press release

Fondazione Merz presents the first solo exhibition in Turin of acclaimed Cuban artist Carlos Garaicoa. El Palacio de las Tres Historias, curated by Claudia Gioia, consists of a series of large-scale site-specific installations, photographic works and videos specially commissioned for the exhibition. El Palacio de las Tres Historias continues Garaicoa’s ongoing exploration of the themes and architecture of the city as an ideal space and symbol of failed realities. For the first time, this project draws its inspiration from the city of Turin.

“Carlos Garaicoa looks at cities, architecture and underlying dreams, those cast aside and those that can still be realised. Just as Havana constituted a starting point for investigating the meaning and possibilities of our society, so Turin becomes a metaphor of contemporaneity through the words, images and history of an industrial utopia, transforming itself and becoming something that still needs to be understood.” Claudia Gioia

Garaicoa is drawn to Turin, to the economic, social and political transformations that began with the industrial crisis and their impact on the urban landscape. The artist focuses on different aspects that characterise the city: the industrial, the rationalist, and the re-using of abandoned buildings that become a new possibility for a re-imagined society.

The exhibition begins with a series of rotating prismatic panels, resembling 1950’s billboards that tower over the city. Here the artist creates an interplay between history and future, reality and invention by inserting images of Turin—photographs taken from urban and social design, which alternate with words and excerpts of sentences in syncopated sequences—a nod to cinema and the speed of advertising.

The largest installation, entitled El Palacio de las Tres Historias is a double height steel structure that echoes the physical form of the Foundation, transforming the interior architecture and suggesting new pathways and perspectives, where inside and outside merge. A building within a building, the deconstructed Palacio recalls the utopian visions of the twentieth century, and the architecture that has preserved its history. Garaicoa's visionary reworking uses traces and places to build a new space for criticism and enchantment, whilst assuming unexplored possibilities.

The exhibition continues with a series of installations including Campus or the Babel of Knowledge, an architectural machette of an imagined university campus in a mythical place. Here the artist builds an alternative future, whilst addressing failed utopian schemes.

The show closes with a new animated video work, Abismo based on the musical score, Quatuor pour la fin du temps by 20th century French composer Olivier Messiaen, composed in a concentration camp in 1941. The video sees two isolated and seemingly anonymous hands conducting a symphony. Garaicoa has taken the hand gestures alluding to fascist dictatorship and removed them from their original context, thus creating new historical narrative.

The exhibition will be accompanied by a catalogue in Italian and English with texts by Claudia Gioia and renowned Cuban writer, Leonardo Padura.

With the support of Regione Piemonte, Compagnia di San Paolo and Fondazione CRT