They took to the streets with invasions, surprises, disturbances, break-ins, rebellions; they have involved people, communities, have offered new points of view. Starting in the 1960s, it was the artists who believed that the road was the modern intellectual, social and political battlefield.
“The Street. Where the world is made”
7 December, 2018 – 28 April, 2019
MAXXI – National Museum of XXI Century Arts
Via Guido Reni 4A , Roma
From the 7th of December 2018 to the 28th of April 2019, MAXXI dedicates to them all, but also to architects, urban planners, and designers, The STREET. Where the world is made. The exhibit is curated by Hou Hanru together with the curatorial and research teams of the museum and transforms MAXXI into an intense and somewhat chaotic street scene.
More than 200 works from more than 140 artists to describe a space that is not only a fundamental manmade infrastructure, but a place crossed by multiple meanings, sometimes victim of visual and physical bombardment – signs, advertising, surveillance cameras, garbage – a place where shared practices and new technologies are experimented, and a showcase of projects stemming from the needs of the communities.
The main partner is Enel, the Fondazione MAXXI’s first private partner, which has chosen to support this exhibition in particular due to its extraordinary cultural and research value, offering free admittance to a programme of seminars with architects, journalist, philosophers and artists.
With THE STREET, MAXXI becomes a street-museum, capable of combining works, actions, events and artistic, architectural, urban and technological research, conceived by an international creative community, expanding the study already conducted in 2017 for the Bi-City Biennale of Urbanism/Architecture of Shenzhen with which the MAXXI team collaborated, on the most outstanding artistic experiences, that have reinterpreted the functions and identities of the street from the last two decades. The museum becomes a spokesperson for a reflection on the future of urban life and civil society, and on the function of artistic and cultural institutions.
Site-specific projects, performance, and transdisciplinary events are part of an exhibition organised based on themes – public actions, daily life, politics, the community, innovation, the role of the institution – fundamental for understanding the new functions and identity of the modern-day street.
Starting from the belief that this space is the place where the world is created, it is analysed as a manifesto of contemporary life, a scenario, and a privileged point of view, a landscape in which the creative community and citizens give life to a new community and a new world of urban creativity.
STREET POLITICS (Resistance, Protest, Occupy, Manifest, Feminism and the Carnivalesque, etc.) is the main theme of the first part of the exhibition in which the street is described not only as a place of celebration and parties, but also a space in which a voice is given to social tensions, an arena of protest and resistance to control by power.
A large wall will show works such as those by Andrea Bowers composed of drawings and anti-racial protest print covers, the large canvas Tutto il resto è noia by Andrea Salvino whose research is often dedicated to the dark and violent sides of recent Italian history; the feminist collages of Marinella Senatore who has made city parades one of the typical traits of her research, Demonstration Drawings by Rirkrit Tiravanija and The Devil You Know a five-pointed star composed of flashing police cars of Kendell Geers, an artist who has dedicated all of his work to political and social protests since the 1980s. On the other hand, Yang Jiechang and Pak Sheung-Chuen demonstrate memories and reflection on the 1989 event of Tiananmen and the Umbrella Movement for democracy in Hong Kong four years ago; and also Sam Durant that, with Proposal for Public Fountain, offers a possibility to reflect upon sociopolitical and cultural issues of the American history by intepreting in a very personal manner the notion of public monument, whereas Moe Sat, with cuts made on the silk of tipical Burmese umbrellas which are part of his work Parasol Alternative, creates a metaphor for the unstable condition of the people from Myanmar.A fundamental role in the entire exhibition is attributed to the medium of video, the channel through which we look at the world today, an ideal vehicle for narration and at the same time a device for creating space, a tool for mapping and re-organizing the urban environment, the primary interface between public and private. Among those related to the theme of protest are Walked The Way Home by Eric Baudelaire, Angry Sandwich People by Chto Delat and O Levante The Uprising by Jonathas de Andrade.
The GOOD DESIGN (Innovation, Limitation, and Freedom) nucleus includes works that depict the street as the ideal platform where to experiment with technological innovations related to communication, life, and mobility. The street has shared approaches and knowledge that have made not only a new form of design possible but also new conditions of environmental and social sustainability. The works related to this area include Ciclomóvil by Pedro Reyes and the Velodreams by Patrik Tuttofuoco prototypes for a new form of sustainable city vehicles, and among others videos by Carsten Nicolai future past perfect and Cao Fei RMB City.
Related to this theme, we also find Cars by Artists, a giant wall of images that collects the TOP50 artistic reflections on the protagonist of the road: the automobile. Starting with Andy Warhol’s 1979 creation for BMW, this collection includes the versions of 40 international artists of an epochal icon regarding mobility, social status, and imaginary. Olafur Eliasson, Lucy + Jorge Orta, Nam June Paik, Paola Pivi, Erwin Wurm, Sisley Xhafa and many others give us back the mysticism of mobility, the socio-economic critique, the coexistence between technology and do-it-yourself, the irony and the dimension of creativity.
COMMUNITY (Immigration, Minorities, Diversity, Love and Living Together) brings together works in which the road is the fundamental node for the development of a shared conscience, the laboratory in which to redefine boundaries and characters of minorities, or – in the light of recent migratory phenomena – rethink the instruments of reception and protection. Here we find works such as the high wall painted by the collective Boa Mistura, explicitly designed for the MAXXI spaces, and typical of their research linked to the communities and liveability of the city spaces, or the “social” benches in the shape of a circle of Jeppe Hein’s Modified Social Benches. Also the videos by Kimsooja, Zhou Tao, Kim Sora, Paradox of Praxis 5 by Francis Alys, and Niagara by Mark Bradford.
The street is an essential part of everyday life. It is a place of work, recreation, and food. There are many functions concentrated in this place, and for this reason, it has been the object of creative intervention by artists and architects who have interpreted it as an extension of domestic life. Around the theme EVERYDAY LIFE (Eat, Work and Exchange, Home/Homeless…) rotate not only works that express all of this, but also works that show how life in the street can assume the character of marginalization and social exclusion.