Primal matter: Goshka Macuga hones in on humanity, evolution and robotics at Fondazione Prada

Primal matter: Goshka Macuga hones in on humanity, evolution and robotics at Fondazione Prada

The Polish-born, London-based artist Goshka Macuga ripped into Milan like a firecracker last night, dazzling with the debut of an outstanding new show at the Fondazione Prada. The first maverick move of the night? Setting her human boyfriend next to her new, fascinatingly real-looking robot (impeccably modelled on said boyfriend) and snapping several photos of the ‘twins’ with her own iPhone.

The android was a perfect replica of his human counterpart, right down to a bushy black beard, curly hair, big brown eyes and immaculate jawline. ‘The only thing missing is the sparkle in his eye!’ Macuga remarked, while admiring the sheen of the robot’s skin.

Manufactured in Japan by a company called A-Lab, Macuga’s android is the nucleus of an intriguing show entitled ‘To the Son of Man Who Ate the Scroll’, dedicated, in part, to ‘humanity’s concern over the end of mankind’.

Sprawling through the vast exhibition space, it features installations, performances by humans and robots, as well as new works and curated pieces from the Fondazione Prada’s vast collection. The dense jumble defies easy description, even for the artist herself – ‘I really can’t put it into a few words,’ she said on the sidelines of the well-attended opening. ‘How much time do you have?’ – but a preoccupation with a post-human state seems to be the unifying theme.

Certainly, the show’s energy is remarkable. Some of the most electric moments were to be had in a trio of rooms featuring 73 cast bronze heads of historic heavyweights, from Einstein to Freud, which were speared onto shiny metal rods and linked together to look like giant molecular structures. In another room, machines drew illustrations on huge reams of white paper, like robotic hands. Elsewhere, at Fondazione Prada’s 15th-century studiolo, Macuga had stationed an actress, who recited excerpts from Charles Darwin’s Natural Selection in Esperanto.

How exciting to see that following all the buzz surrounding the Fondazione Prada’s glittering opening, shows like this prove it’s the real deal.

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