artists & participants
The playful, celebratory visual language of Lara Favaretto’s art can be misleading. Despite her work’s evident humor, a tragic undercurrent runs throughout her practice. Numerous pieces are subjected to forces of decay, consumption, and obsolescence, and gradually decompose or exhaust themselves. Though Favaretto (b. 1973, Treviso, Italy) represents the eventuality of loss, she also resists it, reusing discarded construction materials, recuperating old paintings and lost luggage, and recycling elements from her previous installations as new works.
An ongoing series of temporary interventions that the artist calls "momentary monuments” engages specifically with cultural memory, loosely adopting but subverting the vernacular of civic sculpture. Beginning with a swamp that she created in Venice to commemorate twenty historical figures who have disappeared, Favaretto also sandbagged a 1896 statue of Dante Alighieri in a public square in Trento, drawing attention to the futility and impermanence of memorials in general. In a similar spirit, the artist presents for the first time the extensive archive of images that she has collected as source material and inspiration, dispersed within a library of abandoned books.
Much of Favaretto’s work alludes to the casualties of modern life, often referring to the body and the natural environment through mechanical and industrial forms that change and degrade. Automated car wash brushes whirl repeatedly, wearing themselves down against metal plates; a platoon of compressed air tanks randomly empties itself, blowing silent party favors in a weak salute; fans constantly recompose a landscape of confetti. These animist machines celebrate their absurdity, taking on lives of their own.
Organized by MoMA PS1 Curator Peter Eleey, Just Knocked Out provides the most complete overview of Favaretto’s work to date, but is not conceived as a conventional survey. The artist has created a number of new pieces for this presentation, including a site-specific installation that extends through all of the galleries. Taking a painting by the pioneering Dutch abstractionist Piet Mondrian (1872–1944) as inspiration, Favaretto has constructed a grid of scaffolding pipes overhead that recalls the urban geometry of New York, dictating the location of certain pieces while intersecting and interrupting the placement of others. In both of her installations and individual works, Favaretto repeatedly reminds us of the choices we make, and of those that are made for us. Balanced between aspiration and failure, she enacts a conflicted kind of freedom, an illusion of autonomy and control where finally neither may exist.
Lara Favaretto: Just Knocked Out is co-organized by MoMA PS1 and Sharjah Art Foundation.
The exhibition is supported in part by The Contemporary Arts Council of The Museum of Modern Art and The International Council of The Museum of Modern Art.
Just Knocked Out
Kurator: Peter Eleey