NANNI BALESTRINI

Milan, 1935 - 2019



February 3, 2021 - March 13, 2021

In this upcoming exhibition, Galleria Michela Rizzo questions the concept of ‘value’ and its many aspects, such as the market, economy, power, time, and currency. Money Money Money, curated by Elena Forin, is conceived to offer a reflection on this crucial topic through different points of analysis, highlighting themes that can be useful in this investigation: from the stage of economic and political power; to the imaginaries related to money; the visual presence of art; and its conceptual and market forms. The exhibition sets up a journey where artists from different generations with different approaches, languages, and interests explore the wide concepts of money and value.

Antoni Muntadas’ The Bank (1997), part of the On Translation cycle, ponders how quickly a certain sum of money can vanish through a progressive system of currency exchanges. Moreover, his reinterpretation of the European flag includes coins inside the twelve yellow stars to emphasise the purely economic and political nature of the European Community.

The implosion of the financial market and the consequential bankruptcy at the beginning of the new millennium are narrated by Nanni Balestrini: fragments of Giorgione's The Tempest (1502-1503) are mixed with ripped dollars and random letters, becoming traces of the remains of a humanity unable to decipher, re-elaborate and withstand the impact of its own actions.

Andrea Mastrovito through his reinterpretation of a classic horror movie modified frame by frame, Nysferatu (2018), questions the dangerous short circuit in the US society caused by the implementation of aggressive economic policies. Through the installations Bar C33 (2015) and Il critico come artista (2016) he criticises the precariousness of the present, where even the educational sphere relies on money.
In the series West (2014-2022), Francesco Jodice creates an "observation deck on the last great Western empire”, in which American history — from the great gold rush to the 2008 financial collapse — is rendered through images that document both the geological majesty of Western America and its current contradictions; ranging between militarisation and nuclearisation campaigns, technological development and the Hollywood dream. The five exhibited works invite us to take a journey to the end of the heroic saga of liberalism.

Ryts Monet isolates and re-elaborates the natural elements, like plants and flowers, and architectural elements printed on banknotes, which visually amplify the paradoxes on how countries choose to represent themselves through currencies. These works show on one hand the strive for a monumentalisation of the international image through money, and, on the other, the short circuit created by the recurring presence of natural specificities.

Aldo Runfola questions the genesis the artworks through money, which assume the task of tracking the artist’s movements: after throwing coins on the canvas, he follows the marks left by that gesture, creating the composition though the links between the given points.

The art market is not overlooked in the exhibition: Fabio Mauri’s Serie Sociale (1974-1975), consisting of fifty monochrome sheets of different colours, challenges the concept of the value of an artwork, as their prices double up day by day, reaching astronomical figures by the end of the exhibition. Lucio Pozzi, through his Red Planets, works on the ideas of presence, emptiness, and distance, increasing the price of the remaining painted boards each time one is sold. The commercial aspect shows its limits in quantifying the true value of art: both of the artists decide to increase the prices based on a purely arbitrary decision, as the two works are composed by almost identical pieces.

Cesare Pietroiusti’s Mangiare denaro - un’asta/Eating Money - an Auction, and, more in general, his Paradoxycal Economies series, focuses on the theme of exchange. This performance - conceived and performed with Paul Griffiths and held in 2005 at Viafarini, Milan - staged an auction where the public was allowed to offer an amount equal to the sum of two banknotes: the performers swallowed the highest bid and promised to return the money to the winner after evacuated, together with a certificate. From a simple transaction medium, money became a crucial part of the artistic process, as the action coincided with its economic dimension.

Therefore, Money Money Money tries to shed lights on those dynamics that are often latent or hidden behind the surface of banknotes and coins, developing an itinerary through artworks that call for a reconsideration of the concept of ‘value’.

A special thanks goes to Simone Frittelli.

Nanni Balestrini (Milan, July 2, 1935 – Rome, May 20, 2019) was an Italian writer and visual artist.

Writer, poet, visual artist, video artist, exponent of the Neo-vanguard during the 70s, Nanni Balestrini is the author of a “counter-historical” romance, an epic form the bottom. He is the first artist that uses an IBM calculator to develop his Chronograms; he practices collage through the union of phrases, titles, words, everything done to break the so-called “typographic cage” and to watch the writing like we watch a picture.

Since the ‘60s, he has been involved in various national cultural turning points. He was one of the main promoters in the Neo-avantgarde movement; he took part in important groups, such as ‘Novissimi’, with his poetry and in the ‘Gruppo 63’ with his art works. 

In 1993, he exposed at the Venice Biennale, in 2012 at Documenta in Kassel. He had solo exhibitions at the Galleria Mazzoli in Modena, at the Galleria Michela Rizzo in Venice, at the Galleria Frittelli in Florence, at the MACRO museum in Rome, at the Fondazione Morra in Naples, at the Fondazione Mudima in Milan, at the Fondazione Marconi in Milan and at the Fondazione Museion in Bolzano. He also took part in numerous collective exhibitions such as La parola e l’arte, Mart, Rovereto (2007); Italics, Palazzo Grassi, Venice (2008); 1988 vent'anni prima vent'anni dopo, museum Luigi Pecci in Prato (2008); Futurismo 1909-2009, Palazzo Reale in Milan (2009); Mille e tre, Louvre, Paris (2009); Roma Pop City 60-67, museum MACRO in Rome (2016). 

He designed the Lala Metro Station in Naples and the Stele Incipit for the Vignola Library. Together with Umberto Eco he started publishing the periodical ‘Alfabeta2’, a culture focused one that followed the example of the previous version ‘Alfabeta’. His most recognized writings are the multiple novel Tristano (composed using modern technology) and the trilogy La Grande Rivolta (Vogliamo tutto, Gli invisibili and L’editore), which narrates about the social and political struggles of the ’70s. 

In 2017, he published the second edition of the book covering the summa of his poetic production: L.e Avventure della Signorina Richmond. In the same year, the ZKM (Center for Art and Media in Karlsruhe) dedicated to him his own retrospective Poetische Expansionen I.

Recently, Nanni Balestrini’s works have been exposed in the Galleria Michela Rizzo, during the exhibition Dinamogrammi, where artists of the neo-vanguard group, such as Balestrini himself, have been compared with the contemporaneity of Giorgia Fincato and Matthew Attard without a prevarication of the analogic condition on the digital one. Any other information about artists and their works exposed can be found in the section dedicated to the exhibition.