Reversing the Eye: Arte Povera and Beyond 1960-1975, Photography / Film / Video
Sergio Giuliano, Elena Volpato
Jeu de Paume, Triennale Milano é Atelier EXB, 2023
This book and the exhibition it accompanies take a fresh look at the arte povera movement, rarely associated with photographic and filmic mediums. They invite the viewer to “reverse their eyes” through an unprecedented reading of this artistic movement by also placing it in the social and political context of the time in Italy. The result of extensive research in artists’ studios and private and public collections, the book reveals the extraordinary richness of a period when Italian artists were among the most important interpreters of the transformation of visual languages.
The book is structured around four themes: body, experience, image and theatre. It presents more than 300 works by major figures of arte povera, including Giovanni Anselmo, Alighiero Boetti, Luigi Ghirri, Jannis Kounellis, Piero Manzoni, Mario Merz, Giuseppe Penone, Michelangelo Pistoletto… It also offers a visual immersion in the political and cultural context of the time with portfolios (printed on colored paper) dedicated to cinema, theatre, political events, happenings and press extracts presenting the major socio-cultural issues of the time.
Several texts shed light on the visual corpus at the end of the book: an essay by Giuliano Sergio on this period of Italian artistic effervescence in the 1960s and 1970s in a context of media development, a text by Elena Volpato on the video of artist, followed by a detailed chronology of the movement as well as biographical notices of the artists.
The title “Reversing your eyes” is a reference to the eponymous work by Giuseppe Penone, Rovesciare i propri occhi, which appears in the book and the exhibition.
This book accompanies the exhibition presented jointly at the Jeu de Paume and the BAL from October 2022 followed by the Milan Triennale in 2023, curated by Quentin Bajac, director of the Jeu de Paume, Diane Dufour, director of the BAL, and Giuliano Sergio, independent curator, with the complicity of Lorenza Bravetta, associate curator and curator at the Milan Triennale.