PUNTA DELLA DOGANA François Pinault Foundation 2013 VENICE
     
PUNTA DELLA DOGANA François Pinault Foundation 2013 VENICE
PRIMA MATERIA
1 Foreword
“Dialogue” is the key word of the exhibition Prima Materia. First of all, the constant dialogue,during the preparation of the show, between Michael Govan and Caroline Bourgeois, entrusted by François Pinault to conceive this exhibition starting from his collection. The project was thus built little by little through exchange, from the confrontation between complementary
choices and points of view: on one side Europe, on the other California; on the one hand a long term involvement in the history of the Pinault Collection and, on the other hand, a fresh
look at it. Dialogue was also established by the curators between artists from different geographic andcultural backgrounds by confronting, in a fascinating way, Art Povera and the Mono-ha movement that emerged in Japan in the same period. This idea of dialogue, confrontation, dialectical tension between emptiness and fullness, noise and silence, materiality and evanescence,
implies and structures the whole path of the exhibition. Finally, dialogue was established between the works and their environment and represents a particularly crucial issue for any contemporary art institution. Prima Materia questions the very premises of Punta della Dogana, perhaps even more so than the previous exhibitions presented since it reopened in 2009. It offers the occasion to rethink the spaces, to modify the perception of them. Ryan Trecartin and Lizzie Fitch transform the first great hall into an environment that mingles constructions, furniture, installation, and screening, proposing a unique and irreverent experience of this space, which had always been approached as a majestic nave. In a reverse process, the exhibition allows to feel for the first time the monumentality
of the second nave, which used to be separated into three distinct rooms but has now been reunited into one large space, from the Grand Canal to the Giudecca Canal.
Thanks to strong decisions such as the play of contrasts of rhythm or tone, the desire to dedicate to paintings the first floor, with its irregular surfaces of the brick walls, or the attention
paid to works playing with light and sound, Prima Materia vividly demonstrates the plasticity of Tadao Ando’s architecture at Punta della Dogana. Beyond its ability to adapt to different
media or formats, it surprisingly offers an environment that renews and enriches the visitors’ perception of the works of art.
The quality of the relationship between art and architecture at Punta della Dogana mostly relies on the artists’ strong presence during the process of conceiving and producing the exhibitions:
they are invited to contribute to the choice of works, supervise or manage the installation (which often leads them to entirely rethink the work for the location). They are also closely associated with the publishing and cultural programs of the institution. The decision to place the artist at the very heart of the artistic project culminates in the practice of commissioning
and producing new works of art. With works from Philippe Parreno, Zeng Fanzhi, Mark Grotjahn, Marlene Dumas…, Prima Materia reasserts the spirit that presides the project of Palazzo Grassi – Punta della Dogana – Pinault Collection: a spirit of trust, commitment, andchallenges.
Martin Bethenod Director of Palazzo Grassi – Punta della Dogana

The exhibition Prima Materia
Ubiquitous and graphic media images of war, protest, and social upheaval provided the backdrop for artistic breakthroughs of late 1960s, much of which was expressed in abstraction—
sometimes emptiness. That era also opened new vistas on social equality and shared concerns, such as the condition and future of our environment. Today, science and technology offer social connectivity on a global scale, constantly available images of every kind, and the promise of technological solutions for longevity, and renewable energy. At the same time, we still live in an atmosphere of anxiety, often faced with invisible and abstract adversaries— among them, global warming and technological terrorism. We are immersed in a cacophony
of media image and sound. If the goal of most of nineteenth century art was truth through beauty and balance, the art of
the late twentieth and our own century tends toward a coexistence of extremes—of abstraction and surrealism, emptiness and chaos, negation and spectacle, high and low. Artistically, we live in an age of global pluralism. Four basic elements of painting, sculpture, installation, and performance are all alchemized by the prima materia of media, not only the substance of film or video or the Internet, but the means by which it is disseminated and discussed globally. Medieval texts on alchemy suggest hundreds of diverse descriptions and definitions of the prima materia, the prime matter—separate from, or encompassing, earth, air, fire, and water; or the formless base of all matter; containing the soul and the body, the sun and the moon; love and light, imagination and consciousness; or urine, blood, or dirt. It was searched for in
the darkest soil of the forest, and inside the body. It is the primal chaos that exists before time and all possibilities of the future. Western and Eastern, it is the Tao of Lao Tzu’s Tao te Ching; or, in science, perhaps the dark matter that makes up most of our universe. The definitions of this medium that carries all of the elements are diverse by cultural perspective or personal identity. Sometimes circularly represented as a serpent eating its tail, the prima materia—essence, everything and nothing, everywhere and nowhere—takes many forms.
Caroline Bourgeois and Michael Govan Curators of the exhibition

