Per_forming a collection (Intermezzo) is a new chapter that extends and continues the project in progress Per_forming a collection, devoted to the progressive establishment of the permanent collection of the museo Madre in Naples. Per_forming a collection (Intermezzo) confirms the two main lines being developed by the Madre’s collection: on the one hand the account of the history of avant-garde culture in Naples and Campania (comprising the visual arts, theater, cinema, architecture, music and literature) and on the other research into current prospects for the future through the inclusion of artists who respond with new works to this account by evoking further scenarios. The rooms of the collection are enriched and completed with new events, creating a dialogue between Italian and international artists of different generations, through the presentation of historical and newly commissioned works by: Vito Acconci, Marisa Albanese, Gianfranco Baruchello, Henri Chopin, Francesco Clemente, Tony Cragg, Robert Filliou, Cyprien Gaillard, Mark Manders, Marisa Merz, Dennis Oppenheim, Nam June Paik, Gianni Piacentino, Vettor Pisani, David Robbins.
The choice of the subtitle of this intermediate chapter, Intermezzo, indicates a moment of synthesis, analysis and sharing of the identity and function of the museum collection as an instrument of both education and entertainment, a multiple narration shared with the artists and public. The collection of the museo Madre is, in fact, comparable to a symphony heard as it is being played, a film being screened or a theatrical staging in continuous movement, in which the intermezzo is the interval that sums up and clarifies its phases and method, before introducing new chapters.
The galleries previously devoted to the relation between language, space and the body – and consequently the achievements of Conceptual and Minimal Art, Visual Poetry and Performance – have been extended by the work of Vito Acconci, with his neon sign “HELP”, and Henri Chopin’s dactylopoems, set in relation to the works of visual poetry already present in the collection by Arrigo Lora Totino, as well as Cyprien Gaillard’s vitrines of polaroids of abandoned spaces and the photographic images that link the intimate dimension with an environmental survey in the work of Dennis Oppenheim. To the account of the researches conducted by Fluxus and Arte Povera have been added works by key artists in both fields, including Robert Filliou and Nam June Paik for Fluxus and Gianni Piacentino for Arte Povera. Then the presence of paintings by Marisa Merz and Francesco Clemente, placed in relation to sculptures by Mark Manders and Tony Cragg, begins to explore the languages of painting and sculpture, to be expanded further in subsequent events.
Moreover, the concept of the museum as an arena which is the meeting point for high culture and popular culture, museum and community, as a place of the imaginary and the imagination, capable of generating and welcoming different forms of representation (both real and hypothetical, critical and narrative), lies at the center of the new works created for Madre’s collection by Marisa Albanese (the Madre reinterpreted as paper architecture, corresponding to its publications, dispersed and identified with its own neighborhood) and by the American artist David Robbins (author of a TV program for the Madre, invited to emerge from itself to encounter the public’s imagination). To these works is added the imaginative universe of RC Theatrum, a theater-museum that houses all knowledge, by Vettor Pisani, and a new body of cinematographic works by Gianfranco Baruchello, with the Madre establishing a collection of his works in the course of the various chapters of Per_forming a collection, a veritable retrospective of his pioneering videos and films.
As already happened during the two previous events comprising this project, in this case the works again occupy not just the galleries on the second floor but invade the whole architecture of the ancient Donnaregina convent, to define an experience of the museum as a living organism, made up of not only physical space but also of social relations and symbolic stories, to be recounted as a possibility to be reconfigured: Per_forming a collection (Intermezzo) in this way reaffirms the “narrative” and “purposeful” vocation behind the construction of the Madre’s collection. Also on this occasion each work is the subject of an in-depth monographic entry, through which the public can trace both the main lines of research and the history of each artist’s work in the collection.
On the occasion of Per_forming a collection (Intermezzo), Madre invited American artist David Robbins to produce, as a reflection on the museum collection topic, a TV show with actors from Neapolitan theater groups — a far cry from the usual artistic statements and museum projects about the dominant structure of entertainment culture. In his TV FAMILY, 2014, curated by Andrea Viliani, Robbins has applied the “power of an institution of high culture to produce pop culture that the pop culture system isn’t making.” Working this way, Robbins repositions the museum’s function while at the same time imbuing entertainment with the ambitions he wishes it to have. In TV FAMILY Robbins generates a fascinating hybrid that combines art’s experimentalism with entertainment’s accessibility, an approach he terms “high entertainment,” made possible by the current digital revolution as well as by the adoption of a wider idea of what museums could achieve in our contemporary media field to implicate and resonate with audiences at large. As a TV show frequently has an accompanying theme song, Robbins thought an art exhibition featuring a TV show should get a cool, cleanly produced, catchy, and accessible pop song too. Recorded with musicians in Milwaukee, Theme Song For An Exhibition is a natural step in Robbins’s 30-year career of cross-pollinating the art and entertainment contexts, initiated in his seminal work Talent (1986). To share this concept and thereby undertake an open, communal experiment in concept-art distribution, the artist and Madre museum invited an international array of art institutions to participate in launching from June 13 the song project via a groundbreaking experiment in inter-institutional cooperation: ARC/Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, Paris; Boston Center for the Arts, Boston; Centre d’Art Contemporain, Genève; Kunsthal Charlottenborg, Copenhagen; Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston; IKON Gallery, Birmingham; MOCAtv, Los Angeles; Museu de Arte Contemporânea de Serralves, Porto; Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; Serpentine Gallery, London and WIELS-Contemporary Art Centre, Brussels (list in progress).