More than 140 artists and over 200 works to compose the multicultural, polyglot, colorful, scary, stimulating, deafening story of the streets of the whole world, the real great laboratory for discussion, creation, comparison, where the contemporary era is invented.
They took to the streets with invasions, surprises, disturbances, break-ins, rebellions; they have involved people, communities, have offered new points of view. Starting in the 1960s, it was the artists who believed that the road was the modern intellectual, social and political battlefield.
From the 7th of December 2018 to the 28th of April 2019, MAXXI dedicates to them all, but also to architects, urban planners, and designers, The STREET. Where the world is made. The exhibit is curated by Hou Hanru together with the curatorial and research teams of the museum and transforms MAXXI into an intense and somewhat chaotic street scene.
More than 200 works from more than 140 artists to describe a space that is not only a fundamental manmade infrastructure, but a place crossed by multiple meanings, sometimes victim of visual and physical bombardment - signs, advertising, surveillance cameras, garbage – a place where shared practices and new technologies are experimented, and a showcase of projects stemming from the needs of the communities.
With THE STREET, MAXXI becomes a street-museum, capable of combining works, actions, events and artistic, architectural, urban and technological research, conceived by an international creative community, expanding the study already conducted in 2017 for the Bi-City Biennale of Urbanism/Architecture of Shenzhen with which the MAXXI team collaborated, on the most outstanding artistic experiences, that have reinterpreted the functions and identities of the street from the last two decades. The museum becomes a spokesperson for a reflection on the future of urban life and civil society, and on the function of artistic and cultural institutions.
Site-specific projects, performance, and transdisciplinary events are part of an exhibition organised based on themes - public actions, daily life, politics, the community, innovation, the role of the institution - fundamental for understanding the new functions and identity of the modern-day street.
Starting from the belief that this space is the place where the world is created, it is analysed as a manifesto of contemporary life, a scenario, and a privileged point of view, a landscape in which the creative community and citizens give life to a new community and a new world of urban creativity.
STREET POLITICS (Resistance, Protest, Occupy, Manifest, Feminism and the Carnivalesque, etc.) is the main theme of the first part of the exhibition in which the street is described not only as a place of celebration and parties, but also a space in which a voice is given to social tensions, an arena of protest and resistance to control by power.
A large wall will show works such as those by Andrea Bowers composed of drawings and anti-racial protest print covers, the large canvas Tutto il resto è noia by Andrea Salvino whose research is often dedicated to the dark and violent sides of recent Italian history; the feminist collages of Marinella Senatore who has made city parades one of the typical traits of her research, Demonstration Drawings by Rirkrit Tiravanija and The Devil You Know a five-pointed star composed of flashing police cars of Kendell Geers, an artist who has dedicated all of his work to political and social protests since the 1980s. On the other hand, Yang Jiechang and Pak Sheung-Chuen demonstrate memories and reflection on the 1989 event of Tiananmen and the Umbrella Movement for democracy in Hong Kong four years ago; and also Sam Durant that, with Proposal for Public Fountain, offers a possibility to reflect upon sociopolitical and cultural issues of the American history by intepreting in a very personal manner the notion of public monument, whereas Moe Sat, with cuts made on the silk of tipical Burmese umbrellas which are part of his work Parasol Alternative, creates a metaphor for the unstable condition of the people from Myanmar.
A fundamental role in the entire exhibition is attributed to the medium of video, the channel through which we look at the world today, an ideal vehicle for narration and at the same time a device for creating space, a tool for mapping and re-organizing the urban environment, the primary interface between public and private. Among those related to the theme of protest are Walked The Way Home by Eric Baudelaire, Angry Sandwich People by Chto Delat and O Levante The Uprising by Jonathas de Andrade.
Allora & Calzadilla. There’s More than One Way to Skin a Sheep, 2007
Halil Altındere, MOBESE (Gold Camera), 2011
Boa Mistura, New production, 2018
Monica Bonvicini, Don’t Miss a Sec’., 2004
Cao Fei, RMB City: A Second Life City Planning, 2007-2011
Chto Delat, Angry Sandwich People, 2006
Ugo La Pietra, Sistema disequilibrante, il Commutatore, 1970, Modello di Comprensione
Liu Qingyuan, The Streets of the Story, 2018
Marinella Senatore, Protest dance, 2016
Rirkrit Tiravanija, Untitled, 2006-15
Patrick Tuttofuoco, Velodream (Mattia), 2001
Venturi Scott Brown and Associates, «Big Donut Drive-in», Los Angeles, ca. 1970
The GOOD DESIGN (Innovation, Limitation, and Freedom) nucleus includes works that depict the street as the ideal platform where to experiment with technological innovations related to communication, life, and mobility. The street has shared approaches and knowledge that have made not only a new form of design possible but also new conditions of environmental and social sustainability. The works related to this area include Ciclomóvil by Pedro Reyes and the Velodreams by Patrik Tuttofuoco prototypes for a new form of sustainable city vehicles, and among others videos by Carsten Nicolai future past perfect and Cao Fei RMB City.
Related to this theme, we also find Cars by Artists, a giant wall of images that collects the TOP50 artistic reflections on the protagonist of the road: the automobile. Starting with Andy Warhol’s 1979 creation for BMW, this collection includes the versions of 40 international artists of an epochal icon regarding mobility, social status, and imaginary. Olafur Eliasson, Lucy + Jorge Orta, Nam June Paik, Paola Pivi, Erwin Wurm, Sisley Xhafa and many others give us back the mysticism of mobility, the socio-economic critique, the coexistence between technology and do-it-yourself, the irony and the dimension of creativity.
