look vaguely human, have spherical structures in place of legs. Each figure occupies the space in a different pose, conversing, observing or listening to facts and events that are unspoken, and thus incomprehensible to the viewer. The characters in Hanging Figures (1997), on the other hand, are shown in implausible poses as they flutter like acrobats in the air. 

One of the most important artists to emerge in Spain after the Franco dictatorship, Juan Muñoz (1953–2001) was a visionary who placed the human figure at the centre of his art. His alienating settings and fictitious worlds inhabited by bizarre characters give rise to countless possible narratives. He explored new ways of distorting space, using daring perspectives and variations in scale, not just to engage the viewer’s at the level of perception and the senses but also, and especially, to create a psychological tension within the individual who interacts with the work. His interest in the art of illusion led him to convey a powerful sense of ambiguity and enigma, in which the boundaries between reality and fiction are blurred, creating an increasingly complex play of contradictions and paradoxes. The artist thus broadened his field of investigation to the emotions and to a greater psychological interaction with the viewer, and he did so by working with the languages of sculpture, architecture, drawing, installation, sound and writing, using references to the cinema and photography, as well as magic.

Double Bind & Around is part of the programme of exhibitions curated by artistic director Vicente Todolí together with curator Andrea Lissoni. The 2015 calendar of HangarBicocca will continue with exhibitions by Damián Ortega (11 June–8 November) and Philippe Parreno (October 2015–February 2016). 

Juan Muñoz at HangarBicocca
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