30 May 2017
Elisabetta Benassi interrogates the past, digging out stories of the things that have shaped the society in which we live, often without our noticing, and bringing them back to light. Her solo exhibition at the Collezione Maramotti, It starts with the firing, consists of a series of finds that interweave nostalgia for what has vanished with disenchantment, through a potent metaphor of bricks, matchsticks, words and a steam ironing machine placed at the entrance and given the name Prosperity. Benassi found it in the storerooms of the former Max Mara factory that houses the collection and put it back in working order. She has done more or less the same with a group of oriental carpets that once adorned the company’s stores, now stacked in a pile with a wall running through the middle; or with scraps of its iconic coats, hung up like a work of art. The bricks also have a story to tell, one which is revealed in a room with enigmatic posters and an audio recording: in 1972 the Tate Gallery in London acquired a work by the conceptual artist Carl Andre entitled Equivalent VIII and composed of 120 bricks arranged in two rows, suggesting the rectangular perimeter of a house. The British press raised a hue and cry when it was put on display with strident headlines like “These bricks could build a bad reputation” (The Star, February 18, 1976) or “Art may come and go but a brick is a brick forever” (The Times, February 18, 1976). In Benassi’s appropriation, the visitor is involved in a game in which humor and common sense become means of reflection on society. In the dock are shared values that have never been questioned, hopes placed in material assets, the belief in the future stoked by technological progress and the extraordinary power of illusions.
Elisabetta Benassi. It starts with the firing
Collezione Maramotti, Reggio Emilia
May 7 – September 17, 2017