Curated by Germano Celant
13th September - 24th November 2019
The exhibition curated by Germano Celant in collaboration with the artist and Archivio Emilio Isgrò offers an overview of the artist’s creative and aesthetic trajectory from the 1960s to the present. The extensive approach ranges from the first erasures of books, in 1964, to the visual poems on emulsified canvas and the Storie rosse, the monumental and complex erased texts in the historic volumes of L’Enciclopedia Treccani, 1970, all the way to the ethnic pages of the Codici ottomani, 2010.
In an unexpected and spectacular exhibit design, the experimental and linguistic voyage of Isgrò will be inserted in an enveloping architectural setting. The rooms of the Ala Napoleonica of the Foundation, enhanced by crosswise and diagonal partitions used to break up and modify the space as if they were lines on a page, will function as the paper surfaces conveying an enormous new erasure operation, conducted once again on literary material, enabling the viewers to enter a huge book that has been visually modified by the artist.
The choice of the text that will run across the surfaces of the display enclosure has gone to the novel Moby Dick by Herman Melville, implying a fantastic journey in the belly of a whale, the journey of erasure of words and writings that has made Isgrò famous: “The theme I approach for this exhibition at Fondazione Cini in Venice, the city where the first erasures took place in 1964, cannot help but be that of language. For this reason, it seemed necessary to link back to the biblical tradition filtered by Moby Dick, the marvelous novel by Melville - Emilio Isgrò explains. – The erased work by Melville will thus contain all the others, and those who enter the exhibition will be accompanied into the belly of the whale, the belly of the media language that covers its real and despairing silence with noise.”
The exhibition relies on the presence of works from important public and private, national and international collections, including Il Cristo cancellatore, 1968, an installation composed of 38 erased volumes, from Centre Pompidou in Paris; Carta geografica, 1970, from the Museo d’Arte Moderna e Contemporanea di Trento e Rovereto; Storico, the book erased in 1972, from the Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Moderna in Rome; the monumental erased map Weltanschauung, 2007, with a length of 9 meters, from Centro d’Arte Contemporanea Luigi Pecci, Prato; four precious works from the collection of Gallerie d’Italia; Poesia Volkswagen, 1964, from the Centro Studi e Archivio della Comunicazione of Parma; the “red story” La corsa di Alma, 1969, from the Museo Civico Giovanni Fattori di Livorno; and the Corpus Iustinianeum, six erased volumes, dated 2018.
The retrospective is accompanied by a book published by Treccani that includes the erased pages from Moby Dick, a conversation between the artist and the curator, and a thorough illustrated time line offering in-depth documentation of the personal and professional career of Isgrò.