Past: April 20 → June 15, 2013
Mostly known for interventions designed to highlight the contradictions that inform contemporary society, Gianni Motti’s practice has questioned authority at every turn over the years by fully exploiting humour’s potentials as a truth-revealing weapon. This is the spirit that prompted him to replace the Indonesian delegate at the 53rd session of ONU’s Commission of Human Right in 1997, to sit in the VIP tribune of Paris’ Roland Garros with a bag over his head in 2004 at the time of the Abu Ghraib prison scandal, or to walk the 27 km that compose the LHC underground tunnel of CERN in 2005 in an attempt to challenge the speed of the beams running through the accelerator. His intelligent irony, coupled with a remarkably fresh perspective of the outsider variety, has also been extended to the dynamics that characterize the art system, as the legion of ‘Gianni Motti Assistants’ he spread around the world or his first retrospective at the Migros Museum in Zurich, consisting of a long labyrinth leading from the main entrance to the back door, testify.
Motti has also been openly critical on global economy way before the monetary recession would make it a topical issue. On the occasion of Art Basel in 2005, he responded to the commercial vibe dominating the fair by caging a broker on the floor of the Unlimited section, staging an action that reprises the tradition of the living sculpture initiated by Piero Manzoni while painting a surreal yet dramatic picture of the limitations that regulate the business world at the same time. Ostensibly more comfortable in site-specific operational settings, Motti has investigated the matter further in Geneva in 2009, where he planted a series of white flags on the bridge in front of the city’s banking district, in what can be considered a gesture in between a declaration of total surrender or an invitation to start from a clean slate. Or, most recently, where he dressed a vegetable garden scarecrow like a banker, transforming the menacing financial figure into a still, fragile puppet willing to frighten but dependent on his victim’s fortunes.
This latter point is perhaps the subtext that lays at the core of Motti’s work. If examined at closed range, what surprisingly emerges from his corrosive outlook and scepticism is in fact a fundamental faith in the individual qualities of the human being — a combination of disruptive and constructive elements directed towards a celebration of independent thinking.