Artist's Ceramics

Musée Ariana, Geneva

27 June - 2 September 2002

Artistic Direction: Tiziana Casapietra and Roberto Costantino

Exhibition Commissioner: Anne-Claire Schumacher

The Ariana Museum of Geneva

The Musée Ariana, in collaboration with the Fonds Cantonal de Décoration et d’Art Visuel, is displaying this summer a group of twenty-five ceramic projects prepared in Albissola, a small Italian town on the Ligurian coast, by artists who are not ceramists but well-known on the contemporary international scene. Although the ceramic tradition of Albissola dates back to the 15th century with the production of tiles and then continued over the following centuries with the creation of luxury faience, this craft industry was rudely shaken in the early 20th century by the arrival of artists who were entirely bent upon effacing the boundaries between the fine and decorative arts, the major and minor arts. It was in order to revive this atmosphere of artistic and intellectual rivalry that had developed between ceramics and the avant-garde artists of the time that Tiziana Casapietra and Roberto Costantino of the Attese association devised the ambitious project of a Biennial for ceramic artists. The outcome of this first event is a reflection of today’s creative scene: heterogeneous, provocative, audacious and surprising. All the invited artists agreed to accept the challenge, thus proving the topicality of this ancestral medium. Their involvement in realizing their ceramic projects was impressive. Most of the artists went to Albissola, where they met the craftsmen and were faced by the demands and possibilities of the material, an encounter that was vital for the fulfilment of the initial project.

Ana Laura Alaez, El Anatsui, Bertozzi e Casoni, Bili Bidjocka, Loris Cecchini, Nina Childress, Nicola Costantino, Uros Djuric, Sohela Farokhi, Daniel Firman, Rainer Ganahl, Kristian Hornsleth, Elke Krystufek, Lou Laurin Lam, Soo-Kyung Lee, Gianni Motti, Luca Pancrazzi, Perino e Vele, Alessandro Pessoli, Jane Simpson, Momoyo Torimitsu, Costa Vece, Luca Vitone, Sislej Xhafa, Yuan Shun

From left to right: Elke Krystufek, Ceramic Toilet with Leptop & Handyholder – Disposable Future; Costa Vece, Rebel without a cause (Dedicate to Jacky). “Artist's Ceramics”, Ariana Museum, Geneva

Rainer Ganahl, 19 novembre 1938. “Artist's Ceramics”, Ariana Museum, Geneva

Momoyo Torimitsu, Somehow I don't feel comfortable. “Artist's Ceramics”, Ariana Museum, Geneva

El Anatsui, Digital River. “Artist's Ceramics”, Ariana Museum, Geneva

In the foreground: Momoyo Torimitsu, Somehow I don't feel comfortable. From left to right: Loris Cecchini, Stage evidence (untitled elmet); Bili Bidjocka, Skin; Nina Childress, Ceramic hair pieces. “Artist's Ceramics”, Ariana Museum, Geneva

Loris Cecchini, Stage evidence (untitled elmet), “Artist's Ceramics”, Ariana Museum, Geneva

Gianni Motti,Tazzina in ceramica. “Artist's Ceramics”, Ariana Museum, Geneva

Luca Pancrazzi, LCPNCRZZ. “Artist's Ceramics”, Ariana Museum, Geneva

Alessandro Pessoli, La schiuma del sognatore. “Artist's Ceramics”, Ariana Museum, Geneva

Bertozzi& Casoni, Avanzi. “Artist's Ceramics”, Ariana Museum, Geneva

Yuan Shun, 000. “Artist's Ceramics”, Ariana Museum, Geneva

Hosting the Biennale of Ceramics in Contemporary Art hosted at the Ariana Museum

During the past summer months the First edition of the Biennale of Ceramics in Contemporary Art was hosted in exhibition space of the Ariana Museum in Geneva. The Museum hosted the Biennial at the suggestion of the Geneva Cantonal Fund for Contemporary Art which had been involved in the Albisola project. The possibility of exhibiting all the works from the Biennale in one space, the dramatic use of spot lighting on the displayed objects and the sense of unity conferred by the use of homogeneous metal stands all contributed to providing a particularly favourable setting for the pieces. None of the visitors remained indifferent to the experience. They were on the whole shocked by the exhibition, particularly by the more provocative works such as those by Elke Krystufek or Nicola Costantino; children and teenagers, on the other hand, were astonished and delighted by precisely this aspect of provocation to be found in works created by adults and actually shown in a museum.
Among the successful projects, I would mention the interactive approach of the Korean artist Soo-Kyung Lee who succeeded, by means of the use of language and successive translations, to effect a dialogue between two powerful ceramic cultures: Korean and Italian. Another interesting project was that developed by Daniel Firman, who established a link between the potter’s wheel and the gestures of the DJ manipulating vinyl records, resulting in the creation of an original musical space. Another artist who has really immersed himself in the medium, and derived obvious pleasure in handling and modelling the material, was Kristian Hornsleth who, after a brief stay in Albisola, returned by himself to work for a whole month in the workshop of Danilo Trogu. The force of this work testifies to his involvement with the medium. The structure of clay is also present in the work of the sculptor El Anatsui: his digital river, in which he combines elements of raw clay with shimmering enamels created from bits of melted coloured glass, conveys a strong mineral presence.
It is undeniable that clay is a demanding medium, thus the assistance of local professional ceramists was naturally a necessity.  It is however remarkable the interest that today’s artists have expressed in a material as “outdated” as pottery. All the artists accepted the challenge of working with clay despite the risks of failure. This is proof that 21st century artists still have a lively interest in ceramics. The idea of confronting artists with ceramics is naturally an excellent one that is worth pursing and exploring.

Anne-Claire Schumacher

Excerpt from the Proceedings of the “Local ceramic traditions and globalisation of contemporary art” conference, 19/20 October 2002, Fortezza del Priamàr, Savona

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