Le isole fantastiche
Giacinto Di Pietrantonio
Le isole fantastiche, 2017, Silvana Editoriale
Le Isole Fantastiche (Fantastic Islands) is the title Matteo Rubbi gave to his project for the third edition of the Educational Day promoted by AMACI and of the Festival della Cultura Creativa. But before expanding on Rubbi’s creative proposal, I’d like to explain why this delicate project was entrusted to him. Matteo Rubbi’s work well suits this educational project because much of his practice revolves around education processes and learning practices and relations – all themes which have represented the poetic core of his art since the beginning of his career. Landscape too, is another recurring element in his work, in a variety of forms and interpretations: starry skies, mountain ranges, seas, and of course islands, as in this case. These elements then involve further aspects such as observation, travel, the exploration of remote, inaccessible places, and consideration of things infinitely great and infinitely small. Through art Rubbi in fact also explores elements that constitute nature and the objects around us, their classification, their atomic number, their constitution, and what they mean to us after we have experienced them. So, in Rubbi’s practice, a photographic representation or a video of a starry night is the result of a group journey up to the top of a mountain where everyone lies down to look up at the stars and their geo-spatial and mythological composition: the Milky Way, Sagittarius, Libra and Capricorn constellations, and so forth, reading them as space poetries mankind has used to bejewel the sky and that Rubbi wants us to rewrite, inviting the participants to place objects they brought with them onto a sheet of star-light photosensitive paper, creating a new map of the stars. To look up to the sky is one of our primary actions in our attempt to see and create a new world. At night we behold the stars until their light fades, and in the daylight we observe the clouds, and not because we are fascinated by their incessantly shifting shapes, but because we are taken by their endless toil as images creators. Even what seems perfectly still – like the mountains – in Rubbi’s work is subject to change, naturally, through art. Because when Matteo deals with the Alps, for instance, he presents us with an approximate reproduction of the mountain range (scale 1: 100.000), for which he drew inspiration not only from reality but also from the many representations other artists have given of the Alps throughout the centuries. I could carry on with more examples, but I’d rather move on to another aspect of the artist’s work, that of the journey, a journey across the seas especially. A journey that may be fictional or real, as in the case of the Bounty for instance, the famous British vessel that during the eighteenth century set out to sea for Tahiti where on their arrival part of the crew rebelled in one of the world’s most famous mutinies. For the Bounty project, which Rubbi carried out in different Italian and international institutions, the artist conceived an itinerant work, a journey, a Bounty that every time had to be reproduced in 1:1 scale sections, using a small model of the ship as blueprint. The task was carried out with the help of master artisans, like carpenters and tailors, and of astronomers, astrophysicists, and other professionals. But the bulk of the project however was executed through the institutions’ Education Departments, involving children and teenagers from different schools. And so, here we are, the Bounty has led us to the sea, a sea of metaphors of real or imaginary islands: after all, isn’t a ship like a small island floating across the sea? When we are at sea, aren’t we all islands? For this project Matteo Rubbi sent out a video tutorial to the Education Departments of Italian museums members of AMACI, proposing them to invite primary and high school students to imagine and draw their own Neverland fantasy island, ‘the kind of island we might find if we were to take the ‘second star to the right, and straight on till morning’. About 1500 children from all over Italy joined the project, drawing and imagining their Neverland island/islands that then were pieced together to form an archipelago – since Rubbi’s final aim is to invite individuals to join forms of collective education and training. These 1500 Peter Pans put all their effort into shaping their idea of island/islands and ultimately defining their own notion of the world. Yes, because since time immemorial, an island has always been a metaphor for something else, a place where many things can happen. It is no mere coincidence that whenever philosophers – the children of human thought – set out to define a new conception of the world, a new utopia, they always think of an island: think of Plato’s Atlantis beyond the Pillars of Hercules, Thomas Moore’s island of Utopia, or Tommaso Campanella’s Città del Sole (City of the Sun), that today has become the name of a famous Italian toy company. But now, the questions we need to answer are the following: who is the artist in this project? And what part of it is the actual artwork? Must this work be only credited to Matteo Rubbi, or should the children share part of the authorship too? These children who have drawn beautiful islands for this ‘unexpected trip around the world across the seas, exploring islands and imagining new cultures’ – a modus operandi compelling us to redesign a New Map of the World. An answer to these questions can only exist in our imagination, just like Neverland. The beauty of it all however is not in the answer per se, but in the effort we put into finding it, into imagining it, in that active process that turns a ‘neverland’ into ‘a land’. All this was possible thanks to the practice set in motion by Rubbi, the Education Departments, and all the children, a practice which I hope, will be embraced by those of us who are willing to continue exploring, because that is what keeps us alive through art.
Voyages dans la mer perdue
Matteo Rubbi met en place des procédés teintés d’une aura ludico-scientifique qui apparaissent à première vue aussi simples qu’efficaces et traduisent un goût pour le bricolage. Des performeurs incarnent ainsi des planètes du système solaire et tentent d’harmoniser leurs mouvements avec ceux de la Terre et des étoiles, les sommets des Alpes et les montagnes de Mars, Vénus et consorts sont répliqués en béton à l’échelle 1:100 000e, les mystères de la mécanique quantique se déploient sous la forme de dessins colorés réalisés à la craie par un groupe d’enfants, et des rayographies de végétaux, d’objets divers et de fragments de corps dessinent de nouvelles constellations. Mais derrière ces formes en apparence naïves se cachent des enjeux complexes et une ambition qui dépasse la simple illustration. Tout son travail est en effet affaire de cosmos, de va-et-vient entre macro et micro, de chaînes de significations et d’interactions.
Bien sûr, les oeuvres de l’artiste italien témoignent d’une fascination pour les mystères de l’univers, la formation des astres et leur mouvement, pour les lois de la physique. Les jeux de transposition ou les cartographies personnelles de Rubbi matérialisent des phénomènes plus ou moins visibles, lointains ou mesurables, pourtant résolument concrets, qui dépassent par leur ampleur notre condition humaine et nous amènent à reconsidérer le temps d’un point de vue géologique et céleste. Mais ces questions, aussi vastes soient-elles, sont toujours abordées avec une remarquable économie de moyens, à partir de techniques appropriables par tous, d’objets et produits du quotidien qui deviennent alors les charnières d’astérismes inédits, les tremplins pour produire de nouveaux récits. Le terme de cosmos semble pouvoir trouver, en regard de sa pratique, une autre perspective, qu’il semble ne jamais dissocier de la première, celle d’un art à même de tisser des liens, de mettre en relation des énergies, des capacités et des imaginaires. Il s’agit en somme de revenir à une échelle humaine, que celle-ci opère en termes de perception ou d’expérience collective.
Travaillant comme à son habitude en écho avec le contexte dans lequel il est invité à intervenir, Rubbi propose pour son exposition à la synagogue de Delme une plongée dans le Jurassique – soit un voyage dans le temps de plus d’une centaine de millions d’années –, une époque à laquelle la région était immergée sous un océan chauffé par un soleil saharien et où l’être humain n’avait pas encore fait son apparition. Trouvant dans cette situation historique un potentiel fécond en termes d’imaginaire, il convie les élèves des différentes écoles de Delme (maternelle, élémentaire, collège, mais aussi le lycée agricole tout proche de Château-Salins) à l’aider, dans le cadre d’une série d’ateliers, à reconstituer au sein de l’espace d’exposition le paysage perdu de ces temps reculés. Un « soleil impétueux » de six mètres de diamètre emplit ainsi le coeur de la synagogue, patchwork flamboyant réalisé à partir de l’ensemble des soleils dessinés par les élèves, dont les nuances et variations de styles opèrent comme autant de mouvements du plasma. Second personnage de cette fable préhistorique, la mer donne lieu quant à elle à une pièce sonore produite en collaboration avec le musicien Francesco Medda et composée par le chant des enfants imitant le bruit de l’océan, par temps calme et par tempête. Dans le décor qui commence à se dessiner viennent se loger progressivement au cours de l’exposition de curieux habitants, évocation d’animaux marins et volants, d’insectes et de mollusques qui prennent la forme de costumes confectionnés par des artistes de divers horizons d’après les dessins des élèves et les maquettes des lycéens. Ici et là, percées dans les fenêtres obstruées de l’ancienne synagogue, surgissent des constellations d’étoiles, modélisation de la carte du ciel telle qu’on aurait pu l’observer au Jurassique.
