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The exhibition Mario Merz. Igloos at Pirelli Hangar Bicocca. A journey through time

Aggiornamento: 7 dic 2018

The exhibition Mario Merz. Igloo opened on the 25 October 2018, with which Pirelli Hangar Bicocca decided to open its own exhibition season. After last year’s Ambienti Spaziali success dedicated to Lucio Fontana, Pirelli turns his attention once again to one of the great masters of Italian art of the second half of the twentieth century: Mario Merz.

Mario Merz - La goccia d'acqua, 1987 - Installation view

The exhibition, curated by Vicente Todolì and organized in collaboration with the Merz Foundation, presents the iconic body of works of the Igloos realized by the poor artist between 1968 and 2003. The principle of grouping that is the basis of the exhibition, resumes ideally the exhibition project, curated by Harald Szemann, realized in 1985 at the Kunsthaus in Zurich. On that occasion, a personal exhibition dedicated to Merz was presented, which gathered almost 20 Igloos, considered, yesterday as today, emblematic of the artistic production, in the desire to create a sort of “village”, “constellation” to be travelled by the visitor. In the spaces of Pirelli Hangar Bicocca this constellation has now been extended to 30 works, a result due to the long period of time taken into account, which makes the exhibition as the biggest retrospective on the artist till now.

Mario Merz - Igloo di Giap, 1968 - Installation view - Pirelli Hangar Bicocca, 2018

The exhibition itinerary is developed by a chronological trend with the exception of two works: La goccia d’acqua (1987) and Senza Titolo (doppio igloo di Porto) (1998) were placed respectively at the opening and closing of the exhibition. La goccia d’acqua occupies the large initial space of the visit: it’s in fact, the biggest igloo realized by Merz for a museum space, so it needed an exhibition choice that would contain and highlight certain dimensions. The structure has a hemispherical metal soul completely covered by glasses and neon numbers and crossed by a triangular table at the top of which there is a tap from which some water drips. Positioned in the large and silent spaces of Hangar Bicocca, the work has a great visual and auditory impact: the latter is in fact stimulated by the continuous flow of water that transports us to another world, in a different temporality from the outside, anticipating a “flow of time” that seems to be a trait d’union within the exhibition. Continuing the path we meet Igloo di Giap (1968), the first igloo realized by the artist, which if on the one hand represents a point of arrival of the experiment of the ‘60s aimed to overcoming the two-dimensionality of the canvas, on the other hand is a starting point for a new investigation on the form, in this case of the igloo, that will be carried out in the light of this conquest of three-dimensionality, for over forty years. This is the starting point of the unfolding of the igloos, which literally inhabit the space according to a rhythmic trend determined by their diversity of dimensions and materials. It’s interesting to see how in the heterogeneity of the works, they find their unity and coherence not only in their being clearly igloo, but also in their adherence to the temporal element. The latter echoes throughout the exhibition: on the one hand, for the chronology of the works in which one continually runs, and on the other hand for the focus on the speed of the flow of time which, an intrinsic element of many works, is expressed in the sequences of numbers belonging to the Fibonacci Series. This one, which Merz has always considered as a visualization of speed, of the energy that is at the base of every natural growth phenomenon, is also a visualization of time linking these works even more to their being the result of a temporal process. To strengthen this principle there is the presence on the top of the right wall of the nave of some numbers that so arranged, seem, with all their “weight”, collect under itself this “constellation” of igloos.

Mario Merz. Igloos

Period: 25 October 2018 – 24 February 2019.

Opening hours: from Monday to Wednesday: closed. From Thursday to Sunday: 10-22

Where: Pirelli Hangar Bicocca

Via Chiese, 2, 20126 Milano MI

- Giulia Zompa

Mario Merz - Senza Titolo, 1985 - Installation view - Pirelli Hangar Bicocca, 2018


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