Born in 1971 in Milan, Italy
Lives and works in Anchorage, Alaska
Born in Milan in 1971
She lives and works in Anchorage (Alaska).
- "Ma'am", Dallas Contemporary, Dallas, Texas, USA
-"Yee-Haw", Galerie Perrotin, Paris
- "Tulkus 1880 to 2018", FRAC Bourgogne, Bains du Nord, Dijon, France
- "You started it ... I finish it, National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, Australia
-"Ok, you are better than me, so what?", Galerie Perrotin, New York
-"Once upon a time. (A dream by Paola Pivi)" with Carla Accardi, Carlson Gallery, London
- "Tulkus 1880 to 2018", Witte de Withe, Rotterdam
- "Tulkus 1880 to 2018", Castello di Rivoli, Torino
- "Share, But It's Not Fair", curated by Larys Frogier, Rockbund Art Museum, Shanghai
- "How I roll", Public Art Fund, Doris C. Freedman Plaza, Central Park, New York
- "Nice Ball", Museo del Novecento, Milano
- "The beauty is in my eyes", Museo del Risorgimento and Palazzo Morando, Milano
- "Sorry, I can't tell you", Galerie Emmanuel Perrotin, Miami
- "What goes round - art comes round", Galerie Emmanuel Perrotin, Paris
- "Sorry I can't tell you", Carlson Gallery, London
- Special Project: "Grrr Jamming Squeak", public artwork commissioned by Sculpture International Rotterdam, Rotterdam
- "I wish I am fish", part of One Day Sculpture Project, curated by Natasha Conland, Auckland International Airport, Auckland
- Special Project: "1000", part of The Long Week End, curated by Kathy Noble, Tate Modern, London,
- Special Project: "Free Tibet Concert - A Big Dream", free event organized, produced and presented by Paola Pivi together with Karma Lama, Atwood Concert Hall, Alaska Center for the Performing Arts, Anchorage, Alaska
- "It's a cocktail party", Portikus, Frankfurt
- "It's a cocktail party", Galleria Massimo De Carlo, Milano
- "And back again...presented by PIG", with Gelitin, Galerie Emmanuel Perrotin, Miami
- "You gotta be kidding me", La Criée Centre d'art Contemporain, Rennes
- "It just keeps getting better", Kunsthalle Basel, Basel
- "My religion is kindness. Thank you, see you in the future". Fondazione Nicola Trussardi, Milano
- "No problem, have a nice day", Galerie Emmanuel Perrotin, Paris
- "Fffffffffffffffffff", Galerie Emmanuel Perrotin, Miami
- "100 Chinese", Wrong Gallery, Frieze Art Fair, London
- "FANT ASS TIC", Galleria Massimo De Carlo, Milan
- "To Me", (curated by T. Dillon), Platformart, Gloucester Road Underground Station, London
- Paola Pivi, Galerie Emmanuel Perrotin, Paris
- Paola Pivi, Wrong Gallery, New York
- Paola Pivi, (curated by L. Cherubini), MACRO Museo d’Arte Contemporanea Roma, Rome
- "Alicudi project", (curated by X. Franceschi), Centre d’Art Contemporain, Bretigny sur Orge
- Paola Pivi, (curated by L. Cherubini), Edizioni di gioielli Elena Levi, Galleria Roma Roma Roma, Rome
- Galleria Massimo De Carlo, Milano
- Galerie Emmanuel Perrotin, Paris
- "Alicudi project", Galerie Michael Neff, Frankfurt
- "Paola Pivi. Un progetto per il Castello", (curated by M. Beccaria), Castello di Rivoli Museo D’Arte Contemporanea, Rivoli, Torino
- Galleria S.A.L.E.S., (with Simone Berti - curated by Laura Cherubini), Roma
- Galleria Massimo De Carlo, Milano
SELECTED GROUP SHOWS
- "Trittico", Fondazione Prada, Milan, Italy
- "Liberi Tutti! Arte e Societa in italia 1989 - 2001., Museo Ettore Fico, Torino, Italy
- Paola Pivi, Echigo Tsumari-Art Triennale, Japan
- "One Way", Peter Marino, Bass Museum of Art, Miami, USA
- "Italy in SongEun : We Have never Been Modern", curated by Angelo Gioé and Maria Rosa Sossai, SongEun ArtSpace, Seoul, Korea
- "Everyday Life", Hamburger Bahnhof - Museum für Gegenwart, Berlin, Germany
- "Manifesta 10", Kuryokhin Modern Art Center, Saint Petersbourg, Russia
- "Arche Noah. über Tier und Mensch in der Kunst", Museum Ostwall, Dortmund, Germany
- "Collection Sandretto Re Rebaudengo : Have you seen me before?", curated by Francesco Bonami and Achim Borchardt-Hume, Whitechapel Gallery, London, United Kingdom
- "Retour à l’intime, La collection Giuliana et Tommaso Setari", La Maison Rouge, Paris, France
- "La Belle et la Bête", curated by Ashok Adicéam, Institut Culturel Bernard Magrez, Bordeaux, France
- "Fuoriclasse. 20 anni di arte italiana nei corsi di Alberto Garutti", curated by Luca Cerizza, Galleria d'Arte Moderna of Milano, Italy
- "Gli artisti italiani della collezione Accia", Palazzo Reale, Milano, Italy
- "Commercial Break", curated by Neville Wakefield, Venice, Italy
- "En piste!", curated by Judith Quentel, Centre d'art contemporain, Chamarande, France
- "Galileo", American Academy in Rome, Rome, Italy
- "Art Works, curated by Okwui Enwezor, Hou hanru, Udo Kittelmann, Nancy Spector, Deutsche bank Collection, Frankfurt, Germany
- "Unpainted Paintings", curated by Alison Gingeras, Luxembourg & Dayan, New York, USA
- "8 1/2 Thirteen artists celebrating the 100th anniversary of Trussardi". A selection of works from the exhibitions organized by the Fondazione Nicola Trussardi, curated by Massimiliano Gioni, Stazione Leopolda, Florence, Italy
- "Accademia Stanze Persone", curated by Luca Massimo Barbero, Llexi Eberspacher, American Academy in Rome, Rome, Italy
- "Interferenze costruttive", Fondazione Menegaz, Castelbasso, Italy
- "Donne Donne Donne", curated by Francesca Pasini, Fondation Pier Luigi et Natalina Remotti, Camogli, Genes, Italy
- "Hard Poem in Space", en collaboration avec Diet Gallery, Nektar De Stagni Shop, Miami, USA
- "Kreëmaart", Art Basel Miami beach 10th Anniversary, Miami, USA
- "21st Century : Art in the First Decade", Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane, Australy (upcoming)
- "21x21. 21 artisti per il 21° secolo", curated by Francesco Bonami, Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo, Torino, Italy. Catalogue
- "Parkliv", curated by Bettina Pehrsson & Helena Selder, Marabouparken, Sundbyberg, Sweden. Catalogue.
