Arte Povera A-Z

Arte Povera A-Z was an exhibition held by Cultuurcentrum Strombeek Grimbergen (Brussels) that reflected on the importance of Arte Povera during the decade of the 1960s. Thinking precisely on how “in the history of art it is sometimes possible to connect substantial changes of direction and priority to relatively specific moments in time” (Charles Harrison), I was commissioned by its curators Lieze Eneman and Luk Lambrecht to install a vitrine centered on the comparative analyses between the exhibitions ‘Op Losse Schroeven’ (1969) and ‘When Attitudes Become Form’ (1969) published within the Afterall series Exhibition Histories untitled Exhibiting the New Art: ‘Op Losse Schroeven’ and ‘When Attitudes Become Form’ .

“This intriguing study investigates the histories of these two exhibitions that set out, with an unusual degree of self-consciousness, to exhibit the ‘new art’. Confronted with artistic attitudes that challenged established institutiona assumptions and introduced unfamiliar forms and materials, the two curators, Wim Beeren in Amsterdam and Harald Szeemann in Bern, embarked on parallel paths to produce quite distinct accounts of the current situation. Crucially, each sought not only to select the artists and works he considered most characteristic of this moment, but also to find the means most appropriate to frame this work in an exhibition. Both also embraced the fact that, for many artists at the time, the gallery was becoming not only a space of presentation but also a space of production. Works of art were no longer necessarily finished artefacts to be transported from studio to exhibition space; they were now increasingly being made in situ, either directly by the artists or to their instructions. As Beeren observed, ‘one cannot draw up a contract beforehand. Instead, the artists must decide what to do with the rooms made available to them – and not before they are actually present and working in the space´.” (Teresa Gleadowe)

Thus, with the unmeasurable help and advice of one of its editors, Steven Ten Thije, I created a map that traced the journeys of both curators, Wim Beeren and Harald Szeemann, during their previous studio visits. Furthermore, I though important to emphasize the figure of Piero Gilardi by displaying his article Primary Energy and the “Microemotive Artists”, published in Arts Magazine on 1968, and thanks to the Van Abbemuseum archive, I could also display the original catalogues of both exhibitions.