Their Volumes – Works from the Cristella Collection
Their Volumes – Works from the Cristella Collection
David Horvitz, Whenever I take a shower I always wonder when the water was a cloud, 2016
Courtesy l’artista e Collezione Cristella. Foto: Flavio Pescatori

Their Volumes is a new display of the Cristella Collection featuring works by:

Noah Barker, Riccardo Baruzzi, Neïl Beloufa, Monia Ben Hamouda, Aria Dean, Luca De Leva, Gaia De Megni, Elmgreen & Dragset, Ettore Favini, Irene Fenara, Peter Fend, Elisa Giardina Papa, David Horvitz, Michele Lombardelli, Miltos Manetas, Diego Marcon, Eva & Franco Mattes, Wolfgang Matuschek, Diane Severin Nguyen, Valerio Nicolai, Francis Offman, Vasilis Papageorgiou, Luca Pozzi, Marta Ravasi, Giulio Saverio Rossi, Vanessa Safavi, Andreia Santana, Giulio Scalisi, Shimabuku, Amalia Ulman.

The exhibition is accompanied by a bilingual publication, in Italian and English, published by Postmedia Books, which collects the texts and documentation of the works, and which is for all intents and purposes a gamebook.

Their Volumes – Works from the Cristella Collection
Their Volumes – Works from the Cristella Collection
Postmedia Books

From the catalogue’s introduction:

When, in the late spring of 2022, Michele Cristella asked us to devise a new staging for his collection in Gruppo Cristella’s offices, our first thought went to the employees who work in those spaces every day.
How to manage their coexistence with an exhibition open eight hours a day, five days a week, and moreover in a work space, when statistics (and first-hand experience) tell us that, on average, the time spent viewing a piece of artwork amounts to little more than a few seconds?

We considered tackling the problem by ditching all forms of direct approach, looking at the elements available to us from an increasingly peripheral perspective until we got, paradoxically, to the backside of the issue. The process would then move forward from there, trying to adopt and inhabit the very form of the problem. So we decided to temporarily put the study of the collection aside to better focus on the location, i.e. the company, in order to extrapolate a totally utopian and abstract outlook on it.

Gruppo Cristella is in the fuel and transportation business and, through a network of points of sale under the brand Coil, it also operates in the fuel trading business. Gas stations and trucking. Distributors and distribution. Abstracting further, we could say that it is involved in the management of a vertical movement (the fuel being pumped down when the underground tank it is filled and then up to the customer’s tank) and a horizontal movement (road transport).
Taking such process to the extreme, we could define its activity as a movement of volumes. Volumes that are contained, pass through, and move thanks to circular and cylindrical elements, namely pipes and tires.

At this point we said to ourselves: if there were no distance between being and doing, then Coil could become for all intents and purposes an entity, constituted and guided by the abstractions described above. And if indeed it were an entity, what artwork from the collection would it choose, and how would it curate its display?

For this reason, we decided to believe in its existence and to summon it to curate the project. Our role shifted from that of curators to that of interpreters of Coil’s choices, our task that of translating the deep intentions of this nonhuman entity into languages and manners intelligible to human beings.

The criteria for the selection of the artworks, as well as the guidelines for the construction of the project and the language to be adopted for its communication, emerged from a brief interview we had with the entity during one of the summonings.

In particular, the artworks were chosen on the basis of their form, with a strong preference towards circular ones, and their connection to ideas of movement and the transmission of information.

Abiding by Coil’s wishes, the texts accompanying the artworks are not intended to “explain” once and for all the artist’s intentions, nor to place the works in a historical type of narrative, but merely to suggest observational cues designed to expand the relationship between the artwork and the viewer in time and space.

The captions, while dealing with different themes in very diverse tones and languages, are interconnected to form multiple narratives. Some of these links, the main ones, are made explicit in this publication through reading paths inspired by the structure of a gamebook, a framework that presents the reader with two options, two different paths on which to continue the narrative.
The choice of this structure is far from being unintended, and is dictated by a desire to adhere as closely as possible to the shape of the artworks chosen by Coil.
The circle is a shape that can be looked at by starting at any of its points, to follow its perimeter and again return to the start, and then retrace it and continually go beyond it.

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