New Variant, Gianni Motti at Nicola von Senger
Swiss-Italian artist Gianni Motti is an observer of our times. Some of his most celebrated works even have a prophetic quality that is completely his own. Motti’s new exhibition at Nicola von Senger in Zürich might just be another genius stroke from the artist known for disrupting the exhibition format. Whether it be the safe space of an art fair in Prag when he asked military men to watch over the viewers (Blitz, 2003) or causing political mayhem in Bogota by challenging the President to a telepathic intrusion in 1997 – forcing him to flee the country the next day. Even recently, his rooms filled with barbed wires presented at Perrotin Paris (Draft, 2015) resonate with the global experience of an entire year spent in lockdown – only five years earlier.
At Nicola von Senger, Gianni Motti presents New Variant, a title chosen in clear reference to the madness of the COVID-19 pandemic. “Everyday you hear about a new variant, the Brasilian one, the British one… I wanted to invite people to use their heads. We’re always submerged with messages and images and as a result, we’re completely lost and we can no longer think for ourselves.” The exhibition features Evento Mentale, a bronze sculpture of Motti’s arm holding a pine cone. The work references the aesthetic of Sumerian tablets, which depicted people holding pine cones to represent the brain’s pineal gland.
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Associated with the third eye, this tiny gland located at the center of the brain was believed to hold esoteric powers of wisdom. “Even Mark Zuckerberg looked into this. Last February, he mentioned a project that would allow us to send messages with our minds”, the artist adds. Gianni Motti’s approach as an artist is not that of fear of what’s coming, rather the acknowledgment of how technology, the media or even politics can get into our heads, and the refusal to see his own freedom taken away. This freedom of the mind is a recurrent theme in his work. In 2015, he came up with an aluminum hat designed to block waves from coming into his brain. Later in 2019, the hats were used in a collective telepathic performance at Cabaret Voltaire in Zürich. Motti recreated the hats as standalone sculptures and chose to show them as part of New Variant, a way to stress his artistic efforts against mental oppression. “I think what the system is most afraid of today is not people going on a strike – because that still gives it power – but rather our ability to create our own reality using the power of our minds.” He then adds: “Putting our minds to use is a true revolutionary act today”.
New Variant, Gianni Motti at Nicola von Senger, Zurich, May 28th – July 17th
Angiography of a gallerist