Twelve international artists meet at Casa Jorn in the sign of J.G. Ballard

From Sept. 4 to Oct. 15, the Jorn House Museum in Albissola Marina, Savona, Italy, is hosting "Ballard in Albissola," an exhibition in which 12 international artists-in-residence are exhibiting works inspired by a well-known novel by English writer J.G. Ballard.

An event of international scope is to be held from Sept. 4 to Oct. 15, 2021, at the Jorn House Museum in Albissola Marina (Savona) where twelve international artists, writers, filmmakers and curators will create site-specific works inspired both by the place, namely the house where the great Danish artist Asger Jorn (Vejrum, 1914 - Aarhus, 1973) lived, and by the themes of the novel Concrete Island (“The Concrete Island”) by British writer J. G. Ballard (James Graham Ballard; Shanghai, 1930 - Shepperton, 2009). This is the exhibition entitled Ballard in Albissola.

Thus, after Karin Andersen’s solo exhibition, the Danish artist’s villa is ready to welcome twelve artists, writers, filmmakers and curators from different countries who, during their stay at Casa Jorn, from August 25 to September 3, will shape their works, each using the language and techniques most congenial to his or her own artistic practice, even involving local children with two workshops that will evoke Asger Jorn’s experiments. After that, the works, as anticipated, will go on display from Sept. 4 assiem with some carefully selected works from the collection of MAMCO in Geneva, one of the most important contemporary art museums in Switzerland, will be a reflection in opposition to the themes addressed by J. G. Ballard’s novel Concrete Island. Published in 1974, it is the third book in the so-called “urban disaster trilogy” and narrates the dystopian story of the protagonist Maitland, who, following an accident, finds himself on a concrete island divider after going over a highway guardrail. Completely isolated from the rest of the world, in order to survive he will try to recreate his former existence through the waste from consumer society. In contrast to Maitland’s new existence, artists will recreate at Jorn House Museum a pattern of living inspired by creativity, sharing and recycling practices. Ballard wrote his books in the 1970s, near the end of Jorn’s Albisolese period and just as the first sections of the highway were being installed in Liguria. Indeed, the story told in Concrete Island is perfectly suited to the Ligurian context, whose scene is now dominated on a daily basis by the difficulties encountered in the viability of its highway network, consisting of numerous engineering works that are as large and complex as they are fragile and in need of maintenance.

The evocation of this novel in the context of Jorn’s house is intended to pose metaphorical narrative connections (an improvised world under the highway), but also a set of contradictions: one imagines concrete in a land of ceramic tradition, one brings the remains of an urban disaster to the seashore, one proposes to turn one’s back on the sea to face the highway and to act out a “speculative fiction in the present” (as Concrete Island has been called) in a “sort of upside-down Pompeii” (to borrow Debord’s famous words about Jorn’s House).

The participants are Pierre-Olivier Arnaud, Stéphanie Cherpin, Béatrice Delcorde, David Evrard, Claire FitzGerald, Jill Gasparina, Federico Nicolao, Julie Portier, Denis Savary, Ambroise Tièche and Sarah Tritz. Arnaud (b. 1972, lives and works in Lyon) describes himself as an artist who thinks through photography, although his work is predominantly photographic: his works tirelessly interrogate the nature of the image, its essence and production, as well as its modes of dissemination and consumption. Stéphanie Cherpin (b. 1979, lives and works in Paris), proposes installations and sculptures that include materials such as wood, metal, concrete, stone, canvas, rope, paint, and adesiv tape, i.e., materials that the artist uses to construct, reconstruct, and deconstruct precarious settlements. Béatrice Delcorde (lives and works in Brussels), makes real and fantastic encounters intertwine in devices placed halfway between the work and the exhibition: her approach provokes reflections on the way individual thought is constructed in the social sphere, with projects that mix poetic and historical events, everyday gestures and magical perceptions, in an ambitious fresco made up of as many works as there are encounters. David Evrard (b. 1970, lives and works in Brussels), is a sculptor, painter, collage author, writer, magazine editor, filmmaker, opinionated journalist, and teacher in two art schools, and his practice recalls these diverse, voluntarily unstabilized identities, like the experimental teaching he configures in the form of a perpetual laboratory, far from traditional school didactics and teacher-student verticality. Claire FitzGerald (born 1988, lives and works between Geneva and London) is a curator with a doctorate in modern and contemporary art and works for the UK Government National Art Collection, which she promotes through research, new acquisitions, exhibitions, special projects, online content and public presentations.

Jill Gasparina (b. 1981, lives and works in Geneva), is a critic, theorist, curator and teacher, has directed La Salle de bains, an art center (Lyon, France), curated all programming and editorial production for the Confort Moderne visual arts center (Poitiers, France) and writes regularly for many magazines, reviews and exhibition catalogs. Federico Nicolao (born 1970, lives and works between Genoa, Paris and Lausanne), is an Italian writer and philosopher, founded and directs the European cultural magazine Chorus. A Constellation and teaches at ECAL in Lausanne and the École Nationale Supérieure d’Arts de Paris-Cergy. Julie Portier (born 1982, lives and works in Lyon), is a journalist, art critic, curator, and teacher, and writes regularly for Quotidien de l’art and other specialized magazines, as well as texts for monographic publications on artists or exhibition catalogs. Denis Savary (b. 1981, lives and works in Geneva) works across forms and media in his creation of dreamlike objects, images, and installations: often reinterpreting motifs and artifacts taken from different historical eras, he distorts them formally and psychologically through changes of scale and material, craft and content, toward a twisted total and fragmentary reinterpretation of culture. Ambroise Tièche (born 1966, lives and works in Geneva) teaches at HEAD (Haute école d’art et de design, Geneva), and is an artist whose plastic and textual work questions knowledge and its limits, meaning and its shifts and reversals (since 2009 his work has primarily focused on creating a running dictionary of what he knows, entitled Dictionnaire encyclopédique lacunaire). Sarah Tritz (b. 1980, lives and works in Paris) creates works that mix diverse and varied influences and, without hierarchy or aesthetic subdivision, alternates between precious bronze productions or wood inlays that require the specialized knowledge of artisans, and inexpensive works made from materials at hand such as recycled packaging or chipboard.

Pictured: Jorn House

Twelve international artists meet at Casa Jorn in the sign of J.G. Ballard
Twelve international artists meet at Casa Jorn in the sign of J.G. Ballard

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