- "Contemplating the Void : Interventions in the Guggenheim Museum Rotunda", Guggenheim Museum, New York, USA
- "WYSTAWA", curated by Susanne Pfeffer, Museum of Modern Art Warsaw, Warsaw, Poland
- "Hope", curated by Ashok Adicéam, Palais des Arts et du Festival, Dinard, France. Catalogue
- "Things that only an artist can do", curated by Javier Marroqui and David Arlandis, MARCO, Museo de Arte Contemporanea de Vigo, Spain. Catalogue
- "SI - Sindrome Italiana", curated by Yves Aupetitallot, Magasin, Centre National d'Art Contemporain, Grenoble
- "BigMinis - Fetishes of crisis", curated by Alexis Vaillant, CAPC Musée d'Art Contemporain, Bordeaux, France
- "Playing the City 2", Schirn Kunsthalle, Frankfurt, Germany
- "21st Century : Art in the First Decade", Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane, Australie
- "Cosa fa la mia anima mentre sto lavorando?" Opere d'arte contemporanea dalla collezione Consolandi, MAGA - Museo di Arte Gallarate, Gallarate, Italy
- "PLUS ULTRA" Works from Collezione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo, curated by Francesco Bonami, MACRO TESTACCIO, Roma, Italy
- "videoREPORT ITALIA 2008_2009", curated by Andrea Bruciati, Galleria Comunale d'Art Contemporanea di Monfalcone, Monfalcone, Italy
- "Passaggi in Sicilia, La collezione di Riso e oltre", (curated by Paola Falcone e Valentina Bruschi), Riso museo d'arte contemporanea della sicilia, Palermo, Italy. Catalogue.
- "From Walden to Vegas", (curated by A Constructed World, Jean Marc Ballèe, Etienne Bernard, Antoine Marchand), Maison d'art Bernard Anthonioz, Nogent-sur-Marne, France
- Jewelry Salon at NDS, (curated by Nektar De Stagni), NDS, Nektar De Stagni Shop, Miami, USA
- "The store", (curated by A. Carr), Artissima, Torino, Italy
- "Italics. Italian art between tradition and revolution, 1968-2008", (curated by Francesco Bonami), MCA - Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, USA. Catalogue.
- "Borders and Beyond", (curated by Agnes Kohlmeyer), Helsingin Taidehalli, Kunsthalle Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland. Web catalogue.
- "Civica 1989-2009 : Celebration Institution Critique", (curated by Andrea Viliani), Fondazione Galleria Civica - Centro di Ricerca sulla Contemporaneita di Trento, Italy
- "UBS Openings : The Long Weekend 2009", (curated by Kathy Noble and Catherine Wood), tate Modern, London, United-Kingdom
- "And Back Again", presented by PIG, Deitch Projects, New-York, USA
- "Assenze/Presenze", (curated by Alberto Salvadori), Museo Marini, Firenze, Italy
- "PUBLIC", Galleria Massimo De Carlo, Milano, Italy
- "Soltanto un quadro al massimo Pivi-Meese", (curated by Joachim Bluher, Ludovico Pratesi), Academia Tedesca Roma Villa Massimo, Roma.
- The PIG presents 8 Solos Shows..., Deitch Projects, New York, USA
- "Una stanza tutta per sé", (curated by M. Beccaria), Castello di Rivoli, Torino
- "The Hamsterwheel", Malmö Konsthall, Malmö
- “Gli Artisti della Collezione ACACIA”, (curated by A. Daneri et G. Testa), Palazzo Nicolosio Lomellino di Strada Nuova, Genova
- "When things cast no shadow", 5th Berlin Biennal for Contemporary Art (curated by A. Szymczyk and E. Filipovic), Berlin, Germany
- "ITALIA ITALIE ITALIEN ITALY WLOCHY. “Ritti su la cima del mondo, noi scagliamo, una volta ancora, la nostra sfida alle stelle!...” (curated by G. Del Vecchio, A. Rabottini, E.L. Scipioni, A. Viliani), ARCOS Museo d’Arte Contemporanea Sannio, Benevento. Catalogue
- "100 Years 100 Artists 100 Works of Art", (curated by Sally Shaw), Art on the Underground, A Foundation Gallery, London, United-Kingdom
- "Italics. Italian art between tradition and revolution, 1968-2008", (curated by Francesco Bonami), Palazzo Grassi, Venezia, Italy. Catalogue.
- "Een lek in het zwijgen: noise", (curated by Giacinto Di Pietrantonio), XXVII Poeziezomer Festival, (curated by Gwy Mandelinck), Watou, Belgium.
- "Library", (curtaed by Adam Carr), UOVO - THE BOOKMAKERS ED., Berlin, Germany
- "L'alchimia dell'arte contemporanea, Opere dalla collezione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo, Centro Saint-Bénin, Aosta, Italy
- "Thanks for coming", Michael Benevento, Los Angeles, USA
- "The Store", (curated by Adam Carr), Tulips & Roses, Vilnius, Lithuania
- "Ou? Scènes du Sud: Espagne, Italie, Portugal", Carré d'Art de Nîmes, France. Catalogue
- "The Hamsterwheel", Tesa della Nuovissima, Arsenale di Venezia - Festival Printemps de Septembre, Toulouse, France
- "Senso Unico", PS1 MOMA, curated by A. Heiss, New York, USA
- Group Show, Galerie Emmanuel Perrotin, Miami, USA
- "mentalgrafie. Viaggio attraverso l'arte contemporanea italiana", (curated by Demetrio Paparoni), Tel Aviv Museum of Art, Tel Aviv, Israel. Catalogue
- "Domestic Irony. A curious glance on private Italian collections", (curated by Letizia Ragaglia), Museion, Bolzano, Italy
- ".all hawaii eNtrèes/luNar reGGae", (curated by Philippe Parreno and Rachael Thomas), IMMA, Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin, Ireland. Catalogue
- "Art'Fab : L'Art, La Femme, L'Europe", (curated by Susanne van Hagen and Danielle Gaudry Cazeau), Saint-Tropez, France. Catalogue.
- "Italy made in art: now", (curated by Achille Bonito Oliva), The Museum of Contemporary Art, Shanghai, China. Catalogue.
- "Young italian artists at the turn of the millennium", Galleria Continua, Beijing, China.
- "Vis à vis" - Collezioni si incontrano, (curated by Walter Guadagnini, Ludovico Pratesi), Centro Arti Visive – Pescheria, Pesaro, Italy. Catalogue.
- "Crafty", (curated by Lisa Tung), Bakalar Gallery, MassArt, Boston, USA
- "Il buco", (curated by Achille Bonito Oliva), Galleria Pio Monti, Rome, Italy. Catalogue.
- "Kontracom06" – Contemporary.Festival.Salzburg, (curated by Max Hollein), Salzburg, Austria. Catalogue.
- "Il diavolo del focolare", (curated by Claudia Gian Ferrari), La Triennale di Milano, Milan, Italy. Catalogue.
- "The Garden Party", Deitch Projects, New York, USA
- "The snow show", (curated by Lance Fung), Sestriere, Italy.
- "Fuori pista", Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo, Capanna Mollino, Sauze d'Oulx, Italy.
- "Universal Experience: Art, Life and the Tourist’s Eye", (curated by F. Bonami, J. Rodrigues Widholm, T. Van Eck), MART Museo di Arte Moderna e Contemporanea di Trento e Rovereto, Italy. Catalogue.
- "Not a drop but the fall", (curated by Elmgreen & Dragset and Susanne Pfeffer), Künstlerhaus Bremen, Germany. Catalogue.
- "War is over", (curated by Giacinto Di Pietrantonio and Maria Cristina Rodeschini Galati), GAMeC Galleria d’Arte Moderna e Contemporanea di Bergamo, Italy. Catalogue.
