Italo Zuffi
Fronte e retro
Curated by: Lorenzo Balbi e Davide Ferri
Orari MAMbo - Museo d'Arte Moderna di Bologna :
20 January – 15 May 2022
Fri, Sat, Sun: 10:00 – 19:00 Tue, Wed: 14:00 – 19:00 Thu: 14:00 – 20:00

Fronte e retro (Front & back), the solo exhibition by Italo Zuffi (Imola, 1969) curated by Lorenzo Balbi and Davide Ferri opens at MAMbo - Museo d’Arte Moderna di Bologna on January 20, 2022.


The exhibition project, which will continue later in the space of Palazzo De' Toschi, venue devoted to the contemporary art projects promoted by Banca di Bologna, allows to present for the first time in an extensive way the work of one of the most important Italian artists born in the late 1960s.


For MAMbo, the exhibition continues the research on Italian art that the museum has been carrying out for years, confirming the line of survey that historically descends from Galleria d’Arte Moderna, presenting an artist linked to the territory in which the museum itself is located; while for Banca di Bologna, in the Sala Convegni of Palazzo De' Toschi, this is the first solo exhibition dedicated to an Italian artist.

Fronte e retro is ideally divided into two moments, capable of recalling and relaunching each other: on the one hand, at MAMbo, an itinerary that allows the artist's work to be reread taking into account a spectrum of works ranging from the beginning, in the mid-1990s, until 2020. On the other hand, at Palazzo De' Toschi a series of new productions, of works created for the occasion and in reaction to the characteristics of the space, touches on some of the nodal aspects of his recent research.


The exhibition, as a whole, revolves around some thematic focal points that have always sustained Zuffi's work and that are translated into contrasts and oppositions that can act on the body (sometimes that of the artist himself) as well as on the sculptural form: between the ideas of construction and at the same time of destruction/fall; of work and, at the same time, of energy dispersion; of softness and rigidity; of fragility and competition.


The works presented at MAMbo - pieces of sculpture, photography, video and performance, languages around which Zuffi's poetics has developed over time - reconstruct the artist's path through new combinations and without necessarily following a chronological progression.

The works exhibited, more than fifty, generate new hypotheses of dialogue between them putting together the best known and emblematic of the artist to some of those less seen.

Among them, for example, two videos from the beginning: The Reminder, the image of a body that stretches and stiffens up to the limit of its possibilities, and Perimetro, in which a body tries to establish its relationship with the space generating a sense of waiting and perpetual irresolution.


The Sala delle Ciminiere, on the other hand, brings out some of the most important aspects of the artist's sculptural practice, through a selection of Scomposizioni and Osservatori trasportabili, created at the turn of the 1990s and 2000s around the idea of architecture, in direct dialogue with the spaces recovered from Aldo Rossi's project, up to a series of easels, emblematic object of his practice, recalling an idea of work and sculpture that can show itself as it unfolds, without necessarily finding a definitive form, and The mystery boy, a series of images in which we see a boy, lying on the floor, who seems to invest all the energy and concentration of which he is capable around an apparently useless action.

Particular attention is dedicated to the works that the artist brings together under the theme of competition: Italo Zuffi explores "from the inside" the mechanisms of power - especially of the contemporary art system - as they are reflected both in the institutions that represent and support them, and in society in general. He subverts them, ridicules them, interprets them with actions, performances and happenings capable of involving the public and becoming works/traces in the exhibition.


Within the itinerary, moreover, some elements (not completely configurable as sculptures) will be completed through performances: they are, more than props, objects waiting, or around which the energy of an action has already been consumed. The performances will activate the space in several points and will develop to compose a calendar that will touch different days throughout the duration of the exhibition.
The first performative moment has taken place during the opening of the exhibition on January 19, 2022, with the activation of Elenco, translation of four lists of Italian artists and galleries in music tracks performed by Madcaps, Imola’s historical music group active since 1988. The lists are taken from a list of art galleries, from the publication Espresso. Arte oggi in Italia (2000), from a ranking of Italian artists published on the magazine Flash Art, from the catalogue of the exhibition Bologna Contemporanea, 1975 - 2005, Galleria d’Arte Moderna di Bologna, 2005. During the opening other works have been activated: Rassegna Stampa, in collaboration with Accademia di Belle Arti di Bologna, Partita a bocce con frutta and Uscita n. 13 made by Pawel und Pavel (a collaborative artistic project founded together with Margherita Morgantin).


The exhibition at Palazzo De' Toschi focuses mainly on sculptural practice, configured as a faithful reproduction of a form, and questioning of the same through intrusions and fragmentations. This part of the project, moreover, highlights one of the fundamental aspects of Zuffi's research in recent years: that of the investigation around the word, used both in poetic form (a collection of short poetic texts by the artist, written between 2013 and 2014, is entitled Poesie Doppie) and as an element from which the sculptural form is generated.


The installation, which each year reinterprets the space of the Sala Convegni of Palazzo De' Toschi in a completely new way, has one of its barycenters in the dialogue between two works commissioned for the occasion: Civilizzando, a work that develops from the word, used here as a tool for describing simple, everyday actions, juxtaposed to generate processes of action, reaction and synthesis; and a new version of Gli ignari, one of the most important works of recent years: a series of ceramic still lifes accompanied by the sound of a whistle - in this case relocated in an unprecedented score. Each of the two works is installed on the walls of a triangular structure, with a strong sculptural presence inside the space: the two poles, real devices usable on each side, are equipped with an autonomous lighting and allow the visitor to create his own path in the darkness of the room.

In the same Sala Convegni a third installation work will also be presented, a reflection on sculpture starting from a combination of replicated elements - a fruit and a trolley on which it is placed - that bear the traces of an alteration that seems to translate the idea of a contrast and a desire to redefine form through a repeated intervention.

Finally, this venue will also be animated by performative interventions - some of which are closely linked to the sculptural works - once again underlining the importance of this expressive medium in Italo Zuffi's work.


During the exhibition at MAMbo, a publication about the artist and his work, published by Corraini Edizioni in Italian and English will be made available.


Thanks to Culture and City Promotion Department, Municipality of Bologna for the fundamental contribution in the realization of the exhibition.

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