GOD & GOODS. Spirituality and Mass Confusion

GOD & GOODS. Spirituality and Mass Confusion

Villa Manin Centre for Contemporary Art

Richard Prince
Untitled (cowboy), 1989
Ektacolor photograph
50″ x 70″
127.0 x 177.8 cm
Edition of 2 + 1 AP
Copyright Richard Prince
Courtesy Gladstone Gallery, New York

April 18, 2008

Spirituality and Mass Confusion

Curated by Francesco Bonami and Sarah Cosulich Canarutto
20.04. – 28.09.2008


Artists in the exhibition:
Adel Abdessemed, Victor Alimpiev and Marian Zhunin, Darren Almond, Thomas Bayrle, Cai Guo-Qiang, Mircea Cantor, Maurizio Cattelan, George Condo, Abraham Cruzvillegas, Colin Darke, Berlinde De Bruyckere, Fischli/Weiss, Katharina Fritsch, Felix Gonzalez-Torres, Subodh Gupta, Huang Yong Ping, Christian Jankowski, Koo Jeong-A, Sarah Lucas, Dan Perjovschi, Susan Philipsz, Richard Prince, Anri Sala, Nedko Solakov, Thomas Struth, Piotr Uklanski, Yan Pei-Ming and Artur Zmijewski

GOD & GOODS. Spirituality and Mass Confusion aims to open a dialogue with the topic of religion being it an immense, controversial and unresolved debate but also a concept open to new and diverse forms of interpretation.

The works of the twenty-eight artists in the exhibition underline existential questions, play with the senses and perception of reality and challenge in some cases the mechanisms of beliefs. Art looks at religion from an outside perspective: it can expose the evocative power of an image as well as relate the mythology of consumer goods to holy iconography.

The title itself implicitly contains three ways in which the works seem to approach religion and its dynamics. The dichotomy God and goods speaks of the relationship between religion and consumption, spirituality refers to those works that suggest the search for an alternative dimension, while the word confusion recalls doubt in all its meanings.

In the past art and religion have been indissolubly linked, considering that only a few centuries ago the artists really freed themselves from the wishes and the necessities of the commissioners. But what is the relationship between art and religion today? Maybe it would be correct to say that they are complementary: one asks questions, the other gives answers. What brings them closer it is not their consequentiality but, on the contrary, their common source of doubt. This exhibition wishes to observe the way in which, through doubt, the artists challenge the stereotypes and the limitations of the concept of God to substitute it with many different and infinite question marks.

The works in the exhibition, dating from the late Eighties until nowadays and including also some new site specific projects, deal with the concept of religion from a series of indirect point of views: they can confront its dictates with irreverence, analyse its systems and dynamics or propose, ironically or not,
alternative models.

In Christ You Know It Ain’t Easy Sarah Lucas weaves hundreds of cigarettes to create the figure of a Christ on the crucifix, an irreverent approach to classic religious iconography which questions the meaning of vice and addiction in today’s consumerist society. Also Thomas Bayrle revisits with profane pathos the same Christian symbol, through a collage of small sequences depicting cars running along a motorway in search of an unreachable destination, while Questions (Italian language) by Fischli/Weiss raises existential and metaphysical questions as well as vain everyday doubts, reflecting the dimension of uncertainty and fragility of the human condition. The spiritual tension assumes instead social and political connotations in the video Them by Artur Zmijewski, where the freedom of expression clashes with the difficult cohabitation of different religious and moral ideals. If Colin Darke proposes a model of alternative belief that connects the artist and its creation as well as political ideology and alienation, Richard Prince is inspired by the legendary tradition of the American cowboy from a famous cigarette advertisement. By taking this iconography out of its commercial context, the artist moulds a new mythology which provides another model of freedom and aspiration. In a different way, Darren Almond creates sublime and transcendent images of nature that call attention to man’s quest to find meaning in the complexity of the universe. A more private and melancholic narrative is that conveyed by the beggar sleeping inside the Milan Cathedral in Anri Sala’s video. Here the church, before acquiring any spiritual function, appears as a physical and concrete refuge. The same place of worship is the subject of Thomas Struth’s photography, that analyzes the structure and the mechanisms of belief through an objective vision.

Four interventions are planned in the Park of the Villa by Maurizio Cattelan, who will present for the first time in Italy Frau C., Subodh Gupta with a new work, Felix Gonzalez-Torres and Susan Philipsz.

The exhibition, open to the public until the 28th of September 2008, will be accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue in Italian and English, with critical texts by the curators and biographical apparatus.

Opening hours:
From 20 April until 31 May, Tuesday – Friday 9am – 6pm, Saturday – Sunday 10am – 8 pm

From 1 June to 28 September, Tuesday – Sunday 10am – 8pm.
Monday closed

For further information please contact
press@villamanincontemporanea.it – t +39 0432 821234

Villa Manin Centre for Contemporary Art
piazza Manin 10, Passariano – Codroipo (Udine) Italy
t +39 0432 821211 , f + 39 0432 908387

Villa Manin Centre for Contemporary Art

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Villa Manin Centre for Contemporary Art
April 18, 2008

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