Two projects have been specially commissioned by the Madre museum in 2015 from the French artist Daniel Buren (Boulogne-Villancourt, 1938) to celebrate the relationship between the museum and its community, on the occasion of the first ten years of the Madre’s activity: Come un gioco da bambini. Lavoro in situ, 2014-2015, Madre, Napoli – #1 and Axer / Désaxer. Lavoro in situ, 2015, Madre, Napoli – #2.
One of the most important contemporary artists, Buren is the author of a work in which the visual value is always associated with the theoretical, and whose emblematic element could be summed up in his comprehension and use of the notion of in situ: an expression that the artist himself indicates as the stringent interplay between his works and the exhibition and urban venues where they are created. The two projects in situ were made at different times, focusing on the area of the entrance and the Re_PUBBLICA Madre gallery, both places of immediate encounter between the museum and its public.
Axer / Désaxer. Lavoro in situ, 2015, Madre, Napoli – #2 consists of an intervention of architectural dimensions, conceived by the artist especially for the Madre’s atrium. Set obliquely facing the street in front, the museum building is made to “rotate” by the artist’s intervention so as to replace it on the axis towards Via Settembrini before it. Through black and white stripes 8.7 cm thick (one of the recurrent features of the artist’s in situ works) the floor of the entrance suggests an unusual escape route and a potential perspective axis rectilinear to the road axis, so that the museum emerges from itself to embrace the city around it, while a structure-pavilion, consisting of colored surfaces and mirrors, reverberates and enhances this new isometric imagery. In this way, the artist acts on the viewer’s standpoint, creating an area of perceptual and cognitive mobility, of vision, mediation, mutual attraction and communion, in which interior and exterior, museum and community penetrate into each other and merge. Each visitor is thus welcomed and invited, literally at a glance, to be part of the work, to actively participate in the relation it celebrates between the institutional sphere and public dynamics.
Together, the two works presented at the Madre form a major solo exhibition, articulated in time and space, a veritable public celebration of the museum and its public, both integral and collaborating elements in the concept of the work in situ. To inscribe the works in the context in which they are exhibited, relating to the social mission that motivates the museum as institution, counterpoising a modernity that does not seek the contrast with the urban sphere or the historical dimension, but enhances the matrix: this is the significance of these two works.
Trained at the Ecole des Métiers d’Art in Paris, Buren has based his research and production, ever since the mid- 1960s, on curtain fabric with an alternating fabric of white and colored stripes with a standard thickness of 8.7 cm. A choice of rigor and method aimed at attaining the essential that explores and questions the limits of paintings. More recently, since the 1980s, with exceptional continuity and consistency in the plural approach to the context of presentation of the work in situ, Buren has gradually combined the creation of works in museum format with architectural installations in public spaces. One of the most influential exponents of historical reflection on institutions that developed between the 1960s and 1970s, termed Institutional Critique, Buren is closely associated with the city of Naples, where he has worked on several occasions (beginning with his exhibitions at Lucio Amelio’s gallery in 1972 and 1974 down to the exhibition at the Capodimonte Museum in 1989). After his participation in some of the most important exhibitions in recent decades, from When Attitudes Become Form (1969) to various editions of Documenta (1972-1982), in 1986 the artist participated in the 42nd Venice Biennale, winning the Leone d’Oro for the Best National Pavilion. Solo exhibitions have been devoted to his work in the world’s most important museums. Notable among his many works in situ are Les Deux Plateaux in the main courtyard of the Palais Royal (1986) and Excentrique(s), created also in Paris at the Grand Palais on the occasion of Monumenta (2012).