- "Water, air, earth, fire". At the origins of life between Art and Science, (curated by Sandra Solimano, Maria Perosino, Silvana Sermisoni), Science Festival, Palazzo della Borsa, Genova, Italy. Catalogue.
- "Universal Experience: Art, Life and the Tourist’s Eye", (curated by F. Bonami, J. Rodrigues Widholm, T. Van Eck), Hayward Gallery, London, United-Kingdom. Catalogue.
- "Interstate", (curated by Adam McEwen), Nicole Klagsbrun Gallery, New York, USA.
- "En route, via another route", (curated by Adam Carr), Trans-Siberian train, Moscow>Beijing.
- "Luna Park". Arte Fantastica, (curated by F. Bonami, S. Cosulich Canarutto), Villa Manin Centro d’Arte Contemporanea, Passariano, Italy. Catalogue.
- "Bidibidobidiboo", (curated by F. Bonami), Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo, Torino, Italy.
- "Generations of art", 10 anni alla FAR, (curated by G. Verzotti), Fondazione Antonio Ratti, Como, Italy. Catalogue.
- "Das Verlorene Paradies", (curated by B. Kemfert), Opelvillen, Rüsselsheim, Germany.
- "Monuments for the USA", (curated by R. Rugoff), CCA Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts, San Francisco / White Columns, New York, USA. Catalogue.
- "Fuori Tema", XIV Quadriennale di Roma, (curated by L. Caramel, V. Deho’, G. Di Pietrantonio, M. Tonelli, G. Verzotti), Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Moderna, Roma, Italy. Catalogue.
- "Universal Experience: Art, Life and the Tourist’s Eye", (curated by F. Bonami, J. Rodrigues Widholm, T. Van Eck), Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, USA. Catalogue.
- "Ettore Spalletti, Paola Pivi, Giorgio Colombo, Vistamare", Pescara, Italy.
- Recent aquisitions, Centre Pompidou, Paris, France.
- Bienal of Pontevedra, (curated by D.G. Torres, M. von Hafez Perez), Pontevedra, Spain. Catalogue.
- "Manifesta 5", (curated by M. Gioni, M. Kuzma), San Sebastián, Spain. Catalogue.
- "Brillant(e)", (curated by S. Gamper, A. Schloen), Kunst Merano Arte, Merano, Italy. Catalogue.
- "Art on Campus", (curated by Jo-Ann Conklin), Brown University, Providence, USA.
- "Ori d’artista. Il gioiello nell’arte italiana 1900-2004", (curated by F. Morelli), Museo del Corso, Roma, Italy. Catalogue.
- "I nuovi mostri", (curated by M. Gioni), poster project, Fondazione Nicola Trussardi, Milano / Venezia, Italy. Leaflet.
- "LEI...Women in Italian Collections", (curated by F. Bonami), Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo, Torino, Italy.
- "Artists’ Projects", (curated by P. Staple), Frieze Art Fair, London, United-Kingdom. Catalogue.
- "World Speak Less Dumb", (curated by A Constructed World), Uplands Gallery, Melbourne, Australia. Leaflet.
- "Signatures of The Invisible", (curated by P.Cheetam, C. Cina, T. Guerrero, K. McMullen), in collaboration with CERN (European Laboratory for Particle Physics), Genève, PS1, MoMA, New York, USA.
- "Contemporary St-art", (curated by G. Di Pietrantonio),in collaboration with Renault, Rome, Italy. Leaflet.
- "Interludes", L Biennale di Venezia, (curated by F. Bonami), Venise, Italy. Catalogue.
- "Vetrine alla Calcografia 2003 - La RiproRiduzione dell’arte", (curated by G. Di Pietrantonio), Archivio di Stato, Torino, Italy. Catalogue.
- "Vetrine alla Calcografia 2002" - La RiproRiduzione dell’arte, (curated by G. Di Pietrantonio), Calcografia Nazionale, Rome, Italy. Catalogue.
- "Next Art", (curated by L.Pratesi), Sala Murat - Fortino S. Antonio, Bari, Italy. Catalogue.
- "Signatures of The Invisible", (curated by P.Cheetam, C. Cina, K. McMullen), in collaboration with CERN (European Laboratory for Particle Physics), Genève,
Centre d’Art Contemporain, Genève; Switzerland / Gulbenkian Foundation, Lisbon.
- "Contemporary St-art", (curated by G. Di Pietrantonio), in collaboration with Renault, Milano, Italy.
- "Nuovo Spazio Italiano", (curated by F. Cavallucci, G. Nicoletti, G. Verzotti), Galleria - Civica d’Arte Contemporanea di Trento and MART Museo di Arte Moderna e Contemporanea di Trento e Rovereto, Italy. Catalogue.
- "ExIT, Nuove geografie della creatività italiana", (curated by F. Bonami), Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo, Torino, Italy. Catalogue.
- "Verso il futuro. Identità nell arte italiana1990-2002", (curated by C. D’Orazio, L. Pratesi), Museo del Corso, Roma, Italy. Catalogue.
- "Tutto Normale", (curated by L. Pratesi, J. Sans), Accademia di Francia a Roma, Villa Medici, Roma. Italy Catalogue.
- "Ouverture… arte dall’Italia", (curated by A. Bruciati), Galleria Comunale d’Arte Contemporanea di Monfalcone, Monfalcone, Italy. Catalogue.
- "Magical Machines", (curated by R. Altstaat), Edith Russ-Haus fur Medienkust, Oldenburg, Germany.
- "De Gustibus", (curated by A. Bonito Oliva, S. Risaliti), Palazzo delle Papesse, Siena, Italy. Catalogue.
- "No Return", (curated by A. Haubrok), Museum Abteiberg, Monchengladbach, Germany. Catalogue.
- "Ouverture", (curated by J. Sans, N. Bourriaud), Palais de Tokyo, Paris, France
- "Marking the Territory", (curated by M. Abramovich), Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin. Ireland. Video catalogue.
- "Signatures of The Invisible", (curated by P.Cheetam, C. Cina, K. McMullen), in collaboration with CERN (European Laboratory for Particle Physics), Genève, Switzerland
The Atlantis Gallery, London / Complesso del Vittoriano, Rome, Italy. Catalogue.
- "Chain of Vision: Family, Politics and Religion in the Last Generation of Italian Contemporary Art", (curated by F. Bonami), Hara Museum of Contemporary Art,Tokyo, Japan . Catalogue.
- "Chairs in contemporary art", (curated by A. Kohlmeyer), Castello di Udine, Civici Musei, Udine, Italy. Catalogue.
- "Adriatico" – Due Coste, 52°Premio Michetti, (curated by A. Vettese), Fondazione Michetti, Francavilla al Mare, Italy. Catalogue.
- "Locus / Focus, Sonsbeek 9", (curated by J. Hoet), Arnhem, Nederlan. Catalogue.
- "Uniform. Order and Disorder", (curated by F. Bonami, M.L. Frisa, S. Tronchi), PS1 Contemporary Art Center, New York, USA. Catalogue.
- "Boom", (curated by S. Risaliti), Manifattura Tabacchi / Manifattura d’ Arte, Firenze, Italy.
- "Play", (curated by G. Del Vecchio), Openspace, Milan, Italy. Catalogue.
- "Dinamiche della vita dell’arte", (curated by G. Di Pietrantonio), Galleria d’Arte Moderna e Contemporanea, Bergamo, Italy.
