From May 30 to July 27, 2008 the GAMeC – Galleria d’Arte Moderna e Contemporanea of Bergamo will host Inter pares by Belgian artist Kris Martin, curated by Alessandro Rabottini, as part of the program of Eldorado, the project room at the GAMeC dedicated to the most interesting rising artists on the international scene.
This exhibition is the first in a series of twenty Eldorados realized in honor of Arturo Toffetti, entrepreneur and art enthusiast from Bergamo.
After his participation in the Berlin Biennial in 2006 and his recent solo exhibition at PS1 in New York in 2007, Kris Martin (Kortrijk, 1972; lives and works in Ghent, Belgium) has attracted international attention thanks to the originality of his art that combines poetry, conceptual rigor and philosophical and literary memories.
His work reflects the existential questions that are fed by each human being throughout his existence and frequent references are made to religion, art and literature to express the constant amazement, melancholy and aspiration to knowledge that characterize our relationship with life and death. The variety of means that constitute his art – from sculpture to installations, to the use of sound, text and photography – give rise to works that, if on the one hand they possess the aura of a magic object, on the other they betray a feeling of disillusioned irony towards the finiteness of human existence. In Kris Martin’s work the heartfelt stupor and the sense of the sacred, in fact, always go hand in hand with the skeptic’s melancholy. This complex stratification of sentiments marks a profound continuity with the visual, philosophical and cultural tradition of Belgium that Martin belongs to: all his works, in fact, metabolize the mysticism of Jan van Eyck’s painting, the estranging commonplaceness of René Magritte, the cultivated irony of Marcel Broodthaers and the existential theatricality of Jan Fabre.
The three spaces that constitute this exhibition expressly conceived for GAMeC of Bergamo are also stages in an internal journey that touches the human need for awareness and the sense of frustration that is accompanied by hope and mystery, compassion and the perception of a common destination.
In the first room are two sculptures from the Idiot series: Idiot III of 2006 and Idiot V of 2007. In both cases the symbols and icons of religiousness are caught in the act of closing into themselves, in a moment of aphasia and suspension, as if its own aura were suffused with perplexity. In his work, Kris Martin makes frequent use of the Dostoievskian figure of the idiot as a metaphor for an extreme existential condition, meaning the artist’s and, more generally, for a condition of knowledge that concerns all of humanity, caught in an eternal contradiction of illumination and failure. Whence the title of the exhibition, that Inter pares (“among equals” in Latin) which brings to mind the expression “Primus inter pares”, suggesting an exceptional condition that, despite it all, does not correspond to increased power. In this sense, between divinity, artist, literary creation and human genre a kind of solidarity develops based on a paradoxical form of uniqueness that, while on the one hand it presages salvation, on the other it is not able to realize it.
In the second space the spectator is fully immersed in a kind of collective portrait of a human genre. Dozens and dozens of drawings that are apparently identical but actually different recall the generic physiognomy of the human face, through the use of the written language in its value as an image and tautology. Even in this case the contemplation of existence as a collective destination assumes the appearance of a formal game suspended between stupor and irony. The last room, instead, the protagonist is a sound installation in which a women’s voice whispers a question that is banal, yet vital in its commonplaceness; it is a question that we all ask in order to orient ourselves within space and time and that is answered by a man’s voice with an invitation to silence.
Completing Kris Martin’s exhibition is a publication by the artist conceived and designed by himself and realized in collaboration with Mousse magazine, and which contains a text by Martin Herbert (whose writings are published regularly in international reviews such as Artforum, Frieze, Modern Painter, Tate, etc.) and a conversation between the artist and Alessandro Rabottini, exhibition curator.
Curated by: Alessandro Rabottini