Curated by Samuele Piazza
Binario 1 appears to have been completely transformed into "another place" by a large-scale installation that takes up the entire hall with a powerful yet intimate intervention: the former industrial space is made unrecognizable, generating an alienating effect in which visitors are called to find their own personal path, to freely explore the different elements in search of the clues necessary to construct their own individual narrative. Mike Nelson has created L'atteso, a new project designed specifically for the spaces of the Officine Grandi Riparazioni. As the title suggests, a suspended and enigmatic atmosphere marks the installation, formed by a landscape that seems to come out of the images of a film and in which different memories and material layers create a narrative open to multiple readings. The themes of journey (both metaphorical and real) and transience emerge as a sort of fil rouge to this story that, set inside the OGR, which for over a century was a repair workshops for rail vehicles, finds a perfect setting to amplify the sense of a work deliberately left without predefined keys of interpretation.
An enormous wooden structure, similar to a scaffolding, at first visible only from the back entrance, leads into the space.
The sculpture looks like a large billboard or the screen of a drive-in: once beyond it, visitors find themselves inside a dimly lit environment where, amid pressed rubble, are about twenty parked cars, covered with dust and in a state of complete abandonment. It is not clear why the cars are in that state, but several objects, memories of their previous (real or imaginary) owners carrying traces of the past, can still be found on the car seats. Only a few light sources guide the exploration of visitors, called to interact with the elements of this complex installation, immersed in a spatial and temporal suspension that makes existential contours undefined, even before blurring the visual ones.
Different temporalities seem to collide within the installation: a recent past and an almost archaeological dimension (or maybe a near future?), join to form a dystopian present: cars, that can still be found on today’s streets, are combined with the idea of precariousness that the rubble conveys, the ambiguity between a recent demolition, an in-progress apocalypse and a potential reconstruction. Once again Nelson radically transforms the site in dialogue with the existing structure, creating an atmosphere of expectation and suspension - which recalls great masters of cinema such as Michelangelo Antonioni and Dario Argento, or artists like Ed Kienholz, all sources of inspiration for Nelson’s new work - creating a physical and emotional limbo filled with charm and complexity
The idea of transformation, cornerstone of OGR's programming, thus materializes in a narrative structure that emerges from the architectural changes in relation to the history of the building, while the objects, carefully selected by the artist and transformed into sculptures, create an articulated stratification of meaning and a path with multiple levels of reading, from a dreamlike journey to science fiction.
Courtesy the artist
Photo: Andrea Rossetti ph. for OGR