The Madrid-born and Berlin-based artist Alvaro Urbano is known for examining the borders between architecture, fiction, and utopia through various media. Staged in the vocative and mysterious spaces of the Mole Antonelliana in Turin, his latest solo show, simply entitled I, will be curated by Treti Galaxie in collaboration with the National Cinema Museum of Turin. The concept of this solo show is rather interesting, since it is designed to be viewed by a single spectator. Questioning the relationship between contemporary art and its audience, this curatorial choice is certainly bold and provocative. This unique and intimate exhibition will coincide with Artissima 2016, one of Italy’s most renowned art fairs.
The title I stands for several things: it references the number one in the Roman numeral system, the first person singular pronoun, the viewing mechanism of the project, and lastly the last letter of the cryptogram written in an alphabet of ancient Icelandic runes found by Professor Otto Lidenbrock from Jules Verne’s Journey to the Centre of the Earth. In the book, the finding enabled him to decipher the message with instructions on reaching the center of the planet. Similar to this cryptogram, Urbano has created a unique project entitled My Boy, with Such Boots we may Hope to Travel Far. Conceived as a far-reaching project, Urbano has transformed the letters of a message into sculptural groups created in several different places around the world. After the initial stage that introduced 15 letters, the artist now brings the project together as a whole with this solo show in Turin. Yet, it will take a long journey around the world to view this ambitious work in its entirety.
After following narrow corridors and climbing all the way to the top of the Mole, the visitor will be presented with the complete cryptogram in the form of sounds, drawings and installations. In a rather intimate atmosphere, the spectator will be able to reconstruct all of these different parts of the project in their minds. In this way, the audience will contribute to the transformation of My Boy, with Such Boots we may Hope to Travel Far into a signal that will be metaphorically transmitted around the world through the particular antenna-shaped architecture of the building. Sculptures created in various cities around the world will then become concrete manifestations of this signal.
This exhibition I serves as a propitiation ritual for the long term project My Boy, with Such Boots we may Hope to Travel Far. The choice of venue references Verne's book directly, as the high steeple the protagonist has to climb in order to get used to vertigo is quite similar to the Mole Antonelliana. The exhibition curated by Treti Galaxie will be on view on November the 5th from 11am. The event is open to the maximum of 40 people and the sole spectator of the exhibition will be identified through the distribution of chocolate bars provided by the historic chocolate factory A. Giordano. One of these bars will contain the instruction on how to access the exhibition.
Featured image: Alvaro Urbano - My Boy, with Such Boots we may Hope to Travel Far, 2016m via alvarourbano.com (used for illustrative purposes only). Other images courtesy of the National Cinema Museum of Turin and Treti Galaxie, Turin.