The Utopian Display: Props & Tools
FM Centro per l'Arte Contemporanea - Sala Carroponte - via Piranesi 10 Milano

Can Altay, Celine Condorelli, Josef Dabernig, Liu Ding, Petra Feriancova, Luca Frei, Falke Pisano, Marko Tadić

Curated by Marco Scotini

On Wednesday 29th November, Visual Arts Department of NABA and the FM Centre for Contemporary Art are staging an international seminar dedicated to those artistic practices that have rendered the display the main object of their reflection and production in the Carroponte hall at the FM Centre. After fifteen years since its first appearance as a NABA platform for curatorial debate, the annual cycle of meetings entitled The Utopian Display sets out once again with a totally renewed format. 

While it is true that the 1998 release of the milestone book The Power of Display by Mary Anne Staniszewski marked a radical turning point in the field of Museum Studies, showcasing ‘the forms of presentation’, in terms of the removal or amnesia of the display,  it is also true that her contribution (along with those of Altshuler’s) disciplined in theoretical terms what had previously been addressed by artists such as Group Material, Antoni Muntadas, the Artist Placement Group, Brian O’Doherty, Daniel Buren and Marcel Broodthaers among others, thus making it a tool of investigation once more. In fact, over the last fifteen years, a whole new artistic generation on an international scale has emerged which has begun to question, problematise and innovate the tactics and conditions of the exhibition, to the point of turning the display itself into the object of their production.

Utopian Display: Props & Tools sets out to bring together some of the main exponents of this trend, trying to make them dialogue with one another and articulate the discourse around concrete experiences and speculative nodes, such as the current relationship between the display systems and forms of control or empowerment; the relationship between production and presentation structures, and the burden of institutional critique on the current generation, etc. The seminar also aims to provide the opportunity to analyse the single approaches to the theme and the individual (or shared) experiences of putting on view not only one’s own but also other people’s artefacts. Can the display become a tool of learning? What kind of utopias has it reflected over history? What sort of relationship does it have with curating? With forms of hierarchisation? With forms of discrimination? What regimes of visibility and invisibility does it foster? What might a counter-display ever possibly be?


Coming from various different experiences and geographical areas (from China to Turkey, from the ex-Eastern Bloc to Brazil) the artists in ‘Utopian Display’ will meet face to face on the more general terrain of the exhibition policies of the Biennials, of museum neighbourhoods and the exporting of museum brands as consequences of globalisation. There are many contributions from these artists to the reflections made on display techniques, and that which for years has remained invisible and unobserved now becomes the device at the very heart of their practices.

From the ‘Support Structure’ cycle by Céline Condorelli to the ‘Individual Systems’ section by Josef Dabernig and Igor Zabel at the 50th Venice Biennale, from the reading spaces of Luca Frei to the models for socioeconomic-political spaces of Can Altay, to name but a few. Rather than with the figures of the curators, after a break of eight years, the revival of ‘Utopian Display’ means to start out from the broadest and most widespread components of contemporary exhibition making: the display, audiences and means of communication.




10.00 am - Introduction by Marco Scotini 


Moderator Elvira Vannini


10.30 - Céline Condorelli - Making things public

11.00 - Luca Frei - We do not work alone

11.30 - Josef Dabernig - Exhibition display as a sculptural tool

12.00 - Petra Feriancova - I cannot help myself to manipulate my own work but I can do it for the others


12.30 - 13.15 Discussion and Q&A


13.15 - 14.45 Lunch Break 


Moderator Andris Brinkmanis  


15.00 - Falke Pisano - Re-presentation and cultural reproduction

15.30 - Can Altay - Setting a setting

16.00 - Marko Tadić - A step back, closer to understanding

16.30 - Liu Ding - Exhibition as exhibition: a few thoughts on the Intertextuality between Artworks and Archival Materials in Exhibitions


17.00-18.00 - Discussion and Q&A


The Utopian Display Platform, ideated by Marco Scotini (Director of the Department of Visual Arts of the NABA) and Maurizio Bortolotti, first appeared in 2003. From 2003 to 2007, it hosted Catherine David, Carlos Basualdo, Roger M. Buergel, WHW, Vasif Kortun, Charles Esche, Hou Hanru, Maria Lind, Raimundas Malašauskas and Jens Hoffmann among others. 

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