An exhibition titled “When Attitudes Become Form: Bern 1969/Venice 2013” curated by Germano Celant in dialogue with Thomas Demand and Rem Koolhaas will be presented by The Fondazione Prada at Ca’ Corner della Regina in Venice during this years Bienalle.
In a surprising and novel remaking, the project reconstructs “Live in Your Head. When Attitudes Become Form”, an exhibition conceived and organised by Harald Szeemann at the Bern Kunsthalle in 1969, which went down in history for the curator’s radical approach to exhibition practice, conceived as a linguistic medium.
To present, today, an exhibition from 1969 just as it was, maintaining its original visual and formal relations and links between the works, has posed a series of questions on the complexity and very meaning of the project, which has developed through a profound debate from various perspectives: the artistic, the architectural and the curatorial. Though underlining and highlighting the transition from the past to the present, the complex identity of which it is important to conserve, it has been decided to graft the exhibition in its totality – walls, floors, installations and art objects, including their relative positions – onto the historical architectural and environmental structure of Ca’ Corner della Regina, thereby inserting – on a full-size scale – the modern rooms of the Kunsthalle, delimited by white wall surfaces, into the ancient frescoed and decorated halls of the Venetian palazzo.
It is, in fact, an exercise in “double occupancy”: in the same way that the spaces of the Kunsthalle were occupied by a generation of young revolutionary artists in 1969, taking the same approach, the richly decorated spaces of Ca’ Corner della Regina are in turn being invaded by the Kunsthalle’s twentieth-century rooms. The result is a literal and radical superposition of spaces that produces new and unexpected relationships: between the artworks themselves and between the artworks and the space they occupy.
The intention is to breathe new life into the exhibition process with which “When Attitudes Become Form” was staged, so as to avoid the necessity for photographs and films of the past event, and to be able to experience and analyse it literally, just as it was, even though it has been transported from the past to the present. The project has entailed the understanding that the language with which an exhibition is mounted and the relations between the works set out by its curator have become a founding element of the history of modern and contemporary art.
With regard to the content of the artworks and their reciprocal connections, following an in-depth research, conducted in close contact with the artists, their heirs and their foundations, and working with Glenn Phillips, curator at the Getty Research Institute in Los Angeles (GRI), which houses the Harald Szeemann Archive and Library, “When Attitudes Become Form: Bern 1969/Venice 2013” will bring together the original works presented in Bern.These have been loaned by important private collections and international museums, and have required site-specific interventions recreated directly or in association with the artists, plus a selection of photographs, videos, books, letters, ephemeral objects and other original materials relating to the 1969 show and its context.The exhibition will also include unpublished materials from the Szeemann archive generously loaned by the GRI, which is still working to catalog this vast collection.
The purpose is to revisit, with the same intensity and energy, the Post-Pop and Post-Minimalist Art research of the time, ranging from Process Art to Conceptual Art, Arte Povera and Land Art, that was developed internationally during the mid-1960s, but also to point up the contribution made by Harald Szeemann, a curator capable of thinking beyond the limitations fixed by critics’ labels and the theoretic associations of his time. In particular, the focus has been on the fluid and mutable development of art, with the purpose of exploring the physical and conceptual horizons of material and immaterial visual language, set in a multiform and continuously changing territory that transcends the immutable nature of the art object. Characterised by a new approach where everything was left to the liberating process of doing, where the viewer was not impeded by boundaries, protection systems, pedestals or perimeters, the exhibition became a dialectical field of encounter between the individual artists and the curator, between the event and the architecture: a place where the works formed links with each other, in a kind of continuously evolving organic weave.
Among the artists presented at the original exhibition were, to mention just a few, Carl Andre, Giovanni Anselmo, Richard Artschwager, Joseph Beuys, Alighiero Boetti, Hanne Darboven, Walter De Maria, Jan Dibbets, Michael Heizer, Eva Hesse, Jannis Kounellis, Sol LeWitt, Richard Long, Mario Merz, Robert Morris, Bruce Nauman, Claes Oldenburg, Robert Ryman, Sarkis, Richard Serra, Keith Sonnier, Lawrence Weiner and Gilberto Zorio.
A scientific volume will be published to coincide with “When Attitudes Become Form: Bern 1969/Venice 2013”, which will include the complete collection of photographs, many previously unpublished, taken by photographers during the exhibition in Bern, together with contributions by internationally recognised historians, theoreticians, curators and critics (Pierre Bal Blanc, Claire Bishop, Benjamin Buchloh, Charles Esche, Boris Groys, Jens Hoffmann, Chus Martínez, Glenn Phillips, Christian Rattemeyer, Dieter Roelstrate, Anne Rorimer, Terry Smith, Mary Anne Staniszewski, Francesco Stocchi, Jan Verwoert). The aim is to offer a complete and multiform publication as much on the themes of the reconstruction and “re-enactment” of objects, settings and exhibitions, as on the creative practice, thinking and decisions of the curator.
“When Attitudes Become Form: Bern 1969/Venice 2013” curated by Germano Celant in dialogue withThomas Demand and Rem Koolhaas
VENUE: CA’ CORNER DELLA REGINA Calle de Ca’ Corner Santa Croce 2215 – 30135 Venice Vaporetto Line 1, San Stae stop
Photo: PC Robinson © ArtLyst 2012