T1 – The Pantagruel Syndrome

21 september 2005 - 16 october 2005

Curators: Francesco Bonami, Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev

Organisers: Castello di Rivoli Museo d’Arte Contemporanea; Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo;  GAM Galleria Civica d’Arte Moderna e Contemporanea di Torino

Exhibition venues: Castello di Rivoli Museo d’Arte Contemporanea, Rivoli; Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo, Turin; GAM Galleria Civica d’Arte Moderna e Contemporanea di Torino; Fondazione Merz, Turin; “PalaFuksas”, Turin; Casa del Conte Verde and Chiesa di Santa Croce, Rivoli

Main sponsors: Piedmont Regional Government, the Province of Torino, Turin Council, the San Paolo Corporation and the CRT Foundation

Catalogue: Skira, Milan

 T – Turin Triennial Threemuseums is Italy’s new festival of international contemporary visual art, organised by Turin’s three main art institutions: Castello di Rivoli Museo d’Arte Contemporanea, Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo and  GAM Galleria Civica d’Arte Moderna e Contemporanea di Torino.

T is structured in two sections.  The first section works on an invitational basis and involves 75 young international artists, presenting their newest artistic production, ranging in media from painting, sculpture, photography, video, installation, performance, workshops, sound pieces, web projects, collective and joint projects.  The second section, instead, presents two solo shows to celebrate the work of two young, mid-career artists.  

T’s objectives are to generate an exchange of ideas about fresh, experimental art by the new generation of artists who are already making their mark on the international scene.  Another important aim is to further develop the cultural exchange between Turin, the northern region of Piedmont and today’s world characterised by globalisation.

Turin and Piedmont are already reference points for international contemporary art.  Besides what the main institutions are doing, a variety of cultural events around the city are regularly run parallel to major exhibitions.   At the same time as T1, a whole range of other cultural events are on the calendar: the yearly contemporary art fair Artissima 12 will once again stage world wide galleries and artists; the open-air exhibition of light installations Luci d’Artista will be opening its 8th edition; a whole new range of artist-customised posters will be on show at the exhibition ManifesTO and the already famed appointment known as Saturday Night Art Fever – where all main contemporary art galleries in the city run till late – will add to the exciting array of things to see in Turin starting from November.

T1 – The Pantagruel Syndrome is the title of the first edition of the triennial T1, to be held in the city of Turin from 11 November 2005 to 19 March 2006 and is curated by Francesco Bonami and Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev.

Entitled The Pantagruel Syndrome, the exhibition takes its inspiration from the character of Pantagruel, the grotesque protagonist at the limits of absurdity in some of the novels by the French writer François Rabelais (1484-1553). A creature of gigantic proportion, with a voracious appetite and incredible strength, who travels perennially, Pantagruel is an ideal hero for a civilization in transition from the Middle Ages to the Renaissance, who rediscovers the empirical world directly through the experience of his adventures. 

Globalised society produces contrasting attitudes. The contemporary era is characterized by a divergence between a tension toward change and fragility and fear, between a healthy “voracity” and the sense of an imminent, out of control explosion.

On the one hand this is manifested as megalomania, tied to the presumption of being able to put all utopias into action, as well as to plan, train, and shape the human body at will. In the imaginary realm we find well-defined feelings of omniscience and omnipotence, for example in genetic research (the “Genome project” of the total mapping of the human genome structure) and biogenetics (OGM – genetically altered organisms), including research into artificial insemination, cloning, and stem cells; in climate control and modification; and in the establishment of digital technologies and “networks” that have radically modified the “body” of global communications. The very term “globalization” represents an omniscient and external point of view, a vision of a spherical body.

At the same time, however, this is an era filled with insecurity, where we are witnessing the proliferation of visions of terror that are manifested as the destruction of the body. The “globalized” body is an inclusive organism and one at risk, a body dangerously addicted to omniphagia. It is no accident that the image of a potential destruction of the self is no longer that of a perforation, but rather than of a disintegration from within, caused by an explosion that deflagrates outward like a “big bang,” the image embodied by the kamikaze terrorist.

Pantagruel alludes to the omniphagous tendency of knowledge and to the incorporation of “everything” – his very name is a combination of learned etymology (in Greek “panta” means “all”) and onomatopoeic neologism (“gruel”) – which characterizes one of the faces of the cyclothymic bipolarity of contemporary thought, a veritable “Pantagruel syndrome.“

Over the course of the ‘Nineties, numerous projects for biennial exhibitions were developed as a form of gigantism, around the concept of globalization, both through the platforms represented by certain large, already established international exhibitions, such as Documenta 11 in Kassel (2002), or through the multiplication of new large exhibitions in various parts of the world (Johannesburg Biennial, 1995, 1997; Gwangju Biennial, 1996; Yokohama, 2001; Istanbul, 2001, 2003). The taking root of a broad and multifaceted view of the most diverse manifestations of artistic creativity (a view that has also been multidisciplinary – including art, architecture, urban planning, and science), as well as themes tied to center/periphery relationships and cultural identity have characterized most of these.

The exhibition The Pantagruel Syndrome, which will present works by visual artists, will reflect precisely on this exhibiting frenzy and cognitive gigantism through the figure of Pantagruel, proposing playful, fanciful, dreamy, and adventurous works, the poetics of which are stratified and coexist, as in the texts of Rabelais.

In its very existence as a triennial of contemporary art, T1 suggests the Pantagruel syndrome: it expresses the desire to encompass all the best possibilities present on the international art scene. This first edition, T1, reflects on the Pantagruel syndrome through the presentation of pictorial, sculptural, and photographic works, videos, installations, performances, workshops, sound pieces, web projects, collective projects, and anonymous projects.

As in a large newspaper or television network, the curators of T1 will avail themselves of information that will be provided to them from a network of ten Correspondents – a core of young curators, independent or tied to a diverse range of international institutions – from the collectively managed center to the museum – rooted in the territory of every continent, from Europe to Asia, America, Africa, and Australia.


T1 Exhibitions

The first section of the series of exhibitions features a total of 75 young artists from around the world who have been invited to present new and experimental works. 

Their work will be installed in the Castello di Rivoli Museo d’Arte Contemporanea, Rivoli; Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo, Turin; GAM Galleria Civica d’Arte Moderna e Contemporanea di Torino; Fondazione Merz, Turin; “PalaFuksas”, Turin; Casa del Conte Verde and Chiesa di Santa Croce, Rivoli – all situated in and around the city of Turin.