La Spezia, at CAMeC a major anthological exhibition on Sarenco with more than 200 works

CAMeC - Center for Modern and Contemporary Art (La Spezia) is dedicating a major anthological exhibition from March 31, 2023 to January 14, 2024 to Sarenco, one of the most singular personalities of Italian and international art of the second half of the 20th century.

From March 31, 2023 to January 14, 2024, the CAMeC - Modern and Contemporary Art Center of La Spezia dedicates an exhibition to one of the most singular personalities of Italian and international art of the second half of the 20th century, Sarenco (Isaia Mabellini; Vobano, 1945 - Salò, 2017) in the name of Total Poetry. It is titled The Plateau of Humanity and is a major anthological exhibition curated by Giosuè Allegrini, promoted by the City of La Spezia.

Among the most significant performers of the second half of the 20th century, with appearances at Documenta 5 in Kassel and various editions of the Venice Biennale, Sarenco was a visual poet, performer, explorer, filmmaker, editor, photographer and organizer of international cultural events such as the Malindi Biennale. The exhibition includes more than 200 works representative of a 50-year journey, which are in turn flanked by images and bibliographic and archival documents revealing the particular historical period he lived through (exoeditorial magazines, posters, photographs, playbills, etc.), many of which are extremely rare and some of which have never been seen before.

A florilegium of works, from the visual-poetic projects of 1963, Betrayed, Great Massacre, Finally the Avant-Garde, governed by the Futurist paroliberal power and the graphic echoes of Mallarmè, transiting through the emulsified, ironic and revolutionary canvases, such as The People are Strong Armed Will Win or No Reproduction Please, in which Mantegna’s Dead Christ brings us back to the concept of the trademark, with a formidable estranging effect in the Dadaist style. This is followed by the collages and assemblages of the 1970s and later, such as Poetical Licence and the cycles Taboo and Time; then the large installations, such as My Poets: four gigantic white sculptures depicting Marinetti, Breton, Tsara and Apollinaire, representative of the infinite stature of poetry, or the African Self-Portraits, ironic and mocking.

The installation The Papers of Salò, constitutes an explication of the entire artistic journey of the poet originally from Vobarno. Also paradigmatic are the two imposing Ceramics of Seville bearing, respectively, the phrases My word is my sword and Touching the world can only be done by poets. Because Poetry is the center of life and Sarenco is a Total Poet. Because of this, his celebrated avant-garde film works, including Collage and Waiting for World War III, will also be screened in the exhibition, which had already been received in 1994 at the Centre George Pompidou in Paris, on the occasion of the solo exhibition Sarenco. Cinema and Poetry. Finally, the cycles of works The Poet is Naked, Alone as a Poet and Let’s Go to School give blatant evidence of how stubbornly Sarenco has shunned standardization, throughout his entire existence, always ready to testify through poetic action, creative and revolutionary, provocative and irreverent, the profound meaning of life.

“Sarenco.” writes curator Giosuè Allegrini, “was among the most gifted, active, unpredictable and explosive figures of contemporary artistic research in Italy and beyond. A theoretician of Total Poetry, Sarenco’s creative idea was to manifest the fact that nothing could be precluded to poets: painting, sculpture, ceramics, performance, concerts, theater, video and cinema: hence the concept, precisely, of Total Poetry. What we wish to propose, with this exhibition, is Sarenco’s ’Dream of Art’; that anarchic and revolutionary poetic form, at once public, nonconformist and irreverent, turned into reality, and through it put the spotlight on Italian, European and international culture of the second half of the twentieth century, in relation to consumer and communication society and more generally to all the ’isms’ conditioning, in various ways, the world in which we live.”

The exhibition will be open until January 14, 2024, Tuesday through Sunday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., closed Mondays, open Easter Monday and May 1, Christmas and New Year’s Day. Full admission euro 5, reduced euro 4, special reduced euro 3.50. For information: tel. +39 0187 727530,,

During the exhibition, the Sarenco Foundation will publish a bilingual Italian/English catalog edited by Giosuè Allegrini with color photoproductions of the works and documents on display and critical essays by various authors, including Harald Szeemann, Achille Bonito Oliva, Nicholas Zurbrugg, Martina Corgnati, Enrico Mascelloni and Duccio Dogheria.

Biographical notes.

Sarenco, born Isaia Mabellini (Vobarno, 1945 - Salò, 2017). Visual poet, performer, explorer, director, publisher, photographer, organizer: he was among the most gifted, active, unpredictable and explosive figures of contemporary artistic research in Italy and the world. He attended the Liceo Classico “Arnaldo” in Brescia and studied Philosophy at the State University of Milan. In 1961 he began writing his first linear poems. Beginning in 1963 he began to engage in poetic-visual research, making his first contacts with the artists of “Group 70,” which he officially joined the following year. His contribution to the movement is distinguished by the biting and caustic tone with which he elaborates epigrammatic texts that he associates with images of varied provenance from the world of communication to that of art. Making use of the techniques of collage, assemblage or emulsified canvas, he obtains works of strong impact, which he uses as an instrument of political and cultural struggle. In 1965 he began his exhibition activity, having more than 50 solo exhibitions and about 1,000 group exhibitions to his credit. He carries out an intense editorial and organizational activity. He founded magazines including “Amodulo” in 1968 and “Lotta poetica” in 1971 and publishing houses such as Edizioni Amodulo in 1969, SAR.MIC in 1972 and Factotum Art in 1977. He founded groups such as the International Group of Visual Poetry (or Group of Nine) and Logomotives. Since 1982 Sarenco has undertaken numerous trips between Asia and Africa, injecting new energies into his irony-laden creations. From this moment, the African continent becomes a protagonist within his artistic production. Was the organizer of four editions of the International Art Biennale in Malindi, Kenya (2006-2008-2010-2012). He wrote his first film subject in 1968, which he would later shoot in 1984 under the title “Collage.” The following year he was invited to present the film at the Venice Film Festival. Many more feature films would follow. He has published more than forty books and made fifteen films. He has been regularly featured in the most important international art festivals, including four editions of the Venice Biennale (1972, 1986, 2001 - curator Harald Szeemann, with Personal Room - and 2011), Documenta Kassel (1972), the Seville Biennale (2004, together with Cattelan), Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam (1970), Centre Pompidou in Paris (1989-1994), Museum of Modern Art in New York (1986), MART in Rovereto (2007-2013-2015), Museo del Novecento in Milan (2013). In 2018 some of his works were exhibited at CAMeC in La Spezia as part of the exhibition “Poetry and Pottery. An unprecedented adventure between ceramics and Visual Poetry,” curated by Giosuè Allegrini and Marzia Ratti.

La Spezia, at CAMeC a major anthological exhibition on Sarenco with more than 200 works
La Spezia, at CAMeC a major anthological exhibition on Sarenco with more than 200 works

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