Curated by Elena Re
Mummery + Schnelle
In collaboration with the Archivio Giorgio Ciam
19 January – 3 March 2012
Mummery + Schnelle is delighted to present the first UK exhibition
of the work of Italian artist Giorgio Ciam.
Autoritratto, 1976, black and white photograph, 45.6
x 45.8 cm
The curatorial premise of this retrospective exhibition is
to highlight essential moments in Giorgio Ciam’s artistic
practice, which used photography as a means for reflecting
on questions of personal and artistic identity, and as a documentation
of the artist’s own self-analysis. The exhibition will
feature important works from throughout Ciam’s career
selected from the artist’s archives and focusing on
some important aspects of the existential poetics that characterized
his work. Beginning with works that reflect the cultural milieu
of the 1970s, especially the ‘events’ or ‘happenings’
associated with the international Body Art movement, the exhibition
continues through the 1980s and into the 1990s, decades during
which Ciam continued to pursue an idiosyncratic research of
his fragmented Self, anticipating much contemporary photographic
work that addresses questions of identity.
Working within the field of behavioural studies, Giorgio Ciam
focused on his own body and on his own face. His identity
is endlessly investigated and revised. Putting himself in
front of the camera lens, Ciam staged events, performances
without spectators, in which he imagined his relationship
with his audience through the photographic work itself. By
making use of both photomontage and collage techniques, Ciam
could transform himself and become “another”.
He would create stratified depictions by cutting out, overlaying,
and collaging numerous photographic fragments from his performances
in order to re-see and revise himself. He would also blur
his features in long-exposure camera shots, erasing himself
completely, or project images onto himself of his own works,
or those of others.
Giorgio Ciam was born in Pont-Saint-Martin (Aosta) in 1941.
After pursuing his studies at the Academy of Fine Arts in
Turin, he devoted himself to anthropological research conducted
by means of the photographic medium. This also involved a
theatrical-performative element, which in the early years
of his career mainly took the form of Sculture Ambiente and
Teatri Scultura. During the ’70s, he was involved in
international Body Art and had frequent dealings with other
European exponents of the movement, pursuing work that explored
the expressive potential of photography. Focusing his studies
in the field of Behaviour, he concentrated upon the human
figure – chiefly on the face – examining his own
identity as an intermediary for a relation with the other.
In 1974 his work was presented in Lea Vergine’s book
entitled Il corpo come linguaggio (La “Body-art”
e storie simili), published by Prearo. In 1975 Giancarlo Politi
included him in a special issue of Flash Art (nos. 52-53)
about Italian and foreign artists working with photography.
Ciam’s works have been exhibited in many public venues,
both national and international. In 1995 Giorgio Ciam staged
a great anthological exhibition at Forte di Bard (Aosta).
He produced a large number of artist’s books, and his
exhibitions were often accompanied by publications. He died
in Turin in 1996. In 2007 the publishing house Gli Ori published
the book GIORGIO CIAM – Dentro il sogno 1969-1995, edited
by Elena Re, in the series PROGETTOSETTANTA – Art and
photography from the ’70s in Italy. In 2010 Ciam’s
works were included in the group exhibition GEOGRAFIA SENZA
PUNTI CARDINALI – La fotografia nell’arte degli
anni ’70 in Italia, curated by Elena Re and staged at
the Giorgio Persano Gallery in Turin.
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