maurizio cattelan unveils 9/11 memorial in 'breath ghosts blind' show at pirelli hangarbicocca

Jul 18, 2021

courtesy the artist and pirelli hangarbicocca, milan

all photos by agostino osio

held in a somber and solemn context, maurizio cattelan’s ‘breath ghosts blind’ offers visitors an immersive and emotional experience through the most meaningful aspects of human life, conveying contrasting feelings like grief and love. curated by roberta tenconi and vicente todolí, the exhibition has been conceived as a dramaturgy in three moments following the spaces of pirelli hangarbicocca, and symbolically representing the cycle of life from birth to death.

human figure: 40 x 78 x 131 cm | dog: 30 x 65 x 40 cm

courtesy the artist, marian goodman gallery and pirelli hangarbicocca, milan

the exhibition begins with ‘breath’ in the piazza, a new sculpture made of white carrara marble that represents a man in a fetal position and a dog, both lying on the ground facing each other. the composition creates an intimate scene, in which the life-size scale of the figures, though resonating with the monumental spaces of the piazza, maintains a sense of introspection and fragility. the vastness of the navate hosts ‘ghosts’, a new version of a historic work that was originally presented at the 47th and 54th venice biennale with the titles ‘tourists’ (1997) and ‘others’ (2011) respectively. ‘ghosts’ features countless taxidermied pigeons, camouflaged in the architecture of the former industrial building. their presence on the beams and in the nooks of the traveling crane becomes apparent only as visitors move into the space, and generates a sense of estrangement and restlessness.

the third and final act of the exhibition takes place in the cubo and is gradually revealed to visitors arriving from the navate. made of black resin and composed of a monolith intersected by the silhouette of an airplane, ‘blind’ takes the form of a memorial with a destabilizing iconography. with the work cattelan appropriates an image that has become part of the common iconographic repertoire—the attack on the world trade center in new york on september 11—and transforms it into a symbol of collective loss and pain. taking a dramatic event as his starting point, maurizio cattelan reflects on the violence of a moment in recent history, transfiguring it into a moment of encounter.

‘art deals with the same themes from the beginning of human history: creation, life, death,’ says maurizio cattelan. ‘this is intertwined with the ambition of each artist to become eternal through their work. each artist is confronted with the two sides of the coin: a sense of omnipotence and a sense of failure. it is a rollercoaster of exhilarating elevations and very steep descents. as painful as it is, the second part is also the most significant. like all the exhibitions that preceded it, this exhibition is the concentration of all these elements.’

courtesy the artist and pirelli hangarbicocca, milan

produced by marian goodman gallery and pirelli hangarbicocca, milan

courtesy the artist, marian goodman gallery and pirelli hangarbicocca, milan

exhibition info:

name: breath ghosts blind

artist: maurizio cattelan

institution: pirelli hangarbicocca

curator: roberta tenconi and vicente todolí

light design: pasquale mari

duration: 15 july 2021 – 20 february 2022

location: via chiese 2, milan, italy

admission: free upon reservation

catalogue: marsilio editori