Italy

Carrara biennale examines the “monument”

Contemporary artists create site-specific pieces alongside historical works

Visitors to the Carrara Biennale examine Daniel Knorr's monumental incense stick

carrara. The 14th International Sculpture Biennale of Carrara, curated by Fabio Cavallucci, is taking a new direction this year. The biennale, which runs until 31 October in various venues across the city, starts with a historical section dedicated to marble sculptors from the past, and continues with the work of 33 contemporary artists who have been invited to create pieces on the theme of “Postmonument”, the title of the exhibition, as well taking inspiration from the setting of the Alpi Apuane mountains.

Cai Guo-Qiang finds links between the simple aesthetic of the marble quarries and the oriental philosophy of feng shui, while Maurizio Cattelan will be replacing the local monument to Italian politician Mazzini with one dedicated to Italy’s first socialist prime minister, Bettino Craxi. (The mayor of Milan, meanwhile, has granted Cattelan permission to display a picture of a raised middle finger above a picture of the Milan stock exchange, which will appear opposite the real stock exchange building.) Other artists include Carl Andre, Cyprien Gaillard, Monica Bonvicini, Santiago Sierra, Damián Ortega, Antony Gormley, Urs Fischer and Paul McCarthy (who has sculpted a giant piece of excrement).

The fortunes of the anarchic city of Carrara have always been closely linked to marble, which has been a source both of prestige and misery, as its use in traditional sculpture has declined. This edition of the biennale focuses on the idea of the monument, which, having played a major role in promoting 19th-century ideologies, was then seized upon as a symbol of power and rejected. It is now making a comeback and represents a new found source of interest, not least because there has been a return to monumentality in art and a rediscovery of its cultural value.

This historical perspective is emphasised by artists such as Bistolfi, Andreotti, Martini, Wildt, Melotti and Fontana, whose lost work Vittoria has been virtually reconstructed as a three-dimensional digital model. The work, an enormous white plaster sculpture, was originally made for the sixth Triennale of Milan and installed in the Sala della Vittoria, with a monumental setting provided by Edoardo Persico. There will also be original examples of social realism, with statues made by Chinese sculptor Liu Kaiqu and Polish artist Alina Szapocznikow.

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