AN IN-SITU ARTWORK THAT RETRACES THE HISTORY OF THE SAINT-ÉTIENNE TERRITORY
Jannis Kounellis, born in 1936 in Greece and living in Rome since 1956 is a major artist of the contemporary art scene and an emblematic figure of Arte Povera. The MAMC+ invited him to broach the history of the Saint-Étienne area by creating an in-situ work in the Museum’s main hall.
Elementi Labirinto is an in-situ installation made of iron, coal, canvas, fabric, and paint. This artwork is a statement: a large yellow strip descends from ceiling to floor and procures a sensation of weight applied to the blocks containing coal. Six canvases of black garments sewn together are laid either side of this strip, the whole thus forming a cross.
The presence of the coal refers to the industrial mining heritage of the Saint-Étienne Basin. It is a work of remembrance, by an archaeologist of memories, an instance of osmosis between past and present. The architectural installation, which we enter, is a staging that surrounds the spectator.
Jannis Kounellis creates artworks based on raw materials without artifice. By presenting these objects as they are, the spectator accesses the realities of the world directly: coal stains the hands black, the jute sack emits dust, and the iron is at once freezing and burning hot. The use of these materials echoes our own story and past. The artist thus draw on a memory that was at once collective and individual.
Art Historian and Director of the MAMC+ from 2003 to 2016
Texts by Lóránd Hegyi and Bruno Carà. Published in trilingual editions (French - English - Italian) by Silvana Editoriale. ISBN 9788836629466. 192 pages. Price: 28 euros.
‘Space is not just a formal set of dimensions, but also and always an echo and a history.’R.-H Fuchs in CapcMusée d'art contemporain, Bordeaux, 1985