Material Life

September 8, 2022 – January 22, 2023

Gallery 105

In recent decades, the progressive rise of information technologies has led artists of different origins and generations to reconsider the materiality of things, and to use their practice to emphasize the tangible but also ambiguous and problematical reality of the contemporary world. Through a selection of works from the last fifty years, this exhibition, almost like a landscape, presents the contours of this inquiry.

The appearance of new avant-garde movements in the second half of the 20th century, such as Arte Povera, Fluxus, and Land Art, denotes a shift in the gaze of artists toward urban and natural ecosystems, where materials (found objects, refuse, industrial fragments) emerge with as much force as the processes of which they form part (transformation, decomposition, assemblage). In this way, many works came to be understood as manifestations of these processes and as sites for the expanded studio in a multitude of places and habitats. If such works return to the museum, it must be to vindicate it as a point of observation for the forces, tensions, and paradoxes affecting the materials and histories which almost precede their forms in constituting them. The state of constant transformation of the physical world, the circulation and storage of merchandise, and the temporality of material exhibited in the exterior mark the way many of these works are currently presented and exacerbated. Both the volatility of the digital sphere and the overburdening of ecosystems by uncontrolled industrial development force us to ask whether the material shift in the history of recent art is the manifestation of an advanced awareness of the resources, energies, and complex processes that articulate the contemporary world.