- "Uniforme. Ordine e Disordine", (curated by F. Bonami, M.L. Frisa, S. Tronchi), Stazione Leopolda, Firenze, Italy. Catalogue.
- "Migrazioni e multiculturalità", (curated by L. Cherubini, P. Colombo, A. Mattirolo), Centro per le Arti Contemporanee, Roma, Italy. Catalogue.
- "Window onto Venus", (curated by Zerynthia), VII Bienal da La Habana, Cuba. Catalogue.
- "Talent/um, tolerare", (curated by C. Bertola, with G. Di Pietrantonio, A. Vettese), Premio
Querini-Furla per l’arte, Fondazione Querini Stampalia, Venise, Italy. Catalogue.
- "A casa di…", (curated by G. Di Pietrantonio), Cittadellarte Fondazione Pistoletto, Biella, Italy.
- "Libres ebats", (curated by S. Takahashi), ICI, Parc de la Domaine-Lacroix, Lyon, France.
- "Clockwork 2000", (curated by R. Marcoci), PS1 National and International Studio Program 1999-2000, Clocktower, New York, USA. Catalogue.
- "Identidades Futuras. Reflejos de una colección", (curated by F. Bonami, R. Doctor Roncero), Sala de Exposiciones del Canal de Isabel II, Madrid, Spain. Catalogue.
- "Au-Delà", (curated by J. Hoffmann), Galerie Klosterfelde, Berlin, Germany. Catalogue.
- "Soggettività e narrazione, cinema e cinema d’artista", (curated by F. Bernardelli), Museo del Cinema, Torino, Italy. Leaflet.
- "Young@all.ages", Deweer Art Gallery, Otegem, Belgium. Catalogue.
- "L’autre Sommeil", (curated by A. Scherf), MAMVP Musée d’Art Modern da la Ville de Paris, ARC, Paris, France. Catalogue.
- "Globale Positionen", (curated by J. Hoffmann), Museum in Progress, in “Der Standard”,Wien, Austria
- "P.S.1 Italian Bureau Selection 1998-2000", (curated by C. Bertola, L. Cherubini, C. Christov-Bakargiev, M. Codognato), Cittadellarte Fondazione Pistoletto, Biella, Italy. Catalogue.
- "Serendipiteit", (curated by G. Di Pietrantonio, J. Hoet, G. Mandelinck), Watou, Belgium. Catalogue.
- "dAPERTutto", XLVIII Biennale di Venezia, (curated by H.Szeeman), Venise, Italy. Catalogue.
- "Foreign artists working in Shanghai", ShanghART Gallery, Shanghai, China.
- "Zones - Especès d’Espaces", (curated by F. Bonami), Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo, Guarene d’ Alba - Cuneo, Italy.
- "Destination is wherever it arrives", (curated by J. Hoffmann), Salon3, London, United-Kingdom.
- "Simone Berti - Paola Pivi", (curated by L.Cherubini), Galleria S.A.L.E.S., Roma, Italy.
- "Guarene Arte 98, Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo, Guarene d’ Alba" - Cuneo, Italy. Catalogue.
- "Estetiche Cannibali - Un’altra sceneggiatura", (curated by D.Pitteri, C.Radl), Palazzo della Triennale, Milano, Italy. Catalogue.
- "Opera Nuova, Fuori Uso 98", (curated by L. Cherubini), Mercato Ortofrutticolo, Pescara, Italy. Catalogue.
- "Imitating Christmas", (curated by J. Hoffmann), Wiensowsky & Harbord, Berlin, Germany. Catalogue.
- "Light Slow", Galleria Massimo De Carlo, Milano, Italy.
- "Opera Prima", Galleria Cesare Manzo, Pescara, Italy.
- "Jingle Bells 806", (curated by U. Schwarzer), Galleria Massimo De Carlo, Milano, Italy
- "Provincia - Mercato Globale, Fuori Uso", (curated by L. Cherubini), Ex Colonia Stella Maris, Montesilvano - Pescara, Italy. Catalogue.
- "Amplikon", (curated by A. Galletta), Viafarini, Milano, Italy.
- "Invitation to a pointless investigation", (curated by C. Christov - Bakargiev), workshop with Jimmie Durham, Viafarini, Milano, Italy.
- "A Month on the Lake - Visiting Professor John Armleder", (curated by G. Di Pietrantonio, A. Vettese), Fondazione Ratti, Como, Italy. Catalogue.
- "Transatlantico", (curated by G. Di Pietrantonio, A. Garutti), Viafarini, Milan, Italy.
- Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, France
- Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, USA
- MACRO, Rome, Italie
I’ve spent much of the last year reading 17th century philosopher Thomas Hobbes. By saying that the world is not really there he shows that it is or must be. He reminds us that it would be hard to know that the earth was spinning from perception or gut feeling.
‘Experience conculdeth nothing universally’ he says.
Paola Pivi makes causeless events that extricate our idea of time at a time when so many Italian artists make interventions into space and culture but not so much time.
Like a wig on a porthole, I mean a portal…she makes works like a donkey on a floating dinghy without phototshop, and a bunch of people in safety suits all running round on piles of dirt inside a building. I don’t really understand what any of it’s about. It has a feeling of familiar pleasure and some of it looks like an advertisement for something that hasn’t been advertised yet.
When I received a j.peg of(the Hill ) through the internet there was no explanatory text attached I didn’t know if it was an artwork or not. I wasn’t sure which role to move into. defending myself against the unknown from contemporary art or to be pleased to look at a brandless play activity. I remembered doing this as a kid lots of times, I then remembered my own children running hurtling down hills opening their mouths to let a joyful present-centered noise come out. Ahhherhhhhorhhhhh.
Not long after I found out it was a commissioned centerpiece in the Frieze Art Fair and was well liked or reviewed. I never saw the writing. I didn’t know Paola Pivi was famous.
I haven’t really seen fame do much for artists, save a few, they tend to be more steely, write shorter emails and turn their backs on you at openings. One time in the apartment of an eminent collector, looking a rack of magazines on a wall a recently famous artist said to me ‘is that a work?’, ‘I think it is’, ‘if that’s a work that’s the one I like the best’. He knows he doesn’t-know I guess. There is a pleasure that it is still to arrive in your life. Using tact and courtship with the pleasures and knowledge you apprehend seems to make them feel more worthwhile.
The White Stripes are the perfect band for our schizo times. We want authenticity; they bring it, recording music through valve-drive amps at Toerag studios. But we also like to be lied to: so Jack and Meg play media games with their fake brother sister relationship. We want simplicity, like a duo who always wear red and white. But we need complexity: so we get kaleidoscopic Michel Gondry videos. We love that Jack White is alternative but it’s somehow thrilling when he goes out with a Hollywood A-lister. The truth is we don’t know what we want……(it’s all) bound up in one perfect passage so slick that you can’t tell that it’s slick at all. p88 The Face, January 2004 London
It’s hard to trust artists, they often seem to make an honour out of lying, at least in a visual sense. We often share their experience and identify with it without being sure, we hope we mean the same thing, when we feel, we feel the same thing. An artist like Vanessa Beecroft for years dropped fragments of Marx in nearly every interview before more recently declaring a politics of control more than that seeks to objectify and reify rather than unmask. Its impossible to understand the intention because its reception is necessarily delayed. Her practice has been elude and allude to make meanings. Maurizio Cattelan’s opera has been often been seen as a practice of escapology. He leaves you with an absence to experience. Something is strategically taken away for you to consider.You have to use your own experience to interpret what the artist doesn’t say. But from your experince you can’t conclude much. Maybe this is all getting a bit stupid.
