A retrospective dedicated to Gianni Colombo in Milan. A comparison with Kubrick

Until July 17, Gió Marconi in Milan is hosting the exhibition "Gianni Colombo. A Space Odyssey," a retrospective dedicated to Gianni Colombo, a great exponent of kinetic art, on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of his death.

Until July 17, Fondazione Mar coni and Gió Marconi, in the Gió Marconi gallery premises at 15 Via Tadino in Milan, welcome the exhibition Gianni Colombo. A Space Odyssey, a retrospective dedicated to Gianni Colombo (Milan, 1937 - Melzo, 1993) on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of his death. The exhibition, curated by Marco Scotini, aims to focus on the particular spatial dramaturgy that connotes his work, starting with a comparison with Stanley Kubrick’s 1968 sci-fi colossal.

Considered to be one of the leading exponents of international kinetic and environmental art, Gianni Colombo makes the bond between space and body the catalyst for all of his plastic interests. Through the use of light flashes, moving objects, immersive environments and the use of isolated architectural elements, the artist creates disturbing spatial devices capable of disorienting acquired perceptual forms and deconstructing the codes of ordinary behavior.

Indeed, it is with the levitating plane of Campo praticabile that Colombo intervenes on the gallery floor with an environment created in collaboration with Vincenzo Agnetti. It will be the latter who will write about it: Given a base; the ground floor, a platform or other, identifiable in the threshold of sensitivity, we nevertheless have a field composed of two hemispheres: the upper as a positive virtual field tending toward redundancy, the lower as an unpredictable negative field foreseen.

In the same 1970, an extraordinary photograph by Ugo Mulas depicts one of the three corridors of Topoesthesia presented in the exhibition “Vitality of the Negative” as a centrifugal space. All four perimeter walls converge toward the one at the back, which is the visible effect of a twist, thus not allowing the identification of any axis of reference. Gianni Colombo is in the center of the image: his feet rest on one side wall and his torso on the other in front, with his hands compressed on the surface. We could rotate the image 45 degrees, and the side wall could immediately turn into the floor plane. Thus, one gets the impression that to be photographed is rather a kind of spacecraft in which the bodies of astronauts orbit on an anti-gravitational space.

After all, the Apollo 11 moon landing was in July 1969, and Columbus’ Topoesthesia is just a year later. Stanley Kubrick’s sensational sci-fi film, 2001. A Space Odyssey, on the other hand, is from 1968. The exhibition investigates Gianni Colombo’s challenges to gravity and his idea of the inclined plane: an aspect shared with much contemporary coeval dance, from Yvonne Rainer to Simone Forti. From his very first ceramic works Costellazioni Intermutabili of 1960 we arrive at the suspended and moving metal structures, Spazi Curvi, of the 1990s, passing through the reconstruction of some fundamental environments(Bariestesia 1973 and Topoestesia 1977), through which to restore part of the history of Studio Marconi. In essence, the exhibition is intended to be a journey inside a strange spaceship, in which Gianni Colombo is in the company of a quite exceptional crew (from Vincenzo Agnetti to Ugo Mulas, from Joe Colombo to Maria Mulas). A journey through “embedded knowledge” (Donna Haraway), capable of questioning the security of our Cartesian coordinates.

The analogy between Colombo’s spatiality and the spatiality staged in Kubrick’s film stems from the suggestion of a text by Annette Michelson and derives from the use, in both cases, of perceptual disorientation to reestablish the state of balance of our bodies as an open process. One responds to sensory disruption with a physical re-adjustment operated by experience itself. A situated knowing, far from any abstraction.

The exhibition opens Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. For information see Gió Marconi’s website.

A retrospective dedicated to Gianni Colombo in Milan. A comparison with Kubrick
A retrospective dedicated to Gianni Colombo in Milan. A comparison with Kubrick

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