June 20, 2010 - Cittadellarte – Fondazione Pistoletto - Two exhibitions during Arte al Centro 2010
June 20, 2010

Two exhibitions during Arte al Centro 2010

Left image: Wael Shawky, Cabaret Crusades: The Horror Show File, video still, 2010.
Right image: Practicing Memory graphic identity by Chiara Figone, after Watching over the Reichstag, 2010, by Société Réaliste.

Two exhibitions during Arte al Centro 2010
On 25-26 June 2010, during the 13th edition of Arte al Centro (Art at the Centre), the annual international festival that focuses on the sphere of art in the ongoing transformation of society, Cittadellarte-Fondazione Pistoletto will be opening:

Wael Shawky Contemporary Myths

Practicing Memory – in a time of an all-encompassing present

25 June – 30 September 2010

Friday 25 June, from 3 pm onwards
Cittadellarte – Fondazione Pistoletto
via Serralunga 27, Biella

Wael Shawky Contemporary Myths
solo exhibition curated by Judith Wielander

Contemporary Myths, an exhibition by Wael Shawky, focuses on the latest work: Cabaret Crusades: The Horror Show File.

On this occasion Cittadellarte – gallery is the venue not only for the film but also for a display that illustrates some aspects of the complex production process that took place in Cittadellarte and Egypt during the months leading up to the show.

Cabaret Crusades: The Horror Show File offers a view of the history of the Crusades, retracing events which unfolded over a period of four years (1096-1099) and which played a key role in subsequent historical developments, shaking to the core the Arab world and its relations with the West.

The film is a translation of causes and effects of the religiously sanctioned military campaigns in the form of images based on a reconstruction of events seen through the eyes of those who had to confront the invasion. Shawky provides a precise description of the places in Middle East and Europe which formed the backdrop for the early Crusades. To bring these episodes alive, he uses highly expressive 200-year-old marionettes from the Lupi collection in Turin. They are moved by clearly visible strings and wear the costumes made in the style of those worn by the characters present in the Christian armies of Europe and in the Muslim armies during the conflicts. Though the subject is based on historic documents and facts, what emerges is a surreal and mythical atmosphere which blends drama and cynicism, telling a story of remote events that could hardly be more topical today.

The main source of inspiration for this work is The Crusades Through Arab Eyes by Amin Maalouf, written in 1986, and thus long before today’s recrudescence of hatred.

The book by Maalouf, a Lebanese who lives in France, re-examines the history of the Crusades by going back to Arab historians and their writings, most of which have never been taken into consideration in the West, though he does also turn to some of the most acknowledged Western sources and studies. The historical picture that emerges is at once powerful but level-headed, political but unbiased. The essay gives some insight into the historical cruelties perpetrated in the name of a vague feeling of religious humiliation, but more objectively one that was carried out for complex socio-economic reasons.

Cabaret Crusades: The Horror Show File is produced by Cittadellarte in collaboration with the Festival Theater der Welt of Essen in Germany.

Practicing Memory – in a time of an all-encompassing present
group exhibition curated by Matteo Lucchetti

With Francesco Arena, Rossella Biscotti, Beatrice Catanzaro, Chto Delat / What is to be done?, Michelangelo Consani, Danilo Correale, Dora Garcia, André Guedes, Shilpa Gupta, Rabih Mroué, Wendelien Van Oldenborgh, Mirko Smerdel, Société Réaliste, Stefanos Tsivopoulos and Vangelis Vlahos

In a world in which national narratives and their links with the present have been replaced by the construction of a supposedly global memory made of collective media events, with all their emotional impact, what value can be given to work carried out by artists on the mechanisms that occur between oblivion and memory? How is it possible to create short circuits in contemporary flows of history, which are dominated by the detachment needed to ensure the blindness with which the present is understood? Practices linked to memory are part of a process that is under way. Here the value they acquire is that of “memory systems” – as Leonardo Sciascia, in his Teatro della Memoria, defined the way in which Giordano Bruno conceives his method of creating visual codes linked to memory. And it was again Sciascia who describes how an age in which memory is no longer exercised is an age destined to become a “totalising and totalitarian” present.

The present time, to which the exhibition spaces are devoted, and its relationship with the past constitutes the initial moment of reflection on the concept of “practising memory”, around which the exhibition revolves. In a contemporary scenario in which present-day rhetoric takes up such a large part of the flow of communication, the construction of individual and collective memory is suggested as a necessary practice within the constant social and political process which takes place between memory and amnesia. Practicing Memory investigates the potential for interaction opened up by art with regard to this process, problematising some of the key concepts that form part of any disquisition on memory.

The shared backdrop against which most of the works on show project their own research are ascribable to a European context, which needs to be seen not just in geographic terms but also as regards the scenarios it involves. These include the postcolonial legacy, the post-soviet dimension, great national narratives and processes of a monumentalisation of memory towards what is referred to as the “planned loss of history”. The European continent and its historical, social, and cultural heritage is thus repeatedly quoted and brought into question within its own historiographical dimension. Running parallel to this there is another category of reflections which contrast with the circularity of the concatenations of macro and micro narratives. This takes place through the inclusion of analyses which reveal the critical aspects that emerge within the process of creating memory. This leads to the idea of accessibility and participation in drafting a public memory, directly linked to the antagonistic effect of counter-memories. The concept of repetition as a fundamental mechanism of the exercise of memory and, again, the individual stories the multitude – of the masses who are never the subject of history, and who are as fragile as straws and never present in their own historical age, as Masanobu Fukuoka puts it.

The works chosen vary from videos to installations, to wall paintings and performances, all the way through to the work on the exhibition display by the French collective Société Réaliste.

Cittadellarte – Fondazione Pistoletto

Cittadellarte – Fondazione Pistoletto
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