As stupid as this discourse of the unconscious is, it is responding to something that stems from the institution of the discourse of the master himself.What the hysteric wants . . . is a master. . . . She wants a master she can reign over. Jacuqes Lacan, Seminar XVII.
Paola Pivi works like a poised hysteric, not-knowing if she knows, she imagines you or they may not either.
Donald Rumsfeld seems to have some idea when he says:
There are known knowns; there are things that we know we know. We also know that there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns —the ones we don’t know we don’t know. And if one looks throughout the history of our country and other free countries, it is the latter category that tend to be the difficult one.The Economist December 6th 2003 p43
No doubt those that hold power feel uncomfortable about not knowing. For most of life is riddled with cuckoldry and rapturous misapprehension at why things aren’t like we thought and wanted.
In the 2003 in the Tirana Biennale Mario Rizzi made a work where he placed videos of Romany people that he had stayed with for a month in Albania inside an archive of plaster casts of famous communist dignitaries and leaders. The video included nonnas rocking cradles, people at rest , colourful and artful dentistry and discussions which all contained an insinuating grace. All of the famous men were in monochrome plaster and nothing of the Romany’s lifestyle, including the appropriated hip-hop had touched the radar of this official History. Rizzi’s gestures begin to remind us what we really like.
Recently I visited the church of Santa Consolata in Turin its interior is a rapturous baroque masterpiece, gold columns layers on layers of decoration history and meaning. I was taken by a lapsed Catholic who hates the church and all those fucking brothers. Amongst all the splendour we kneeled and prayed to what appeared to be framed 1980s print of an early mediaval icon of the holy Virgin and Child. It was a quiet grasp for some clarity . There was no sign one way or the other save the pause created by this unexpected action.
What was ‘primitivist’ in Gauguin was more a lifestyle project than any construction built up within the work as such : “it would not be farfetched to consider Gauguin’s account of his ‘island paradise’ a somewhat desperate example of life imitating literature, in effect, a mimetic reenactment of the myth of the primitive.’”(Quote footnote 4 W.Rubin 20th Century Art Primitivism p7. From Carlo Severi, Paradoxes of Primitivism, Notes on Aesthetics and Anthropology
. Lacan says that the words do not belong to us, yet most people continue to use ‘I love you’ as the three words to build their most important relationships on. It’s hard to discover which is the wig and which is the portal using your experience. I remember when I was a kid I watched an episode of the Twilight Zone on TV where seemingly benign aliens arrive with a book of knowledge to relieve our suffering and ignorant misconceptions. In the closing moments as the female lead leaves to emigrate to a better planet it is revealed, too late, that it was infact a cookbook.
Is the denouement of M.Jacques Lacan the wig and love the portal, I mean porthole or is it the other way round? Which one delivers and which one is the trick? Perhaps its more likely they inhabit each other and we just keep going. Maybe Paola Pivi knows something about this or it?
Interview with Jeff Rian, 2006
JR: How did you get involved in contemporary art?
PP: By chance. I went to the Art Academy in Milan when I was 24. A lot of young Italian artists went there. I went for fun, to learn to draw. I had no idea about contemporary art. Museums were a place to go on Sundays every once in a while. I didn’t finish art school—I hardly finished any school. I’d been copying comic books drawings when one day I came upon a class where the idea was to set up exhibitions. We worked in a pristine white room where we would install our work for a couple hours as properly as a real art exhibition, and we would discuss the work.
JR: What did you do first?
PP: A shirt, in which I put knives, with the blades sticking out like a porcupine, which I wore. That was ten years ago. That same year I did a little oil stick on canvas on which I wrote the words, in Italian, cock, cunt, tits, ass, and, Camion (1997), which was a big semi truck lying on its side.
JR: How did you go from a shirt with knives to words on a canvas to a truck on its side?
PP: I was stuck in traffic, and the idea came to me.
JR: My feeling is that people can either make contemporary art or they can’t. Did you have the intuition for it?
PP: Contemporary art was a way to go beyond representational content into another way of thinking. It was like something I would do for fun, but began to develop further in 1998, in my first exhibition in Massimo De Carlo’s gallery in Milan. I’d been traveling in China and I got the idea to make a show of Chinese people. On the street, I sometimes saw people dressed the same. Something stayed with me. I felt they had somewhat stronger personalities, stronger preferences and personal choices. Europeans think more in terms of received opinion. I wanted to try and show them as they are. My idea was to dress 100 Chinese in clothes that had no connotation, no message, nothing—blue pants and a gray top. I redid this piece at the Wrong Gallery, during the frieze art fair in 2005, and again the impression was so strong it frightened some visitors. It even took me a while to feel comfortable in their presence. There aren’t really words for such human presence.
JR: The title of your show here at Emmanuel Perrotin’s gallery is “No problem, Have a Nice Day.” Did the title come before or after you thought about showing all these white animals?
PP: The title came on it’s own, from something Karma told me. The white animals are all—not just the birds, dogs, sheep, goats, horse, cat, but the fish, the donkey, and the llama— show business animals. They do movies, ads, shows, spectacles, etc.
JR: Your works are like visual conundrums: photographs of two ostriches in a boat, a donkey in a boat, zebras in the snow, a butterfly on a polar bear; a truck on its side, a plane or a helicopter upside down; people clomping over a mound or dancing in an oval shape; a hundred Chinese people standing in place; even the odd looking objects you make—like the logs with the lights and miniature chairs attached to them, which you’ll show here in the gallery once the animals go home, after the opening. Do ideas just pop into your head?
PP: To me something happens in reality. It has to come from reality.
JR: This experience of reality you seem to be talking about seems to be reflect the mindset of a world in which no media belong solely to artists. Instead, art seems to be a way of noticing things and putting ideas and objects together to pique the imagination and make us think about how we know, or how well we know about, things like donkeys, words, or trucks on their side. Your work is not rigidly analytical, and more about creating a sense of surprise. Is making art like waiting for a vision?
PP: I don’t know exactly. What I like about art, whether mine or someone else’s, is the feeling that something has entered my experience, without exactly know what it is, but somehow feeling enriched by it.
JR: I don’t have to understand the upside down plane and helicopter, or the people and animals to have my curiosity piqued. A hundred Chinese dressed alike might strike our feeling of personal or tribal identity. But like them, these animals literally embodies questions of what shrinks or religious people call the “Other”—a combination of what we don’t know and, in some cases, what we fear.
PP: I think man and art can’t be separated. These are white animals, not black or colored animals. I think it says something about our world, in the same way that the Chinese people say something about our world as much as theirs. We are represented in the animals, too. Even if you know nothing about the history of animal domestication they say something about us.
WE WANT IT ALL
by Massimiliano Gioni
A dream has been haunting Europe, the dream of abundance. Since the Middle Ages, or maybe even earlier, peasants, serfs, poor devils and dreamers, and along with them, writers, poets and storytellers all used to share a legend of plenty, the mirage of a land; known as Cockaigne, that seems to have spread through every country in identical form. The French, English; Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch, Germans, and Italians all have a variation on the same word and share the same imaginary geography. Cockaigne is a place thought by some to lie at the bottom of the sea, by others just to the right of paradise; and by others yet in the Basque Country. Whoever reaches it - by some miracle, or when sent there by the Pope - usually never makes it there twice.
