Reggio Emilia – Italy
22 April – 30 December 2018
il giardino (“the garden”) is a new project conceived and created by Lutz & Guggisberg for the Collezione Maramotti. This solo show – the Swiss duo’s first in an Italian museum – is organized in conjunction with the 2018 Fotografia Europea festival, “Revolutions. Upheavals, Changes, Utopias”. Stretching through five rooms, the exhibition presents about forty photographs of various sizes, mounted on panels and incorporating elements of painting, along with several assemblages of found objects that the artists have selected from local warehouses.
Sheds, tools, tables, chairs, brightly colored plastic tubs, crates, rubber tubing: in these photographs, everything seems uprooted and upended by some hurricane that has just swept through. The post-apocalyptic mood of the scenes hints at the recent passage of a natural disaster, but could also suggest an all-too-human process of violent destruction. At the same time, the images possess an intrinsic beauty. Within harmonious compositions of colours and forms, the small, lyrical details that leap out at the viewer are sometimes connected to the human realm (a round table top that becomes an earthbound moon, a shed cut in half and reassembled the wrong way around), sometimes to the natural one (snowdrops and crocuses peeping out of rubble, onion bulbs sprouting under tables, a sleeping cat).
These images point to the violent disruption of an established order, presenting Nature as an unconquerable force that is infinitely more powerful than human beings or human history; through a process of destruction and reconstruction, it resumes its course and reclaims control over the handiwork of man.
Revolution is seen here as a form of movement, in two senses: a shift in trajectory that leads out of a given state, but at the same time, the circular path followed by natural cycles. The pictorial alterations of the printed images move into a world beyond photography, opening up the alternate – perhaps utopian – dimension that is characteristic of any artistic process.
Lutz & Guggisberg employ many different media in their work, ranging between painting, sculpture, installation, video, photography, and performance; they have even created their own constantly growing library of imaginary books. The microcosms and macrocosms that these two artists compose and bring to life, going about the task like pseudoscientists or alchemists, draw on every branch of human knowledge: from anthropology, to literature, to the visual arts and architecture, by way of natural science. Their works and environments often convey ambiguous feelings and spark a sense of amazement; through non-linear narratives, they tap directly into viewer perceptions. In Lutz & Guggisberg’s extremely open and anarchical approach to artmaking – based on free association, and at the same time, parascientific analysis of the world – irony, paradox and play coexist with a strange ambivalence and an undercurrent of subversion.
The exhibition is accompanied by an artists’ book that brings together all the photographs on view.
Image: Lutz & Guggisberg, Orlando Furioso, 2018, acrylic on c-print, 100 x 150 cm © Lutz & Guggisberg Ph. Nadine Kägi