Alessandro Michele and Maurizio Cattelan to Mount Gucci Exhibition in China

The artist and the Gucci maestro are teaming up for a wild but vague Gucci art show in China.

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Apr 18 2018, 3:53pm

Gucci is partnering with Maurizio Cattelan for an exhibition in China, the kooky luxury house announced today. It will open in October in Shanghai at a yet-to-be disclosed location. The exhibition, a press release explains, is titled The artist is present, and will be “the least you can expect for an exhibition curated by Maurizio Cattelan and powered by Alessandro Michele’s Gucci.” Which is true: you would expect an exhibition called The artist is present to be…a Marina Abramović exhibition, because it already was!

As all things Gucci go, it gets weirder and more beautiful. How did these two crazy kids decide to get collaborate? According to the press release, “As the poet did, midway upon the journey of our life, [Michele] found himself within a forest dark. But he hasn’t lost the straightforward pathway: he simply never followed it, deliberately choosing the road less traveled. On this path, there is a man, tall and lean in his jeans and a tight T-shirt, salt-and-pepper gray hair, and a long, puzzled face anchored by a propitious Roman nose: Maurizio Cattelan, tireless artist, affected by a serious image hoarding disorder. The perfect partner in crime.”

An ominous and frantically cut video shows Cattelan bopping around Shanghai, his eyes closed in meditation—or maybe he’s just napping? That is also a kind of art—but provides little detail about what the exhibition will include. According to the press release, it will focus on projects from multiple artists “that propose simulation and copy as a paradigm of global culture”—a further exploration of the concepts Gucci explored in its Fall 2018 collection. “It consists in a physical immersion in the reign of imitation, a land where the core values that used to identify with an artwork in the Western world, such as originality, intention, expression, and authorship, are dismantled.”

The exhibition will open October 10 because—again, wow, this press release!—“in that day [Cattelan’s] exhibition project will transform a dream within a dream in reality.”

In fact, the entire press release is a work of art, and so while we aren’t usually in the business of printing press releases verbatim—in fact, we’re in the business against that—we’d like to provide it in full below for your reading pleasure. Maybe I will insist I wrote it; as the press release says, “the only belief remains the conviction that originality is definitely overrated.”

The Artist is Present

This is the story of a dream.

Imagine a world crowded with old master portraits, ancient Roman marble heads, gold reliquaries filled with zombies’ hands and hearts, blooming carpets and colorful tapestry, baby dragons, and unknown creatures’ skulls.

This dream belongs to Gucci’s visionary creative director, Alessandro Michele. As the poet did, midway upon the journey of our life, he found himself within a forest dark. But he hasn’t lost the straightforward pathway: he simply never followed it, deliberately choosing the road less traveled.

On this path, there is a man, tall and lean in his jeans and a tight T-shirt, salt-and-pepper gray hair, and a long, puzzled face anchored by a propitious Roman nose: Maurizio Cattelan, tireless artist, affected by a serious image hoarding disorder. The perfect partner in crime.

Maurizio Cattelan is dreaming of hanging around Shanghai for inspiration. Their shared dream world is staged in the Chinese metropolis, homeland to “the copy is the original” thought. The chosen timing is October 10: in that day his exhibition project will transform a dream within a dream in reality. What is a dream but a copy of reality, after all?

From its very first line, The artist is present is an act of appropriation. The least you can expect for an exhibition project curated by Maurizio Cattelan and powered by Alessandro Michele’s Gucci.

Both are very well aware that complex relationship between image and reality, representation and presentation have been one of the most important topics in art. And they both well know that it is truer today, as we all are at the same time the generous feeder and the avid consumer of a world of simulacra, in between illusion and reality.

Rooted in this permanent visual deluge, The artist is present focuses on artists projects that propose simulation and copy as a paradigm of global culture. The show explores how originality can be reached through the act of repetition, and how originals themselves can be preserved through copies. It consists in a physical immersion in the reign of imitation, a land where the core values that used to identify with an artwork in the Western world, such as originality, intention, expression, and authorship, are dismantled.

In The artist is present the nature of the creative process itself results deconstructed, and with it, the idea of godlike creation: the only belief remains the conviction that originality is definitely overrated.