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Istituto Veneto di Scienze, Lettere ed Arti - Testata per la stampa

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Genius Loci (Spirit of Place)

Genius Loci (Spirit of Place)

Art exhibition
Venice, 7 June -- 23 November 2014
Palazzo Franchetti, Campo Santo Stefano 2842, Venice

The exhibition is curated by
Greg Hilty, Curatorial Director, Lisson Gallery.

The initiative is conceived by
Patrizia Spadafora, Director of Berengo Foundation.

10am -- 6pm
Entrance ticket: 
Full price ticket 10 euros, reduced price ticket 8 euros group, over 65 and children 

Ai Weiwei, Daniel Buren, Tony Cragg, Richard Deacon, Spencer Finch, Dan Graham, Shirazeh Houshiary, Anish Kapoor, Richard Long, Tatsuo Miyajima,  Julian Opie, Pedro Reyes, Santiago Sierra, Lee Ufan, Koen Vanmechelen,  Joana Vasconcelos, Lawrence Weiner, Richard Wentworth

On the occasion of the 14th International Architecture Biennale in Venice, curated this year by Rem Koolhaas, the Lisson Gallery and Berengo Studio present an exhibition of sculpture and installation that goes beyond the museum or gallery space, addressing instead the complex spheres of the public realm and the built environment. By existing beyond the walls, public art can help define the character of its location, either functioning harmoniously or in dialogue with the architecture or landscape it inhabits. As experienced commissioners of large-scale contemporary art, curators from the Lisson Gallery, in association with Berengo Studio, are displaying a range of major pieces by 19 artists, both inside and outside the historic Venetian Palazzo Franchetti. The show includes models, sculptures, drawings and projects by Anish Kapoor, Ai Weiwei, Daniel Buren, Lawrence Weiner, Shirazeh Houshiary and Lee Ufan, among others, all of whom have made significant contributions to art in the public domain through works that challenge, complement or elucidate their surroundings. In turn, these proposals, situations and sculptures - some unrealised, some temporary, some permanent - should allow us to better appreciate, contemplate and understand the world around us.

Lisson Gallery
Lisson Gallery is one of the most influential and longest-running international contemporary art galleries in the world. Since being founded in 1967 by Nicholas Logsdail, it has championed the careers of artists who have transformed the way art was made and presented. It continues to support the future of its artists, the legacy of historical figures, the evolving practice of established artists and the wide-ranging potential of emerging and new talents.This collaboration, Genius Loci - Spirit of Place, is part of the Lisson Presents programme, a series off-site exhibitions that extends the legacy of curatorial innovation beyond its gallery spaces, working with institutions and artists to present new initiatives around the world. Recent projects include two celebrated Collateral Events of the 55th International Venice Art Biennale in 2013; Shirazeh Houshiary's Breath, a unique, site-specific installation in the Torre di Porta Nuova adjacent to the Arsenale; and Ai Weiwei's Disposition, an exhibition of two major works by Ai Weiwei addressing his arrest by the Chinese Government and the 81-day period subsequently spent in captivity.

Berengo Studio
The Berengo Foundation and Studio are innovators in the dissemination and experimentation of glass as a material for the expression of contemporary art. During the 1980s and '90s, the studio's founder, Adriano Berengo, invited artists to use glass and collaborate with master glassmakers to translate their works into glass sculptures. Berengo Studio strives to free glass from its perception as a functional material and to update the highly decorative traditions of Murano glass. For almost twenty years, more than 140 international artists have come to the Berengo furnace to create glass sculptures and have contributed to making thisambitious project real. With galleries in Venice, Murano and Tokyo, Berengo Studio works are found in numerous public and private collections throughout the world.



On the occasion of the 14th International Architecture Biennale in Venice, curated this year by Rem Koolhaas, the Lisson Gallery and Berengo Studio present an exhibition addressing the complex relationship between art and the public realm. By existing beyond the walls, 'public' art can help define the character of its location, sometimes functioning harmoniously and sometimes in tension with the architecture or landscape it inhabits.

In classical mythology, the Latin term genius loci refers to a protective spirit attached to a place -- a guardian who watches over their part of the world and imbues it with a special character. In modern reality, we still need to be able to identify a genius loci in order to give us an understanding of our environment. Oneway of negotiating between the public realm and the individual is through common symbols -- in the form of works of art -- that help us identify with our landscapes. Whether those symbols add, enhance, complement or even come to represent their surroundings depends on the impact and intention of the works of art being placed. Anish Kapoor's Cloud Gate, for example, was conceived as a central focus for the Millennium Park in Chicago, drawing the sky and the surrounding buildings into its seamless, curved stainless steel surface, in keeping with the artist's wider aesthetic. Yet, since its unveiling in 2006, Kapoor's undulating and essentially abstract sculpture has become an unofficial emblem of the city, a tourist attraction in its own right and, perhaps, the contemporary definition of a genius loci.

Another public project that reflected and perhaps improved its environment, began around the same time in Culiacán, a city in Mexico known for its drug-related gun crime.The Mexican artist Pedro Reyes reacted to a government weapons amnesty there by melting down guns to make an equal quantity of shovels. These in turn were used to plant the same number of trees, 1,527 to be precise, both in Culiacán and in different locations around the world. Despite Reyes's Palas por Pistolas seemingly representing the inverse impetus and proportion of Kapoor's monumental symbol, it also responded to its location, arguably also managing to distill something of the spirit of its place, albeit in a very different way.

As experienced producers of large-scale public commissions, Lisson Gallery and Berengo Studio present a range of major artworks by 19 artists, both inside and outside the historic Venetian Palazzo Franchetti. The exhibition also includes models, drawings and proposals of public projects -- some unrealized, sometemporary, some permanent -- along with photographic documentation of actual objects as they exist out in the world, all displayed in a special laboratory room, within a structuredesigned by the London-based architectural practice Carmody Groarke.

The exhibition focuses on real (as opposed to notional), life-size sculptures, most of which are not propositions for bigger or more public works, but simply standalone examples of how artists engage with material, space, place, architecture, fellow humans and nature. In the final reckoning, surely the test of any greatwork -- public or private -- is that it helps us better appreciate, contemplate and understand the world around us. When architects, artists, developers, and planners fully understand this, then the results, in terms of public art, can truly attain the character of genius.
Greg Hilty, Lisson Gallery
Patrizia Spadafora, Berengo Studio


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