James Richards. Alms for the Birds

February 25 – October 10, 2020

James Richards, Alms for the Birds, 2020

Curated by Marianna Vecellio

 By Artists: From the Home to the Museum, from the Museum to the Home.

Homages to the Works of the Cerruti Collection. Chapter 4

A project drafted by Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev  

Castello di Rivoli, First Floor, Room 11


The Castello di Rivoli Museum of Contemporary Art continues the program of commissions of works of art created in homage to the masterpieces of the Cerruti Collection launched in May 2019, on the occasion of the opening to the public of the villa that hosts the collection of Francesco Federico in Rivoli Cerruti (1922 – 2015). On Monday February 24 the museum will present to the public a new work by the artist James Richards, which will join the tributes of Ed Atkins, Anna Boghiguian, Alex Cecchetti, Camille Henrot, Liu Ding, Nalini Malani, Giulio Paolini, Giuseppe Penone, Susan Philipsz, Seth Price, Elisa Sighicelli and Michael Rakowitz, set up in the previous chapters of the program. Other artists, including Maria Thereza Alves, Roberto Cuoghi, Jimmie Durham, Mario García Torres, Maria Loboda, Goshka Macuga, Wael Shawky and Adrián Villar Rojas, will present their works in subsequent chapters, in an organic way and in dialogue between times and different places.

Interested in investigating themes such as identity, desire and obsession in relation to digital technologies and processes of appropriation, manipulation and combination of images and archival materials, James Richards (Cardiff, 1983) will present a new installation conceived specifically for the historical rooms of Castello di Rivoli.

James Richards’ work Alms for the Birds, 2020 is an installation in two parts, one sound and one visual, which investigates the villa that houses the Cerruti Collection as a fantastic place, in search of perfection. A “dream house,” but also a refuge similar to a place for the afterlife. The work will try to re-imagine the house starting from the Castello di Rivoli, by creating a resonance between the room in the tower of Villa Cerruti, or master bedroom, and the architecture and history of the rooms of the Apartment of King Vittorio Amedeo II, on the first floor of the Castello di Rivoli. In particular, the Hall of Sleeping Putti, also known as the King’s Bed Chamber, where it is said Vittorio Amedeo II (1666 – 1732) was held prisoner by his son Carlo Emanuele III (1701 – 1773) when, after having abdicated in his favor, the old king changed his mind and tried to take back the crown. This installation is made in two parts –sonic and visual-, overlapping with each other without being synchronized. The King’s Bed Chamber is invaded by sound – a musical composition developed by combining sound tracks from historical films – which gives the work “something elegiac,” says artist James Richards. The same room will be the subject of the visual part of the installation, re-imagined from inside, its architecture expanded and then contracted into a hallucinatory vision. Through this visual sequence, the artist thus reimagines both the historical rooms of the Museum and the Villa Cerruti and the works of art that inhabit it, giving life to a sensorial and emotional experience that unites the two buildings through unexpected associations, connecting their collections and their stories. “Alms for the Birds refers to a fantastical place,” says the curator Marianna Vecellio. “The title of the work is inspired by the eastern funeral practice in which the bodies of the dead are left to decompose naturally and available to birds, as alms. Alms for the Birds alludes to the uselessness of the body which is contrasted with a Gothic and romantic atmosphere accentuated by images of ravens and spectral forms that flow on monitors, giving the work the characteristics of a montage of remains and echoes of the past.”  Thanks to Sara Catenacci for her collaboration.

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