A major exhibition in Bergamo on the dematerialization of art, from Magritte and Picasso to Ai Weiwei

From Feb. 3 to May 28, 2023, GAMeC in Bergamo is hosting "Leap into the Void," a major exhibition on the dematerialization of art, from Magritte and Picasso to Ai Weiwei, which closes the trilogy of exhibitions on matter that began in 2018.

Entitled Leap into the Void. Art Beyond Matter the third and final chapter of the multi-year exhibition project conceived by Lorenzo Giusti for GAMeC in Bergamo, dedicated to the investigation of matter in 20th- and 21st-century art. Launched in 2018 with the exhibition Black Hole. Art and Materiality between Inform and Invisible and continued in 2021 with Nothing is Lost. Art and Matter in Transformation, Leap into the Void, on view from Feb. 3 to May 28, 2023, closes the Trilogy of Matter by exploring the theme of dematerialization and creating a cross-cutting narrative that highlights the connections between the investigations of emptiness, undertaken by the early movements of the historical avant-garde and developed by experimental groups after World War II, the research on flux dating back to the years of early computerization, and the use of new languages and simulated realities in the post-digital era.

The exhibition, curated by Lorenzo Giusti and Domenico Quaranta, presents the works of some of the great protagonists of 20th-century art history and pioneers of digital art together with authors of more recent generations, thanks to loans from important international institutions and private collections. Specifically, Leap into the Void turns its gaze to those artists and women artists who, at different times, have investigated the dimension of emptiness, denying it in substance or identifying it as a mere ideal dimension, or whose work has proved capable of reflecting the epochal changes in the perception of the material dimension, introduced by the emergence of the paradigms of software and computerization, as well as by the digital revolution and its systematization.

The exhibition is divided into three thematic sections(Void, Flow and Simulation) that frame as many ways of focusing, representing and expressing the principles of dematerialization, and it unfolds in an experiential path that solicits the viewer’s perception from a visual and bodily point of view.

The first section is devoted to the representation of the void as immaterial space. A dimension forcibly denied, continually denied and fundamentally contradicted by the very materiality of the work of art. It welcomes a series of works by artists who, at different times, have worked, especially in painting, through the principles of extreme reduction, minimal contrast and the imperceptible, recounting the void as an imaginative, ideal or conceptual dimension. Marked by the dominant presence of white, in the first rooms the exhibition itinerary winds its way through Agostino Bonalumi and Enrico Castellani’s extroflexions, Dadamaino’s regularly perforated transparent plastic sheets, Jean Degottex and Aiko Miyawaki ’s minimalist compositions to Ann Veronica Janssens’ experiments with light and space. Works by artists of the early and late 20th century are placed in dialogue with recent works by some of the most significant protagonists of international art in recent years.

The Flux section, on the other hand, presents a selection of works from different eras, from the historical avant-gardes to the present day, witnessing the radical impact of computerization and digital networks on the perception of material reality. The dimensions investigated are those of the non-atomic materiality of data, of the bit as the minimal unit of information, of the pixel as the minimal unit of the digitized image, and of software as a process that may or may not generate a sensible output. The section thus accounts for the complex manner of art’s existence in the so-called “Informational Milieu.” In fact, in the late 1960s and early 1970s, a number of historical exhibitions interpreted developments such as the dematerialization of art, the advent of system-works and process-works, and the broadening of languages as a result of the increasing computerization of society, the advent of data processing and global communication platforms, juxtaposing for the first time contemporary artworks, technological devices, and early examples of new media art.

The rooms host works by precursors such as Giacomo Balla, Umberto Boccioni, František Kupka, and Pablo Picasso; works that introduce the perceptual dynamism ofProgrammed Art and Fluxus along with other works from the 1960s and 1970s depicting complex, process-based systems, instructions, and programs, from Agnes Martin to Roman OpaÅ‚ka, Vera Molnár to Lillian F. Schwartz, alongside numerous recent works by international women artists.

Finally, the third section, Simulation, focuses on the juncture between the real and the virtual, in a chronologically seesaw path that places in dialogue works that critically investigate the impact of simulations on the way we perceive concrete reality (Lynn Hershman Leeson and Seth Price, among others) with others that, through the medium of painting, amplify our perception by creating powerful visual illusions (Richard Estes, Duane Hanson, René Magritte); and still others that construct compelling and immersive alternative realities, whether or not mediated by the use of virtual reality and augmented reality technological devices, in a progression from pioneering to recent works, from Rebecca Allen to John Gerrard, from Jon Rafman to Timur Si-Qin.

The information age has vaporized reality into a series of relational, communicative and media experiences, in which the stuff of which the real is made is sublimated into the intangibility of the “virtual.” Initially seen as a radically other dimension, accessible only through a temporary abandonment of reality made possible by specific immersive technologies-analog such as panoramas or digital such as simulated reality helmets-the virtual has gradually become identified with reality itself as our relationships and experiences were facilitated by screens, devices and communication networks. It is on these themes, therefore, that the concluding section of the exhibition insists.

