On October 15, Nothing is Lost. Art and Matter in Transformation opens to the public, curated by Anna Daneri and Lorenzo Giusti. The show is the second chapter in the Trilogy of Matter, a long-term exhibition project begun in October 2018 with the exhibition Black Hole. Art and Materiality from Informal to Invisible.
The project involves art historians, curators, philosophers, and scientists, and addresses a transversal debate around the theme of matter, while at the same time activating a dialogue with the history of scientific discoveries and drawing a comparison with the development of aesthetic theories. The program foresees a cycle of three exhibitions, accompanied by as many publications, featuring the presence of artists and works of various generations.
After the first appointment in the cycle—dedicated to the essence of matter, to all its depth, in dialogue with the theories of modern physics—the second exhibition in the program turns its attention to the work of those artists who, at various times, have investigated the transformation of matter, drawing inspiration from the lives of the elements to develop a reflection on the reality of things, on change, and on time.
“Rien ne se perd” (“nothing is lost”) is the opening to the famous maxim attributed to Lavoisier, with which the French chemist explained the general sense of his law of the conservation of mass, which stated that over the course of a chemical reaction, the sum of the mass of the reactants is equal to the sum of the masses of the substances. Matter, in other words, cannot be created and cannot be destroyed.
This fundamental principle would set the stage for a number of founding notions of modernity, which over the centuries to come, would lead to the definition of the theory of relativity and thus to the identification of a substantial equivalence between mass and energy, and hence to the progressively more elaborate belief—as recounted by scientists, artists, and philosophers—in matter which is always alive, always present, part of a world in endless transformation.
Nothing is Lost. Art and Matter in Transformation will occupy all the exhibition spaces of the GAMeC, developing an itinerary with a strong sensorial impact, given the material and synesthetic nature of the numerous works on display, on loan from international collections both public and private. The four sections of the exhibition—Fire, Earth, Water, and Air—refer to the natural elements, understood here as the states of material aggregation, and thus preempt its relationships and transformations: fire/burning state; earth/solid state; water/liquid state; and air/gaseous state.
With a rich selection of works, the show provides an articulated framework, one capable of highlighting the strong link which has always bound artists to the chemistry of the elements and the transformation of matter. A field of study and experimentation which in our own era also constitutes a significant declination in terms of a reflection on the impact of human presence on the natural equilibria (from the availability of resources to climate change).
The exhibition will bring together works from various eras, ranging from Dada and Surrealist works, reflecting the interest of various artists—such as Marcel Duchamp, Max Ernst, Man Ray, or Leonora Carrington—in the theme of alchemy, through to creations by some of the leading exponents of the neo-avant-gardes—from Yves Klein to Otto Piene, from Robert Smithson to Hans Haacke—including compositions by artists akin to the poetics of Arte Povera—Pier Paolo Calzolari and Paolo Icaro—sculptural works and installations by artists who emerged in the 1980s—from Rebecca Horn to Liliane Lijn—right up to the latest research of some of the most important international artists of recent generations, such as Olafur Eliasson, Wolfgang Tillmans, Cyprien Gaillard, Otobong Nkanga, Erika Verzutti, and many others.
The exhibition will also draw on the collaboration of the Fondazione Meru/Medolago Ruggeri for biomedical research, which between 2013 and 2017—along with the Associazione BergamoScienza and the GAMeC—promoted the prestigious Meru Art*Science Award, fostering art projects linked to the development of scientific research. The new research program—Meru Art*Science Research Program—will finance the creation of a site-specific project for the GAMeC’s “Spazio Zero”. As part of Nothing is Lost, the Swedish-born artist Nina Canell will present a new environmental installation designed to investigate the interface between the organic and inorganic dimensions, amid living and inert material.
