BERT THEIS | Aggloville | 6 March, 6:00pm | PAV, Torino
6 March – 31 May 2015
Opening: Friday, 6 March, 6:00pm
Curated by Marco Scotini
Themes such as sustainable urbanization, ecological policies and gentrification are the core of Bert Theis’s artistic research. Since many years, he tries to fight a neo-liberal model of urban development in various geopolitical contexts, from Europe to Eastern Asia. This very same research is now presented at PAV of Turin in the context of a major solo exhibition featuring maquettes, projects, videos and digital prints on canvas, elaborated through twenty years of fervid activity – starting with the Potemkin Lock Pavilion designed for Venice Biennale in 1995. The Aggloville project, is the first show of the new series of exhibitions that Marco Scotini will curate for the PAV contemporary art centre.
The basic elements, with which Bert Theis operates upon densely populated areas and conflictual social situations, are common structures that could be found in public parks, such as platforms and pavilions. The peculiarity of these structures is that they delimit empty spaces. Therefore, they are able to create undefined, provisional spaces suspending the rigid organization of modern cities. At the same time, they also open a space free from impositions, which is constantly re-defined by whomever. Every stage is a puzzle, challenging the viewer to the game of interpreting sense and function. The premise from which this research starts is that the sense is not the natural conclusion of an absolute logic, but the product of social consensus
As Hou Hanru affirmed: “While our urban spaces are gradually privatized or semi-privatized due to the introduction of both global capital and new technology, Bert Theis seeks to propose alternatives to balance out such a tendency and hence revitalize urban life itself”. For those who are involved in the conflicts that urban metamorphosis brought about and in the fight for the right to the city [?], the main questions are: ‘Is another city still possible?’; ‘Is another life possible in our cities?’. Aggloville tries to make those questions visible, by associating clashing elements – landscapes covered with wildlife, such as those of Congo-Brazzaville; isolated suburbs such as those of Alphaville by Godard; imaginary streets such as those of Lars Von Trier’s Dogville…
Considering Bert Theis’s thirteen years of activism within the long-term project of the Isola Art Centre in Milan, his whole work could be seen more distinctively political, from his interventions in the green-parks of Strasbourg to those of Shenzen; from the Domaine of Chamarande to the Parc de la Butte du Chapeau Rouge in Paris. As Gerald Raunig remarked about the Milan project: “instead of the shiny promises of the Isola Creativa, what emerges here in the melee is the wild transversal character of Isola industria, which refuses obedience, cooperation and self-domestication in the incubators of the creative industry”.
Bert Theis (Luxembourg 1952) is a member of a group of artists that became recognized in 1990s for creating new possibilities for public space. He works as an artist, activist and curator. His works have philosophical, social and political implications. Although Theis’s is generally associated to many important exhibitions that have featured his work, (Venice Biennale, Manifesta 2, Gwangju Biennial 2002, Sculpture Projects, Münster, 1997), most of his works are created to be [urban installations in situ]. Over the last ten years, he has organized/directed two long-term projects – Isola Art Center and out-Office for Urban Transformation – around the conflict opposing the inhabitants of the Isola district, Milan city government and an American multinational company.
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