artist / participant
Matt Mullican's exhibition The Meaning of Things—curated by Simone Menegoi and produced within the contest of the XIX CSAV - Artists Research Laboratory—revolves around Untitled, a set of four banners displayed along the central nave of the church of San Francesco, and also sculpture-vitrines, videos and series of new cosmological schemes created especially for the show.
The banners, made by Mullican for his solo exhibition at Le Magasin, Grenoble (1990), show a repertoire of stylized figures that, following a code elaborated by the artist, relate to every aspect of reality and human experience, from the most immediate to the more abstract. The symbols are divided into five areas: green (physical elements), blue (the real world as life and meaning), yellow (arts), black (language) and red (subjective understanding). The visual language of the banners is extremely immediate, similar to that of commercial logos, urban signage or heraldry—a comparison that feels very appropriate given the setting in which the work is exhibited. However, simultaneously, the meaning of the symbols, and the system they form, requires the viewer to develop an understanding of the code elaborated by the artist.
As Mullican never grows tired of repeating, his complex cosmology is in reality a meta-cosmology, an artistic reflexion about the way we collectively construct an image from reality: "My cosmology is a model for a cosmology; it is not a cosmology. A cosmology is a social phenomenon, not a formal one; it is a belief structure, a value structure between people." A structure as much as that of Christian religion, for instance, that has determined the architecture of the building where the exhibition will take place.
Between the banners there will be tables; they will show prints and sculpture-vitrines, offering the public some additional tools to interpret the code, that complex "system of systems" invented by the artists. The exhibition will be completed by a series of new cosmological schemes drawn on paper, and four videos: two are taken from "That Person," the alter-ego of the artist when he is under hypnosis, and two are digital animations that illustrate a sort of ideal city designed by Mullican through his cosmology, or, to say it with his words, "a chart as a city."
Matt Mullican's work has been exhibited internationally since the early 1970s in venues including The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Haus Der Kunst, Munich; National Galerie, Berlin; Stedelijk Museum, Schiedam, Netherlands; and Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; it was also included at Documenta in Kassel in 1982, 1993 and 1997, in the 2008 Whitney Biennial and in the 2013 Biennale di Venezia.
Spazio Culturale Antonio Ratti (Ex Chiesa di San Francesco) Largo Spallino 1 Como, Italy www.fondazioneratti.org
The Meaning of Things