In Verona the first international conference on Piero Manzoni's Artist's Shit.

The first international conference on Piero Manzoni's Merda d'Artista, one of the most controversial works in art history, will be held Friday, March 10, and Saturday, March 11, at the University of Verona. Here is what will be discussed.

TheUniversity of Verona is hosting the first international conference dedicated to Merda d’artista, the controversial work by Piero Manzoni (Soncino, 1933 - Milan, 1963) created in 1961. The conference is organized by the Department of Cultures and Civilizations of the University of Verona, with the fundamental collaboration of the Piero Manzoni Foundation, and will take place on Friday, March 10 from 9:15 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday, March 11 from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., in room T1 of the Giorgio Zanotto Education Complex in Viale Università 4.

The conference is dedicated to one of the best known and at the same time controversial and misunderstood works not only of Manzoni’s production but of the History of Art of the Second Twentieth Century itself. Merda d’artista was in fact made by the artist in May 1961: ninety tin cans bearing on the label, printed in four languages (Italian, German, French and English), the information about the unpleasant contents: “Merda d’artista, net content 30 grams, preserved in natural state.”

The fortunes of this work were in many ways paradoxical: initially almost ignored or stigmatized by critics, its multifaceted and layered message has reverberated especially among younger generations of artists from different disciplines, becoming over time an object of reflection, study and citation in conceptual visual practices, literature, pop music but also in a certain mainstream and popular media circuit, where Artist Shit is often taken as a model of the contradictions of contemporary art and society.

In reality, as shown by some recent studies and as this same conference in Verona intends to asseverate, behind Merda d’artista there are many meanings and varied implications of a philosophical and sociological nature, as well as artistic and scientific. Indeed, speakers include philosophers, physicists, economists, curators and art historians, mostly from Italian universities and academies but also from Canada and the United States, indicating the international and multidisciplinary scope of Piero Manzoni’s work. The results of the conference will be published in an English-language volume edited by Cambridge Scholar Publishing.

The conference, edited by Luca Bochicchio (professor of History of Visual Arts in the Contemporary Age at the University of Verona) and Rosalia Pasqualino di Marineo (director of the Piero Manzoni Foundation), is promoted and funded by the Department of Cultures and Civilizations of the University of Verona and the Piero Manzoni Foundation of Milan, under the patronage of the “Rossana Bossaglia” Research Center for Decorative Arts, Graphics and the Arts from the 18th to the 20th Century, and the University Commission "Contemporanea." The conference, which is open to the public while places last, will be recorded and later made available on the University of Verona website.

Program: Opening at 9:15 a.m. on March 10 with institutional greetings by Arnaldo Soldani (director of the Department of Cultures and Civilizations of the University of Verona), Elena Manzoni di Chiosca (president of the Piero Manzoni Foundation), Rosalia Pasqualino di Marineo (director of the Piero Manzoni Foundation), Valerio Terraroli (Research Center “Rossana Bossaglia” of the University of Verona). First session at 9:45 a.m., chaired by Valerio Terraroli, with talks by Flaminio Gualdoni of the Brera Academy of Fine Arts(There is shit and shit), Marco Senaldi of the LABA Free Academy of Fine Arts of Brescia(Kierkegaard’s son. Existentialism and the Philosophical Sources of Artist’s Shit), Arianna Novaga of the IUSVE University of Venice and Verona (Performing with Artist’s Shit. Piero Manzoni in the photographs of Johnny Ricci), Giorgio Zanchetti of the State University of Milan(Dans le trou de la Sybille. Tropes and shit figures) and Pierluigi Sacco of the University of Chieti-Pescara(Piero Manzoni: authorship and value creation in capitalist societies).

Second session at 2:30 p.m., chaired by Luca Bochicchio, with talks by Raffaella Perna of the Sapienza University of Rome (“The Jars of Discord” at the National Gallery of Modern Art. Fortunes and Misfortunes of Artist’s Shit 1963-1971), Choghakate Kazarian, art historian and independent curator(Demistify, Remistify the Artist’s Shit: Piero Manzoni and Bernard Bazile), Monica Molteni of the University of Verona(Work in Progress: First Notes on Artist’s Shit and Museums), Jaleh Mansoor of the University of British Columbia(Conceptual Materialism: On the Indivisibility of Intellectual and Manual Labor in Piero Manzoni’s Merda d’artista), Matteo Torre of the Liceo Scientifico Statale di Tortona(From Quantum Mechanics to Piero Manzoni: the “new role” of the observer), and Federico Leoni of the University of Verona(Inscatatolare. Philosophy of a gesture).

Third and final session at 9:30 a.m. on Saturday, March 11, chaired by Monica Molteni, with talks by Nicola Ludwig of the State University of Milan(Merde ai raggi X, indagini fisiche per la conoscenza e la conservazione nell’arte contemporanea), Luisa Mensi of the IUAV University of Venice(Dentro e fuori. Conservation and Restoration of Artist’s Crap), Domenico Quaranta of the Brera Academy of Fine Arts(Alchemical Sublimations. From Artist’s Crap to NFTs), Luca Bochicchio of the University of Verona (“The Scatological White” or the Box Society). This will be followed by a panel discussion from 11:45 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., with closing remarks.

Image: Piero Manzoni, 3 tins of Artist’s Shit (May 1961; tin box, printed paper, 5 × ø 6.5 cm each). Photo Bruno Bani © Piero Manzoni Foundation, Milan

In Verona the first international conference on Piero Manzoni's Artist's Shit.
In Verona the first international conference on Piero Manzoni's Artist's Shit.

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