until November 19, 2023
Castello di Rivoli Museum of Contemporary Art
Piazza Mafalda di Savoia
10098 Rivoli Turin
Drafted by Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev and Marianna Vecellio.
The exhibition Artisti in guerra / Artists in a Time of War presents over 140 works by artists who were or are at war. Their works express empathy and complexity, unease, but also great humanity.
Beyond its political and economic causes, beyond its pacifist condemnation or its justification as a lesser but necessary evil, war and its meaning (or non-meaning) is seen in this exhibition from a cultural perspective that includes art and philosophy.
Recent international conflicts have led us to create a new exhibition that investigates the meaning of war, to ask ourselves how artists process the organized violence of war, with its armies, strategies and tactics. They highlight its horror and its inexplicability, suspended as it is between rational calculations, on the one hand, and utter unpredictability on the other.
The exhibition takes over the entire top floor of Castello di Rivoli where military garrisons were housed until the end of the Second World War, well before the castle became Italy’s first museum of contemporary art in 1984.
The exhibition takes its cue from the well-known series of etchings with acquatint and drypoint, Disasters of war, 1810-1815 (1 ed. 1863), which Francisco Goya (Fuendetodos, 1746–Bordeaux, 1828) never wanted to release during his lifetime, with the exception of some artist’s proofs kept secret, for fear of censorship or falling into disgrace with the courts.
Rahraw Omarzad is an artist and key figure of the Afghan cultural scene since the early 2000s, who found asylum in Italy in October 2021 after the Taliban return to power. He then moved to Germany, where he now lives. For this exhibition, he worked with the Italian Army to explode paint and dynamite on a Piedmont military base more usually dedicated to removing unexploded bombs left in the landscape since the Second World War. He also filmed a new video in an underground bomb shelter of Turin, built in 1943.
Nikita Kadan is a Ukrainian artist who lives between Kiev and Bucha. I called him a few days after the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. He answered from a space in Kiev, located in a former bomb shelter from the Soviet period that had been renovated into a white cube underground art gallery. For Artisti in guerra / Artists in a Time of War, he has created a new second version of Shelter, a two-story architectural sculpture made for the Istanbul Biennial in 2015, a year after the Donbass invasion. The new Shelter II is again two-storied, with books in the upper part that suggest how to shield living rooms from glass of shattered windows during bombing, and dirt on the walls of the bottom half, associating the experience of living in a shelter with being buried alive.
Being reveals itself to philosophical thought as war: in the contrast between the finitude of death—most evident in war because it becomes such a large part of daily life—and the limitless incommensurability of existence.
Life during wartime is this expanded interval between life and death. Through art, some artists in a time of war find a way to remove themselves from adversarial thinking and to infinitely expand time and space, even in everyday life.
With thanks to Andrea Ruben Levi, Francesca Thyssen-Bornemisza, and Giuliana Setari for their support of the exhibition.