Agnieszka Kurant. Crowd Crystal

Will close the 25 September 2022

Drafted by Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev and Marcella Beccaria

First Floor, Galleries 8 – 9
November 4, 2021 – September 25, 2022

Within the overall Museum program Espressioni taking place in 2021-2022, Castello di Rivoli presents Crowd Crystal, a solo exhibition of the conceptual and interdisciplinary artist Agnieszka Kurant (Lódz, Poland, 1978).
The exhibition Crowd Crystal investigates the crowds as assets of late capitalism, in which the entire society became a factory of data mining. The title is inspired by the concept of “crowd crystals” introduced by the writer Elias Canetti in his book Crowds and Power (1960).

In her work Agnieszka Kurant analyzes the transformations of the human and the future of labor and creativity. The artist questions the concept of individual authorship and reflects on the notion of the footprint that everyone leaves in the digital world, as well as carbon footprints, as actualizations of prehistoric imprints left by our ancestors. She reflects on the potential we all carry within ourselves to influence social change and mutations of matter.

Crowd Crystal consists of evolving installations, paintings and sculptures resulting from the collective agency of thousands or millions of people, molecules or microorganisms. The artworks investigate the impact of collective intelligence phenomena in nature and culture and non-human intelligences – from bacteria and other single-celled organisms to artificial intelligence. The works in Crowd Crystal physically react to changes in society. The liquid crystal paintings Conversions (2019-2021), employ “data mining” to harvest the dynamics of emotions of protesters around the world expressed in their social media feeds, which causes constant changes of the appearance of the artworks, displaying the effects of collective intelligence in contemporary algorithmic and technological society. In Chemical Garden (2021) the artist investigates the relationship between the digital, biological and mineral. The work consists of complex crystalline structures resembling plants, created through a mix of inorganic chemicals: salts of metals – copper, cobalt, manganese, chromium, iron – which are ingredients in modern computers, the industrial extraction of which leads to the devastation of entire ecosystems. Paradoxically, the chemical gardens in hydrothermal vents on the sea floor are a plausible origin of life on earth.

Crowd Crystal will also present two sculptures from the Post-Fordite (2019-2020) series, made of pieces of material known as “Fordite” or “Detroit agate”; a hybrid, quasi-geological formation, created through the accumulation and fossilization of automotive paint on production lines at now-defunct car factories around the globe.

Finally, Castello di Rivoli presents Adjacent Possible (2021), a series of works on Luserna stone, investigating alternative directions in which human culture could have evolved or is presently evolving. In the development of this project, the artist collaborated with the computational social scientists LeRon Shults and Justin Lane to apply an artificial intelligence algorithm – machine learning – to an archive of thousands of various iterations of 32 graphic signs signs – the earliest known forms of symbolic communication, dating 40,000 BC to 14,000 BC – documented in the Paleolithic caves in Europe by the paleoanthropologist Genevieve von Petzinger. The algorithm generated other potentials signs and forms of expression that could have emerged as products of collective subjectivity. Over the centuries some of the cave paintings have been colonized by bacteria and fungi, replacing the original pigments. Through collaboration with synthetic biologists, the artist creates new paintings using vividly colored pigments containing mutated pigment-producing bacteria with genes from corals and jellyfish, as well as fungi and lichens as “living pigments”. 

On the occasion of the opening of the exhibition Agnieszka Kurant. Crowd Crystal installed in the Museum and the launch of ‘Flash Art International’ 336 Fall 2021, Wednesday November 3 at 7 pm in the Castello di Rivoli Theater will be held Ultra Bodies Ultra Species in presence of the artist Agnieszka Kurant, of the Publisher and Director of ‘Flash Art’ Gea Politi, the Curator of the Castello di Rivoli Marianna Vecellio and the Curator Noam Segal.

The exhibition is made possible thanks to the contribution of Fondazione per l’Arte Moderna e Contemporanea CRT


Crowd Crystal is part of the exhibition Espressioni and is generously supported by the Museum Benefactors Andrea Ruben Levi and Patrizia Sandretto Re Rebaudengo.
Thanks also to Istituto Polacco di Roma

Research developed with The Transformations of The Human at the Berggruen Institute

This project was supported in part by the Art + Technology Lab at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art

Thanks to Università di Torino, Department of Life Sciences and Systems Biology, and Luisa Mensi


Agnieszka Kurant (Lódz, Poland, 1978) studied Art History at the University of Lódz, Photography at PWSFTiTv in Lódz and Creative Curating at Goldsmith College in London.
Her research is in dialogue with multiple authors from different disciplinary fields, including the writings on plasticity and automatisms by Catherine Malabou and Franco Bifo Berardi, the work of Manuel DeLanda and the writings of the neuroscientist Antonio Damasio, author of the Descartes’ Error: Emotion, Reason, And the Human Brain (1994), which dates the origins of feelings to the birth of the first nervous systems, about 600 million years ago. Currently the artist collaborates with the MIT DreamLab and is among the recipients of the LACMA Art + Technology Grants 2020. Kurant has obtained international residencies in institutions such as: Palais de Tokyo, Paris (2004), ISCP, New York (2005), Paul Klee Center, Bern (2009), Location One, New York (2012), and Iaspis, Stockholm (2013). In 2019 she received the Frontier Art Prize and in 2018 she was among the recipients of the Pollock-Krasner Award 2018. She is currently a fellow of the Berggruen Institute in Los Angeles. In 2018-2019 she was artist in residence at the MIT Center for Art, Science and Technology. Kurant represented Poland at the 12th Venice Biennale International Architecture Exhibition (in collaboration with the architect Aleksandra Wasilkowska) presenting the Emergency Exit project (2010). Among her solo exhibitions there are: Errorism, Museum Sztuki, Lódz (2021); The End of Signature, commissioned by the MIT List Visual Arts Center, Kendall Square, Cambridge, MA (2021); 019 Public Billboard Program, Design Museum Gent, Gent (2019); The end of the signature, Guggenheim Museum, New York (2015); Exformation, Sculpture Center, New York (2013); Assembly line, CCA, Tel Aviv (2017). Her work has been exhibited worldwide in Institutions as the Sculpture Center, New York; Palais de Tokyo, Paris; Guggenheim, Bilbao; Witte de With, Rotterdam; Moderna Museet, Stockholm; Whitechapel Art Gallery, London; Cleveland Biennial, Cleveland; MUMOK, Vienna; The Kitchen, New York; Bonner Kunstverein, Bonn; Grazer Kunstverein, Graz; Kunsthalle, Meinz; Museum of Modern Art, Warsaw; MOCA, Detroit; CAC, Cincinnati; Mamco, Geneva; Frieze Projects, London; Stroom den Haag, The Hague; Performa Biennale, New York; Momentum Biennale, Moss, Norway and Center for Contemporary Art Ujazdowski Castle, Warsaw. A new monograph dedicated to Kurant’s work will appear for the Press and MIT Press types in the fall of 2021.

Will close the 25 September 2022