HangarBicocca, the contemporary art space in Milan supported by Pirelli, presents bau bau, Céline Condorelli’s solo exhibition, comprising about twenty works made between 2008 and 2014, as well as a selection of the artist’s writings. Curated by Andrea Lissoni in the “Shed” space, the exhibition offers a selection of Condorelli’s most significant works, which reveal her ability to work with the relationships between art and architecture, space and socio-historical contexts. A new work, created during an unprecedented collaboration at one of Pirelli’s factories, the Technological Hub at Settimo Torinese (Torino), explores how production processes influence human relationships and their surroundings.
bau bau is the first exhibition devoted to Céline Condorelli that includes the many-facets of her work, such as sculpture, installation, display devices, research, writing and teaching; her comprehensive approach draws from Italian traditions of art and design, such as that of Bruno Munari, as well as conceptual art and the relational art of the 1990s. The artist conceived the exhibition as well as its interpretative framework, in this way intervening in all the aspects of the institution through the various objects that narrate it (such as texts, captions and graphics). Condorelli’s work is concerned with how all human action takes place amidst countless structures, or more specifically what she has termed ‘support structures’ – whether emotional, legal or physical. These structures are mostly taken for granted, and therefore often seem invisible. Support Structures is also the title of one of her publications, which has been reprinted for the occasion by Sternberg Press. She says “there’s a whole world in the shadow of the bottom line.”
The exhibition is imagined as a context for co-existence – of objects, participants and public – through doing and thinking. Condorelli inhabits the industrial space of HangarBicocca with quasi-functional structures, and discreet alterations to the physical fabric of the gallery itself, which becomes subject to variations in time and light. The existing boundaries of the space – both temporal and spatial – are thus modified by structures that originate from everyday life, such as curtains, seats, lamps.
Two areas are outlined by curtains –a recurring motif in the artist’s work– into ‘day’ and ‘night’, light and darkness, white and black, in direct relation to two works on display in the exhibition: White Gold (2012), which unfolds from the artist’s research into cotton production in Egypt, and the new work for HangarBicocca, which makes reference to the use of the carbon black (which gives the title to the work Nerofumo (Carbon Black), 2014), a fundamental binding agent in tyre manufacturing. At the centre of the exhibition, Support Structure, Red (2012-2014) acts as a form of support for these two works and houses the artist’s research into cotton and rubber, in this way acting as an index, or atlas, structuring the exhibition as a whole.
The new work created by Céline Condorelli in collaboration with the Pirelli factory and its staff grounds her interests in manufacturing through the material and social process involved in the making of a tyre. The artist was able to work in Pirelli’s new industrial centre in Settimo Torinese, the company’s most technologically advanced facility worldwide, with a central block designed by architect Renzo Piano. The installation Nerofumo is the result of small interventions during the course of the production process through conversations with the people who work alongside it. The piece, made of altered tyres and their tracks, functions both as a documentation of that journey and as a way of navigating the exhibition.
In the exhibition, a complex set of relations is produced between a series of utilitarian objects, the multiple possibilities they suggest, and the people that activate and produce them. Structures for resting and talking become sites for performance, such as The Weird Charismatic Power That Capitalism Has For Teenagers (to Johan Hartle), 2014. A stepladder doubles as a desk and a viewing platform in The Double and the Half (to Avery Gordon), 2014. A gallery bench becomes an environment for houseplants flourishing in artificial conditions, and a puppet show a site for a refusal of history.
‘bau bau’ is Italian for ‘woof woof’, while ‘Bau’ means ‘building’ in German, and also ‘in construction’. The title of the exhibition, therefore, is both the sound of a barking dog and a reference to ideas of ongoing processes that are underlying all of Condorelli’s practice. bau bau is also the title of an installation from 2014 at GfZK Leipzig (Germany), in which Condorelli transformed one of the museum galleries into a café, whose sign is flashing on the outer walls of HangarBicocca.
Céline Condorelli (1974) lives and works between London and Milan. Her work has been exhibited in many art institutions including Artists Space, New York (2009), SALT Istanbul (2012), Project Arts Centre, Dublin and Grazer Kunstverein, Austria (both 2013). In 2010 she exhibited at Manifesta 8, the European biennial of contemporary art, and in 2014 Chisenhale Gallery in London and the Van Abbemuseum in Eindhoven held solo exhibitions of her work. Céline Condorelli is one of the founding directors of the artist-run space Eastside Projects, Birmingham, UK, (since 2008), where she curated Curtain Show (2010) and Puppet Show (2013). In 2009 she wrote and edited the book Support Structures and recently published The Company She Keeps (2014). She has been teaching since 1999 at various academic institutions and is professor at NABA (Nuova Accademia di Belle Arti) in Milan since 2012.