Emilio Prini - MACRO Museum, Rom
27. Oktober 2023 - 31. März 2024
…E Prini is the most extensive exhibition ever dedicated to the work of Emilio Prini (Stresa, 1943 – Rome, 2016). Comprising of over 250 works, the exhibition project, realized in collaboration with the Archivio Emilio Prini, is conceived according to a chronological path which spans fifty years, from 1966 to 2016, to reconstruct the work of one of Italy’s most complex and enigmatic artistic figures from the recent past, whose work has not been fully surveyed to this day.
“I don’t have a plan, I proceed through trial and error” declared the artist. He considered his oeuvre to be a unique path made up of constant re-writing, in which works function almost like the proof of an empirical and aesthetic verification of some postulates or concepts, such as the idea of the standard or of the void, through a series of data drawn from reality and subsequently put together. Prini always refused to understand a work of art as a closed and defined object, and as a result, he also questioned the codes defining how art is shown. The exhibition project thus attempts to reflect and make this position explicit. …E Prini develops like a temporal perimeter and visual horizon in which works, photographs, invitations, typescripts and interventions on catalogues are exhibited without any form of distinction, along the walls of MACRO’s largest gallery, while sculptures and three-dimensional objects are laid out at the center of the space.
The exhibition presents the artist’s first attempts at circumscribing and measuring space, such as 5 sistemi percettivi di un ambiente (1967) and Perimetro misura a studio stanza (1967) or the actions with which, between 1967 and 1968, he studied his own body, and those of the individuals close to him, in relation to the environment, documenting these experiments through photography. Instead, the urban surveys of a curving wall, a downhill street, and a step are explorations and measurements of public space on portions and architectural details of the city in which he lived at the time, Genoa, part of the photographic studies that Prini began in 1967.
An important group, amongst the works on display, is the one with which, in 1995, Prini translated the above mentioned urban surveys into three-dimensional objects in wood or iron, on the occasion of the exhibition Fermi in Dogana at the Ancienne Douane in Strasbourg. These architectural volumes rendered the idea of the cast as an unrepresented dimension.
Around 1969, Prini began a series of investigations on electronic devices such as recorders, camera’s, televisions and film camera’s, exploring their exhaustion from prolonged use. The exhibition presents Magnete/Proiezione Tv/ Programmazione di elementi a proiezione miniaturizzata con cancellazione alterna del quadro, Film TV and Magnete, 5 min., the latter of which explores the waning of the mechanisms present within an Exakta camera, photographed and later reproduced in the form of 18,915 off-set prints, printed and arranged in piles in the space.
An ample body of works is represented by drawings on paper realized during the first half of the 1970s using an Olivetti 22 typewriter. These build upon mathematical formulas, architectural relations, and poetic annotations, which constitute surveys of space, time, light and existence. Lastly, the exhibition dedicates space to document how, starting in the 1980s, titles, captions, photographs, typefaces, dates, type and size of paper, become tools and materials for use and manipulation, through an ironic attitude and as a strategy of perceptive displacement.
Suspended between standard and variable, Prini’s research explores a series of key concepts to their most extreme limits. His works, just as the apparatuses exploited in making them, exist in function of the impossibility of being defined and stopped in their movement. What ensues is a natural resistance with respect to the mechanisms of the art system, its processes of circulation and commodification, all of which render Prini’s practice particularly relevant in the present day, pointing towards yet un-answered questions.
With respect to a society which distinguishes itself for its hyperproduction and consumption of images and objects, the contemporary relevance of Prini’s research consists in his constant questioning of the necessity to produce, in the coherence of a way of being and operating independently and elusively, capable of challenging the canons of historicization and instruments of interpretation of art, all in the name of art itself.
EMILIO PRINI was born in Brisino di Stresa on 2 August 1943. From the mid-1950s, he frequented the Genoese artistic community, in particular La Polena and La Bertesca galleries, where he met art critic Germano Celant who invited him to the exhibition Arte Povera—Im Spazio in 1968. He began to participate in numerous Arte Povera exhibitions as well as important international shows including: Arte Povera, Galleria de’ Foscherari, Bologna (1968); Arte Povera più Azioni Povere, Arsenali di Amalfi (1968); Op Losse Schroeven, Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam (1969); When Attitudes Become Form, Kunsthalle Bern, Bern (1969); Conceptual Art, Arte Povera, Land Art, Galleria d’Arte Moderna, Turin (1970); Information, MoMA, New York (1970); Sonsbeek 71, Sonsbeek Park, Arnhem (1971); Contemporanea, Villa Borghese, Rome (1973). During this period, he spent time with Paolo Icaro, Mario and Marisa Merz and moved to Rome where he met Gino De Dominicis, Alighiero Boetti and Pino Pascali. From the beginning of the 1980s, in line with his thought and without ever interrupting his research, he limited his participation in exhibitions and artistic events.
Among his rare appearances: the solo show Emilio Prini. Fermi in Dogana, Ancienne Douane, Strasbourg (1995) and the group exhibitions Identité Italienne. L’art en Italie depuis 1985, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris (1981); Overture, Castello di Rivoli Museo d’Arte Contemporanea, Rivoli (1984); Politics/Poetics. Documenta X, Kassel (1997); Zero to Infinity. Arte Povera 1962-1972, Tate Modern, London (2001). Nonetheless, he would continue to manipulate and translate the ideas and works that would accompany his research until 2016, the year of his death in Rome. In 2020 Fondazione Merz in Turin dedicated a retrospective to the artist, entitled Emilio Prini.