La Terra Inquieta

July 19, 2017

The rooms of the Triennale Palace will be hosting, until August 20, one of the most important exhibitions of the year: La Terra Inquieta, curated by Massimiliano Gioni. Having built his career exhibition after exhibition, the former enfant prodige of Italian curators is today one of the most influential figures of contemporary art. Following his experience as Artistic Director of the Trussardi Foundation, for which he organised exhibitions with top artists such as Fischli & Weiss, Maurizio Cattelan, Pipilotti Rist, Paul McCarthy, and after the 2013 Biennale which consecrated him as a leading figure in the artistic panorama, Gioni returns to Milan with a political exhibition, both powerful and necessary.

La Terra Inquieta addresses the epochal theme of migrations, through the voices of over sixty artists from countries such as Albania, Algeria, Egypt, Ghana, Iraq, Lebanon and Syria. Through videos, paintings, installations, sculptures and objects, the exhibition reflects on the role of the artist as witness to this phenomenon that shakes societies and stresses the agendas of daily chronicles.

KHALED JARRAR Infiltrators, 2012 Documentary movie, color, sound 70′, video still. Courtesy Khaled Jarrar and Galerie Polaris, Paris

The tale that emerges is deliberately fragmented and yet cohesive, and brings the role of art to the center of the debate. Art, then, as a tool needed to build a civil society, element of a reflection that is not only aesthetic. By multiplying points of view and narratives, the exhibition succeeds in the difficult task of deconstructing a now crystallized tale; one that engulfs the stories of those individuals usually referred to with the ambiguous tag of “clandestine”, a tale that vanishes in both the desolating death-counts of those lives lost at sea and in the conviction of perpetually being victims. With medias that tend to stereotype news stories to make the phenomenon of migratory flows seem easier to read, the trend becomes even clearer when observing the materials that make up the show.

ROKNI HAERIZADEH The Sun Shines on a Graveyard and a Garden Alike, And The Rain a Loyal Man From a Traitor Knows Not, 2016-17, Plaster, watercolour and ink on printed paper 29.7 x 42 cm. Courtesy Rokni Haerizadeh and Gallery Isabelle van den Eynde, Dubai

Taking inspiration from the poetic and philosophical production of Édouard Glissant, the Caribbean theoretician of creolization and of the poetics of difference, Gioni “steals” the beautiful title and builds a profoundly engaging path that opens under the warning of muddy flags, indistinguishable from one another, by Pravdoliub Ivanovd. Among the works on show stand out videos by Isaac Julien, Phil Collins and John Akomfrah, the memorial by Meshac Gaba and the funeral monument by Pawel Althamer, Mona Hatoum’s unstable cartography, made out of marbles, but also the historical evidence of Pinot Gallizio‘s relationship with the Roma community, the precious Ornamental canvas of El Anatsui, the findings of Forensic Oceanography, the objects found after the terrible shipwreck of the September 3rd Committee, the pages of La Domenica del Corriere that testify to the tragedy – now forgotten – of the Italian emigrants, the letter of the former mayor of Lampedusa Giusi Nicolini addressed to the European Union. Over everything seems to waft the ghost of the Mediterranean, once Mare Nostrum, cradle of civilization and beauty, today unstable crossroad of conflicting interests, hope and pain.

Cover photo credit: JOHN AKOMFRAH Vertigo Sea, 2015 Three channel HD colour video installation, 7.1 sound 48’30’’video still © Smoking Dogs Films Courtesy Lisson Gallery