The exhibition makes use of the collaboration of the Meru - Medolago Ruggeri Foundation for Biomedical Research, which was already the promoter, between 2013 and 2017, with Associazione BergamoScienza and GAMeC, of the prestigious Meru Art*Science Award, aimed at promoting art projects related to the development of scientific research. The new research program - Meru Art*Science Research Program - funds the creation of a site-specific project for GAMeC’s Spazio Zero, as was the case for the Black Hole and Nothing is Lost exhibitions. For Leap into the Void, MSHR (Brenna Murphy and Birch Cooper) present a new installation from the Nested Landscapes series (2017-ongoing), which explores and enhances different levels of immersivity and fruition that occur, intentionally or unintentionally, whenever virtual reality is presented in a public space. Indeed, in his installations, MSHR creates complex systems rooted in cybernetics and information theory, which intersect different feedback processes between environment and viewer, and which activate the latter as the protagonist of an experiment that extends perceived reality while soliciting, through virtual reality, the reactivation of forms of creative thinking and mind wandering connected to what neuroscience calls DMN (Default Mode Network), normally compromised by distraction induced by digital devices and information flows.

Along the lines of the publications that have accompanied the previous Trilogy exhibitions, the catalog of Salto nel vuoto - published by Officina Libraria and GAMeC Books with graphic design by Studio Temp - will consist of texts by curators Lorenzo Giusti and Domenico Quaranta and in-depth essays on the works in the exhibition by Italian and international art historians. The introduction of each section of the catalog is entrusted to a scholarly text, previously unpublished in Italian, considered of particular importance for the development of the exhibition project: Karen Barad for the section devoted to the Void, Luciano Floridi for the section devoted to Flow and Myron W. Krueger for the section devoted to Simulation. Closing the volume is the republication of an essay by Italo Calvino, derived from a 1967 lecture entitled Cybernetics and Ghosts, in which the writer describes literature as a combinatorial process, dwelling on the impact of information theory on literature, on creation and our worldview, on the end of the author, on the human-machine relationship, and on what was not yet called artificial intelligence at the time.

Artists in the exhibition. First section: Josef Albers, Agostino Bonalumi, Regina Cassolo Bracchi, Enrico Castellani, Dadamaino, Jean Degottex, Aleksandra Domanović, Ann Veronica Janssens, Yayoi Kusama, Francesco Lo Savio, Scott Lyall, Fabio Mauri, Aiko Miyawaki, Andrés Ramírez Gaviria, Antoine Schmitt, Gerhard von Graevenitz. Second section: Carla Accardi, Cory Arcangel, Giacomo Balla, Umberto Boccioni, Maurizio Bolognini, Paolo Cirio, John F. Simon Jr, Channa Horwitz, Ryoji Ikeda, Vladan Joler, František Kupka, Sol LeWitt, Mark Lombardi, Agnes Martin, Eva and Franco Mattes, Vera Molnár, Roman OpaÅ‚ka, Trevor Paglen, Pablo Picasso, Casey Reas, Evan Roth, Lillian F. Schwartz, Hito Steyerl, Addie Wagenknecht. Arte Programmata 1962: Gruppo T [Giovanni Anceschi, Davide Boriani, Gianni Colombo, Gabriele Devecchi, Grazia Varisco] Gruppo N [Alberto Biasi, Ennio Chiggio, Toni Costa, Edoardo Landi, Manfredo Massironi], Getulio Alviani, Enzo Mari, Bruno Munari. Fluxus [Nanni Balestrini, John Cage, Robert Filliou, Alison Knowles, Yoko Ono, Nam June Paik, Mieko Shiomi]. Third section: Rebecca Allen, Gazira Babeli, Petra Cortright, Constant Dullaart, Richard Estes, John Gerrard, Elisa Giardina Papa, Duane Hanson, Lynn Hershman Leeson, Agnieszka Kurant, JODI, René Magritte, MSHR, Katja Novitskova, Seth Price, Jon Rafman, Rachel Rossin, Manuel Rossner, Jeffrey Shaw, Timur Si-Qin, Ai Weiwei.

For all information you can visit the website of GAMeC in Bergamo.

Image: René Magritte, Le grand siècle (1954; oil on canvas cm, 50 x 60; Gelsenkirchen, Kunstmuseum Gelsenkirchen)

A major exhibition in Bergamo on the dematerialization of art, from Magritte and Picasso to Ai Weiwei
A major exhibition in Bergamo on the dematerialization of art, from Magritte and Picasso to Ai Weiwei

Warning: the translation into English of the original Italian article was created using automatic tools. We undertake to review all articles, but we do not guarantee the total absence of inaccuracies in the translation due to the program. You can find the original by clicking on the ITA button. If you find any mistake,please contact us.