Molteni&C’s 10 years of contemporary photography floats on water in Italy

Molteni&C’s 10 years of contemporary photography floats on water in Italy

All eyes to Giussano, a town in northern Italy’s Lombardy region, where the feted furniture company Molteni&C is holding an exhibition celebrating ten years of photography from its in-house magazine, M&C.

’10 Years 10 Artists 10 Works’ – curated by Cristiana Colli at the Molteni compound’s Quadreria Contemporanea picture gallery, with a display concept by Ron Gilad dubbed the ’Floating Cube’ – is as proscriptive as its title suggests. M&C was inaugurated in 2006, conceived as a platform for exploring ’creative freedom and inspiration made of places, showcases, hands at work, objects of communication and crafts’, explains the company. Originally a newsletter, M&C became a full blown periodical in 2013, covering architecture, design and contemporary culture with an overarching – but not exclusive – focus on Molteni design.

’10 Years 10 Artists 10 Works’ on view at the Molteni compound’s Quadreria Contemporanea picture gallery

This show specifically focuses on the pull-out photographic inserts supplied with each edition of the publication – a collection of images, the company suggests, that is ’shared, accessible, diffused’; comprising ’a community of artists, glances, thoughts, intentions that make themselves available for contemplation’. What that means in practice is a plethora of abstracted and artistically conceived images a world away from your regular, studio-shot and staid design photography. Take the tree-bound red chair in Paola De Pietri’s 2007 work – a faintly menacing assemblage reflective of ’an infinite and primordial’ nature. Or Antonio Biasiucci’s intimate, chiaroscuro-heavy shots of hands from 2008 – refined compositions that are as tactile as they are painterly.

More bizarre is the 2011 work by Alessandra Spranzi, a chair precariously perched on a collection of teacups, on top of a table, repurposing Molteni’s wares in newly abstracted contexts (and slightly recalling the work of artists like Sarah Lucas and Daniel Spoerri; though admittedly in form rather than philosophy). Elsewhere, we’re presented with more conventional shots – but for the skeletal cube placed in the fore of each image – of the ornate Bagatti Valsecchi house museum in Milan, by Davide Pizzigoni (2013); and Mario Carrieri’s heavily stylised images of Gio Ponti’s totemic ’D.552.2’ coffee table, with plenty more asides.

The setting of Gilad’s Glass Cube brings an extra frisson to the show. It’s a space within a space, a gallery within a gallery: ’a white cube at the heart of a glass one, floating above running water,’ explains the designer. ’A room without entrance or exit, an unexpected space for hanging art,’ affording a further lay of intrigue to a show already filled with it. More than enough reason for a sojourn to Giussano.

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