Tout le talent de Matteo Rubbi consiste à réussir à embarquer avec lui une communauté, un territoire et à faire naître l’enthousiasme autour de projets généreux, dans une approche qui se révèle à la fois poétique et politique, jouant avec justesse sur les notions d’auteur et de collaboration. Dans la construction de cet univers en expansion où tout semble pouvoir naître à partir d’un air de cumbia et d’un tutoriel décalé, Matteo Rubbi ne se présente jamais en artiste démiurge. Il est celui qui vient proposer une situation collective, créer une dynamique, une implication qui a peu à voir avec les logiques interactives ou relationnelles de l’exposition. Il pose les conditions d’une responsabilité partagée et éloigne le spectre d’une « acosmie »
 où nous ne nous penserions plus, en tant qu’individu et espèce, comme partie de l’univers.
 Voir à ce sujet Augustin Berque, « Peut-on dépasser l’acosmie de la modernité ? », conférence, Université de Corse, Corte, 11 juin 2013. http://ecoumene.blogspot.fr/2013/07/peut-on-depasser-lacosmie-de-la.html
Voyages dans la mer perdue
Voyage dans la mer perdue, 2017, catalogue of the show
During the Jurassic period 150 to 200 million years ago, the continents and seas were not where they are today. Lorraine was then situated where the Sahara is currently located, in the shallow margins of an ocean called Tethys, near Pangaea, the sole continent of that era. The Lorraine landscape was a warm, shallow sea, dotted with small, biologically rich coral islands.
A lost sea and a raging sun are the two main characters of a story set in the commune of Delme. Matteo Rubbi was interested in the Saulnois region, and wanted to recreate it in its prehistoric version, when it was covered by a hot sea frequented by strange fish and birds. Voyages dans la mer perdue (Journeys in the Lost Sea) is an exhibition conceived and developed on-site at the CAC – Synagogue de Delme, through a series of workshops involving the local population. Matteo Rubbi’s projects are inspired by the contexts and people he meets during his travels. He assembles them for workshops, lunches or walks in the night. History and mythology are pretexts to meet, share and recreate something common. In Delme and its surroundings, it was with the participation of schools, associations, media libraries and rural households that he developed his project in collaboration with other artists. Participants re-appropriated a local history in the form of a constellation of gestures and perspectives, drawings and sounds. The exhibition gradually became a place of metamorphoses and fictions staging fantastical animals.Whether the aim is to recount the creation of the universe, understand the theory of everything or the periodic table of elements, Matteo Rubbi’s work offers a navigation between the micro and macro, the infinitesimally small and the infinitely large. He likes to bring about impossible meetings, and causes marvellous things to spring out of banality. Playing with temporal interpolation, the past suddenly reappears so that the future comes terribly near. This return to origins is never nostalgic since it connects the contemporary world with other realities, and places things in perspective in order to better contradict certain fixed boundaries: the sun is a hot air balloon, Pluto a grain of sand and Venus an apple seed.(1)The festive, participatory dynamic of the projects takes shape in order to reveal the invisible, the vanished, the distant. By using simple materials and through collective involvement, he summons faraway lands that are sometimes hard to imagine. Yet everything is or was real, and this presumed unreality is what the artist responds to through action. Reinventing, reconstructing, recreating origins offers new visions of our present time. From the scientific manifesto to the adventure novel, the narrative dimension of Matteo Rubbi’s work is the stuff of everyday life, giving everyone the possibility of inventing rules to non-existent games, personifying the planets of our solar system, reconstructing a historic ship and creating cosmic scenery. As one of the characters explains in Voltaire’s Micromégas: “[Our sun] trends towards red, […] and we have 39 primary colours. Of all the suns I have approached not one resembles another, just as on your planet each and every face differs from all the others.”(2) With a solar energy, Matteo Rubbi assembles imaginary and impossible spaces in which the viewer is invited to find a place, where utopia and heterotopia find themselves linked together. But if the radiance of the tiny revolutions engendered is not always visible, the journeys he offers show the possibility of collectively producing unique cosmogonies, like a reunited sea and sun, an eternity found again.
(1) Matteo Rubbi, Planetario, 2010–14.
(2) Voltaire, Micromegas and Other Short Fictions, Penguin, 2002, p. 22.
A taste of paradise
Bounty, 2015, Fondazione Cassa di Risparmio San Miniato
“Today, we are stuck in the present as it reproduces itself without leading to any future. We simply lose our time, without being able to invest it securely, to accumulate it, whether utopically or heterotopically. The loss of the infinite historical perspective generates the phenomenon of unproductive, wasted time. However, one can also interpret this wasted time more positively, as excessive time—as time that attests to our life as pure being-in-time, beyond its use within the framework of modern economic and political projects.”
Boris Groys, “Comrades of Time”, in Going Public 2010
When asked “how can we free ourselves of art?” Matteo Rubbi simply replies: “by making it, here and now!” This is the spirit in which he invited anyone interested to take part in his project Bounty, begun in 2010. A large-scale participatory work, Bounty could be described as a life-size reconstruction of the Royal Navy ship where a famous mutiny took place on April 28, 1789. The artistic undertaking went through various stages, each supported by a different institution that offered a safe harbor for the occasion. Every time, some portion of the ship was created over the span of the exhibition, without following any strict plan. The finissage thus became an opportunity to present what had been created—the forms that were dreamed up becoming the symbol of a refounded community, all illusions put aside.
While it may be true that the time of great ideals is past and gone, these moments of shared creativity can bring out the child that dwells in each of us. Bounty is, in the end, a play-based process that takes a scale model of the ship and uses it to invent a collective art of DIY. In this extended work-in-progress, the sails were made first, then the prow, then the pennants, and finally the helm and the cannon. Dozens of people worked on each part to create something real out of what had originally been a mere fiction. They traced a parallel between art and play, but also between art and celebration, because the production of each piece literally culminated in a party.
Built from recycled materials, Bounty is based on a sense of discovery, a sort of shared ingenuity: for instance, the prow incorporates pallets, wooden planks, dismembered furniture, a door. It calls to mind the kind of shantytown architecture that reuses objects by inventing different functions for them. In this context, a bedframe can serve as a gate. This sort of approach naturally establishes an alternative to the market economy: in their new life, things shed aesthetic qualities and social values—their distinguishing hallmarks—and become a pure product of resourcefulness and imagination. The ropes that lift the prow into space also give it an airy feeling that evokes an escape from the constrictions of capitalist culture. The wooden patchwork encourages us to turn back into Peter Pan, moving away from the idea of the artistic creation as a luxury gewgaw.
There is nothing naive here, but rather an enthusiasm that could seem disarming to cynics. Because Bounty is a reflection of Matteo’s spirit—generous and exuberant. One need only look at the colorful drawings that form the vast sails, stretching into space, to see the warm challenge posed by this assemblage. The geometric shapes—with their exuberant colors—are combined with frenzied scribblings, in a friendly gathering of flags that are not the emblems of new isolated nations, but the banners of individual essences in dialogue. It is a disheveled Matisse, the finesse of the modern master giving way to a spontaneity that challenges every artistic standard—because the true power of art lies elsewhere. In fact, the ambition is to meld all these expressions into an unbridled object whose presence bears witness to a powerful harmony, both imagined and quite real. There’s a bit of Asger Jorn in Matteo Rubbi: a capacity to channel energies, together with a rejection of rigidified beauty, leads him toward a playful lyricism, mustered again and again. The artist thus creates a sense of ebullience that can be seen in the pieces which haphazardly make up the ship, like a patched and mended social fabric.
To be sure, the utopian visions of the twentieth century have fizzled out. But here we can observe a surplus time—unexploited—a democratic time that turns viewers into a horde of aspiring engineers. In this sense we could say that Bounty is a taste of paradise, to echo the candy bar slogan of the 1980s. Because the laws of universal marketing can be hijacked, whatever the power dynamics in force. And doesn’t the work of Matteo Rubbi signify an unexpected conquest, an incredible achievement?
Translated from French by Johanna Bishop
Revolution in a teacup
Marco Enrico Giacomelli
Bounty, 2015, Fondazione Cassa di Risparmio San Miniato
To me, art is first and foremost a job, a profession. I go to tons of fairs, I’m interested in how the “art world” works, down to its most unpleasant ganglia, so to speak: auctions and attributions, quid-pro-quos and covert dynamics. In short, my approach to art is above all journalistic—and I hope that adjective won’t be read as derogatory: journalism can be done well, and that’s my aim—so, at least in theory, there’s not a shred of romanticism in the way I look at artworks and the mechanisms that surround them. I apply this same method whenever I put on my research hat, whether I’m writing, teaching, or translating. More discipline than sentiment, more method than emotion.
So, this preamble is just to convince you that my relationship with Matteo (Matteo Rubbi, but in his case I have a hard time adding the last name) is utterly different. And not because there’s some bond of friendship that hampers my interpretation of his work: we’re not really that close, we don’t see each other often, we don’t chat on Skype or WhatsApp. Rather, it’s a mix of things, a mysterious cocktail of factors that transforms me, when dealing with him and his works, into a viewer who’s just far too involved. I wouldn’t use the word fan—too strong—but that’s the general sense.