The word of Cockaigne would seem to derive from the Latin root coq-, as in "coquina" (cookery), but might also come from the English "cake" or the German "Kuche". It takes a slightly different form in every nation: in France, Cocagne; in Spain; Cucana; in Malta, Kukkanja; in Italy, Cuccagna; while Germans prefer to call it Schlaraffenland, Pfannkuchenberg, or Bauernhimmel; for the Swedes it is Lattingersland, and for the Irish, Mag Mell; and then there are Bengodi and Luilekkerland... The names may change, but the concept stays the same: for centuries, an entire continent savored the mouth-watering dream of a land where dearth is forever put to rout and pleasure reigns supreme. In Cockaigne, the more you sleep, the more you earn, because every day is a holiday; the months are five weeks long, Easter comes four times a year, as do harvest and Carnival, and Lent only once every twenty years to ward off all risk of going hungry. Houses are built of fish and sausage, and their roofs are shingled with slabs of bacon.
Fields are fenced with hams, and geese leap onto the spit of their own free will, happily rolling over till cooked to a crisp. In some versions of the legend that was told across Europe for over three hundred years, roast fowl fly straight into people's mouths, while pigs stroll down the street with knives stuck in their backs, ready for carving. The buildings are made of cheese, the mountains of Parmesan, and macaroni and ravioli cooked in chicken broth come rolling down their slopes. Through the valleys flow rivers of wine - both red and white - and streams of milk and honey. Scattered all around are laden tables where you can help yourself to endless servings. Goats, sheep, and cattle abound. Grilled chickens; game done to a T, and sausages dangle fro, the trees. There are garments for everyone, hanging in caves or on the branches of oak trees. Of course more carnal desires can always be fulfilled as well, and the land of Cockaigne has never heard of old age or death, because its fountains run with the elixir of eternal youth.
Paola Pivi is the high priestess of Cockaigne; the only one still possess the secret maps that lead to its shortbread-paved streets. All of Paola Pivi's work in fact could be described as a celebration of plenty, a brazen victory of the pleasure principle over the laws of reality. Images of food, edible cornucopias, and other tempting culinary triumphs systematically crop up in her work: piles of biscuits, mountains of cream filled with carousing crocodiles and alligators, thousands of cappuccino cups, or her more recent fountains of wine, coffee, juice, oil, and syrup. Paola Pivi has composed dozens of allegories of opulence and gluttony. To be sure, in contrast to the earthy village legend of medieval tradition, dripping with sauces and broth, the foods that Paola Pivi uses in her installations belong to an industrialized, hyper-artificial world: they are foods that leave a metallic aftertaste, in which it is almost impossible to distinguish between color and flavor, just as there is no point in trying to figure out their ingredients or origins because everything is pre-processed, manipulated, reconstructed. In her installations, as in her choice of certain colors and essences, Paola Pivi adopts the chilly esthetic of product display. Rather than as installations, Paola Pivi's pieces could be better described as simulations, because they have the slick, remote feeling we expect from the world of media or advertising. In Paola Pivi's world, however, it is essential that even the most extreme images and the most impossible acts take place in real life, without any trick or photoshopping. What you see is what you get - even if it looks quite incredible. In a certain sense, Paola Pivi works to invert the suspension of disbelief: she tries to carry out projects that are so real they cannot be credited as true. Or, to put it another way, Paola Pivi takes truth to such a degree of concentrated excess that she turns it into impossibility.
It is in Pivi's series of works with animals that this strategy perhaps emerges with most clarity and power. her photographs of zebras transported into mountain landscapes, her images of ostriches and donkeys adrift in the middle of the sea, or her more recent yellow-plumed bears are basically very simple variations on the technique of the ready-made, though objects have been replaced by flesh-and-blood creatures/ Thus the disorienting changes of context do no led to an exercise in intellectual and philosophical speculation, but rather to a seeming manipulation of reality's very DNA: the confusion is not between art and non-art, but between the real and the possible, between truth and hallucination. Paola Pivi is at work on a form of transgenic Dadaism. Anything can happen in Paola Pivi's universe: even the most cumbersome objects can be turned topsy-turvy - lorries tripped on their sides, airplanes and helicopters belly-up. Hundreds, at times thousands of objects and people can be lined up, put in a row, herded together. The idea of accumulation and concentration is fundamental to Paola Pivi's visual grammar: a hundred Chinese people aligned in a room, thousand of electric lights in Per Luce, or hundreds and thousands of liters of liquid used for the fountains of It's a cocktail party. Paola Pivi's installations act as a genuine accumulators, where forces and forms are literally stocked in a battery, packed together, lined up, ready to give off fresh energy and even to explode. Paola Pivi works on a Cyclopean minimalism, where repetitions and sequences are taken to such a frenzied degree of excess that they crumble into their own opposite, into a veneration of the unique and exceptional. Like the faces of the hundred Chinese; which stand out in all their singularity precisely because they are placed in a row, one after another. Or the lined-up ribbons in her satin sculptures; or again, the fountains in which her reference to the industrial esthetic of minimalism seems to become more obvious, but is then criticized from within, by an explosion of noise and color that has none of the Apollonian calm of 1960s art/ Actually, by evoking the image of fountains bubbling over with wine, the pumps in It's a cocktail party reject the esthetic of silence: they are sculptures that raise a racket - or rather, a drunken toast. It's Bacchanal sculpture.
And so, more that in minimalism, Paola Pivi's references should be sought in the history of Italian art, in the Futurist tradition or - more recently - in the legacy of Alighiero e Boetti. Boetti's work is a catalogue of possibilities, repetitions; and exceptions - an effort to seize and describe Everything (to borrow the title Tutto from one of his best known pieces). Like Boetti, Paola Pivi is interested in repetition and rhythm, so long as it does not wind up stifling the unique, the unrepeatable, the exceptional and the exception. Like Boetti, Paola Pivi is committed to celebrating variety, the polyphonic richness of the world; there is even a similarity in palette between Boetti's reds and certain aggressively vivid colors in Paola Pivi's work. Like Alighiero, she seems attracted to remote worlds and parallel universes. For Boetti, it is a dream of Afghanistan and the East, for Paola Pivi, a world of objects, products, commodities - a Toyland gone mad.
Guitar guitar, which may be Paola Pivi's most Boetti-like piece; is another celebration of plenty, with thousands and thousands of objects presented in identical pairs; two by two, like a Noah's Ark of advanced capitalism: cars, tractors, lamps, clothing, tables, umbrellas, balls, tents, suitcases, lighters, and endless litany of products, from the smallest to the largest, ad infinitum. Just like the Biblical myth, Guitar guitar lends itself to a double interpretation: it can be seen as a story of salvation, but it is first and foremost a story of punishment, of divine vengeance - the story of an apocalypse. Likewise, the product piled up in Guitar guitar, seductive though they may be, have something oppressive about them, like the smell of freshly unwrapped toys: such an odour of newness becomes unpleasant and almost hard to breathe.
This precarious balance between euphoria and depression, between the new and the deadly is another recurring element in Paola Pivi's work. Her art literally takes your breath away, because it is often overexcited, as if interwoven with laughter that becomes suffocation. And her work very often contains such a surfeit of objects and presences that viewers can almost have a hard time finding a place in it for themselves. Standing in front of the fountains in It's a cocktail party, for example, it is not just the noise and splashes of liquid that excite and yet intimidate the viewer; the is also a strange fragrance, a smell that instantly becomes addictive – a perfect blend of the bouquet of red wine and the artificial mellowness of glycerine. it is the fragrance one imagines wafting through the streets of Toontown.
