Cyprien Gaillard “Rubble and Revelation”

    The Lake Arches, 2007

    From 13 November to 16 December, the Fondazione Nicola Trussardi present Rubble and Revelation; curated by Massimiliano Gioni, it is the first major solo exhibition by Cyprien Gaillard in Italy.

    The French artist’s new project is housed in the military bakery of Caserma XXIV Maggio, a fascinating gem of industrial architecture built in Romanesque Revival style in 1898 and closed in 2005, after having been used for over a century to supply bread to all the military complexes in Lombardy, and after nourishing the entire city of Milan during World War II.

    In just a few years, Cyprien Gaillard (Paris, 1980) has emerged as one of the most interesting artists of his generation, winning highly prestigious awards such as the Prize for Young Art from the National Gallery in Berlin (2011) and the Marcel Duchamp Prize from Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris (2010); he has already exhibited in the world’s most respected museums (the Tate Modern in London, the Hamburger Bahnhof in Berlin, the MoMA in New York, and the New Museum in New York); and has taken part in leading international events such as the Venice Biennale, the Gwangju Biennale and the Berlin Biennale.

    Conceived for the military bakery of Caserma XXIV Maggio, Rubble and Revelation presents a selection of new and recent works that reflect on destruction and deterioration, leading us on a journey through the past and present, amid cultures and contexts that bear the scars of violent transformation and the hallmarks of collapse.

    Like an archeologist probing the wreckage of modernity, Cyprien Gaillard travels the world in search of modern-day monuments, documenting their life and gradual decline with the precision of a scholar. He roams from continent to continent, immortalizing these ruins and relics in photos, videos, sculptures, and collages that convey his obsession with the poetry of decay. They are pieces that tell of the calm after the storm; to trace the roots of dramatic social changes, Gaillard compiles a vast archive of images in which every detail is a shard of collective memory, a scrap of choral history. He explores the power of images and the fear they can inspire: iconoclasm and vandalism are recurring themes in his work, which also betrays a profound interest in the perennial process of erasure and rewriting that landmarks and icons undergo throughout history, a process all the more topical in an era rocked by street protests and natural disasters.

    Architecture, with its globalized commercial symbols and its effigies of power, is a discipline that fascinates Gaillard with its potential to deeply influence human behavior. Modernist buildings, rundown neighborhoods on the outskirts of town, crumbling highrises and skyscrapers, and military fortresses and bunkers become the stage set for a Natural History of Destruction (to cite German writer W.G. Sebald’s essays on the devastation wreaked by air raids during World War II); within it, the artist highlights the dynamics that govern social interactions and relationships between the individual and the group. Youth subcultures and urban tribes play a central role in Gaillard’s sociological explorations of our cities: often, in his work, categories such as freedom and the individual right to choose seem to no longer apply, since everything moves as if guided by mass will.

    These forces can all be found at work in Rubble and Revelation, his project for the Fondazione Nicola Trussardi. Inside the spaces of the Caserma XXIV Maggio military bakery, with their patina of memories, Cyprien Gaillard leads us through his evocative vision of the ruins of our time: in a constant crescendo of juxtapositions and layerings, the videos, photographs, images and sounds trace a path that weaves between explosions and silences, devastation and contemplation.

    With Rubble and Revelation, the Fondazione Nicola Trussardi continues the nomadic mission that has led it to explore Milan since 2003, rediscovering forgotten places and hidden treasures in the heart of the city and bringing them back to life through the visions of contemporary artists. After major solo shows by Michael Elmgreen & Ingar Dragset, Darren Almond, Maurizio Cattelan, John Bock, Urs Fischer, Anri Sala, Paola Pivi, Martin Creed, Pawel Althamer, Peter Fischli and David Weiss, Tino Sehgal, Tacita Dean, Paul McCarthy, and Pipilotti Rist, the Fondazione Nicola Trussardi is proud to be presenting a large-scale exhibition by Cyprien Gaillard for the first time in Italy.

    Caserma XXIV Maggio