Martin Disler / TOMAK / 2 performances by Nina Staehli and Pier Giorgio De Pinto

Lieux communs

Martin Disler / TOMAK

19 September – 19 December 2021

Idée reçue

Performance by Nina Staehli with Yoshi, Moshi & James

Saturday 16 October 2021 at 7.30 p.m.

The Wish Key

Interactive performance with Pier Giorgio De Pinto

Saturday 6 November and Sunday 7 November 2021 from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Intent on filing a whole series of publications dating back to the years 1960-1970, I find myself browsing through them and notice, always with renewed and pleasant interest, that the time of visionaries anticipating positive change remains one of the drivers of art and of artistic research, be that a social or an existential phenomenon, or also a utopia.

Until the decades that followed post-war reconstruction, the twentieth century offered us an important, sometimes difficult and neurotic, cross-section through history that aimed at renewal and research and was induced by the particular, delicate context of transition from one century to another: it could be described as a societal dimension that focused on catharsis, in which a greater involvement of artistic output in political awareness and commitment was a notable feature of the realms of knowledge, enabling it to permeate the entire century with this socio-revolutionary climate, right up to the dawn of the new millennium.

The last century seems to have come to a halt on the moment when it reached completion with the advent of the new millennium, giving rise to artistic output that, more often than not, is lacking in vigour and Utopian verve, as though the sole – and weak – mode of thinking had given way inexorably to the concept of slogans and stereotypes to the detriment of research, feeding fashions and markets and swallowing up complacent artists and authors. And so the concept of avant-garde and of the cultural manifesto has made way for globalisation, which has left us all poorer inside, but with the illusion that each of us can choose individually what others actually want, with the result that we end up as orphans of any idea of freedom and self-determination, as well as oblivious to and uninterested in our history and the process whereby it was constructed. Plastification has gradually eroded the – always valid – concept that history is we ourselves and that what we have is what we have wanted to be.

This brief and by no means exhaustive socio-economic impression leads to the conclusion that never before has it been so interesting and necessary to employ interactive – if not actually comparative – approaches to eras and artists.

LIEUX COMMUNS sets out to present two artists under one and the same roof: artists who are apparently distinct, yet who are conjoined by their passion, their vigour and their rebellion against déjà-vu and orthodoxy. They share no aesthetic approaches, other than a profound, free reflection about

existence – in general – as a universal value, through the stylistic traits associated more immediately with Eros and Thanatos, or the practically complete absence of iconic and sacrificial religiousness  between the two extreme poles of Life and Death, reflected by the kaleidoscopic mirror of Passion and of Life itself.

Yes, they do have something in common, although in a different sense: their faith in painting and in the painterly gesture, conceived as a magical extension of the body itself towards the work that the artists are intent on achieving.

In 1991, Martin Disler (1949-1996) created an exhibition, accompanied by a catalogue, for the Albertina Museum in Vienna, with several series of large-format copper engravings made specifically for this museum context.

The MACT/CACT is showing two of these from its own collections: MUSEUM OF DESIRE and NIGHTS OF VIENNA, in which the artist expressed and drew his sensitive experiential perception, balanced permanently on a knife-edge between realisation, pain and resignation, of his surroundings. The choice of a cultural venue like the Albertina – and above all of the Austrian capital itself – was anything but commonplace for Disler, as Vienna had been the scene and the scenario of some visionary, dramatic and suffered moments in history, poised towards a spasmodic quest for new identities after the fall of the great monarchies and of the empire.

It is in this context that we also find the work of TOMAK (1970): an artistic output that acquires a strong connotation of European identity from the strength of his sign, etched on the present by historical experience and memory. The relationship between his work and that of Martin Disler is conveyed in utter equilibrium between inspiration and dialogue, in a conversation between Apollonian and Dionysiac, as though the generation gap could somehow sublimate fatality, and destiny ultimately succeed in detaching itself from collective reality, so as to redefine an individual metahistorical individuality of its own, at the precise moment when the two artists meet in the focus of the representation, even before that of the image.

Experiencing the present and/or reinterpreting past experience in the course of a process of comparison are two different perceptive approaches to the idea we have of truth, reached by achieving awareness of individual experience.

Mario Casanova, 2021
Translation by Pete Kercher




Museo e Centro d’Arte Contemporanea Ticino

Via Tamaro 3, Bellinzona.

Opening hours

Friday, Saturday, Sunday

2 p.m. – 6 p.m.

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