Italian artist Maurizio Cannavacciuolo is the eighth Artist-in-Residence at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum
to create a temporary site-specific work for the Museums façade. Drawing on his interest and experience of living and traveling through Asia, particularly India and Thailand, Cannavacciuolo explores the many ways cultural influences overlap and diverge in contemporary society. His installation, A Lecture on Martian History, will be on view from June 28 through Jan. 9, 2017.
His installation is a fictional narrative about the colonization of the Earth by Martians told generations later by a many-armed teacher, who is the product of human-Martian interbreeding. In the early years of the invasion, when the Martians enter the empty human houses, they discover flickering television sets. They are fascinated by the hypnotic, repetitive images, white noise and static emitted by the blank screens. The Television becomes a Martian cult object. In the façade artwork there are five vignettes, each telling a part of the story, including a scene set in a fictional performance hall at the Gardner Museum.
Cannavacciuolos elaborately overlapping drawings and patterns relate a science fiction story, drawing on cultural trivia, emotion, and aesthetics to deliver a witty and provocative message about life, culture, and consumption in the 21st century. His design is inspired by Edo textiles from Japan and Cuban tiles from Havana, all part of his multi-cultural vision.
His style is also reminiscent of Isabella Stewart Gardners passion for the sumptuous look and feel of textiles. Just as Gardner surrounded works of art with fabrics of different colors and patterns, Cannavacciuolo also likes to juxtapose patterns and colors in bold contemporary ways. Born in Napoli, Italy, and now a resident of the city of Turin Cannavacciuolo has shown his work internationally, including solo exhibitions at Sprovieri Progetti (London), Allegra Ravizza Art Project (Milan), Baltic Center for Contemporary Art (Gateshead), Museu da Republica-Galeria Catete (Rio de Janerio), and Sperone Westwater (New York). His works are also part of several collections including the Foreign Ministry in Rome, the Naples Metro, the Muze Savremene Umjetnosti of Sarajevo, the Italian Embassy in Tel Aviv, and the Italian Embassy in Santiago, Chile. His extensive travels led him to study, live, and explore the Far East, Cuba, and most notably, India and Thailand. In 2004, he had an exhibition at the Isabella Gardner Museum called TV Dinner.