COMMUNITY (Immigration, Minorities, Diversity, Love and Living Together) brings together works in which the road is the fundamental node for the development of a shared conscience, the laboratory in which to redefine boundaries and characters of minorities, or - in the light of recent migratory phenomena - rethink the instruments of reception and protection. Here we find works such as the high wall painted by the collective Boa Mistura, explicitly designed for the MAXXI spaces, and typical of their research linked to the communities and liveability of the city spaces, or the "social" benches in the shape of a circle of Jeppe Hein’s Modified Social Benches. Also the videos by Kimsooja, Zhou Tao, Kim Sora, Paradox of Praxis 5 by Francis Alys, and Niagara by Mark Bradford.
The street is an essential part of everyday life. It is a place of work, recreation, and food. There are many functions concentrated in this place, and for this reason, it has been the object of creative intervention by artists and architects who have interpreted it as an extension of domestic life. Around the theme EVERYDAY LIFE (Eat, Work and Exchange, Home/Homeless…) rotate not only works that express all of this, but also works that show how life in the street can assume the character of marginalization and social exclusion.
One of the works related to this though is MOBESE (Gold Camera) by Halil Altindere, that ironically recalls the control operated by surveillance cameras, Flavio Favelli’s neon signs, which are the result of assemblies that transform the original advertising function, Jimmie Durham’s Streets of Rome, a sculpture made up of materials found on the street and collected. Together with these are the videos by Adel Abdessemed, Francis Alys, Iván Argote, Marcela Armas, Fang Lu, Mark Lewis, and Jill Magid.
Around the theme INTERVENTIONS(Walk, Play and Getting lost…) rotates the video works of more than 30 artists including Allora & Calzadilla, Cao Fei, Martin Creed, Jean-Baptiste Ganne, the collective Ha Za Vu Zu, David Hammons, and many others; works that show how thanks to the experience of artists of the 1960s and 1970s, modern artists have considered the street as a privileged context where to experiment more ordinary and more complex actions, and investigate the sensation of loss inherent to the urban dimension.
The New Pompidou project video by Simon Fujiwara and Work in Public Space by Thomas Hirschhorn, The Road Show by Chim↑Pom and Riding Modern Art by Raphaël Zarka give voice to THE OPEN INSTITUTIONS (Street As Museum, Museum as Street) or how the museum has adopted characteristics of the street, bringing within it experiences, works and research conceived for the urban space. In parallel, the museum itself has become a street, losing in part its identification as a place of protection of a common heritage, because today it is proposed as a sharing place, in which events alternate and events take place. The MAXXI is designed as an urban connector, the ideal place where to experiment and implement this new type of open institution.
The last theme with which the exhibit deals with is MAPPING (Planned / Unplanned, Built / Unbuilt), which highlights the common characteristics between contemporary artistic research and architectural - urban planning, today characterized by vertical projects, elevations, underpasses, futuristic or utopian crossings, often in contrast with the built space and the urban utopia of the road as an authorizing element. Unavoidable, this theme is also related to the issue of the flow of humans and goods that in the street find one of the most obvious problems. Among the works related to these themes are Free Post Mersey Tunnel an untidy structure composed of metal pipes by Rosa Barba, or In extremis (Fragments of Death) the asphalt floor studded with camouflage forms of cats run-over by cars buried in the highways by Zhao Zhao as well as the videos by Daniel Crooks, Map Office, and Zhu Jia.
Two timelines accompany the exhibition path giving the opportunity to look at the street from a historical point of view, further explore the theme: RETHINKING THE CITY which tells its evolution from an architectural and urban point of view, an itinerary that, from the late 19th century, arrives at post-modernist visions that includes, among others, historical images, the Piano per Algeri by Le Corbusier, images from Las Vegas Studio (1966-71) from the archive of Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown, the Sistema disequilibrante by Ugo La Pietra and No-Stop City (1970-1974) by Archizoom.
Instead dedicated to artistic research from the sixties to the nineties of the twentieth century, the crucial period for the formation of the current vision is the timeline STORIES OF THE STREET in which documentary materials become a series of comic stories created for the occasion by Liu Qingyuan, all dedicated to the emblematic events of some of the protagonists of these practices including Vito Acconci and Daniel Buren.
A video review accompanies the exhibition in the museum’s video gallery and a cycle of talks, also provides a series of artistic interventions outside the museum and a calendar of performances commissioned for the occasion, all with free admission. A specific site work by Barbara Kruger and the works Ai nati oggi by Alberto Garutti, Untitled (Green Woman on the Traffic Light) by Anna Scalfi, Don’t Miss a Sec’. by Monica Bonvicini and Chiaroscuro by Alfredo Jaar are added to Liu Qingyuan’s newly produced images like wood-block prints, that recounts a narrative of historical artistic interventions in the global art history from 1960 to 2000.The performances will be held for the entire duration of the exhibit from 7 December 2018 to 14 April 2019. Jeremy Deller starts on 7, 8 and 9 December with How to Leave Facebook in which thousands of posters/flyers will be distributed in various areas of Rome, from the Testaccio market to the Colonna Gallery explaining how to protect the privacy on Facebook profile. In March, Lin Yilin presents the new performance The back (working title) designed for the exhibit, while in April the group OHT presents Little Fun Palace, a caravan that will occupy the streets of the Quarticciolo and Tor Tre Testa neighbourhoods, hosting meetings and debates open to the public.
*Extract of the essay written by Hou Hanru, Artistic Director of MAXXI, for the catalogue "The Street. Where the World is made" published by Quodilibet
Frank Benson is one of the most fascinating sculptors of his generation of American contemporary artists. Through the years he has developed an important body of sculptures and photographs. Astrup Fearnley Collection, Oslo