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Group exhibition rewrites the rulebook for experiencing a work of art
Patrizio Di Massimo, Self-Portrait as a Model (Take Me, I am Yours), 2017. Courtesy Patrizio Di Massimo, T293, Rome and Pirelli HangarBicocca, Milan. Photo: Agostino Osio.

MILAN.- Pirelli HangarBicocca presents “Take Me (I’m Yours)” a group exhibition that rewrites the rulebook for experiencing a work of art. Visitors are invited to flout convention and do all the things they aren’t normally allowed to do in a museum.

In “Take Me (I’m Yours)” works can be touched, used, or changed; they can be consumed or worn; purchased and even taken free of charge, or carried off in exchange for some personal item.

The exhibition is also a project that continues to evolve and be transformed. At “Take Me (I’m Yours),” the public can not only take home one of the thousands of copies of each work— helping to physically empty out the space—but alter the appearance of the show by taking part in performances where the interaction may involve an experience rather than an object, in keeping with the notion of immateriality that increasingly pervades both art and everyday life.

Presented for the first time in 1995 at the Serpentine Gallery in London—and in varying iterations in Paris, Copenhagen, New York, and Buenos Aires from 2015 on—the exhibition grew out of a series of conversations between curator Hans Ulrich Obrist and artist Christian Boltanski about the need to rethink how artworks are shown. Specifically, the project concept began with Quai de la Gare (1991), a Boltanski piece made up of piles of used clothing that visitors could pick out and carry off in a bag printed with the word “Dispersion”: a work innately destined to scatter and vanish.

In Milan, alongside Christian Boltanski’s Dispersion, the works of over fifty other artists have been installed in the thousand-square-meter Shed at Pirelli HangarBicocca, also popping up outside the exhibition space with projects for the catalogue, bookshop, and web, and moving out into the Bicocca neighborhood. Historic works shown in the landmark 1995 exhibition appear alongside new pieces made specifically for the occasion. The exhibition display has been conceived by artist and designer Martino Gamper, who created the display components out of Solid Textile Board, a recycled material.

Visitors will encounter the works of some artists featured in the 1995 show: for instance, they can take part in the lottery organized by Douglas Gordon, where the prize is a dinner with the artist himself; pick up one of the pins provided by the duo Gilbert & George, bearing the same wry, satirical slogans as the posters on view, THE BANNERS (2015); collect the vintage images offered by Hans-Peter Feldmann; eat chocolates supplied by Carsten Höller—in wrappers printed with the word “Future”—in Zukunft (Future), 1990/2017; download and print out a new poster by Wolfgang Tillmans, or use the stencils and temporary tattoos by Lawrence Weiner with the motto that gives the work its title, NAU EM I ART BILONG YUMI (The art of today belongs to us), 1988/2017.

The exhibition also features other artists from a range of generations and backgrounds. In the lobby, visitors are greeted by the installation Wish Trees (1996/2017) by Japanese artist Yoko Ono, two lemon trees on which they can leave slips of paper where they have written their wishes. And at the Pirelli HangarBicocca bookshop, they can purchase a new version of a Gianfranco Baruchello project presented in 1968, Artiflex. Finanziaria Artiflex, a fictional company that offers packages of 50-cent coins for 1 euro each and 1-euro coins for 50 cents each, with the proceeds going to charity. Inside the show, visitors can get a copy of the poster that Maurizio Cattelan received as a gift from artist Alighiero Boetti, pick up mint candies from the installation “Untitled” (Revenge) (1991) by Félix González-Torres; or create their very own map of Milan with La riappropriazione della città: I propri itinerari, 1975/2017, a project by Ugo La Pietra in collaboration with Lucio La Pietra. They can eat a sugar skeleton or a marzipan phallic symbol from Pompeii, or fish out sardine tins in Daniel Spoerri’s works Eat Art Happening (2004-2017), Amulette phallique de Pompéi (2015/2017) and Boîte de Sardines (2015/2017); take a selfie with the project by Franco Vaccari, an updated version of his historic Esposizione in tempo reale N.4, presented at the 1972 Venice Biennale, where visitors could use a photo booth and hang their photos on the walls to leave a trace of their passage; get their portrait drawn by a portraitist in the performative piece by Francesco Vezzoli; learn their future from the fortune cookies that grew out of a collaboration between Ian Cheng and Rachel Rose for “Take Me (I’m Yours)” at the Jewish Museum in 2016; swap and leave items in the installations by Alison Knowles and Jonathan Horowitz, and take part in performances and actions by artists like Pierre Huyghe, Tino Seghal, James Lee Byars, Otobong Nkanga, David Horvitz and Patrizio Di Massimo, which envision the direct involvement of the public during the opening period of the exhibition.

“Take Me (I’m Yours)” therefore becomes a vast arena for imagining a more direct, engaging way to experience art, where the idea of giving and receiving helps us look at the broader social and historical picture of our time in a different light.

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