Gabriel Kuri

“Soft Information in Your Hard Facts” was the title of this exhibition, which brought together twenty works Gabriel Kuri made over the past seven years. Some had been conceived specifically for the Museion building, which the artist had modified for the occasion. The exhibition was installed on the top floor, which was separated into three distinct zones. Climbing the stairs, the visitor first arrived in a large empty space formed by the construction of two white, apparently solid walls. Yet one immediately noticed two small interventions at the center of each wall, facing each other: a small, white relief on the wall to the right, a colored one on the left. An examination of the other sides of the walls revealed that the double intervention was not what it appeared to be. An enormous white banner covered the entire surface of the back of the right wall. A bottle had been introduced at the center, with the neck protruding through a hole to the other side of the wall, pushing out the patch of fabric visible there. This eccentric, irreverent act created an elegant drapery that inevitably brought to mind classical sculpture. The equally large banner on the other wall was subjected to similar treatment. Here, however, the “relief” one saw was colored because the wall’s rear held a reverse, enlarged image of the Three Peaks of Lavaredo, a famous group of mountains in the region of Bolzano. Showing the image of the mountain range, but horizontally flipping and warping it via the section that was plugged into a small hole in the wall, the artist signals his ironic intention but above all his focus on the commoditization of reality. (The wall works are collectively titled Three Landscapes, 2010.)

Quoted in an essay by Catherine Wood in the catalogue to the show, Kuri is very clear in this regard: “All materials, no matter how raw they appear (water, stone, the wood from trees, the flow of electricity . . . ), are socially branded and coded.” Thus the difference between a plastic supermarket bag (like those that appear floating inside three refrigerators in Untitled [Fridge Trinity], 2004) and natural elements such as rough stones is, for the artist, “a matter of degree, not a categorical difference.”

In the two remaining spaces, Kuri installed, in his usual fashion, a fascinating scenario in which everyday objects and raw materials encounter each other in peculiar combinations, with the (absolutely successful) intention of redefining and recategorizing sculpture as a specific language. He also created for the Museion two versions of Three Arrested Clouds, 2010; one was hung on the wall and the other placed on the floor. The two sculptures are both based on the idea of putting two large rocks together with three balled-up stockings, where the latter seem to support the weight of the former. Two Arrested Clouds, 2010, also shown here, instead groups three stones on the floor with a strip of blue paper that winds about like a snake beneath them.

Column 2009–2010, 2010, which was displayed in the last space is made up of two blocks of cement, one on the floor, the other hung from the ceiling, connected by two steel rods. The sculpture’s entire weight is supported by these metal elements, whose slenderness is reinforced by a large number of small sheets of paper pierced by the rods, creating what looks like some sort of flying body. In Kuri’s typical manner, the sheets are invoices, receipts, and tickets collected by the artist from the time he was invited to do the show, in mid-2009, until the work for the show was completed—the economic aspect of his existence immediately transformed into art.

Giorgio Verzotti

Translated from Italian by Marguerite Shore.