Given what I said before, you can imagine that this doesn’t annoy me so much as make me think. Think about the deep and perhaps unfathomable mystery of how we respond to art. Like when I almost fainted in front of the Rothkos at the Palazzo delle Esposizioni in Rome, after having mocked the “Stendhal syndrome” for years; or when tears sprang to my eyes in rereading The Clown by Heinrich Böll, when I’d been the first to say that life is too short to reread anything, especially novels, and that getting all emotional is for provincial housewives.
Now, I don’t want to make this more dramatic than I already have, despite myself. But for me and on me, Matteo (Rubbi) has this effect. Especially when he has one foot, or one and a half feet, outside the “designated spheres” of contemporary art. He did this last summer on a wonderful evening in Perdaxius, Sardinia, with friends from the Cherimus association. And of course he did this in a more extended and reiterated way during the workshop (a terribly inappropriate word in this case) that I had the honor of helping to organize in 2012 at the Castello di Rivoli.
On that occasion he was reconstructing part of the Bounty with hordes of little kids. In the end they finished a portion of the sails, a cannon that shot wads of paper, and the helm. The ship’s wheel, can you imagine? Made out of broom handles, but nice, not some pathetic bric-a-brac. A wheel that worked, that works. So it will be hard to forget the stunned, proud, grateful eyes of the kids when they saw that it worked, that Matteo wasn’t just humoring them to lift their fog of boredom for a few afternoons. They had done something with a purpose, both intrinsic and extrinsic, which was wonderful for that very reason, and which was part of a bigger project, based on interaction and sharing and vision.
I’m sure that each of us has found at least one artist for whom we feel something similar. And we should be eternally grateful to them for it. Because, more than so many others who make political engagement an obvious, aggressive statement, these artists change a little piece of society. A tiny piece, but in a revolutionary way.
Translated from Italian by Johanna Bishop
Giacinto di Pietrantonio
Ten Awards Later. Growing Roots. 15 Years of Furla Art Award. 2015. Mousse Publishing
Solar systems, the Galleria Civica in Trento, mountains, MART in Rovereto, the universe, GAMeC in Bergamo, cultural territories, the Museo della Ceramica in Mondovi, and travel, Fondazione Querini Stampalia in Venice are just some of the themes, places, and institutions traveled through by Matteo Rubbi, who sets up conditions and then sets them in motion.
One could say he is a facilitator of collaboration and cooperation, an artist who uses art to put people to work in the area where he creates his projects and exhibitions. This takes place in part through the projects of the Cherimus association, which he founded in Sardinia along with Emiliana Sabiu and the late Marco Colombaioni. For this reason, Rubbi has no preferred technique or and method, using whatever he ﬁnds there on each occasion, or that the place identiﬁes with and offers him. This can range from artisan practices like ceramics, or carpentry, to the printing of small instruction booklets, or newspapers like an issue of La Stampa from May 16 1961, the opening day of the “Italia ’61” Universal Exhibition in Turin, an event full of hopes for the future that would later be dashed, which he reprinted for the show at Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo.
Rubbi’s work is highly experimental, aimed at discovering and learning new paths of expression from various ﬁelds, such as science, literature, philosophy, music, and sports (above all, cycling): an approach that is open to many, if not all possibilities. His work is based on knowledge, exploration, learning, imagination and discovery, sought out and achieved through group installations that involve the collaboration of all kinds of schools, from the nursery to the university level, as well as associations and private citizens, groups and individuals.
This allows him to implement aesthetic operations that create unprecedented relationships with the public, and by involving viewers, manage to generate constantly new aspects of the work. For this reason, workshops and games have a very important, active role in Rubbi’s oeuvre, which also comprises works that must be played, like L’Italia in cerchio. His collaborations also often take on the form of a Festival, a celebratory, liberating community event that transcends everyday life, and which, not coincidentally, the powers that be have always tried to control and circumscribe.
And so, he often creates works that are quantitatively as well as qualitatively large, in which form and content are challenged and rendered unstable by the realization of works that may even be on a scale of 1:100,000, recreating the peaks of Arizona mountains or the Alps, or the skies of Navajo or mythical rivers. Works that through their scale, draw inspiration from reality, while in their imagined form, the artist looks to the mountains and skies portrayed in medieval painting. It is in this voyage between microscopic and macroscopic, between the subatomic world of particles and inﬁnite, cosmic space, that Rubbi operates, trying to bring everyone into agreement by putting himself and us to work.
Translation from italian by Johanna Bishop
Terrazza, Artists, Histories, Places in Italy in the 2000s, Marsilio Editore
Nella lingua italiana esiste una forma verbale capace di esprimere situazioni, come il sogno e il gioco, esterne al tempo oggettivo e reale. L’imperfetto onirico o ludico (“Ho sognato che andavamo…”, “Facciamo che tu eri…”) è un verbo incompiuto, im-perfetto appunto, che apre a una temporalità immaginaria, a una spazialità inventata. Si tratta di un regno dove tutto è possibile, dove gli oggetti cambiano continuamente forma senza cristallizzarsi in maniera definitiva, i linguaggi si generano spontaneamente e gli individui si muovono secondo principi paralleli di libertà e armonia. È in questo paesaggio che si sviluppano la ricerca e la produzione di Matteo Rubbi: i castelli fatati della serie Neuschwanstein (2006), collezione in progress di puzzle raffiguranti l’edificio voluto dal “re matto” Ludovico II di Baviera, ci introducono in questo mondo di favola, in cui il tempo è espanso e ripetuto, in cui le immagini si creano quasi per magia da piccoli frammenti messi insieme collettivamente. C’era una volta un castello…: non a caso anche le favole iniziano con un verbo all’imperfetto e ogni volta possono raccontare un’avventura diversa, proprio come nell’opera di Matteo Rubbi.
Spesso generato da un innesco molto semplice – come accade per un gioco, una magia o un rapido sogno – il lavoro dell’artista si sviluppa in stretta relazione con il luogo specifico e le persone che lo abitano. L’opera così si moltiplica, generando una pluralità di piani, potenzialità, ipotesi. Anche per questo essa è oggetto di un lavoro in progress, che non si esaurisce nel singolo momento generativo. Seguendo delle proprie regole interne, o meglio costruendole e decostruendole a proprio piacimento, gemma in varie direzioni, spesso imprevedibili. L’universo, per esempio, può essere trasferito su scala urbana sostituendo i pianeti con sfere e oggetti di varie dimensioni, come in Planetario (2010); o invece trasformarsi in un’inedita danza, nella quale i movimenti dei corpi celesti sono riprodotti liberamente da passanti, amici, spettatori, come in Sistema solare (2007). E ancora le Stelle, le Nuvole o le vedute marine – in Pomeriggio in cui fu tutto inutile – possono essere riprodotte, reinventate, rielaborate ripetutamente, anche grazie al contributo di altre persone. Il viaggio di Matteo Rubbi attraversa così spazi cosmici, paesaggi terrestri, luoghi familiari (Viaggio in Italia, L’Italia in cerchio), isolati (La conquista del K2, 1954) e lontani (Chadal, progetto portato avanti dall’Associazione Cherimus, co-fondata da Matteo Rubbi), a bordo di navi leggendarie (Bounty) o lungo i percorsi di schemi aperti (Il gioco dell’oca, opera di Marco Colombaioni, anch’essa promossa da Cherimus), fino ad addentrarsi nel cuore stesso della materia. Persino gli elementi chimici della tavola periodica, sistema rigido per antonomasia, diventano i protagonisti di una spettacolare riappropriazione (Gli elementi).
Non c’è niente di più serio, di più vero forse, di un gioco, di una favola, di una magia. Matteo Rubbi, con un gesto semplice e preciso, svela questi mondi, aprendoci la vista di un regno di immaginazione e poesia, imperfetto e proprio per questo ancora più incantato.
L’artiste est une île ?
Côte à Côte, 2014, Le Cube, Rabat
Homme libre, toujours tu chériras la mer!
La mer est ton miroir; tu contemples ton âme
Dans le déroulement infini de sa lame,
Et ton esprit n’est pas un gouffre moins amer
Côte à côte joue sur les mots. Comme dans ce poème de Baudelaire, le titre de ce projet juxtapose l’homme et la mer. La fraternité d’une camaraderie toute humaine, dans la connaissance comme dans la création, et cette étendue immense qui recèle tant de mystères. Entre le Maroc et l’Italie, la mer devient une frontière, à la fois trait d’union et ligne de partage. Elle est même, à maintes reprises, sur les côtes de la Sicile, devenue un tombeau. Côte à côte ne cherche pas à masquer la cruelle réalité des “gouffres amers”. Bien au contraire: le projet se construit autour de la nécessaire convivialité qui transforme l’expérience de l’étrangeté en une complicité nécessaire et féconde.
