Fondazione Nicola Trussardi

Pawel Althamer

07 May - 05 Jun 2007

© Pawel Althamer
Fairy Tale (Favola), 1994-2004
Tecnica mista: rete di metallo, vestiti di seconda mano. 5 figure di dimensioni reali: ciascuna 190 x 60 x 60 cm
Collezione Privata, Portogallo
Foto di: Roberto Marossi
"One of Many"

May 7th through June 5th, 2007

In the Neoclassical space of the Palazzina Appiani in the Sports Arena, the exhibition One of Many is an exceptional occasion to discover the work of one of the most respected artists from Eastern Europe. The exhibition presents new works and productions commissioned by the Fondazione Nicola Trussardi, along with a unique selection of pieces loaned from international institutions and private collections.

In Althamer’s work, fiction and reality merge and overlap to construct an eerie world. For the artist, the Human Being is always the center of our universe, a universe which – with the power of imagination – can be transformed into a fairy tale or an extreme spiritual experience. Almost like a shaman, Pawel Althamer has used his own body and his own image as tools to construct a different relationship with the world. In One of Many, Pawel Althamer presents nine videos, each of them reporting his reactions to different drugs: poetic and fragmentary self-portraits, Althamer’s films document the altered states of the artist’s mind while describing new and obscure magical rituals.

In Althamer’s sculptures – often realized with organic materials such as grass, hemp fiber, animal intestines, wax and hair – the artist represents himself, his family and his loves in an uncanny group portrait. Multiplying his identity in an infinite crowd of idols, dolls, and disturbing puppets, Althamer populates the exhibition with human figures and mysterious totems. Like relics of some archaic and primordial world, Althamer’s sculptures investigate the meaning of basic, visceral human relationships and question the limits of identity. In the monumental spaces of the Sala Appiani, Althamer creates a visual autobiography, portraying himself as a child, as a tiny character in some ancient fable or as a monstrous and hyper-realistic creature. As in a family album, Althamer also sculpts portraits of his little daughter, of his current partner –represented almost as a giant, pregnant Athena – and of his new born son, who is reduced to a little foetus.

One of Many is also an unexpected chance to take a look at the artist’s future. The exhibition, in fact, is inhabited by a spectral and unexpected presence: the artist has searched for his elderly double, a person whose physical appearance resembles that of Althamer in thirty years time. The artist’s Self-portrait as an Old Man is free to wander around the exhibition space, a living sculpture linking the past and future of his life.

Pawel Althamer is a spectator of daily life. One of Many echoes of the notes of a busker; the music comes from the park outside the Palazzina Appiani where an African musician hired by Althamer plays traditional folk songs. Through a special audio system the music is heard in the exhibition space and on the balcony that opens onto the Arena: life is treated like a movie, complete with a soundtrack – a film in real time.

The park is also the stage from which Pawel Althamer’s challenges traditional sculpture. A huge self-portrait of the artist – an aerostat, more than 20 meters long– flies over the city like a UFO or an absurd, temporary public monument. As if it were a carnival or a village festival, Pawel Althamer plays with the city, treating it to a collective hallucination, making fun of artists’ narcissism and presenting himself naked before the judgment of the public. Conceived by the artist many years ago, and realized through a collective effort, the sculpture Balloon is finally visible thanks to the commitment of the Fondazione Nicola Trussardi in supporting ambitious projects by contemporary artists.
With the exhibition One of Many the Fondazione Nicola Trussardi continues its adventure in the rediscovery of the hidden secrets of Milan, bringing back to life forgotten buildings or temporary spaces that are suddenly transformed into stages for contemporary art. In the year that marks its bicentenary, the city’s Sports Arena – built by Napoleon and opened in 1807 and hosting the frescoes by Andrea Appiani – becomes a perfect scenario for Pawel Althamer’s work. Althamer’s exhibition One of Many celebrates the Human Being in all its fragility, and it does so exactly in the place where the heroism of extraordinary bodies used to be glorified through sport.

Tags: Pawel Althamer, J. Fiber