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Double Solo Show at Centre of Contemporary Art Features Martin Sulzer and Barthélémy Toguo
Barthélémy Toguo, Circumcision 1, 1999-2007.

BELLINZONA.- The exhibition entitled MUTATIONS, currently on view until the 6th February 2011, is a double solo show. It was inaugurated at the CACT Centre of Contemporary Art in Canton Ticino on 27 November. The artists involved are Martin Sulzer (Germany, 1977) and Barthélémy Toguo (Cameroon-France, 1967). Apparently different in terms of the idioms they use, they reveal points of contact in the topic proposed by the curator, applying contemporary stylistic elements and themes.

For some time now, Martin Sulzer has been concentrating his work mainly on how artistic expression relates to technology, revitalising as his dominant theme the language that expresses the body and is expressed by it. This the artist, who live and works in Berlin, develops through the dynamics of experiencing his own definition in the image society. It is actually his frenzied output and exploitation of visual representations that make his work appear to be as incoherent at first sight as it is up to date in terms of the contemporary artist’s ability – in general – to break out of the confines of multimedia and venture into the realms of transmedia, realms that are already quite widespread in many areas of society.

Even video, fanzine and installation, which he often uses, come across as completely independent of the medium-message. Mutations is the theme – not new, but never out of date – that links artistic production to the anthropological facets of the human being. The attention that Sulzer pays to man takes precedence, in the sense that that he conducts an in-depth analysis of the collective social model or moves towards comparing man with technology, bearing in mind that machines have always been one of his priority means of production.

In Before/After (2010), the German artist shows a contextual mural installation with conceptual tones. By simply making photocopies and prints of images on sheets of paper and accompanying the results with texts that look like captions, the artist humorously questions how we relate to the linguistic model forced on us by telecommunications and ICTs. But his approach to the topic takes on more sarcastic tones, focusing on the mutations to which people subject their bodies – diets and all sorts of other things – in the attempt to be accepted by the aesthetic tribe of the cathode ray tube.

In Wetware (2010), the artist has created a large carnal surface that moves and changes slowly: the perceptions of the continuously mutating body that Sulzer entrusts to the mediation of video puts important emphasis on man’s present and future and how they relate to the aesthetic model dictated by technology. Today’s technological society that churns out stereotypes that are forced on us in silence by the power of the media, and without our even realising what is happening, is the main topic that Sulzer denounces in every one of his works. Doe and Roe (2010) is the third of his pieces in this show.

The French artist and native of Cameroon Barthélémy Toguo shows a corpus of three thematic videos. Made at different times, this is the first occasion when they have been brought together and shown in one and the same place and time. Circumcision 1 (1999-2007), Circumcision 2 (1999-2007) and Circumcision 3 (2007) lead us towards the concept of bodily mutation and that of cultural identity as part of our sense of belonging to a cultural and racial identity, compared with the phenomenon of diaspora and of uprooting. The topics of belonging and of cultural and societal loyalty are taken to extremes here, at variance with those of integration as a synonym for forced assimilation and the transformation of otherness.

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