Il y a quelques années, j’avais été invité à Perdaxius, en Sardaigne, pour prendre part à une table ronde dont le thème était : la Sardaigne est une île ? Affirmation et questionnement tout à la fois, la proposition de Cherimus, l’association avec Susana Moliner de La Companyia qui étaient à l’initiative de cet événement, entendait jouer avec les évidences, remettre en question ce que nous croyons tous savoir en introduisant un décalage qui nous contraignait à réfléchir. Il s’agissait pour eux de résoudre la distance qui existait entre la vie ordinaire et la création contemporaine. Créer des ponts et des espaces de dialogue au sein desquelles les savoirs pourraient être mis en commun, partagés.
C’est par Cherimus, Susana, Emiliana, Matteo et Marco, que j’ai connu Yassine Balbzioui. La boucle était bouclée. Qui se rassemble s’assemble, dit-on, mais il est des rencontres improbables, impossibles ; et il faut de l’énergie, de la volonté et de l’ouverture pour contredire cette notion d’impossibilité. C’est encore cette même ambition que je vois, à l’oeuvre, dans le projet Côte à côte. Abolir les frontières, rassembler plutôt que séparer. Pour reprendre la proposition de Cherimus il y a quelques années, j’ai envie de faire un parallèle et de remplacer, pour les besoins de l’exercice, « Sardaigne » par « artiste ». L’artiste est une île ? Oui, sans doute. Et comme une montagne, l’énergie insulaire semble un phénomène isolé et inamovible. Pourtant, on peut, en usant de la métaphore de l’art, faire déplacer des montagnes.
Matteo Rubbi et Yassine Balbzioui sont deux îles dont la rencontre improbable va générer de nouveaux territoires, de nouvelles écritures et de nouvelles formes de paroles, résultat de la mise en commun de deux sensibilités complémentaires. A Rabat comme à Perdaxius, le déplacement sera perceptible. Non pas dans ce mouvement physique que l’on attribue généralement au voyage, mais dans un mouvement plus subtil, plus intérieur. Un mouvement que seul un spectateur averti peut reconnaître, si ce n’est déchiffrer. Avec eux, la mer n’est plus le tombeau qui nous a tant fait pleurer. Qui a englouti les espoirs et les rêves de tous ces êtres déplacés que nous avons découverts à Lampedusa. La mer n’est plus cet élément contraire qui nous a ravi l’amour de Marco Colombaioni (1), mais un espace de découvertes et d’expérimentations. Elle devient ce qui rapproche plutôt que ce qui sépare. Elle nous réconcilie avec ce que l’humanité a de plus noble: le gout inaltéré du partage.
(1). Marco Colombaioni co-fondateur de Cherimus, est parti prématurément le 2 juillet de 2011, noyée dans la Mer Adriatique.
By Jupiter! Planets land in Plymouth streets with art show
The Plymouth Herald. 7.04.2014
DOES conceptual art seem like it comes from another world?
Try a new show – which brings the whole Solar System to Plymouth.
Italian artist Matteo Rubbi’s Planetarium has the Sun as the centre of it all in a city gallery.
The nine planets will be plonked in various locations around the city.
It’s as down-to-Earth as they come, though, thanks to the involvement of the Stonehouse community.
Residents can join Stonehouse Action Group in deciding where each planet will go and what it will be.
So Saturn might land in a shop and Pluto could touch down in a pub.
The only restrictions are that the Solar System will appear to scale – each heavenly body will be as far from the ‘Sun’ in Plymouth as it is from the star in space, and the relative size.
The Sun is a basketball in the KARST Gallery, which will also have the first planet, Mercury. Earth will be a small stone somewhere outside the George Place premises, about 30 yards away.
Saturn will be the size of a ping-pong ball and 300 yards farther on.
Pluto will be no bigger than a grain of sand and somewhere as far away as Devil’s Point.
“The group will get a set of maps that give the approximate location of each planet,” says Helen Williams, of KARST. “Then it’s open to them to choose where they put the planets.
“Matteo is very keen for the selection of locations to open up a conversation, so members of the public will be going into shops or pubs to ask to see the ‘planet’.”
Matteo has an international reputation for creating art pieces inspired by the natural world with a surreal touch that play with viewers’ ideas of their place in the world, or in the case of Planetarium (Planetario in Italian), first presented in 2010, the Universe.
Stonehouse residents will meet to choose the planets and put them in their place on Saturday July 12. You can get involved by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
The Planetarium will form part of On Stage, the biggest exhibition KARST has hosted since it opened a few years ago.
Seven artists, including 2001 Turner Prize winner Martin Creed will be showing work.
Karst is a charitable, artist-led project in George Place that opened in 2012.
July 18- August 17, Open Stage, KARST Gallery
Let the stars sit wherever they will
Inspired by his studies in Arizona in 2012, Matteo Rubbi has recently worked on increasingly complex, narrative-based sculptures, through which he has developed his ability to establish intimate relationships with the viewer while maintaining his sense of lightness. For his current exhibition, Rubbi has drawn inspiration from an ancient Navajo legend in which a coyote addresses the First Man, who is busy arranging stones as stars in the sky. The coyote says to him: “Let the stars sit wherever they will.” The phrase gives the show its title; its use here indicates that the artist is speaking to the viewer about cosmology and rebuses, about his interest in myth, ritual, emblems, and clues.
The exhibition begins with Montagne (Sistema Solare) (Mountains [Solar System]) (all works 2013), a reproduction of mountains in the solar system rendered at a 1:100000 scale. The hand-worked concrete shapes are a fantastical array that reappear in a larger piece in a second room. Yet the mountaintops are those of the Alps, and while their arrangement on the floor brings to mind the outline of that European range, its style also evokes the systems of approximation and invention typical of medieval cartography.
Two large hanging embroidered canvases frame the Alpine chain and feature abstract tapestries on which the artist has reproduced the mythological constellation of the Po river (Eridanus), for instance. Here Ursa Major and Cassiopeia are a man and a woman, and they give the work its title, Uomo che gira. Donna che gira (Revolving man. Revolving woman), meanwhile, in a corner of the gallery, two embroidered overcoats give physical shape to the stars.
In addition to the two galleries, there is also a classroom where workshops will take place throughout the exhibition. A copper reproduction of Picket Post Mountain (sacred to the Apaches), a cork display case, and a blackboard filled with texts and images about miners and the mountain add to the thought process of Rubbi, an artist and spectator who applies his fervid imagination to the retelling of stories and generously puts them at the disposal of all participants’ memories, obsessions, and fantasies.
Translated from Italian by Marguerite Shore.
Los mapas de Rubbi
Susana Moliner Delgado
L’essentiel, c’est l’idée qu’il a toujours
plusiers presents dans une present,
plusiers temps dans un temp
Hay trabajos determinados por lineas, escalas, disciplinas….coordenadas de separación. El trabajo de Matteo Rubbi, en cambio, invita a escalar, linear, subir, bajar juntos, no solo con los que ha colaborado en la materialización de la obra sino también con los que la observan.
Las propuestas de Rubbi, aparecen con nuestra presencia, nuestros cuerpos,
experimentando y haciendo visible lo que signifca estar juntos: como comunidad, como publico, como mundo, de esta forma, subraya nuestra capacidad de contar, de hacer y reinventar nuestra(s) propias historia(s).
Matteo crea en sus obras, contextos que disocian elementos y desarticulan las relaciones previstas. Reconfgura lo sensible, de manera, que sin apenas darnos cuenta, nos adentramos en un universo donde lo pequeño se hace inmenso, y lo que creíamos enorme resulta ser el ensamblaje de pequeños fragmentos.
Unos de sus trabajo mas representativos es su instalación Bounty, resultado de un juego de cambios de escalas y perspectivas. La obra consiste en la reconstrucción a escala real de los buques del siglo XVII de la marina británica, a partir de los planos de una maqueta del barco de juguete. Cada elemento del barco, cada etapa de la construcción de Bounty provoca articulaciones nuevas que promueven distintas vivencias, mediante la experiencia activa de lo representado en cada una de las sedes donde se construye y se expone el barco.
Las velas son el resultado del ensamblado de dibujos que crearon niños en el Centro Nacional de Arte Contemporáneo (CNAC) Le Magasin, en Grenoble. En el Museo di Arte Moderna e Contamporanea de Bergamo se fabricó el casco, realizado por adolescentes que estudiaban en un instituto técnico de la ciudad, a partir de maderas de desecho. La escenografía recrea un cielo con sus constelaciones de estrellas, realizadas con telas de diferentes colores y diferentes tamaños en función de sus distancia al sol. En los muros de la sala, se hace pintar a los niños el mundo microscópico, con unos bastones de madera.