Paola Pivi's work moves to the fevered beat of a Carnival party. And in fact she has often thought of her work as a kind of festivity. Many are the celebrations she has organized; others she has been working to bring about for years. In 25 Cubans dancing in an oval shape, a group of dancers meets up and plunges into a sudden dance that lasts just a few minutes. In interesting, dozens of white animals scampering around the show give the entire event the atmosphere of a town fair, a mood of joyful conviviality. And some of her nearly impossible projects include inviting a thousand of people to come together and makes as much noise as possible, or a sort of love carousel, where a group of men are woven together in a perfect circle to give each other pleasure.
All these rituals - which are also forms of accumulation, because they are always celebrated in a group - are marked by a mirth so unabashed that it seems almost suspect: it is the frenzied happiness of a potlatch, an euphoria of wastefulness - the dance of an empire in decline, as excited as it is decadent. And perhaps this is where the paradox, and thus the appeal, of Paola Pivi's work is to be found: it is the dream, of Cockaigne, but dreamt in a society that is already overfed, which has been living in the land of plenty forever. The dream of abundance acted out in her art is thus even more excessive, because it is free of any true necessity. In the end, her fountains are modern-day bachelor machines, running in circles: they act out desire, without ever needing to fulfil it.
SAY IT LIKE YOU MEAN IT
by Jens Hoffmann
Paola Pivi’s works are characterized by unapologetic simplicity. The components are often common objects, which initially take no more time to process than their ordinary, u11276biquitous counterparts: a truck, a plane, a donkey. Titles often call subjects exactly what they are: Pizza (1998), 100 Chinese (1998), A helicopter upside down in a public square (2006). But just as soon as the parts are grasped, any emergent concept of the whole gives way. With an agile shift in context, scale, or positioning, ordinary things become newly strange. Viewers are challenged to unsnarl semiotic tangles while undergoing a largely wordless experience, without any assurance that a solution exists.
Pivi is careful not to state the meaning of her pieces. The task of constructing symbolic importance is one that viewers self-assign, and to do so many recount anecdotes and draw on personal associations, indicating the specificity implicit in Pivi’s arrangements. These experiences cannot be adequately theorized in broad strokes. When external frameworks are applied, the most apt seem to be immediate, visceral, and sometimes somewhat mystical: a religious text, the chemistry of the brain, the prophetic words of a philosopher on the brink of insanity.
Sublime works have always involved a leap of faith. Because they require participants to enter environments that underscore their physical and cognitive limits, they have always been uncomfortable. Feelings of wonder or precariousness could be considered ends in themselves, but they also have a purpose in encouraging meditation, first on how the emotion rests internally, and then on its implications for the self in relation to the world. While Pivi’s works deal with common tropes: purity, disaster, things natural and manmade, they are less about what they communicate than about the introspection they incite. They withhold the kind of information that would enable visitors to apply familiar definitions, and as a result seem surreal, out of the realm of ordinary experience. But in fact, we encounter incomplete, suspended situations every day. The attention we pay to them and the meaning we make of them can tell us about our individual capacities as well as our collective imagination.
The photographs representing Camion (1997) suggest tragedy: a red eighteen-wheeler is overturned on an arid roadside. The lack of context invites speculation: Was it an exhausted driver, or a dog in the road - a hurried swerve? Careful study of the image yields no confirmation. There are no skid marks, signs of smoke, or spilled cargo. In fact, upon close examination it seems improbable that any accident occurred at all. The truck is neatly lined up with the edge of the roadway and positioned at the end of a gated enclosure. Any concern for the driver or his passengers turns out to be misplaced. As a student, Pivi arranged for the truck to be flipped on its side at the entrance to the group show Provincia - Mercato Globale Fuori Uso, in 1997 in Montesilvano, Pescara, Italy, where the truck rested as a sculpture for the entire duration of the show. She documented the intervention with photographs, now the primary way of experiencing it. Beyond providing an early example of the ambitious engineering and collaborative effort required to realize many of her works, Camion indicates Pivi’s interest in artifice, scale, and open-ended narrative. It also signals a level of curiosity and imagination that her works require of viewers; the stories visitors bring to an image are inevitably more vivid than what actually occurred, their associations bigger than the gesture’s initial scope.
This anticipation that viewers will supply a narrative around a series of inconclusive details is similarly present in a private performance that took place ten years later at Kunsthalle Basel. For One cup of cappuccino, then I go (2007), a leopard was released into a gallery space which was neatly prepared with row upon row of perfect, plastic, faux-cappuccinos, each one crested with stiff, fake foam. As the big cat stepped from floor to plinth to shelf overturning the cups, their rigid contents rolled with them. While visitors to the kunsthalle were not invited to view the spectacle, they could access the aftermath, which was left intact in its disorder. Some cups were spared; others tumbled across the dirt and wood floor. Viewers could meander through the space, imagining what had occurred there. Only when they reached the end of the room could they see the photographs: small images depicting the sinewy feline prowling through the room and yawning amid the debris. While meanings can be applied to the situation itself - the animal’s instinct-based movement versus the choreographed nature of human sociality, the apathy of nature to human artifice - these seem less pertinent than the lucid quality of the cat’s absence, and the pleasure of imagining its deliberate steps and the inadvertent destruction they caused.
100 Chinese, performed first in 1998 and again in 2005, also delves into the nebulous territory of visitors’ imaginative capacities, though in this work, the situation bristles with a political charge. As the title suggests, Pivi hired 50–100 Chinese people to stand in a gallery alcove, dressed in identical gray pullovers, dark blue pants, and black shoes. With only slight variations in stance and expression, they stood and returned the gaze of the audience. The work encourages close looking, though in this case the action takes on an uncomfortable - even nefarious - quality. The invitation to look suggests that there is something objective to observe - and this suggestion brings justified discomfort, rooted as it is in ideas of essential difference that have proven destructive of equitable society. Viewers are implicated in a series of assumptions about race and nationality simply by doing what they’re expected to do: look. But rather than observe the subjects, the work asks viewers to consider what the activity of viewing others means. Here again, what viewers supply is the real heart of the content; their reactions and associations are likely more loaded than the situation itself.
Relative to this work’s confrontational tone, at first glance One Love (2007) seems innocuous and playful. The photograph depicts a diverse group of animals: geese, sheep, a snake, two dogs, a camel, a llama, a bunny, a polar bear, a hen, and a butterfly, coexisting peacefully in a groomed, grassy field. These animals have nothing in common barring one quality: they’re all white. After observing their different shapes and scales with fascination, wondering how they all came to be in that field together, the obvious question presents itself: why white? And then, what does whiteness mean in this context? It could speak to ideas of purity or race, or it could simply be a formal tool, arbitrary and insignificant. One begins to wonder if these concerns are implicit in the action of grouping similarly hued beings together, or whether this socially conditioned response resides primarily in the mind of the onlooker. The piece immediately becomes less about nature artificially arranged than it is about the cultural and political constructions inevitably applied to it. In another work, Interesting (2006), within the exhibition No problem, have a nice day (2007) some of those white animals make a physical appearance in the gallery space, surrounded by more traditional, two-dimensional artworks. The title of the show is a platitude, a response to an implied “thank you,” the kind of nicety that lubricates interactions and prevents conflict.
