March 16, 2009 - Castello di Rivoli Museum of Contemporary Art - Thomas Ruff
March 16, 2009

Thomas Ruff

Thomas Ruff
Substrat 16 I, 2002
chromogenic print
287 x 186 cm
Castello di Rivoli Museo d’Arte Contemporanea, Rivoli-Turin

Thomas Ruff
March 18 – June 21, 2009

Organized by Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev

Press preview:
Monday, March 16, 2009 – 11.30 a.m.
Piazza Mafalda di Savoia,
10098 Rivoli (Torino),
tel. +39/011.9565222 – 9565280
fax +39/011.9565231
info [​at​]

This exhibition at the Castello di Rivoli presents more than eighty works by Düsseldorf artist Thomas Ruff (b. 1958) installed in the unique long and narrow 17th century gallery called Manica Lunga. Since the early 1980s Ruff has been creating photo-based artworks that investigate the photographic medium. This exhibition focuses on the artist’s most recent production, specifically examining subjectivity and our relationship with manipulation and visual culture in the digital era. His recent zycles (cycles), made since 2007, are abstractions on canvas based on the representation of space and volume in 3-D modeling programs; they suggest that painting and photography are no longer separate mediums. Also on exhibit are Retuschen (Retouched), Substrat (Substratum), Sterne (Stars), Nächte (Nights), l.m.v.d.r. (photographs of buildings by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe), jpegs and nudes based on images from pornographic websites.

Ruff has always treated photography with skepticism: for him, the photographic surface is a thin foil which tricks the viewer with its illusion of extreme realism and at the same time reveals the fundamental impossibility of directly experiencing the world today. Ruff’s images emphatically deny photography’s main attribute – that is, the offer of a reliable record of reality. Instead, through his mute images devoid of all emotion, Ruff presents us with a contemporary subjectivity defined by amnesia and electronic impulses.

One of the dominant characteristics of Ruff’s art, says Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev, is his use of classification, or more precisely his use of the series in his working methodology. But Ruff does not attempt to categorize his subjects exhaustively, nor does he draw any conclusions. Rather, this is a collection of useless samples without any scope. Each classification creates a form of order, a formal organization, and in Ruff all that remains is this formal organization. His gaze is without quality, ideology, action or consequence, and is cast in all directions. Ruff’s art may not include everything, but it concerns everything, and our need to have everything.

The exhibition is accompanied by a 300-page catalogue published by SKIRA, with new essays by the curator, Daniel Birnbaum and Giorgio Verzotti.

On Tuesday, March 17th, 2009 at 6 p.m., a public conversation between the artist and Giorgio Verzotti will be held at the museum.

For more information
Press Office, Castello di Rivoli Museo d’Arte Contemporanea, tel. +39/011.9565209 – 211,
fax +39/ 011.9565231 e-mail:,


Castello di Rivoli Museo d'Arte Contemporanea

Castello di Rivoli Museum of Contemporary Art
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