Y para festejar la inauguración de la pieza, se anima un baile con la banda municipal de Bergamo.
Un trabajo que se resignifca en cada etapa de su realización. Una generosidad de partida, que asume Rubbi sin rubor. Nunca sabes si fue antes la obra o el contexto de posibles, que se crea a su alrededor. Lo importante, parece querernos decir Matteo, es que lo paso, entre tanto, entre nosotros.
En “NEW YORK IN THE DESERT” Matteo fabricó miniaturas en piedra de la ciudad de Nueva York en la actualidad y reconstruye, a partir de fotografías antiguas, la feria universal que tuvo lugar en 1939 en la misma ciudad. Esta mini ciudad desdoblada entre lo que es y lo que se imagino que pudiera haber sido, fue instalada en una arenal del la ciudad de Phoenix, Arizona.
A partir de 2007 funda con sus amigos Marco Colombaioni y Emiliana Sabiu, Cherimus, una iniciativa, con base en la isla de Cerdeña, que re-interpreta lo local a través del arte contemporáneo y cuestiona las lógicas del mismo, confgurándolo en contextos
periféricos. De esta forma, se lanza Chadal el proyecto de intercambio musical entre Cerdeña y Senegal. Una vez fnalizado, Matteo realiza para la Bienal de Venecia LIVE IN DAKAR, una instalación que recoge todo el material producido durante el proyecto.
Suspendidos en el canal, franjas de tela con el mar de la Isla de Gore impreso, en el interior se expone fotos del proyecto y suena el disco grabado en Dakar, que se escucha desde el exterior.
Es así como los proyectos de Rubbi nos animan a travesar críticamente, lo evidente, y construir, mediante una negociación constante, mundos que siempre estuvieron allí pero que necesitaban un nuevo agenciamento para poder existir. Podríamos decir que se trataría como una re-educación física y mental de lo perceptivo. Arrojarse, sobre dimensiones que parecían escondidas, y saberse parte de un todo que se entiende cuando se mira desde la multiplicidad.
En defnitiva, los trabajo de Rubbi, proponen otros mapas. Coordenadas que desplazan y quiebran muros, escalas, lineas, disciplinas, para poder recoger sus fragmentos, y recomponer, como si tuviéramos todo el tiempo de nuestro lado, nuestro espejo, nuestra propia historia.
The 10 Best Art Exhibitions and Installations I Saw in Phoenix in 2012
Phoenix New Times. 12.24.2012
Matteo Rubbi at Combine Studios:
Italian artist Matteo Rubbi was an artist in residence with throughout 2012. You might have bumped into him making masks for young First Friday attendees, at “Magic Friday” dinners at the museum and in downtown Phoenix, or challenging the local view of how art can transform a space and the interaction between audience and gallery setting. His research, interactions, and creations during his time in Phoenix were center stage during November at downtown Phoenix’s Combine Studios, where he discussed cultural aspects of mining in Arizona, urban transportation, and food as a bridge between people of different backgrounds. His show included work on copper, chalkboard drawing, mixed-media pieces, and a large-scale board game that Rubbi interpreted from a Jules Verne novel. His work is smart and refreshing, and his whimsical personality was something to be seen. Rubbi returned to Italy late this year, and now we just have to figure out how to get him to come back.
Serious play: Matteo Rubbi at the ASU Art Museum
Deborah Hilary Sussman
Arizona State University Art Museum Blog. 07.06.2012
There was a lot of clucking, growling, mooing and hopping at the ASU Art Museum on Saturday, June 2, and most of all, there was a lot of giggling. The source of the giggling – and all the other sounds – was an artist-led game of “Goose,” patterned after a board game that has been popular in Europe for centuries.
The artist leading the game was Matteo Rubbi, winner of the Furla Foundation Prize for 2011 and one of the first residents of the newly opened ASU Art Museum International Artist Residency facility at Combine Studios in downtown Phoenix, although you’d be forgiven for mistaking him for a gregarious and enthusiastic camp counselor. It’s unlikely that any of the dozens of visitors who played the game that day knew that Frieze magazine calls Rubbi one of the most interesting Italian artists today, and Rubbi isn’t the kind of artist who’d need to let you know that anyway. He’s much more interested in what he calls “social sculpture” and in pulling people into situations that force them to think creatively – and to become co-artists with Rubbi.
Rubbi’s game was the featured activity during one of the ASU Art Museum’s First Saturdays for Families, which take place on the first Saturday of every month (except July, when the Museum hosts Family Fun Day) and which are increasingly about artist-led experiences within the museum. (Don’t miss the next First Saturday, on Aug. 4 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.) In an interview in Italian Vogue last summer, Rubbi was asked why it’s so important to him to involve the public in his work. He answered: “I believe it is the audience that brings a new dimension to my work. Eliminating the concepts of ‘viewer’ and ‘work of art’ from the equation opens up a brand new world, full of unexpected elements and possibilities.
I always try to create the conditions for the audience and my work to negotiate their own relationship, which has to be improvised and invented on the spot (as in the case of board games that the public is encouraged to play).
I believe this is the most challenging part of my research. It is always quite hard to ‘let go’ of something – an attitude, behavior – we have grown accustomed to.”
In fact, the international jury that awarded Rubbi the Furla Prize, led by artist Christian Boltanski, did so “for his capacity to interact with the viewer and to create new links between exhibition and public space.”
Rubbi’s work is engaging on multiple levels, the most obvious being that almost every piece is a kind of invitation, sometimes a literal one. Shortly after arriving in Phoenix, Rubbi established a series of communal meals served in the
Museum lobby for staff and invited guests; he called the lunches, which took place on Fridays, “Magic Friday.”
“Magic Friday” was about food and eating, certainly – each Friday brought a different international taste to the Museum, from Portuguese artist Miguel Palma’s sourda to Rubbi’s own mushroom risotto, but more than that, it was about bridging communities, and about how communal meals knit people together in both expected and unexpected ways.
One Friday, Rubbi invited members of the Lost Boys of Sudan, who live in Phoenix, to lunch, and they prepared an African dish. One Friday, we celebrated the Ephiphany with a traditional French cake that had some beans hidden in it;
those who found the beans got a home-made paper crown. At each lunch, the guests graciously shared their perspectives, as well as examples of their cuisine, and Rubbi has maintained a journal containing the various recipes as well as a
wall of photos in the Museum kitchen documenting the events.
Rubbi’s work fits into and expands upon the Museum’s overall emphasis on social practice, an art form that is particularly appropriate for an experimental university art museum and one that the Museum has been at the forefront of
developing, particularly in its ongoing Social Studies series.
In a very real way, Rubbi transformed the Museum lobby into a kind of public square, where people gather to meet and talk – which is what ASU Art Museum Director Gordon Knox believes the ASU Art Museum should, in fact, be.
“At its core, a museum should be a safe place for the exchange of ideas, a location where past and present can contemplate each other and people with different cultural or generational perspectives can communicate,” Knox said. “We walk into a museum with an open attitude – what will I learn here? This is a very different starting point from the more transactional one we have when walking into a store, a business, a city, state or federal office. Dialogue is possible in a museum and expected of a university museum; Matteo’s work, evolving out of art and action traditions centuries old, pushes this conversation beyond words and – gently – beyond comfort zones as audience and artist blend and as we all contemplate how much we are in this together, inside the box to utterly outside, being a colorful butterfly.
This game was inspired by Marco Colombaioni’s “Game of Goose,” which was initially conducted in a Sardinian village in Italy in 2009 and in the courtyard of GAMeC (Museo d’Arte Moderna e Contemporanea), Bergamo.
Rubbi has now returned to Italy for a few months. Currently he is conducting workshops at the Castello di Rivoli, near Turin, but in the fall he will return to the Museum and to Combine Studios. We’re fortunate that Rubbi is one of the artists to inaugurate the International Residency. His openness and engagement with the Phoenix community underscore the enormous benefits that the residency brings, providing the opportunity for students and the public to interface with significant international artists – and for these artists from around the world to be equally affected by the people and places they encounter here in Arizona, forming connections that will ripple out from their origins in wild and wonderful ways.
Bounty nello spazio
ATP Diary. 03.24.2011
Visionario, giocoso e divertente. La mostra di Matteo Rubbi, ‘Bounty nello spazio’ – presentata nella sezione Eldorado della GAMeC di Bergamo – mi è proprio piaciuta. Entrando nello spazio non facile del museo (grande stanzone che si sviluppa in lunghezza e dal soffitto molto alto), dedicato all’artista, si rimane subito avvolti dall’installazione sospesa fatta di scampoli di stoffa e coperte. Rubbi ha ricreato un’immaginaria volta celeste sopra Bergamo nell’anno 3000. Ma la cosa veramente coinvolgente è l’enorme ‘lavagna’ che l’artista ha creato dipingendo di nero le pareti a tutta altezza.
