Showing for the first time in Italy, this major exhibition challenges the traditional visual languages of art and expresses tensions and expectations, breaking down the myths and utopias of modern man. At MAXXI, Huang Yong Ping is showing installations of monumental size, several sculptures and a wealth of documentation to complement the works on display. The title Bâton Serpent refers to a passage in the Old Testament book of Exodus, with the miracle in which a rod is turned into a serpent, constituting the first, powerful statement of an exhibition of great eschatological impact. The entire show is designed as an exodus – a migration of power and knowledge, and a process of liberation and emancipation from contemporary ideas towards a unique space in which alternatives to our conventional social and cultural values can be put forward.
The exhibition starts in the square with Costruction Site (2007), a work caught in a state of suspension in the form of a large minaret, the tower generally found by mosques, from which the muezzin (mu’adhdhin) calls to prayer the faithful of Allah five times a day. The show continues in Gallery 1 with Ehi Ehi Sina Sina (2006), the great monument of Taoist prayer, which combines intimate spiritual recollection with the violence of the religious wars that ravage the world. Gallery 3 opens with a reflection on the forces that guide humanity:
Chefs (2012) is an installation that consists of the heads of pack-leading animals, focusing on the issue of who and what control really is. The exhibition continues with Bugarach (2012), a work that reflects on cultural and political power systems. This is in the form of a miniature mountain – that of Bugarach in France, a key venue for esoteric tourism. In 2012 it was considered to be the only place where it would be possible to escape the apocalypse foreseen by the Mayan people. We then find Bâton de Serpent (2014) – which gives the exhibition its title – traversing the gallery with the huge skeleton of an aluminium serpent. The work shown here, a 30-metre-long version, is close to Chinese, pagan and Christian mythology. This is followed by Lamb – Plant (2012), the plant-animal chosen by the artist to address the issue of biopolitics, in order to explore the practices adopted by the powers that be to discipline the body and regulate populations. An area of encounter between power and the sphere of life also appears in La Carte du Monde (2000 – 2001), the work that ends the exhibition and that acts as a guide for a journey into the future of humanity.
This display is accompanied by a vast selection of documentary materials, including pocketbooks, notes and objects that reveal the process of investigation behind each work on display and that illustrate what, in Huang Yong Ping’s view, constitute the founding principles of art.
Till 24 May 2015
Hours: 11:00-7:00 Tue-Sun, 11:00-10:00 Saturday, closed Mondays
Museo Nazionale Delle Arti Del XXI Secolo
Via Guido Reni, 4A