Events & Exhibitions / GAM
Film Works, 1968–1972
Thursday 18 October at 6.30 pm
Opening and presentation of the exhibition with
Riccardo Montanaro, Fondazione per l’Arte Moderna e Contemporanea CRT
Riccardo Passoni, Director GAM
Elena Volpato, curator GAM
Sala 1 GAM, Via Magenta, 31 Torino, ground floor
Curated by Elena Volpato
The event presents the filmography of this recently deceased artist. The five-year period during which Laura Grisi made her films was, for her, a time of great creativity expressed close to worlds and landscapes quite unlike the European and metropolitan ones that had inspired up to then her Variable Paintings and Neon Paintings, which are similar, in some ways, to the investigations of the Piazza del Popolo Roman collective and international Pop Art.
Throughout the 1960s, together with Folco Quilici, her husband, Laura Grisi had the opportunity to encounter and study little-known lands, starting with Africa, and to compare the culture of tribal societies from each corner of the globe. Those trips aroused her interest in nature and its laws, which she explored with a “Galilean” scientific spirit, enlivened by a feeling of wonder that allowed her to keep united, in a single vision, attentive observation, the poetry of landscapes and an awareness of the sense of boundlessness the world possesses.
Her interest at the time was aimed at the immaterial aspects and forces that act upon nature, shaping it and altering our perception of it. Observing the density of the air, of fog, of phenomena like refraction, the vibration of light, the concentric speed of vortexes, reflections: these are all elements that transform her practice, born upon the painting surface, into environmental works where the viewer is immersed as if on a journey.
The three works the VideotecaGAM presents to the public, along with some books and documents, constitute the artist’s entire filmography, acquired thanks to the Fondazione per l’Arte Moderna e Contemporanea – CRT.
Wind Speed 40 Knots, 1968, her first film, uses a rapid editing of scenes filmed in different places of the world, followed by the image of an anemometer marking the speed of the wind in various locations. This work, born from her contact with powerful winds in Africa and their ability to modify the landscape of deserts, tackles the language of geographic documentaries by intertwining it with codes typical of American conceptual art, like repeated gestures and quantitative measures. Nonetheless, it does not matter how detached the scientific approach may be; the creative and destructive force of wind remains laden with energy along with the sense of the location’s uniqueness and geographic identity.
The Measuring of Time, 1969, is a surprising film for the impressive directing as well as certain groundbreaking themes and linguistic choices explored, immediately afterwards, by artists like Robert Smithson and Dan Graham. The film portrays the artist seated on a beach as she counts grains of sand in the palm of her hand, as if she were measuring the infinity of time. The camera moves around her in a spiral motion, approaching then distancing itself from her body, which is the center of temporal perception, almost as if she were a mythical female figure who can activate and interrupt the passing of days, closing the sand in her palm and scattering it to the wind.
From One to Four Pebbles is dated 1972, the same year when Alighiero Boetti in his Centoventi lettere dall’Afghanistan joined a combinatory practice with a feeling of crossing space typical of mail art. Laura Grisi chose to work with the simplicity of four pebbles—a seemingly small number if compared to the grains of sand—but she displays a sampling of different mineral formations, arranging them in every possible combination of sequence, comparing the time of observation with the millenary temporal dimension of stones. This final film seems to narrate man’s attempt to “order things,” his need to imagine a classification of infinity.
The exhibition opening will be preceded by a brief presentation of the artist’s work.
Thanks to Galleria P420, Bologna.
*Laura Grisi, The Measuring of Time 1969 (frame)