Magnetic Fields, 2019
Gió Marconi, Milan, Italy
Link to Exhibition
Enrico Baj, Gina Beavers, Genesis Belanger, Kerstin Brätsch, Elaine Cameron-Weir, Santiago De Paoli, Richard Hamilton, Hannah Levy, Louise Nevelson, Virginia Overton, Julia Phillips, Man Ray, Emily Mae Smith, Summer Wheat
In 1919 André Breton and Paul Soupault conducted one of the first legendary automatic writing experiments: for whole days and sleepless nights Breton and Soupault wrote texts together, following free associations and random verbal combinations, trying to break free from the control of reason. These free thoughts were collected in the book The Magnetic Fields, which appeared in 1920, a few years before the official birth of Surrealism, consecrated by the 1924 manifesto. The Magnetic Fields can be considered the first literary work based on automatic writing. It contains an uninterrupted flow of texts steeped in images which flow from the unconscious: dreams, hallucinations and deep desires, far from the utilitarian logic of common language, espouse instead a rich and generative narrative of new links with reality.
Now, one hundred years later, The Magnetic Fields exhibition takes its inspiration from this essential surrealist text in order to create a dialogue between different generations of artists who use the representation of the body and its metamorphoses as vehicles for reflecting on issues such as identity and desire. By comparing the work of historic artists such as Man Ray with those of various heirs of surrealist sensibility, such as Enrico Baj, Richard Hamilton and Louise Nevelson, The Magnetic Fields exhibition also introduces the work of various young artists who practise a form of Neo-Surrealism, combining a renewed interest in figuration with darker tendencies or, alternatively, with a joyful sense of wonder and amazement. Through a closely woven intergenerational dialogue, the exhibition records the forces of attraction and repulsion that interconnect the works of various contemporary and modern artists across the years, linking major figures of the twentieth century with promising young international artists.
Curated by Cecilia Alemani, the exhibition focuses on the representation of the body – especially the female body – in order to analyse and contrast different notions of sexuality and self-definition. With its array of fetishes and totems, The Magnetic Fields presents a range of fantastical anatomies, in which the body is represented in a constant stream of transformation: dispossessed, dematerialised and recomposed. Installed as a chamber of wonders – or a camera oscura, to mention one of the over twenty important works by Man Ray on display – The Magnetic Fields alternates faces and portraits, anthropomorphic objects and bodies without organs, talismans and mutant dummies.