Qui, disegni, scritte, ditate, sfumati, scarabocchi, grafici, segni gestuali, ricoprono tutto lo spazio. Rubbi ha invitato amici ed artisti ad visualizzare l’aspetto del mondo subatomico. Le persone coinvolte, davanti all’enigmaticità di una superficie nera, hanno dato sfogo alla loro immaginazione, in totale libertà e guidati dall’istinto. Per l’occasione, l’artista ha anche rifatto un lavoro presentato alla Fondazione Sandretto, questa volta però, collaborando con il quotidiano locale, L’Eco di Bergamo’. Ha fatto stampare un numero del giornale datato 13 aprile 1961. Titolo della prima pagina: Lanciato nello spazio il russo ha girato la terra in 89 minuti.
Forse, però, la cosa più ‘fantastica’ era quello che, ancora, non c’era.
Per tutta la durata della mostra si avvicenderanno dei workshop in cui, guidati da veri falegnami e docenti di un istituto professionale (Azienda Bergamasca Formazione C.F.P), chiunque potrà fare una vera esperienza di ‘fai da te’, dentro al museo. A tappe, si andrà a costruire, in scala 1:1, una parte dello scafo del Bounty. Nello spazio, c’erano disegni progettuali e un modello ridotto e scomposto di questa mitica nave.
Matteo ha già iniziato, in precedenti mostre, questo surreale progetto (‘La festa dei pirati’, Fondazione Pomodoro e CNAC Le Magasin di Grenoble), con l’intento di rendere partecipi le persone nella comune costruzione della mitica fregata mercantile britannico. Giocoso e generoso, Matteo riesce finalmente ad attuare un tipo di arte (veramente) relazionale, in cui i presupposti non restano solo sulla carta, ma diventano reali, concreti. Obbiettivo non raggiunto, a parere mio, nel lavoro presentato al Premio Furla, che si presentava troppo macchinoso e, purtroppo, non risolto nelle intenzioni. Qui, invece, la condivisione come pratica estetica, è sicuramente raggiunta o soddisfatta. Le persone condivideranno fatica, sbagli, tempo e soddisfazioni, per realizzare un enorme oggetto immaginifico. Quando sarà ultimato, sarà sicuramente stupefacente vedere l’enorme scafo dentro alla sala. Scombussolando e fondendo – non senza un buona dose di indisciplinata immaginazione – il dentro e il fuori, il lontanissimo spazio profondo e le strade di Bergamo, intrecciando le vite di artigiani, falegnami, insegnanti, studenti, artisti e curatori, Matteo realizza quella cosa molto rara nell’arte: la partecipazione, l’originalità e l’altruismo. Non ultima, la realizzazione di una grande opera che, semplicemente, definirei bella!
Bounty nello spazio
Gabriele Francesco Sassone
FLASH ART n: 276 / maggio 2011
Recente vincitore del Premio Furla 2011. Matteo Rubbi) (Seriate. 1980) affronta la sua personale alla GAMeC di Bergamo con un progetto che coinvolge direttamente la comunità. “Bounty nello spazio sviluppa uno scenario in bilico tra storia e fantasia attraverso quattro interventi. Innanzitutto una grande installazione composta di tessuti colorati che crea una struttura mobile e sospesa. Illuminata con dei fari a terra. l’opera forma una sorta di firmamento cangiante che ipotizza il cielo bergarmasco del prossimo millennio, la cui lucentezza richiama il grande intervento a parete. Una porzione della sala, infatti, coperta da una speciale vernice nera, appare come una lavagna sulla quale dei bambini (seguiti da un fisico) hanno rappresentato il mondo subatomico. Sfere, orbite e onde tracciate con gessetti colorati avvolgono il visitatore in uno spazio incantato privo di scale proporzionali. Molto interessante non solo l’effetto di instabilità – il “potenziale” espresso dalla materia immaginata — ma lo sforzo mentale nel raffigurare qualcosa di sconosciuto. I bambini, intatti, avendo nozioni base del sistema atomico, hanno formalizzato l’ignoto con motivi elementari carichi di energia. La riflessione sulle proporzioni è al centro anche di un’opera che concluderà al termine della mostra curata da Alessandro Rabottini: una porzione in scala 1:1 dello scafo del Bounty. Attraverso una serie di workshop, Rubbi ha scelto la partecipazione collettiva come strumento necessario per appropriarsi della conoscenza.
Ed è proprio in questi termini che è stata concepita la ristampa integrale del 13 aprile 1961 de L’Eco di Bergamo – in prima pagina il volo spaziale di Yuri Gagarin – distribuita in più punti della città. Il passato riaffiora e la comunità di oggi, oltre a ricordare il valore dell’impresa aeronautica, ritrova se stessa nella cronaca locale. Grande e piccolo di nuovo confusi.
Premio Furla 2011 a Matteo Rubbi
Matteo Rubbi has been named winner of the 8th edition of Premio Furla 2011 last Friday evening, 28 January, at Palazzo Pepoli, during the opening of the exhibition of the five artists “Pleure qui peut, rit qui veut.
The jury, consisting of Christian Boltanski, Stefano Chiodi (art historian and critic), Vít Havránek (curator), Jörg Heiser (co-editor of frieze magazine and guest professor at Art University in Linz, Austria), Miguel Von Hafe Pérez (director of CGAC the Centro Galego de Arte Contemporáneo, Santiago de Compostela, Spain) acclaimed Matteo Rubbi “for his ability to interact with the viewers and to create new feedbacks between the exhibition space and public space in a spirit of generous engagement. His work engages with different cultural domains in both conceptual and material terms, and reveals a keen sense for experimental adventure: from the re-airing of Luigi Nono’s opera Intolleranza 1960 on the national broadcast Rai Radio Tre, inviting unassuming passersby to tune in, to his project to explore the small town reality of Italy by way of interaction with local newspapers as part of a “journey” in the spirit of Pasolini, Ghirri and Celati”. Lorenzo Bruni, curator who selected Matteo Rubbi together with guest curator Carson Chan (co-director of Gallery Program, Berlin), defines his work “sculpted actions” for the purpose of raising the viewer’s awareness of “daily” living and his concept of art. The friction between the abstract concepts with which man has always organised the world and the empirical experiences that have enabled him to discover it is always the focus of his research, which is aimed at “measuring” and “re-imagining” the places where he intervenes. Rubbi’s work therefore consists of celebrating the “meeting” between the subject and the context, giving rise to an epiphany or estrangement with which the viewer/actor is obliged to re-evaluate the methods and rules applied to perceive reality.
The award consist of an amount of 35.000 Euro divided in two part: the winner will create a work financed by the Fondazione Furla and destined for public exhibition thanks to a special agreement with the MAMbo – Museo d’Arte Moderna di Bologna. The work of the winning project will premiere at the Fondazione Querini Stampalia in Venice in June 2011, for the occasion of the 54 Biennale of Visual Arts. In addition the artist get the opportunity to study and work abroad in an artist’s residency program, in collaboration with the Arizona State University Art Museum (Tempe, AZ, USA) the West Coast, from Arizona to San Francisco.
Viafarini, a documentation centre on contemporary art where the materials of the first five editions are archived, will manage everything.
On the way home with Matteo Rubbi
Authors: Lorenzo Bruni, Carson Chan
Pleure qui peut, rit qui veut. Premio Furla 2011. Mousse Publishing
Matteo Rubbi always creates “sculptural actions” aimed at raising the viewer’s level of attention towards his or her “daily life” and concept of art. His “sculpting” process has to do with transforming places into “situations”, spurring people to reflect on their own potential role in relation to society. Rubbi presents the generative process behind the work, following through on the need felt in recent decades (one could cite the work of Pawel Althamer, Trisha Donnelly, Martin Creed, Jonathan Monk, Pierre Bis-muth, Mario Garcia Torres, Simon Starling, Tino Sehgal and Santiago Sierra) to establish a direct dialogue with the public, and taking it to an extreme. This puts the artist and the viewer in the same posi-tion of discovering and witnessing that special “moment” in which we see and reassess reality as if for the first time. His unique characteristic lies in how he shifts attention to an “imaginative” dimension rather than a “nominalist” one, an approach perhaps derived in part from a new interpretation of Italian artistic practices in the early Nineties, linked to crossovers between disciplines, among which one should cite the work of Mario Airò, Luca Vitone, Cesare Pietroiusti, Eva Marisaldi, Alberto Garutti, Stefano Arienti. In this sense, his focus on giving concrete form to the moment of experiencing art, and to establishing a collaborative sphere with the viewer, has also allowed him to make a contribution to the new debate surrounding recent work that draws on historic archives, without falling into a rhetorical or didactic dimension, posing questions about the role of the individual in relation to a broader reflection on society.
