Marco Scotini appointed curator of the first Anren Biennale
- Ning Liang Old Factory, Anren, Cina

Marco Scotini, Artistic Director of FM Centro per l’Arte Contemporanea in Milan, has been appointed as one of the curators of the Today’s Yesterday, the first edition of the Anren Biennale.  Directed by Lü Peng, the Biennale will take place from October 2017 to February 2018 in ancient city of Anren, China.

Marco Scotini, Artistic Director of FM Centro per l’Arte Contemporanea in Milan, has been appointed as one of the curators of the Today’s Yesterday, the first edition of the Anren Biennale.  Directed by Lü Peng, the Biennale will take place from October 2017 to February 2018 in ancient city of Anren, China.

 

The Section, The Szechwan Tale. Theatre and History, curated by Marco Scotini for the Anren Biennale, focuses on the relationship between the theater (as the space of masks) and history (in the making). There are two motives underlying the origins of the thematic choice of this section. The first is the very location of the Biennale, in Sichuan, as the fictional background to one of the most popular and mature works of the German playwright Bertolt Brecht: The Good Person of Szechwan written in 1940. The other topic is the famous plastic clay group of 114 life-sized figures from 1964 hosted in the city of Anren and entitled Rent Collection Courtyard. In both cases, and despite their differences, they concern the ongoing dialogue, between the East and the West, between the past and the present, around finding in theatrical play (of masks and unmasking) a series of references, contaminations, exchanges and fictional or real projections. As we know,  despite never having been to China, the great German dramatist projected many of his scenic parables and poetic texts into a Chinese environment, from The Decision (1930) to The Caucasian Chalk Circle (1943-45) and the Legend of the origin of the book tao-te-ching on lao-tsu’s road into exile. Brecht, furthermore, attributed the ‘estrangement effect’ of his didactic theatre to traditional Chinese scenic arts. On the other hand, the work in the Sichuan Academy, Rent Collection Courtyard, with all its life-sized figures and its articulation in narrative scenes, combines local, plastic procedures with western sculptural realism. It is no coincidence that, precisely an artist such as Cai Guoqiang took the whole group of Rent Collection Courtyard to the West, to the 1999 Venice Biennale curated by Harald Szeemann,  leaving it unfinished.

Another, and possibly the most important, reason that links The Good Person of Szechwan to Rent Collection Courtyard, and one that lies at the heart of the exhibition curated by Scotini, makes direct reference to the content of the two works and to the play of roles that the masks enact. In the case of the Brechtian drama, in order to fulfill her mission of the affirmation of social good, the protagonist is forced to take on two roles in the same person, to choose evil in order to do good, to pass continuously from female to male, from Shen Teh to Shui Ta, changing masks in real time, as in the tradition of the Sichuan Opera entitled Bian Lian. On the other hand, the sculptural group Rent Collection Courtyard was a sort of manifesto of class struggle, a diorama of the old society that reflected the exploitation and class battles in the Chinese countryside, the re-enactment of a series of scenes in which one passes from the submissiveness of the miserable peasants paying their dues to the feudal landlord through to the heroic final sequence of resistance and insurgency.

 

The exhibition will cover all these subjects within a sort of meta-theatre in which a series of international and Chinese artists provide a deconstruction of the tools of the theatric machine, such as: the audience, the curtain, the actors (the automaton, the puppet, the shadow theater), the costumes and the backdrops (a changing and unchanging environment), the text and the music, as metaphors of an equal number of social phenomena and of their historic nature. The curator will use theatrical techniques to put on show the exhibition, using one of Brecht’s principles, by means of which the world can become the object of representation as long as it is presented as something that can be changed.

 

Artists:
Cornelius Cardew, Céline Condorelli, Chto Delat/What is to be done?, Peter Friedl, Stano Filko, Yervant Gianikian and Angela Ricci Lucchi, Piero Gilardi, Lisl Ponger, Dan Graham, Joan Jonas, Ilya & Emillia Kabakov, William Kentridge, Julius Koller, Mao Tongqiang, Michelangelo Pistoletto, Qiu Zhijie, Pedro Reyes, Santiago Sierra, Sun Xun, Wael Shawky,
Jean-Marie Straub & Danièle Huillet, Marko Tadić, Ulla Von Brandenburg, Clemens Von Wedemeyer & Maya Schweizer, Wei Minglun, Yang Yuanyuan, Mei Lanfang and the Russian Proletarian Theatre (research curator Andris Brinkmanis).

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