Carla Zaccagnini and Runo Lagomarsino / Malmö Konsthall, Sweden, 2015
Press release/ March 21 – May 24
Curators: Diana Baldon, Nicola Lees
Exhibition design: Luca Frei
This is the first survey exhibition in Scandinavia of Carla Zaccagnini (b. 1973) and Runo Lagomarsino (b. 1977), who live and work between Malmö and São Paulo.
Zaccagnini and Lagomarsino’s artistic practices reflect the trans-nationalism of their respective biographies. Lagomarsino was born in Lund to Argentinian parents of Italian descent, who fled the country as political refugees in the mid-1970s.
Zaccagnini was born in Buenos Aires to parents (also of Italian origin) who immigrated to Brazil in 1981. These migratory roots manifest themselves in both of the artists’ practices, evident in their versatile approach to artistic media as well as their engagement in disparate fields of enquiry including linguistics, geography, post-colonialism, national identity, gender, art history and art genres, such as institutional critique. The artworks in this exhibition function as episodic encounters in the artists’ on-going research into these areas.
Despite overlapping interests and cultural backgrounds, the difference between Zaccagnini and Lagomarsino’s research methodologies quickly surfaces when their work is exhibited together. Zaccagnini analyses her topics of investigation using an almost topographic approach, often shedding light onto untold or forgotten histories.
A key example of her distinctive method is Restauro (Restoration), 2001, an extensive and yet ephemeral act of conservation of the painting Sem Título (Cabeça) (Untitled [Head], c.1882), by Brazilian master Almeida Júnior, orchestrated by the artist to recapture its original light. Lagomarsino’s artistic investigations into light, however, involve repurposing both sunlight and artificial illumination devices to reverse their original meaning and context. His installation Stolen Light (Abstracto en Dorado), 2013, consists of light bulbs stolen by the artist from Berlin’s Ethnological Museum presented in a cabinet to imitate museological systems of cataloguing and display. Installed next to a gold-covered wall that references El Dorado, the fabled city of gold brutally pursued by Spanish explorers during the sixteenth century, Lagomarsino accusingly pairs the action of ‘enlightening’ to the colonial structures that uphold Western ethnographic and anthropological museums.
The artworks in the exhibition have been categorized into five loose themes: charting and topography, violence and destruction, collapsing distances, traversing languages and regions, dislocation and (de)constructing national identity. The groupings are formally represented by a display structure and graphic system designed by the artist Luca Frei (b. 1976 in Lugano, lives in Malmö), invited by the artists for his own interest in sculpture as a form of display. Five monumental walls loosely reference the form of a compass, drawing attention to the recurring notion of geographical movement in Zaccagnini and Lagomarsino’s works, while shifting the audience’s gaze away from the centre of the gallery. The walls rotate diagonally between the columns of the konsthall’s distinctive architecture, whose features have been enhanced using bold primary colours — red for the columns and beams, blue for the short sides of the free-standing walls — that transform the space to enable a new physical experience for the viewer. Framing the exhibition as a dynamic entity, Frei’s design connects the artworks and gallery space into a specific and unique configuration. Within this broader structure, the placement of artworks in the exhibition repeatedly follows logics of pairing and confrontation that echo the artists’ own methods of working.