Stefano Arienti

Exhibition: Jul 12 – Sep 9, 2007

In Library, Arienti has transformed the gallery into an interactive architectural landscape. The site, flanked by rows of stacked feed bags, is composed of 400 bushels of wheat seed and ninety-nine manipulated books buried within. Arienti encourages participants to sift through the grain, as if browsing the stacks of a local library. The constant unearthing and replanting of the books merges the natural environment and the intellectual sphere.

The mounds of grain spread over the gallery floor combine tactile experience with scholarship. Arienti considers the conflicting metaphorical history of wheat seed–a symbol of fertility that has been used as a sign of life and death, the civilized and the rural–to reveal the complexity of even the most basic elements.

The books, gathered from San Antonio’s bookstores and library sales, address a multitude of subjects, ranging from science to art to philosophy. Arienti has selectively drilled holes into the books, outlining titles, tracing around illustrations, and piercing through the heavy tomes. The perforated volumes merge with the wheat, expressing a connection between organic sustenance and quantified knowledge.

The feed sacks, marked with the company’s bold logo, further broadcast the exhibition’s investigation of information via signs and symbols. Arienti makes us hyperaware of our associative nature, requiring that we reassess commonly held perceptions and consider alternate conclusions.

-Emily Morrison


Stefano Arienti

Milan, Italy

Italian artist Stefano Arienti subtly manipulates found printed matter and iconic images to resituate conventional readings of mass-produced information. By drilling, folding, and collaging the materials, the artist makes evident the power of modification–encouraging the viewer to reevaluate commonplace perceptions of familiar objects and messages.
For instance, in a recent work Libri Tranciati (2006), Arienti sliced away all but the spines of over 100 books, stacking the rectangular shapes to construct a sculpture of colorful bindings and abbreviated titles. The work prompted viewers to distinguish between books as books and the sculptural value of their covers within the assemblage.
Stefano Arienti was born in Asola, Italy, in 1961 and currently resides in Milan, Italy. Recent solo projects have been presented at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Boston, MA (2007); Studio Guenzani, Milan, Italy (2006); Lehmann Maupin Gallery, New York, NY (2006); Rhona Hoffman Gallery, Chicago, IL (2006); MAXXI Museum, Rome, Italy (2004-2005); Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo, Turin, Italy (2004-2005); and greengrassi, London, UK (2004). His work has been included in Airò, Arienti, Marisaldi, Galleria Massimo Minini, Brescia, Italy (2006); and Idea, Istituto Nazionale per la Grafica, Palazzo Fontana di Trevi, Rome, Italy (2006).

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James Rondeau

Chicago, Illinois, USA

James Rondeau heads the Department of Contemporary Art at The Art Institute of Chicago. Since joining The Art Institute in 1998 he has organized solo exhibitions with Stan Douglas, Marlene Dumas, Olafur Eliasson, Thomas Hirschhorn, Mark Manders, and Shirin Neshat, among others. Previously Rondeau was a Curator at the Wadsworth Atheneum, Hartford, Connecticut, where he organized numerous exhibitions, including The LeWitt Collection, Byron Kim, and Pipilotti Rist. Rondeau was a commissioner and co-curator of Robert Gober’s presentation for the United States Pavilion of the 49th Venice Biennial, Italy in 2001, and has served as both a curator and panelist for Art Basel.
Photo courtesy of the Art Institute of Chicago

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