Adel Abdessemed
Born in 1971 in Constantine, Algeria, he currently lives and works in Paris, France and New York, United States.
Arakawa
Born in 1936 in Nagoya, Japan. He died in 2010.
Robert Barry
Born in 1936 in New York, United States, he currently lives and works in New Jersey, United States.
Alighiero Boetti
Born in 1940 in Turin, Italy. He died in 1994.
James Lee Byars
Born in 1932 in Detroit, United States. He died in 1997.
Marlene Dumas
Born in 1953 in Cape Town, South Africa. She currently lives and works in Amsterdam, The Netherlands.
Koji Enokura
Born in 1942 in Tokyo, Japan. He died in 1995.
Lizzie Fitch & Ryan Trecartin
Born in 1981 in Bloomington, United States.
She currently lives and works in Los Angeles,United States.
Born in 1981 in Webster, United States. He currently lives and works in Los Angeles, United States.
Llyn Foulkes
Born in 1934 in Yakima, United States. He currently lives and works in Los Angeles.
Theaster Gates
Born in 1973 in Chicago, United States, where he currently lives and works.
Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster
Born in 1965 in Strasburg, France. She currently lives and works in Paris, France, and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Loris Gréaud
Born in 1979 in Eaubonne, France. He currently lives and works in Paris, France.
Mark Grotjahn
Born in 1968 in Pasadena, United States. He currently lives and works in Los Angeles, United States.
David Hammons
Born in 1943 in Springfield, United States. He currently lives and works in New York, United States.
Roni Horn
Born in 1955 in New York, United States, where she currently lives and works.
Susumu Koshimizu
Born in 1944 in Japan.
Lee Ufan
Born in 1936 in Haman-gun, South Korea. He currently lives and works in Kamakura, Japan, and Paris, France.
Sherrie Levine
Born in 1947 in Hazleton, United States. She currently lives and works in New York and Santa Fe, United States.
Piero Manzoni
Born in 1933 in Soncino, Italy. He died in 1963.
Mario Merz
Born in 1925 in Milan, Italy. He died in 2003.
Bruce Nauman
Born in 1941 in Fort Wayne, United States. He currently lives and works in Galisteo, United States.
Roman Opalka
Born in 1936 in Hocquincourt, France. He died in 2011.
Giulio Paolini
Born in 1940 in Genoa, Italy. He currently lives and works in Turin, Italy.
Philippe Parreno
Born in 1964 in Oran, Algeria. He currently lives and works in Paris, France.
Giuseppe Penone
Born in 1947 in Garessio, Italy. He currently lives and works in Turin, Italy, and Paris, France.
Michelangelo Pistoletto
Born in 1933 in Biella, Italy. He currently lives and works in Turin and Biella, Italy.
Bridget Riley
Born in 1931 in London, United Kingdom, where she currently lives and works.
Thomas Schütte
Born in 1954 in Oldenburg, Germany. He currently lives and works in Düsseldorf, Germany.
Nobuo Sekine
Born in 1942 in Saitama, Japan. He currently lives and works in Japan.
Kishio Suga
Born in 1944 in Morioka, Japan. He currently lives and works in Shizuoka, Japan.
Diana Thater
Born in 1962 in San Francisco, United States. She currently lives and works in Los Angeles, United States.

PROJECT FOR THE CUBE

Zeng Fanzhi
Born in 1964 in Wuhan, China. He currently
lives and works in Beijing, China.
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