Sample Crazy: Madness in Contemporary Art invaded the Chiostro Del Bramante, a Renaissance building that today serves as a space for art exhibitions, in Rome. Curated by Danilo Escher, the show features 21 internationally recognized artists and 11 installations site-specific🇧🇷 As soon as we enter the building, which is located a short distance from Piazza Navona, we find the first installation in the central courtyard, which begins the immersive, fun and obligatory tour of the exhibition. It is a work built exclusively to occupy that space: the patio floor.
The Italian artist Alfredo Pirri covered the floor with pieces of mirror that together and in a fragmented way reflect the building and the sky. The reflected image offers a plurality of points of view, playing with the static form with which we are used to observing reflections in the mirror and making the observed image more fluid and indistinct. Soon after, entering the exhibition route, we find the next installation that was also produced exclusively for the exhibition. Entitled Break Through (Five), by Swiss artist Thomas Hirschhorn, the installation consists of a wide variety of materials such as cardboard, plastic and tubes, which fall from the ceiling of the exhibition space as if it had ruptured and released everything contained therein.
Hirschhorn's work reflects the disorder of accumulated ideas and was created with the intention of concretely portraying the human mind. Continuing the route, we find works by the Cameroonian artist Pascale Marthine Tayou, who currently lives in Gent, Belgium, but who considers himself a “traveling artist”. His works are full of references to the cultures of the places where he lived and are often made with materials found at random or discarded in nature. His main work shown in this exhibition represents an example of the Asclepias plant, quite common in North America and which was produced by the artist from old fishing instruments he found during an artist residency in India.
Soon after observing the beauty of Tayou's “naturalness”, we enter a green room, invaded by a creepy and dark soundtrack, where there is only a desk, a chair and a series of bizarre objects such as stones, beans and a kind of metal pod. The room is small, the ceiling height is low and in the ceiling there are two openings that lead to the ceiling and that reveal more objects and mirrors, where the observer observes himself suddenly and by surprise, becoming part of the installation in a way unexpected. The funniest thing is that it looks like a relatively common place, like an outpatient clinic, a waiting room or even a classroom. This installation, entitled meteor, was made by the British artist Anne Hardy especially for this show and is with a “revolt” to the inert places of life. Objects invade the environment as ideas that germinate in the midst of our daily lives.
Leaving meteor we found, in a large dark room, a huge sign with mini colored led lamps that blink frantically in different rhythms, suddenly turning off completely. The work is Starless, by the Italian Massimo Bartolini, and brings a sensory experience to the viewer who walks beside the plaque as he follows the course of the exhibition. The flashing lights evoke, in addition to illuminating “the path of an artistic journey”, the synapses of the brain and the creative process of the mind.
The next installation is a work by the Argentinian artist Lucio Fontana produced, at first, for IV Documenta in Kassel. It is a “Space Environment” completely painted in white, with high walls and partitions that make the installation look like a small labyrinth. When walking through the small path and taken by the immensity of white, it is possible to experience the sensation that follows artistic creation. When the work has already been produced, when the idea has already been realized, that sudden and ephemeral emptiness of the mind. Fontana is one of the fathers of contemporary art and this work is, according to the curator, the “heart of the show”.
Ahead, we follow a second vertical garden. American artist Petah Coyne's flower-shaped sculptures hang from the ceiling above the viewer. Made of wax, a material that is not very resistant, Coyne's work refers to the fragility of flowers and the beauty they contain. In the middle of the corridor where Coyne's vertical garden is located, there is a door that takes us to a small room, where the installation is located. Original Canned Fish Shop, by German artist Tobias Rehberger, which is truly insane. In a scenario colored with the colors of a sky at dusk, mini cubes that look more like blue and white pixels are juxtaposed in order to form a three-dimensional sky. A hundred cans of fish are arranged between these cubes. The work invites the visitor to question himself about contemporary consumption habits.
Entering the last part of the route, we are faced with two intriguing sculptures: a man and a woman dressed in formal attire. She is lying on a couch, he is standing beside her. So far everything is normal, but in place of their heads are two giant stones and totally disproportionate with the rest of their bodies. At the beginning of the show, in the courtyard of the building, there are four other sculptures from the same series called Teenager Teenager and which are authored by the Chinese artist duo Sun Yuan and Peng Yu. The artists' idea is to portray a specific phase of the creative process, during which thoughts completely fill the mind, which searches for the best direction to follow.
Leaving the “hard-headed” couple, we arrive at a staircase taken by thousands (15,000, to be exact) of black butterflies that lead the visitor to the sound of a slightly tense soundtrack. It's the work Black Cloud Fashion, by the Mexican artist Carlos Amorales to the sound of the composition organic, by the Italian Carl Brave. At the end of the stairs and already almost dizzy through the extensive tunnel of butterflies, you arrive at the land of unicorns. That's really how I describe the setup Hypermania by Icelandic Hrafnhildur Arnadóttir. A hallway with green plush carpet and walls entirely covered with long, colorful synthetic hair that makes the room look like a cloud of cotton candy. Everything is illuminated by the sign Be Afraid Of the Enormity of the Possible.
Still in this colorful corridor is the entrance to another room, where clothes (from the traditional to the craziest possible) are hanging everywhere and make the visitor have to deviate from them as he walks through the installation. Fuori dal buio dell'armadio (Out of the Dark Closet), by the Italian artist Sissi, who invites the visitor to think about the human body and its limits. Still on the “clothes” theme, there is another installation right after: Un Ballo de Maschere (A masquerade ball), by the British artist Yinka Shonibare, who positions two mannequins dressed in character for a masquerade ball in front of a screen where they pass in looping a video of choreography at a dance, in which every now and then two masked “guests” come close to the camera and “examine” the observer who, thus, starts to “participate” in the dance.
The route, fun and immersive, is now approaching its end. Here we have been visiting the exhibition for more or less an hour when we come across a small door covered with a black curtain that leads to a dark corridor. The corridor is, in fact, a labyrinth that repeatedly flashes frantic and colorful lights that circle the entire route from floor to ceiling. The installation, entitled Topoesthesia – itinerary programmato (Topestesia – Programmed Itinerary) is one of the oldest works in the exhibition, which was created in 1970 by the Italian Gianni Colombo, one of the most important artists in Italy and an exponent of kinetic art. Topesthesia is a concept that can be understood as the ability to localize a tactile sensation. Columbus' work causes the visitor to experience a momentary loss of their reference points.
Concluding this plunge into the madness of contemporary art are the latest works: End Game (Coulro-Claustrophobia) by Canadian Max Streicher and Poured Staircase, by British artist Ian Davenport. The first is a kind of inflatable doll shaped like two huge clown heads that, as the name suggests, aims to bring out the inexplicable phobia that certain people feel in front of clowns. The second is a fun installation that closes the exhibition route as the staircase that brings visitors back to the entrance courtyard has been covered in a colored resinous layer that makes it look like a giant bucket of colored paint has been dropped from the top of the stairs. , causing paint to run down the steps. So, back in Pirri's mirrored courtyard, the show ends where it began.
Crazy: La Folia Nell' Arte Contemporânea
Location: Chiostro del Bramante
Address: Arco della Pace, 5, Rome, Italy
Date: Until January 8, 2021
Opening hours: Every day from 10:00 to 20:00
Admission: 10-18 Euros