Sistema solare [Solar System], a piece presented for the first time at the 3rd International Festival of Performance Art in Trento in 2007, is a “collective action” in which viewers involuntarily find themselves in the middle of a group of people walking along different paths and at different speeds that are anything but random. It is a transposition of how the solar system works, which the artist has implemented through a spontaneous happening with surreal qualities; however, this is the means, not the end, that Rubbi uses to make us look differently at the “spaces of transit” in which they take place. The work has thus transformed anonymous places – an empty patch of ground in Trento, and an area underneath a pedestrian bridge in Sao Paulo (for his residency at Le Pavillon, Palais de Tokyo in 2009) – into unique contexts and moments. The same objective of bringing together “overarching systems” and the specific instances dictated by individual experience, in addition to the open, collaborative methods of the process, is at the heart of his installation Bounty. This piece, created at Fondazione Pomodoro in Milan in 2010, completely transforms the site with two large sails, which both measure out the space with their perimeters and utterly transfigure it, since they evoke the form/presence of a ship, a romantic image out of the past. What is significant is that the sails have been created by children from schools in the neighborhood around the foundation, who drew pirate stories on sheets of paper that they then assembled together. This sort of “potential readymade” fits in with an underlying controversy: should the sailors of the Bounty be considered renegades who wanted to escape the laws of society, or revolutionaries who wanted to change them? Since the episode is intriguing because it does not allow for a final verdict, the project is meant to be a work in progress, with the plan to recreate the entire vessel in the future through a collective effort, and thus a collective “reassessment”. The third sail was made and erected with schoolchildren from Grenoble for the group show “Sindrome Italiana”, CNAC – Le Magasin, 2010.
Rubbi stimulates people to ask themselves questions about what can be called a “work of art” today, and why, broadening the reflection to include the concept of history, collective memory and the current capacity for individuals to take part in the social debate. This dimension, which is the force that drives all his work, also becomes raw material for the work titled Appare il futuro terribilmente vicino [The Future Appears Terribly Near, 2010], created for the exhibition “21×21” at Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo. On May 6, 2010, Rubbi had an issue of the daily newspaper La Stampa from May 6, 1961 reprinted and distributed to public places in Turin such as cafés and bookstores. The paper had articles about “Italia 61”, the “international exhibition of human labor”, organized in Turin to celebrate the hundredth anniversary of Italian unification: this created a déjà-vu or “time machine” effect, rendering visible the anesthetization towards information that has been generated by the apparent – but illusory – democratization of the media. This “process of becoming”, just at a time when Italy was gearing up for another anniversary of its unification, was aimed at reviving – without rhetoric, and without aestheticizing archival documents – elements of collective memory, in order to rethink the concept of the future and of personal/collective identity. These questions also led Rubbi to develop a separate project, which consisted in organizing a concert next to the ruins of the ALWEG monorail that was built in ’61 and abandoned due to technical problems the following year. It was a performance of a portion of intolleranza 1960, the scenic piece by Luigi Nono, whose premiere was disrupted by major political agitation. These two actions, ephemeral and yet emotionally stirring, had a sort of central driving force, a new pres-ence, in the work exhibited at the foundation: the large sign “Italia61”, reproduced in the original font, illuminated by blue lights and placed in the entrance hall, which became a sort of time portal for people to walk through physically and symbolically.
Rubbi’s work thus consists in celebrating the “encounter” between individual and context, sparking a moment of epiphany or disorientation that makes visitors reassess the methods and rules they use to think about their personal identity in relation to their collective one, and vice-versa. But this encounter between “vessel” and “contents” does not just take place in relation to the cultural codes that influence decisions, but in relation to the physical context they move through and how they imagine changing them. For example, with the piece Muro [Wall, 2007/2010], our perception of a gallery’s architecture is radically altered by the simple presence of a person who holds up a wooden wall by its shorter end, for the entire duration of the opening: its shape is an exact copy of the central bearing wall that divides the space exactly in half. The copy of the wall that transforms the architectural space and the person intent on holding up this sculptural presence introduce “a new temporal mode” that makes visitors think about their presence in this setting. The work Perdaxius is instead a text/sculpture that Rubbi created for a town in Sardinia to proclaim its special identity to the rest of the world. It is a sign that the residents exhibit to celebrate their presence during festivals. In Gli elementi (P.110-111) ([The Elements], exhibited in his recent solo show at Studio Guenzani in Milan, Rubbi presented a laboratory containing many everyday items that make us question our concept of ready-mades, sculptures and normal objects. These odd presences directly correspond to elements in the periodic table. With this setting full of objects that become bachelor machines (two helium balloons, laser lights, etc.). Rubbi intends to represent the individual “elements” that together form the world as we know it. With the work Una coppia di canarini affidati allo staff della galleria (Kiiro e Midori) [A Pair of Canaries Entrusted to the Care of the Gallery Staff, 2008] at Via Nuova Arte Contemporanea in Florence, he instead highlights the confusion between our concepts of exotic and normal, close and distant, presenting large images from a book from the Sixties that explains the history of the canary, taken from the Canary Islands to bring a touch of color into the drab houses of the Old World. This reflection on the fact that the canary, as we know it today, is the result of a colonization process which has turned the cage into its sole habitat leads him, in response, to focus on the new relationship between the gallery staff and the pair of birds, introducing and giving concrete form to a new temporal mode that extends beyond the exhibition, or the encounter between the observer and the object observed. It is thus clear that the question always hovering in Rubbi’s works is: what is the true context or habitat that we must rediscover and construct as human beings?
FRIEZE. Issue 136 January-February 2010
Matteo Rubbi’s second solo show at Studio Guenzani not only confirmed him as one of the most interesting Italian artists of recent years, it also reinforced my conviction that the last two generations of Italian artists have been influenced more by literature and cinema than by art history. In Rubbi’s work there is a certain kind of realism that refers back to writers like Dino Buzzati and filmmakers such as Marco Ferreri, whose practice during the 1950s and ’60s focused on the more prosaic aspects of the everyday while at the same time infusing them with suspense and surreal signs. The atmosphere Rubbi creates thus moves away from the more canonical Surrealism of Giorgio de Chirico and the Pittura Metafisica of the first two decades of the 20th century to adopt instead a placid irony and oblique melancholy.
Planetario (Planetary, 2010), the first work in the show, was the most successful. It was only visible to the most attentive and motivated viewer: beginning with a basketball to represent the sun – positioned on the postbox in the entrance hall of the palazzo where the gallery is located – the artist reproduced the entire solar system on an urban scale, respecting the proportions, distances and dimension of each planet. Mercury became a nail thrown into the courtyard of the palazzo, and Pluto a grain of sand 1,300 metres away from the starting point. If at first this work made one think of the famous Zodiaco (Zodiac, 1970) by Gino de Dominicis – in which the 12 signs of the zodiac were represented by the display of a live lion, a young virgin, a real set of twins, two dead fish on the floor, and so on – Rubbi headed more towards a sense of humble enchantment, in much the same vein as the cinema of Ferreri and the literature of Buzzati.
In the gallery was the environmental installation Gli Elementi (The Elements, 2010). Ninety-two everyday objects – from a computer to a thermometer to a pair of balloons – represented each of the chemical elements from Mendeleev’s Periodic Table, the essential elements of the universe, as if to gather the world – and even more – in a room. Rubbi’s installation created the same relationship between the micro and macro universe, between the abstractions of physics and the minutiae of everyday life, as writer Primo Levi’s Il Sistema Periodico (The Periodic Table, 1975), a collection of 21 autobiographical tales with titles determined by 21 of the elements in the system. The artist amplifies this work in his publication Novantadue (Ninety-two), a slim book to accompany the show that contains a brief history of each element in the table.
Translated from Italian by Anne Ruzzante
Missile Science, according to Rubbi
Introducing his readers to the scientific understanding of size (thousands, millions, billions, etc.) and how misleading size can be, Isaac Asimov once recounted a conversation he had had one day with his (patient) wife. “Do you know, ” he had asked her, “how rare the element Astatine 215 is? Imagine taking the crust of the Earth that makes up North and South America, digging down ten kilometres deep, then sifting everything you found, atom by atom, looking for Astatine 215. Do you know how many atoms you would find?” His wife didn’t know. “Practically none,” answered Asimov, “Only a trillion.” In his latest show at Studio Guenzani, open until the end of November, Matteo Rubbi does something similar to what Asimov suggested to his wife. Instead of the surface of the Earth, he sifts daily life, random objects and school-time memories through a very fine sieve looking for traces of science. And he found them. The public enters the art gallery by a room furnished with the most stereotypical elements of contemporary art: a series of little lights, a monochrome screen, and an electronic sound emitted rhythmically. Immediately one thinks of the number of artists from the past (Felix Gonzalez-Torres is one) who have created similar work. But strictly speaking, Rubbi’s furnishings are not artwork, but more like forensic snapshots, biographies or pictures of chemical elements. Rubbi’s project is evident in the next room, which contains an indescribable quantity of things: balloons wafting up to the ceiling, a bucket smelling of swimming pools, light bulbs, baseball bats, 19thcentury cameos, metal bars, a photocopy machine, coins, bits and pieces.
