press release

Monica Bonvicini
As Walls Keep Shifting
31.10.2019 - 02.02.2020

As Walls Keep Shifting is a new commission by Monica Bonvicini purposely designed for OGR’s industrial premises.

Curated by Nicola Ricciardi with Samuele Piazza

The large scale installation delves into Bonvicini’s interest in architecture, its history, its memory, imposed regulations and habits. Her research materializes in a site-specific intervention in which the architecture of the exhibition space is taken as a starting point for institutional critique and where environments are curated to engage the audience in a direct and physical way.

The title, taken from a line by Danielewski’s House of Leaves, is particularly poignant in relation to the artist career: in the last twenty years Bonvicini has often reflected on walls—producing them, destroying them but also taking them as the starting point for installations, sculptures, videos or photographs.

As Walls Keep Shifting takes the gesture of “building a house” as an artistic exercise and performs it in diverse ways, continuously shifting its forms and concepts. The project provides a timely questioning of individual place-making as the establishment of private space altogether with its resulting discontents, such as isolation, exclusionary dynamics, disappointment and the rise of reactionary feelings.

For this show Bonvicini is literally cutting the exhibition space in two, building a large structure in the form of a house inside the former railway workshop of OGR. Built out of a wooden skeleton, the house is left empty of walls, windows, cabling and facilities. Bonvicini has borrowed the structure’s architectural plan from a typical residential two-families house built across northern Italy in the 60s and 70s. The original plans are cut in half, and the artist builds only one part: the gesture decisively creates a negative space.

The starting point of the show is the photographic series Italian Homes (2019) Bonvicini has been working on for the last two years. Each photograph differs from the others only in the way in which the houses have been modified—remodeled, repainted or decorated—by their inhabitants. The new variety of facades contrasts with the foundational idea of the social project of these architectures, conceived to provide equal conditions of dwelling for homogenous social groups. As such, the series discusses individuality and singularity set against standardization dynamics.

The exhibition, curated by OGR's Artistic Director Nicola Ricciardi, opened on the occasion of the 26th edition of Artissima, Italy's leading contemporary art fair.

At the same time, OGR inaugureted in its project room a solo show by the Brazilian photographer Mauro Restiffe, also curated by Ricciardi, and titled History as landscape (October 31, 2019-February 5, 2020). As for Bonvicini, architecture—and Modernism in particular—has always been a source of inspiration for Restiffe: in his career the artist has traveled and captured the oeuvre of well known architects around the world, from Philip Johnson to Oscar Niemeyer.

In his photos Restiffe reveals the unexpected combinations between architecture and landscape, indoors and outdoors, focusing on unobserved details and traces of human presence: architecture serves as stage for history, may it be public or private. For his show at OGR Restiffe has taken his survey to Italy, researching the projects of Carlo Mollino, Piero Portaluppi, Franco Albini, and Carlo Scarpa, among others.

OGR - Officine Grandi Riparazioni is a cultural hub stretching over 20,000 square meters and providing exceptional experiences in a range of art forms. Built between 1885 and 1895, the site was once dedicated to the maintenance of railway vehicles and it is now committed to the promotion of culture and technological innovation in the fields of visual and performing arts. Since opening its doors on September 2017, OGR has commissioned solo exhibitions and site-specific projects by William Kentridge, Liam Gillick, Tino Sehgal, Susan Hiller, Rokni Haerizadeh, Mike Nelson, Ari Benjamin Meyers, and Pablo Bronstein, as well as music shows and DJ sets by Kraftwerk, New Order, Pixies, Alva Noto, Wolfgang Tillmans, Kamasi Washington, and Jason Moran, among many others.