Benna - Critical Mess
CON-TEMPORARY Art Observatorium 1 - Solo exhibition

curated by Jizaino, 22 April 2011

► Multiplicity and global context
► Photographic gallery
► Video
► Catalogue

Multiplicity and global context

The title is a wordplay between the locution critical mass, term used in sociology to define the critical point beyond which an event becomes uncontrollable, and the word mess.

Human society is the basic matter that constitutes the artworks of this exhibition; beyond the surface of appearance, they face very profound thematics starting from an intimate philosophic base. Images and concepts try to return intellectual harmony to a society which reveals itself as deeply unbalanced, cause it's founded on the culture of coercion and mystification. The human being is victim or witness of the continuous leaking of tribulations, coming from the dripping of events that generate from prevarications and injustices of which he is the same cause.

Mess also meant as food ration; and in the social tissue also food has its important role. Benna often faces with the topic of nutrition, both in its socio-economical implications of panem et circenses and in the shifting from its metaphysical value to a reduction to mere simulacrum.

Artist of eclectic manifestation, Benna's expression utilizes video, photography, painting, digital graphics, plastic art, sculpting, poetry, sound; not necessarily limiting to these disciplines.

His artworks sometimes coexist over diverse media, for example in form of video and photographs. This is a tendency that is going to gain more attention in the contemporary Art, also for the need to objectify those forms of Art which are more ephemeral or experimental; as an example, the performances of Vanessa Beecroft, that become tangible in the form of photographs or videos.
The interdisciplinary ubiquity in the development of a subject is sometimes also due to the necessity of varying or multiply the offer to satisfy a public more and more bigger and diversified; we can ascertain this behaviour in the projects of artists like Jeff Koons, who realized his famous inflatables both as paintings and as sculptures of diverse materials, as chromed steel or vinyl.
The multiplicity is a factor that nowadays has become almost necessary: the artworks are going to produced in series or in multiples, in a number more or less limited, making them available to a larger number of people that otherwise would be excluded. In fact, as the notorious critic Philippe Daverio underlined in an interview: “that century [the 17th, NdT] the artists were three hundreds, the people interested of art one hundred twenty thousands; today the people interested of art are probably three millions, then instead of one and a half or three hundreds artists we should have the courage to accept that we have three or six thousands of them.”
Or, lacking artists who can rouse an interest in people, multiply the artworks of the most wanted ones.

The expressive and technical eclecticism, on another side, is opposed to that presumed requisite of the market which prefers artists with a high recognizability. This presupposition is unfounded, as this is demonstrated by eclectic artists that have become very famous even without a strongly uniform and visually characterized artistic expression; like the controversial Damien Hirst, who indeed, dissimilarly to others, does not take part in the realization of his own artworks, commissioning them to others.
Although eclecticism, since Renaissance up to now, is gaining attention as a prerogative associated to creative genius, hence as a desirable artistic skill, it is not yet easy to find artists who can nimbly manage the different techniques. In the ancient times, where a technical specialization with a servile and working vocation was dominating, the most versatile artists, as the great geniuses Leonardo da Vinci and Albrecht Dürer, were more likely unique than rare. In the modern epoch, the gushing creativity of great artists like Andy Warhol and Bruno Munari, together with the disorienting conceptual ductility of personages like Marcel Duchamp, have given an impulse to the multidisciplinary generations of today: from Bruce Nauman to Michelangelo Pistoletto, from Gottfried Helnwein to David Lynch.

In this exhibition, just a small part of the artworks of Benna are taken under consideration.
This selection, although keeping rooted eclectic features, is limited to static visual arts, as a discussion including also video, plastic and sound art, would be too complex.
Instead, as the exhibition's title elliptically expresses, the focus has been put on the conceptual contents of global pertinence, inherent to the contemporary human condition dominated by the instability which is caused by big stirrings and by the intercultural meeting/collision, at the same time exhibiting artworks that try to embank that induction of a subtle indetermination inside the cognitive intimacy of the individual.

Vanessa Beecroft, VB 39, 1999
Performance / Relational Art
Museum of Contemporary Art, San Dieg

Bruce Nauman, Raw War, 1970
Neon tubes and transparent glass base,
~16,5 x 19 x 6 cm
Baltimore Museum of Art

David Lynch, Schizophrenic Man, o.J.
Painting, gouache on wood, 101,2 x 101,2 cm
Karl Pfefferl gallery

Jeff Koons, Monkey Train (Orange), 2007
Oil on canvas, 274,3 x 213,4 cm and silk print
with inkjet print, 83,5 x 66,3 cm, ed. 40+10

Michelangelo Pistoletto
Collana del Terzo Paradiso, 2008
66 spheres of Albisola ceramics
Fondazione Remotti, Camogli

Gottfried Helnwein
Self-Portrait 29, 1991
Oil and acrylic on canvas,
210 x 140 cm

Photographic gallery



Catalogue of the exhibition BENNA - Critical mEss