A major partner of the exhibition at the GAMeC will be the Fondazione Dalmine. Founded in 1999 on the initiative of TenarisDalmine with the aim of promoting industrial culture, both in its headquarters in Dalmine—an independent municipality on the outskirts of Bergamo—and in other locations, the foundation will promote a series of workshops for schools, with meetings, courses, and other activities (coordinated by the GAMeC Education Department) linked to the subject of the transformation of matter in industry, to technology, robotics, and industrial cities, guided by a creative approach, mindful of the themes of ecology and the regeneration of materials.
The exhibition will be accompanied by a rich program of activities for schools, and a cycle of meetings open to the public, which will witness the participation of scientists, engineers, chemists, art historians, artists, and philosophers. The program, which also features the screening of a number of films and documentaries, will also draw on the collaboration of BergamoScienza. Oriented towards the promotion of science and awareness-raising with regard to the languages of art, it will be characterized by an interdisciplinary nature, and will deal with themes of various kinds, from new discoveries in chemistry to the application of knowledge in various fields of industry, right up to the relationship between the visual arts and the sciences.
The exhibition catalogue, published by GAMeC Books, features numerous insights into the implications of the physical-chemical processes of matter from an ecological perspective.
Following in the footsteps of Primo Levi, from whose book The Periodic Table an excerpt is reproduced, Tom Battin, Professor of Environmental Sciences at the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, describes the history of a carbon atom. Federico Bianchi, Professor at the University of Helsinki and Angela Marinoni, CNR-Isac researcher, introduce the observation of atmospheric aerosol sources. Laura Tripaldi, researcher in Materials Science and Nanotechnology at the University of Milano-Bicocca, rethinks materials as an active part of contemporary life and culture. Jussi Parikka, Media Theorist and Professor of Technological Culture and Aesthetics at Winchester School of Art, analyzes the new alchemy of visual culture in the era of digital corporations. Kathryn Yusoff, Senior Professor of Non-Human Geography at Queen Mary University of London, examines “geo-social” formations in contemporary anthropogenic change. Finally, anthropologist Michael Taussig offers a look at nature amid vitality and magic.
The texts, both previously unpublished or extracts from already published editions, thus broaden the conceptual horizon of this second appointment in the “Trilogy of Matter,” and alongside essays by curators Lorenzo Giusti and Anna Daneri, the interventions of Martina Angelotti, Michele D’Aurizio, Chris Fite-Wassilak, Federico Florian, Sara Fumagalli, Orit Gat, Valentina Gervasoni, Bernardo Mosqueira, Giulia Rispoli, Jennifer Teets, Mauro Zanchi and Andrea Zucchinali, provide an in-depth interpretation of the works in the exhibition.
ARTISTS: Ignasi Aballí, William Anastasi, Isabelle Andriessen, Davide Balula, Lynda Benglis, Alessandro Biggio, Karla Black, Michel Blazy, Renata Boero, Dove Bradshaw, Victor Brauner, Dora Budor, Pier Paolo Calzolari, Nina Canell, Leonora Carrington, Giulia Cenci, Tony Conrad, Tania Pérez Córdova, Lisa Dalfino & Sacha Kanah, Giorgio de Chirico, Edith Dekyndt, Marcel Duchamp, Olafur Eliasson, Leandro Erlich, Max Ernst, Joana Escoval, Cerith Wyn Evans, Lars Fredrikson, Loïe Fuller, Cyprien Gaillard, Pinot Gallizio, Hans Haacke, Roger Hiorns, Rebecca Horn, Roni Horn, Paolo Icaro, Bruno Jakob, Yves Klein, Gary Kuehn, Liliane Lijn, Gordon Matta-Clark, David Medalla, Ana Mendieta, Otobong Nkanga, Jorge Peris, Otto Piene, Man Ray, Pamela Rosenkranz, Mika Rottenberg, Namsal Siedlecki, Roman Signer, Robert Smithson, Gerda Steiner & Jörg Lenzlinger, Yves Tanguy, Wolfgang Tillmans, Erika Verzutti, Andy Warhol.