Curated by Pia Bolognesi and Giulio Bursi (Atelier Impopulaire)
Artistic Direction Edoardo Bonaspetti
Produced within an engagement with the form of the ‘open letter’ - an instrument deployed to give public form to private discourse - “Models, Open Letters, Prototypes, Supplements” is the first major solo museum exhibition by Christopher Williams since his series of retrospectives entitled “The Production Line of Happiness” (The Art Institute of Chicago; MoMA, New York; Whitechapel Gallery, London; 2014-2015).
A leading figure of the second generation of American Conceptual Art, Williams studied at the California Institute of the Arts in the late 1970s, under such artists as Michael Asher, John Baldessari, Douglas Huebler and Morgan Fisher, and has since developed an artistic practice that investigates photographic apparatus functions, structures, and rules through simultaneous engagement with other artistic media: film and video, sculpture, collage, performance, and printed matter.
Building on a series of recent exhibitions which focussed more closely on specific aspects of his practice – including Capitain Petzel, Berlin (Open Letter to Model No. 1740, 2016), gta Exhibitions, Zürich (Supplements, Models, Prototypes, 2017), and David Zwirner, London (Open Letter: The Family Drama Refunctioned? (From the Point of View of Production, 2017) – Williams’ exhibition at La Triennale di Milano brings together various aspects of his work, highlighting them as interconnected elements at play within a context in which both the studio and the exhibition become sites for material and discursive production.
Foregrounding exhibition architecture and design as the framework for looking, Models, Open Letters, Prototypes, Supplements presents a group of recent photographs within various mobile wall and exhibition systems, whose materials and designs have been collected from Williams’ recent exhibitions history, as well as supplementary material displayed in vitrines produced in 1975 by Leone Pancaldi, one of the driving forces behind the renewal of the modern Italian museum architecture. Williams explores aspects of realism traditionally associated with photography through the visual and aesthetic conventions that shape how we perceive our world. Family and society, cutaway and cross-section, object and function, ideology and immaterial labour, and time and duration are revealed as structures and models of representational systems, thus activating a progressive process of disclosure that aims at finding, for each individual element, the traces of their own representation. While the images reflect upon the political and socio-economic connections between photography and the production processes of late capitalist society, we are invited to reclaim the present as the moment for critical reflection. Addressing the viewer directly, Williams seeks to raise awareness of the quality of our observation process, in a relationship focusing on the very concept of duration.
Models, Open Letters, Prototypes, Supplements opens up a physical and theoretical dialogue between ideal forms of photography, discursive materials selected and produced by the artist, tactics of display, and the exhibition architecture of La Triennale in which Williams’ images take a stance.
April 27-June 25
Viale Emilio Alemagna, 6