Political perspectives: Nástio Mosquito and Theaster Gates at Fondazione Prada
The shining light flowing into the Fondazione Prada has been hindered for a slight moment. Over the summer months, the windows have been plastered in pop coloured cartoons, but with a subject matter that couldn’t be farther away from playful animation.
This enveloping piece is part of ‘TTT – Template Temples of Tenacity’, a three piece exhibition by multimedia artist Nástio Mosquito. These run in unison with Theaster Gates’ latest show ‘True Value’ in the same location – both interact with day-to-day rituals and trial them to new levels, marking a strong political moment at the Foundation.
But these two shows definitely don’t get tangled. While one openly invites a pious sentiment through choir performances and stained glass windows, the other focuses on a political message via the use of everyday products.
Mosquito’s piece in the windows is strongly titled WEorNOT. Inviting people at the entrance, this is a new site specific piece, illustrated by Ada Diez and produced by Mosquito’s collective Nastivicious, which he devised in collaboration with Vic Pereiró back in 2008. Transforming the Fondazione’s atrium into a ‘contemporary temple’, the vivid stained glass etchings evoke a psychedelic style, but here the figures have guns in hand, stand on philosophical and religious readings, or are in battle. ‘The artist invites us to his most critical endeavour yet,’ curator Elvira Dyangani Ose says. ‘Entering a space and time where judgment and evaluation are suspended, where things do not necessarily need to make sense, where – if one is up to the challenge— we are encouraged to lose ourselves in our own innate sensitiveness.’
Gates’ message is just as powerful, but with a more subtle delivery. Recreating a colour-coordinated hardware store environment on the first floor, the rough and raw pieces hone in on everyday survival. Titled True Value like the show itself, the layout delves into the products as symbols of power and struggle, via the people who encounter them. ’It alludes to the disappearance of local activities and pays tribute to the ready-made and everyday sphere,’ Gates divulges. ‘[It] denounces the failures of capitalism in valuing the individual, or tells the difficulties of a black neighbourhood that is struggling to find a new centre.’
The notion of ’you have to be there’ is definitely emphasised with the duo of exhibitions as they both go deeper into their critique with separate performances and events. Mosquito has collaborated with musician Dijf Sanders, artist Chilala Moco and The Golden Guys choir for a performance I Make Love To You. You Make Love To Me. Let Love Have Sex With The Both Of Us and has plans for a cinematic audiovisual piece, Synchronicity Is My Bitch: The Cinematic Experience, in September. Meanwhile, ’True Value’ will host a series of public meetings of debates and readings.