The objects are arranged in an order that oscillates between the rigour of an ethnographic museum and the messiness of an artist’s studio: lined up in rows on overcrowded tables or in display cases, or tossed on the floor in a haphazardly way that is obviously not so haphazard.
A good look around allows one to perceive the common nature of these objects: the elements, the natural elements of which we find traces all around us, in the surface of things that are part of our life. There is the Phosphorus of glow-in-the-dark, the Magnesium of the photographic flash, the Tungsten of incandescent light bulb filaments, the Chlorine of pools. Then there are super-secret giants such as Thorium, Dysprosium and Lanthanum.
On the rear wall, two blackboards illustrate the birth of the universe with colourful drawings. A basket-ball at the gallery’s entrance is the centre of a scale model of the solar system, dispersed throughout the city. Mercury is in the courtyard – an almost invisible nail. Saturn is a ping-pong ball several kilometres away. Like the selection of objects in the show, this is a scientific model of the world, but the science that inspires it is at once imaginary and ordinary: the science of illustrated books, sketches by parents on the napkin of a pizzeria, the science of missiles heading out into space.
The exhibition includes a booklet containing make-believe biographies or impossible stories about the nature of each of the 92 elements, written by Rubbi as a guide to find direction, or lose himself, in his exploration.
Indeed, without a guide, it’s easy to get lost in the show. It feels like being in a scientific laboratory that has been abandoned in a hurry for fear of a catastrophe, or in a classroom during a teachers strike, or in a clandestinely inhabited museum. Only the fugitive scientist, the absent professor or the hidden inhabitant are missing, but needed to supply the key to the objects and their connection to the periodic table of the elements. As you squintingly study the booklet, a flash of green light suddenly illuminates you, accompanied by the whistle of a firework. The colour, of course, is determined by the fact that it is filled with Boron.
Matteo Rubbi: Pianeti allo Studio Guenzani e attorno, per le strade di Milano…
Durante l’inaugurazione Matteo Rubbi ha messo in parole la sua mostra, lo ha fatto dentro una narrazione concitata e affascinante, una fila di racconti veloci su ognuno degli elementi (quelli del sistema periodico) raggruppati nella sua “stanza universo”. Se il mercurio è sulla scena all’interno di un comunissimo termometro e l’elio presenzia inglobato in un palloncino, quasi tutti gli altri elementi – dall’Ittio al Berillio, dal Gallio al Rubidio – sono “rappresentati” da oggetti del nostro quotidiano che insospettabilmente li contengono.
Tutti hanno dietro piccole grandi storie che Rubbi trasforma in performance divertite, portando “elementi” spesso sconosciuti – con nomi difficili da ricordare o mai sentiti – tra le parole più comuni e le cose di tutti i giorni.
Lo “spettacolo” è piacevole, l’artista si scusa per il modo straripante dei suoi racconti, assicura che dopo l’inaugurazione lui non ci sarà e sarà possibile godersi la mostra in silenzio. Il suo modo, invece, piace, e restiamo ad ascoltare.
Nelle sale di Studio Guenzani, come per le strade di Milano, Rubbi ha ricostruito l’universo, lo ha fatto in modo giocoso, mettendo una palla da basket al posto del sole e collocando, a distanze proporzionate e con proporzionate dimensioni, gli altri pianeti. In via Frisi, una palla da ping pong sta per Saturno; in via Castel Morrone, Marte è una capocchia di spillo rossa, e così via…
In mostra, appunto, l’universo diventa un fatto che sta tra noi, tra le cose del nostro quotidiano e viene rappresentato su una lavagna coi gessi colorati, come piacerebbe a un bambino.
Se l’incontro con la leggerezza di questo lavoro è piacevole – piacevole come la soddisfazione di ritrovare un mondo complesso dentro un racconto ben scritto e affascinante – la sensazione che si tratti davvero di un buon progetto si rafforza prendendo in mano il libricino che accompagna la mostra. Si chiama “Novantadue” e spiega gli elementi dell’universo – 92 appunto – come tutti vorrebbero leggerli, e qui è proprio una questione di bella scrittura e di piccole efficaci invenzioni letterarie, non troppo facili da trovare quando l’arte contemporanea coinvolge le parole.
Ho sentito qualcuno che attaccava il carattere leggero, la semplicità e il gioco di questa mostra. Io credo che sia preziosa.
Credo che trovare le forme e le parole, ma anche i gesti e i luoghi per una narrazione capace di suonare come quella allestita da Matteo Rubbi sia tutt’altro che semplice.
Precipizi verso l’alto
Flash Art n: 104 / giugno-luglio 2009
ENTRI NELLA STANZA e non succede nulla, o quasi: vedi solo una persona che aspetta appoggiata a una parete. Ogni tanto cambia posizione. Ma al secondo, al terzo sguardo noti che la sua espressione, i suoi gesti tradiscono una forma di angoscia, una pressione nascosta. Ti sembra preoccupata. Un movimento impercettibile ti fa capire che è la parete, in realtà, ad appoggiarsi a lei, che il muro è dietro il muro che vedi, e quello aggiuntivo potrebbe crollare da un momento all’altro, per una distrazione del suo reggitore, che resta in preda della tensione, la stessa che hai tu, una tensione conoscibile soltanto negli abissi marini (Senza Titolo, 2007). C’e qualcosa nel lavoro di Matteo Rubbi che ti ricorda la situazione del pesci degli abissi, buissimi. Anche loro non possono mai sentirsi a proprio agio, schiacciati da tutti questi strati scricchiolanti, circondati da una pressione insostenibile, con gli occhi che schizzano fuori dalla testa, gli ossicini delle orecchie che si schiantano. E lo stesso vale per quei poveri sembianti di pianeti, quelli della performance Sistema solare (2008), quelle persone che girano credendosi lanciate a velocità supersoniche nel vuoto siderale, soggette a forze attrattive al di la del loro controllo, guidate da spinte potentissime che ne mettono in tensione ogni microscopica particella, tutti quei vortici. La protagonista della performance Qualcuno su un tetto (2006) li conosceva, quei vortici di fibrillazione che attraversano ogni lavoro di Rubbi; conosceva la loro insostenibile capacita di trascinarti.
Li conosceva, su quel tetto che era sopra le cose; e chi passava vedendola lì, quella ragazza in cielo senza una ragione, forse immaginava qualcosa, percepiva gli stravolgimenti tellurici che la tenevano lì inchiodata e mobile, in alto. Come anche la Macchina bussante (2007), quell’automobile ansiosa, in trappola, che tenta di entrare in un posto che non è per lei, proietta tutt’intorno la sua luce, il suo tremore, sfiorando col suo muso uncinato un vetro fragilissimo, un vetro debole a ogni assalto, un vetro tenue di ghiaccio, di neve. è una pressione intollerabile, totale, di cui sono preda lavori e spettatori, di cui sono preda lo spazio e Matteo Rubbi: una pressione che “potrebbe conoscere forse solamente un sasso se, a un certo punto della sua caduta, decidesse di impegnare tutte le sue energie per sfuggire alla forza di gravità e, invertendo di colpo la sua traiettoria, precipitare verso l’alto” (Antonio Moresco, Lettere a Nessuno).
Ecco: precipizi verso l’alto.
A Voyage on the North Sea
Zero, marzo-aprile 2007
“I have walked this earth/And watched people/I can be sincere/And say I like them/You can’t say no to hope/Can’t say no to happiness/I’m no fucking Buddhist/But this is enlightenment” (Bjork, “Alarm Call”, 1997).
Una sera di queste, con quella brezza che porta la primavera, vi consiglio di andare in via Boltraffio. Lì, potrete assaporare cosa significa viaggiare nei mari del Nord. Non importa se siamo a Milano, o se pensate sia finita la nebbia e ci sia già afa; abbandonatevi all’aria di mare che proviene dalla mostra di Matteo Rubbi e degli scandinavi aiPotu. Per portare questa magia, Matteo è volato fino a Oslo, ha rubato l’essenza alla selva norvegese, ha visto i vichinghi, ha pianto sul fare del tramonto. Tutto per noi.