Home Magazine Sculpting time with Giorgio Andreotta Calò

Just a few months before the official opening of the 58th Venice Biennale, the artist whose 2017 installation in the Italian Pavillon enchanted us, is now ready for his personal homage to the city of Milan.

Two important cities - Milano and Venice - through two different means research, CITTÀDIMILANO is the title of Giorgio Andreotta Calò solo show, curated by Roberta Tenconi for Pirelli HangarBicocca, and visitable from the February 14 to July 21 2019. 

The exhibition will play host a vast group of artworks from earlier stages in Calò's career, as well as more recent pieces, like numerous site-specific works created through deep research into the history of the Pirelli Company. Indeed, the artist has created new works that bring to light previously unknown stories from the past, some specifically linked to the city of Milan but also similarly related to themes and locations already present in the artist’s path.


Giorgio Andreotta Calò, Senza titolo (La fine del mondo), 2017 Installation view, Italian Pavilion, 57th Venice Biennale, 2017
Courtesy Studio Giorgio Andreotta Calò, Venice Photo: Roberto Marossi


For who want to visit Pirelli HangarBicocca during this period... don't miss the opportunity to see "Mario Merz Igloos" solo show... Read more!

A jump back in time and the visitor is welcomed into the exhibition space by the projection of underwater images of the submerged shipwreck of the Città di Milano [City of Milan], from which the exhibition takes its name. Used at the beginning of the last century by the company then known as Pirelli Cavi to lay underwater cables in the depths of the Mediterranean Sea, the ship sank close to Capo Graziano on the island of Filicudi, near Sicily, on 16 June 1919. The artist extrapolated video footage from archive material filmed on the wreck at a depth of 100 meters in 2015. Don't miss our article about the 10 Unmissable Exhibitions in 2019!

He then assembled this into a work that serves as a prelude and leitmotif to the exhibition that is linked to ideas of navigation, immersion and surfacing, and stratification, in a physical, symbolic, historical and geographical sense. One further reference to this story is provided by the presence in the exhibition of a damaged section of cable, over 30 meters in length, used for the underwater transmission of data.


Giorgio Andreotta Calò, Medusa, 2014 Durmast, clay. Courtesy Wilfried Lentz, Rotterdam Photo: John Bohnen


Giorgio Andreotta Calò, Senza titolo (La fine del mondo), 2017 (detail) Installation view, Italian Pavilion, 57th Venice Biennale, 2017.
Courtesy Studio Giorgio Andreotta Calò, Venice Photo: Kirsten de Graaf


Dating from the 1990s, it was recovered last summer near Ischia, in Italy, during maintenance work; and suspended from the Shed ceiling, the cable takes on an organic and zoomorphic appearance. Both works reflect the artist’s interest in the connection and transmission of information, particularly between distant or separate locations. Works on display in the Shed include some of Giorgio Andreotta Calò’s largest sculptures; their layout, designed by the artist, deconstructs the architectural symmetry of the space and transforms the setting in a way that “presents visitors with the chance to glimpse something that lies beyond,” as he himself explains. 

Interested in the representation of the passing of time and processes of transforming material, Andreotta Calò occupies the entire surface area of the Shed with his Produttivo [Productive], (2019), a new installation forming part of a series of sculptures begun in 2014, and consisting of samples of rock and sediment taken from the subsoil of the Venice Lagoon (2014) and the Sulcis Iglesiente mining area in Sardinia (2016 and 2019). These works are linked both geographically and thematically to the 16mm film In girum imus nocte [We go into the circle at night] (2016), which was made in the Sulcis Iglesiente, where the artist spent long spells researching and working between 2013 and 2015.

In CITTÀDIMILANO the body of works known as Clessidre [Hourglasses] (1999–in progress) is a formal representation of the passing of time. These bronze sculptures are made using a technique typical of Andreotta Calò’s art, the lost wax casting, from bricole—Venetian mooring piles that are often corroded by water in their midsection. Both the action of water and that of the artist therefore contribute to determining the shape of the sculpture. 


Giorgio Andreotta Calò, Volver, 2008, Courtesy ZERO..., Milan, and Studio Giorgio Andreotta Calò, Venice. Photo: Davide Conconi


Clessidre that is linked technically to another series begun in 2013, the Meduse [Jellyfishes], in which the artist works directly on the same types of wooden poles; these are transformed into sculptures that resemble jellyfish, or meduse, marine organisms consisting primarily of water, from which further bronze works are cast. This process of transfiguring the material and natural elements emerges in other works on display at Pirelli HangarBicocca, such as the two Pinna Nobilis (2014–in progress) and DOGOD (2014–in progress) series. The work that represents the thematic and narrative starting point of the CITTÀDIMILANO exhibition for Giorgio Andreotta Calò is Volver, a sculpture generated by an action carried out in Milan in 2008 on the occasion of his first solo exhibition at the Galleria Zero: in his boat used on the Venice Lagoon, the artist flew in a circle over the rooftops of the Lambrate district suspended from a crane before landing on the gallery terrace, where the boat was cut in half and exhibited above a thin mirror of water. Ten years later, symbolically marking his return to Milan, the artist re-exhibits Volver but this time with a new configuration: the boat has been put back together in a sculptural form reminiscent of the shells of the Pinna Nobilis series, while the original event is documented by the projection of a carousel of slides. 

The reference to Milan returns in the work that closes the exhibition: the pinhole print measuring over 10 meters—a large piece of photographic paper exposed to natural light—of the city seen from above, specifically the east area, which is also home to the Lambrate district and over which Andreotta Calò had flown in his boat in 2008. The artist has located this piece in a way that mirrors the projection of the wreck of the Città di Milano at the start of the exhibition, creating a sort of theatrical backdrop to frame the exhibition space. Calò made the print at the Pirelli Tower—historically the Company’s headquarter, now home of the Lombardy Region— where he turned the top floor of the building into a camera obscura to create a reversed image of Milan, captured as if it were a dreamlike horizon. Discover more about the exhibition on the Pirelli Hangar Bicocca website


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