Recounting the present

8 September  -  20 October 2016

Recounting the Present
Works of the Gallarate National Visual Arts Awards
from the MA*GA Museum collection
2009 – 2016
Curated by Emma Zanella and Alessandro Castiglioni

Istituto Italiano di Cultura di Londra invites the MA*GA Museum for an exhibition dedicated to the promotion of Italian contemporary art through the recent artworks of its collection.

The MA*GA Museum andthe Gallarate National Visual Arts Awards
The MA*GA Museum, open since 1966, is one of the most important contemporary art museums in Italy and it now has the Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Activities as a partner. It houses a collection of more than six thousand works of art hosted in its five thousand square meter premises in Gallarate, a town halfway between Malpensa Airport and Milan, and at a branch in Legnano, located in the historical Leone da Perego Palace.The origin of the Museum goes back to 1949, when the Gallarate National Visual Arts Awards was created, with a view to establishing a contemporary art museum by purchasing the works exhibited in the various editions of the event. The first edition dates from May 25th1950, while we have recently celebrated the 25th. The Municipal Gallery of Modern Art was opened in 1966 on the occasion of the 8thedition of the Gallarate Awards. In 1973 the Gallery was moved andenlarged, while the establishment of the MA*GA Museum in its currentheadquarters was finally carried out in 2010. In more than sixtyyears since its foundation, the MA*GA has organized the everydaymuseum activities and twenty-five editions of the Gallarate Awards,paying particular attention to a variety of artistic languages from aperspective which gives prominence to the study of the mostsignificant contemporary expressions. Among the themes of the mostrecent editions we would like to mention: TerzoPaesaggio. Fotografia Italiana Oggi (2009), LongPlay (2012) and Urban Mining/Rigenerazioni Urbane(2016).

The Exhibition
The exhibition ispart of a more global program celebrating the 50thanniversary of the MA*GA Museum. It displays some of the most interesting projects of production and acquisition concluded between2009 and 2016, during the last three editions of the Gallarate Awards. The design of the exhibition guides the spectator through the documentary evidence of a series of working methods characterized bya complex narrative attitude and a variety of approaches, rangingfrom the production of context-related and site-specific art works tolong-term research projects and historical or biographical experiences.

The Works 

Moira Ricci,20.12.53-10.08.04,2007
20.12.53-10.08.04is a work inspired by an autobiographical event. Moira Ricci createsher works by means of a series of meticulous photomontages: perfectlydressed in vintage clothes, she sneaks into the photos taken of hermother, who passed away untimely. In the sequence of photoswitnessing moments of daily life, the only constant presences are themother, who is portrayed in different stages of her life, and Moiraherself, who on the contrary is always the same age in spite of thechanges in style and looking at her lost mother with a mixture ofmelancholy and resignation. This last detail suggests to theattentive observer the understanding of the personal and biographicaldrama of the artist.

Luigi Presicce, La Sepolturadi Adamo, 2012,
In La Sepolturadi Adamo, the first episode of thecycle entitled La Leggenda della VeraCroce, Presicce continues to go furtherinto his long-lasting work of rereading of traditional myths andhistories by means of the staging of tableaux vivants, which arelater videoed or photographed. This work is inspired by the legend ofthe holy wood used for the construction of the cross of Jesus.According to the tradition, the wood came from the tree grown onAdam’s grave and cut down by order of King Salomon to build theTemple. As in all his works, also in this particular one, Presiccetakes over the role of the main character in an image built through acareful direction which proceeds by stratifications derived frommyths, art history, folklore and popular beliefs which are at thesame time mystical and mystifying. 

Riccardo Arena, Duplice MorteEllero ed Ecosistema Visivo, 2012
This work is a reflectionon the theme of identity and on how human beings can actually defineits nature. The installation is composed of different elements:photos, archive materials, documents and concept maps. The centralcore of the whole work revolves around an investigation: the death ofa mysterious character, who shot himself with a two-pistol deviceopening fire simultaneously thanks to a system similar to the mugshotdesigned by the inventor Umberto Ellero, and whose disfigured facemakes him now unrecognizable. Each element of this complex work is aclue to the next one, in a continuous query by the spectator aboutthe identity of a single person being referable to its empiricalform. The project is therefore a sort of labyrinth in which each newelement is superimposed to the previous one, enhancing in thespectator a feeling of bewilderment and suggesting how knowledge isnot an instrument of simplification of reality but rather a searchpath.

Luca Bertolo,Gallarate Hardcore,2016
Luca Bertolo hasobserved some minute aspects of the ecosystem of the town ofGallarate and the natural environment along the river Arno that flowsnear the MA*GA Museum and collected fragments of scrap materials,organic remains, leaves and shells from the river bed and banks. Suchpoor materials become the subject of a series of drawings, lyricalimages recalling the pictures in the naturalistic treatises of the17thcentury. These works attach value to leftovers, to things that areforgotten and neglected, thanks to their careful and devoteddepiction in drawings which emphasize the amazing and mysteriousvision typical of these small fragments.

Marzia Migliora,
Made inItaly, 2016
In the last few yearsMarzia Migliore has dedicated herself to a wide-ranging research onthe theme of work. In this particular case she takes an interest inthe industrial history of Gallarate, its impressive textileproduction and some aspects of the current crisis and reconversionprojects. The images of urban decay and suffering that the buildingsabandoned by bankrupt companies show are placed side by side withthose documenting the purification of the water of the river Arno inGallarate. Today the Arno is not polluted anymore by the industrialwaste that used to turn its water into a coloured stream on an almostdaily basis and the river is once again home to the native fauna.This process of degeneration – regeneration is the central point ofa lyrical and evocative video installation based on the poetics ofthe fragment, where a series of details suggest the contradictions ofthe development and the crisis of this segment of industrial cultureand history. 

PH- Glauco Canalis