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SHIT AND DIE, Palazzo Cavour, Torino

curated by Maurizio Cattelan, Myriam Ben Salah and Marta Papini

In 2013 Artissima presented the first edition of One Torino comprising five independent yet interlinked group shows in collaboration with museums and foundations in the city and Palazzo Cavour, a magnificent historical venue in the town centre. An extraordinary exhibition project aimed at placing Torino at the centre of an important cultural dialogue about contemporary art by consolidating its position as an experimental and dynamic art capital and by promoting both its contemporary and historical identity.

The second edition of One Torino features a singular show rooted in Torino’s social, political and artistic heritage as much as in its contemporary scene and popular representations. The show takes place within a eighteenth century architectural gem: Palazzo Cavour.

Seeking to create an engaging and original project that actively involves the city and which addresses the notions of exhibition-making and contemporary art at large, Artissima has invited a “retired” artist with an inquisitive mind and a talent for discovery and display to act as the ‘non-curator’ for One Torino, namely Maurizio Cattelan. He chose to work in a team with Palais de Tokyo’s Myriam Ben Salah and independent curator Marta Papini.

Taking the city of Torino as its main inspiration, SHIT AND DIE lies on a narrative thread drawn by a series of objects that the curators have sourced from a selection of established yet unconventional institutions and collections in the city. SHIT AND DIE is conceived as a highly subjective, obsessive and irrationally non-exhaustive composition in which different stories, objects and artworks incorporate into one consistent narrative that visitors can read as a whole tale.

Colonising Palazzo Cavour’s Baroque architecture, the show is rooted in another time, when the building was home to Camillo Benso Conte di Cavour, an Italian statesman and leading figure in the movement toward Italian unification, who left behind scant remains of both his public and private fate. Still haunting the space, these ghosts are revealed through subtle hints, playful remembrances and imaginary digressions that revive Torino’s history and suggest the obliteration of the story of one man, one space, one city by universal torments and a vision of the human condition.

The exhibition is divided into seven sections, each emanating from a specific object that functions as a thematic anchor for the show. From the interior design of Olivetti’s residential units to the execution scaffold of Museum of Criminal Anthropology “Cesare Lombroso”, to the skeleton of Professor Giacomini, once Director of the Human Anatomy Museum “Luigi Rolando” and the special collaboration between Museo Casa Mollino and artist Yuri Ancarani: all these elements throw a singular light on the city’s history, underlining its obsessions, its fetishes, its secrets. What is more, through deliberately fortunate and randomly fortuitous affinities, the artworks in the exhibition bring extra levels of meaning to the objects, thereby creating a dialogue that distorts both objects and artworks as well as their relationship to the space itself.

The project by Maurizio Cattelan, Myriam Ben Salah and Marta Papini is a nonlinear experience punctuated by a wealth of questions and musings that are stimulated by the intertwining of the artworks, the space and the city itself.

The exhibition is completed by a book published by Damiani, which is not a mere comment on the show but could be seen as an extension of it, a missing room gathering references, visual inspirations and contributions by artists, philosophers and writers.

SHIT AND DIE will open to public on November 6, 2014 until January 11, 2015, expanding the pull of Artissima over a longer span of time.

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