Soleil Politique Museion / Bolzano

February 16, 2015

The first wall caption one encounters while visiting “Soleil Politique,” the exhibition that Pierre Bal-Blanc mounted as the finale of a one-year curatorial residency at Museion, is a quote from Profanations, a 2008 pamphlet by philosopher Giorgio Agamben, which reads: “The profanation of the unprofanable is the political task of the coming generation.”
This conceit illustrates the curator’s preeminent intervention in the exhibition: having been offered the rooms of the museum’s forth floor, he instead installed the exhibition in the foyer, info lounge, bookshop, project space and “Passage” area; and moved the communal spaces upstairs, to a vantage point where the visitors, in addition to the museum’s side activities, can enjoy the landscape of the city. The subversion of the hierarchy of the exhibition space serves as the framework for an exhibition that cannily questions the role of museums in society and their abuse of authority in shaping the cultural discourse. “Is the museum the site that consecrates capitalist homogeneity or the site for a ‘heterogeneitic’ process?” Bal-Blanc asks in his introduction to the exhibition. Drawn from a 1972 work by Marcel Broodthaers in which the artist altered a diagrammatic illustration of the solar system by adding the world politique to the picture of the sun, the exhibition title points to the political stance that every incarnation of power needs to acknowledge.

The display includes truly heterogeneous materials, which are often accompanied by the curator’s notes revealing latent aspects of the exhibition-making process. One notable example: his correspondence with Bolzano’s Civic Museum regarding the declined loan of Hans Klocker’s wooden sculpture Christ on Donkey (1498) is distributed next to drawings of Carlo Scarpa’s infamous display device for the statue of Casagrande I della Scala — a nobleman riding his horse; along with a movable sculpture by Robert Breer (Column, 1967) and two devotional statues that the Civic Museum agreed to loan in the place of the Klocker because of their higher handleability — read: mobility.

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