Alis/Filliol

Fondazione Arnaldo Pomodoro
Via Vigevano 9
September 20–October 27

Alis/Filliol, eud, 2017, polyurethane foam, wire mesh, fog machine, dimensions variable.

The dark, silent space is dense with fog. Visitors move about circumspectly, their eyes adjusting to the darkness. Suddenly, a large sculpture of indefinite shape emerges, which seems to move and vibrate within the gray material. Then, a second shape appears, vibrating obliquely like the first. The latter form has two heads, seeming to whisper to each other, while the former, as it grows perceptible, looks acephalous or perhaps decapitated, its head resting at its feet. Both representations, simultaneously human and monstrous, gradually reveal themselves, their threatening stances directed not toward the viewer but toward each other. Rivals, they face off in the space—and over the meaning of space—as Auguste Rodin and Medardo Rosso did at the end of the nineteenth century, their different positions ultimately renewing sculpture.

The impressive dueling elements of Alis/Filliol (an Italian artistic duo comprising Davide Gennarino and Andrea Respino) quote Rosso’s The Bookmaker, 1894, and Rodin’s Monument to Balzac, 1898, and seem to change along with the visitor’s shifting viewpoint. Although the heads arranged in the sculptures realistically reproduce those of Rodin and Rosso, they are, nonetheless, hybrid and disturbing creatures. The fog defines the space, makes the figures dynamic, and brings viewers back to atmospheres that captivated so many Impressionists. Continuing their investigation into the contemporary possibilities of figurative sculpture and the human figure specifically, the artists here use polyurethane foam. Their show’s title, “eud,” is the word due (two) backwards. Alis/Filliol’s careful mix of elements produces compactness and tension, adding surprise to their intriguing installation.

Translated from Italian by Marguerite Shore.

Michela Moro

“The Boat Is Leaking. The Captain Lied”

Fondazione Prada | Venice
Calle de Ca’ Corner, Santa Croce 2215
May 13–November 26

Thomas Demand, Klause II (Tavern II), 2006, C-print, 70 x 96". Installation view.

Spread across three floors of an eighteenth-century palazzo, this exhibition visualizes a broad question: What happens when falsehoods stand in for the truth? For this collaboration, curator Udo Kittelmann, artist Thomas Demand, set designer Anna Viebrock, and filmmaker Alexander Kluge look to the eternal worry over art’s duplicity. This time around, at issue are not the objects themselves as much as the walls that support them.

The design of the show is provocative, blurring distinctions between discrete works and a single massive installation piece. Viebrock’s stage sets from previous theatrical productions have been appropriated throughout, providing a physical frame of contingency for the other artists’ work. The ground floor offers a straightforward introduction to the artists and demonstrates how their practices address the deception of vision. First is Demand, whose video Ampel (Stoplight), 2016, features an animated replica of the titular device, nearly indistinguishable from the real thing. Nearby, Kluge’s film Die sanfte Schminke des Lichts (The Soft Makeup of Lighting), 2007, subjects actors to various lighting effects, revealing the trickery of high-definition cinema. Two doors designed by Viebrock flank the projection, one of which is an astonishingly realistic hotel lobby entryway. Seemingly accessible, both doors are locked.

The upper floors slip fully into fabrication, with Viebrock’s previously impenetrable sets now accessible as they fill entire rooms. A counterfeit cinema plays Kluge’s films; its exit leads to a courtroom where Demand’s photograph of a model of a building covered in ivy—Klause II (Tavern II), 2006—faces the stand. Wall texts are virtually absent throughout, except in one room: a facsimile museum gallery (Viebrock’s Exhibition Room, 2017) stocked with social realist paintings. Although the labels state that Angelo Morbelli painted the works in the 1880s, amid so much fraudulence they feel fake. In reality, he did paint them, but the resulting feelings of uncertainty are all too frightening in a sinking city.

Lucas Matheson