The childlike awe inspired by Pivi’s pieces is not always embroiled in such contention; sometimes it’s just about wonder, as in Pizza (1998), a 91-inch-round pie topped with melted mozzarella and splayed on the gallery floor, or a 2007-2008 series of live-sized polar bears coated in yellow feathers. Entitled What is my name?, Life is great, and Have you seen me before?, the bears are frozen in place as if taxidermically preserved. The first stands on its hind legs smiling benignly, the second bares its teeth and reaches forward with a giant clawed paw, and the third lies with its face on the floor and rear end raised, looking dejected. If there were just one, it might call to mind a mutation, a familiar animal oddly altered. But the repetition makes these feathered predators into a species all their own, their adaptation seemingly validated by evolution. The plumage is novel and vestigial at once; incapable of lifting a bear’s solid bones and cumbersome tissue off the ground, they serve no greater purpose than a human appendix or wisdom tooth. But as in nature, unreason will not bar this population from proliferating. Soon, the variations will grow in number, producing bears bearing red, blue, light green, purple, orange, and pink plumes.
In these works, Pivi takes things whose gestalt is embedded in the public consciousness, and pushes them to an extreme through a brilliantly frank intervention. These sculptural pieces are about making nonsense out of sense and enjoying it: repeating a word over and over until it sounds strange and loses its meaning. In 2001, Pivi embarked upon an as-yet-unfinished project that will bring these investigations of size and strangeness to geologic proportions. Alicudi Project (2001) is named after the volcanic island it depicts. A natural preserve just over one miles wide, the island is roughly the shape of a circle, with a rounded peak that emerges (once violently, now peacefully) from the Mediterranean. Giant photographic reams bear green-gray and lavender pixels, which, at the moment, add up only to an abstraction. Indecipherable when viewed at close range in a gallery space, Pivi aims ultimately to display the image of the island in its entirety, at actual size, the gargantuan rolls combining to form one body of land stretched over another, flatter one. Still, the image will coalesce only when viewed from high above. By showing the island at “actual size,” the piece makes use of an advertorial strategy more commonly applied to potato chips and toys, subverting its purpose by obfuscating the thing itself, making it more difficult to see and thus more prone to projection and speculation. Pivi’s treatment flattens the mountain’s curves, putting blocks of color in place of infinitely crisp detail. Visitors supply the rest by imagining themselves high in the air, years in the future, above the completed island faithfully recreated.
These sculptural experiments in scale speak to a kind of playfulness that frequently spills into the space it occupies, refusing to remain contained in the object. For Untitled (slope) (2003), the artist erected a steel armature and furnished it with soft sod; viewers were invited to climb to the top of the hill and roll down it. At first, the piece is reminiscent of other interventions which put the gallery floor to unconventional use: in Vito Acconci’s Seedbed (1972), for instance, the artist constructed such a slope, hid underneath it, and masturbated beneath visitors’ feet, audibly narrating his fantasies about the people walking above. By contrast, in Untitled (slope), the impulses are not sexual in nature but radically innocent. The pleasure is not the artist’s but the viewers’, and the agency rests with them.
Before entering It’s a cocktail party (2008), visitors were prompted to don transparent plastic ponchos. Inside Portikus Gallery in Frankfurt, a series of sixteen-foot-tall pipes were rigged over polished steel basins, putting nine colorful fluids in continual circulation. Selected not only for their color but also for their utility, the liquids - wine, facial toner, black inks, glycerine, almond milk, olive oil, espresso, water, and woodruff syrup - gushed from above to crash at torso level. The five-inch-round torrents of crimson, red, black, pink, white, yellow, brown, and green were intensely visceral; visitors’ bodies were splashed with rogue droplets, retinas flooded with color, noses suffused with incongruous scents, and eardrums blitzed with the rumble of continued collision. The unusual level of immersion this environment demands aligns it in a very direct manner with performance. But participation is a thread that runs through Pivi’s work, from the pieces that tend toward the ocular to those more sculptural and environmental in nature. Consistently, visitors are trusted to construct the realities that make Pivi’s scenarios remarkable.
This generous offer of engagement does not mean that viewers are always willing participants, or even amused onlookers. A helicopter upside down in a public square (2006) was divisive in way that recalls Richard Serra’s Tilted Arc (1981), the notorious public work famously removed from Federal Plaza in New York after eight years of public outcry. By contrast, Pivi’s installation was always intended to be temporary. Nonetheless, placed in a plaza adjacent to Mozartplatz in Salzburg, the helicopter turned atop its rotor blades provoked distress among many of the city’s residents and visitors, who perceived it as a non-functional and unwelcome interruption, littering a space that should convey beauty and reason (close, as it was, to Mozart). Indeed, the work revels in illogic: the machinery necessary to lift the vessel off the ground becomes the pedestal that keeps it fixed in place. The thing is quite literally turned on its head, its body at eye level. While it remains weighty, it also becomes oddly buoyant - its surfaces are newly dynamic, alive in a way they would not have been had the aircraft been allowed to comport itself normally. Untitled (Airplane) (1999), an upside-down Italian jet fighter displayed at the Venice Biennial that year, also appeared inexplicably sentient, prompting Modern Painters to anthropomorphize it in writing: “as though it were a person who has lain down on the grass to look up to the sky.” For How I roll (2012), a small plane called the Piper Seneca was physically reanimated, set in motion at the southwest corner of New York City’s Central Park as it spun on a bent axis that stretched through the wings. These works recall earlier investigations - overturned trucks and cappuccino cups¬ - inasmuch as they suggest but withhold a crash. But rather than portray the violence of a collision, they mesmerize in their own right, like mobiles that one might climb inside.
The fantasy of entering a space like these is borne out in Untitled (2012), a collaboration between Pivi and cartoonist Dylan Horrocks. Printed on a billboard in Shanghai, the lengthy line drawing is an invented, stylized cross-section of an upside-down plane. Its passengers, who have abandoned the seats above them to stand on the ceiling, go about their business: voting, hiding, building, burning, eating, sewing, scavenging, painting, puking, praying, singing, and kneading. They are making and destroying, taking part and sitting out, being arrested and processed. The cockpit’s only occupant is a fish in a bowl (a reference to I wish I am fish (2009), in which eighty-four goldfish took flight for three hours over New Zealand in a Boeing Whisper Jet, each in its own bowl and seat). The pilot of this stretched-out, inverted aircraft has abandoned his post and sits distractedly on a suitcase, tossing paper airplanes towards the tail. The drawing suggests that while Pivi’s works place an unusual amount of trust and expectation in viewers, they are not just about singular, internal, deeply personal realities, but also about an implied collective. The fantasy of existing in one of these improbable spaces, on a roadside with an overturned truck, in a white cube with a feather-covered behemoth, or high above a simulacrum of a volcanic island, inevitably involves others, human and non-human. Sublime experiences are designed to be ecstatic, to bring people first into, and then out of, themselves. Pivi’s invitation to experience these unreal things in physical space presents an opportunity to lean on perception and imagination more than logic, to create nonsense out of sense in an increasingly data- and capital-driven environment. We’re given an unusual chance to imagine what kinds of societies we might produce, unbound from reason. While as the drawing suggests, the result of these experiments in thought and feeling is unlikely to be utopic, it would certainly be strange, and likely wonderful.