Hans Op de Beecka, Silence, 2010.

An Evolving Project in Empathy with a Vulnerable World

Ackroyd & Harvey, Testament, video still, 2010.

Stefano Arienti, Rampicante, 2010.

Gelitin, Mona Lisa, 2010.


Hangar Bicocca
Via Chiese, 2
+ 02 66111573
Terre Vulnerabili – a growing exhibition
Four exhibitions that grow and overlap, mutating into each other, a project by Chiara Bertola, curated with Andrea Lissoni
October, 21, 2010-May 2011

True Solutions Come From The Bottom Up

— Yona Friedman

October 21, the first exhibition
The first phase of the Terre Vulnerabili project, began October 21 under the artistic direction of Chiara Bertola. A highly innovative project, both in terms of scope and implementation, selected artists participated in various workshops beginning September 2009, sharing work, modifying or transforming it to align it with other artists’ works and, in the process, creating site-specific works or works reconceived for the space of Hangar Bicocca — and the exhibition, in that it encompasses four exhibitions, covering a period of eight months, over four phases, the first beginninging in October (followed by the others in January, March and April 2011). The project benefits from the input of a total of 30 international artists and the same number of works.

The first exhibition involves 13 diverse artists, unveiling a range of works (with different dimensions, created using varying materials), some with strong emotional impact, other works more conceptual, gradually unveiling their aesthetics. In all of the work, the idea of vulnerability is expressed in subtle, personal ways. All of the artists in the first phase are featured in the second with new works or partially modified versions of the works shown in October. The second phase includes other artists appearing for the first time, and so it continues into the final phase, developing the idea of fertile terrain that "germinates", grows over time and modifies the original and intermediate visions what were previously shown. Each exhibition represents a singular, unrepeatable moment.

Terre Vulnerabili is an evolving project, developed over the course of its lifespan, enabling the public to play a part in it and allowing artists to continue to cultivate and nourish it. The idea is that the work of each artist is not become crystallised once the individual exhibition opens — rather, it carries on growing and evolving for the duration of the project with additions and dialogues with other invited artists and with the public. All artists participate on an ongoing basis in the various phases of the event: each new phase overlaps with the preceding phase, which is not annulled but modified by the next. In this way, the project comes alive, continuing even after the end of each exhibition, rendering each exhibition as a piece of a larger project that is constantly moving towards becoming something else.

Chiara Bertola says, "In this way, vulnerability is expressed not only in the works but also in the way the project is being curated — an approach based first and foremost on mutual appreciation and partnership between the artists, which will necessarily lead to the creation of unpredictable experiences. It's all about recognising the power of collaboration — without neglecting the importance of individual identities — and about taking part in order to achieve something with a choral character.

"But vulnerability," says Beertola, "also encompasses empathy, which allows us, as human beings, to acknowledge and accept our own ethical responsibilities towards others, the wider community and the environment. Moreover, vulnerability also takes in a dimension that touches upon the immense concept of land and upon the sense of belonging to a place: through the visions of the artists, these ideas — which today are themselves vulnerable — become practicable within a new perspective of freedom and evolution".

Last but not least, the project is about the vulnerability of the body as a locus of encounter and dialogue. Chiara Bertola continues, "The fading of frontiers, the mix of ethnic groups and the combination of languages all bring back into being a place that can only be recognised in light of the very vulnerability and mobility of the body, which by moving around creates, transforms and articulates the space it passes through. While the force of history has exploited the vulnerability of the body to subdue and oppress it, today the vulnerability of the body is succeeding in acting upon the space that surrounds it to transform that enormous non-place into a locus of encounter and dialogue. In a world that is not afraid to admit the fact that it is undefended, uncovered, attackable, exposed and weak, weakness and vulnerability become a form of strength".

The project aims to indicate a direction and propose a new language at a time in which our planet and the systems that govern it are showing serious signs of breakdown.

Terre Vulnerabili entrusts its political and ethical statement to the work of two masters — director Ermanno Olmi and architect Yona Friedman — who through their work have been able to provide a form of food for thought that unites memory and hope: "regaining memory, because without memory there is no future, and without some sense of limitation, Mother Earth rebels" (Carlo Petrini). Olmi's extraordinary film Terra Madre will be screened at the exhibition, while Friedman has come up with the video animation entitled The Earth Explained to Extraterrestrial Visitors, which illustrates — in her well-known comic-book style — the most important themes of her research, and Labyrinth, a modular architectural work designed to make the vast spaces of Hangar Bicocca more human in scale.

The artists involved in the entire project include: Ackroyd & Harvey, Mario Airò, Stefano Arienti, Massimo Bartolini, Stefano Boccalini, Ludovica Carbotta, Alice Cattaneo, Elisabetta Di Maggio, Rä di Martino, Bruna Esposito, Yona Friedman, Carlos Garaicoa, Alberto Garutti, Gelitin, Mona Hatoum, Invernomuto, Kimsooja, Christiane Löhr, Nicolò Lombardi, Marcellvs L., Margherita Morgantin, Ermanno Olmi, Roman Ondák, Hans Op De Beeck, Adele Prosdocimi, Remo Salvadori, Alberto Tadiello, Pascale Marthine Tayou, Nico Vascellari, Nari Ward, Franz West.

Young artists Ludovica Carbotta, Invernomuto, Nicolò Lombardi and Alberto Tadiello have been selected for the Progetto Chiavi in Mano (Turnkey Project) supported by the Cariplo Foundation, with a view to giving those who are trying to make a name for themselves in the contemporary art world the requisite tools in terms of training, production and promotion.

Mona Hatoum, Web, 2010.