Campo 6

GAM - Galleria Civica d’Arte Moderna e Contemporanea

Curated by Flash Art’s New York editor Francesco Bonami, “Campo 6” (Field 6) bore a somewhat more descriptive subtitle, “il villaggio a spirale” (The spiral village), that went some way toward explaining the array of participating artists—sixteen all told. From Europe, North America, and beyond, those selected for the show were: Doug Aitken, Maurizio Cattelan, Dinos and Jake Chapman, Sarah Ciraci, Thomas Demand, Mark Dion, Giuseppe Gabellone, William Kentridge, Tracey Moffat, Gabriel Orozco, Philippe Parreno, Steven Pippin, Tobias Rehberger, Sam Taylor-Wood, Pascale Marthine Tayou, and Rirkrit Tiravanija.

Among the projects conceived or adapted specifically for this show, visitors were able to see a car by Tiravanija that doubled as a house; vases by Rehberger made for each artist and filled with flowers chosen by the curator; Cattelan’s figures made from pieces of stuffed clothing that resembled the homeless; Dion’s house filled with the “tools” of censorship and images relating to it; Taylor-Wood’s beautiful video installation about lack of communication; Tayou’s ethnic fetishes; and the Chapman Brothers’ liters of blood.

While the space, unfortunately, was not ideal, in general the show was successful; its themes included meditations on life in what might best be described as peripheral cultures; on the banality and beauty of the quotidian; and on the draw of the road and the seamy side of culture. A group show, however, must also be judged for its underlying concept, or the sentiment that fostered it. In this respect, it failed to present a coherent vision of contemporary artistic practice or of what it means to make art today. Certainly the phrase “spiral village” immediately suggests the idea of a “global village,” and the exhibition’s introductory text noted this connection. But the show vacillated between decrying the dimunition sensory experience in an environment increasingly dominated by information networks, and trumpeting art’s essential role in engaging all five senses. It seemed as if a dichotomy were being set up between art, defined as something inherently physical, and the virtual spaces of the Internet. But if art is forced to seek refuge in a museum, it would seem that its effect on the outside world would necessarily be somewhat blunted.

Marco Meneguzzo

Translated from the Italian by Marguerite Shore.