Fondazione Antonio Ratti

Richard Nonas

Place in our darkness | Arte che risuona, lentamente

5 July 2003
Spazio Culturale Antonio Ratti

The text of the conference is available in Italian.
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To introduce his lecture, Richard Nonas tells an anecdote of his past back when he still was an anthropologist and investigated Mexico deserts. Starting from this episode, he illustrates in a poetical speech the reasons why he decided to abandon anthropology to devote himself entirely to art. What fascinates him about art is the continuous attempt of overpassing linguistic limits by using non-logical and non-rational means, because only through art we can try to give a shape to what the words cannot reach and what goes over our conscious understanding. Dealing with a world which always transcends human capabilities, the artist regularly faces failure and frustration, which are not seen as an obstacle. On the contrary, they are the only way to measure the limits of our comprehension and considering the unpredictability of the world. “We pull ourselves to our limits in the effort not of understanding, but of seeing, feeling, recognizing that the world is different from what we think it is: bigger or even smaller, just different”.

Richard Nonas (b. 1936, New York) lives and works in New York. After studying literature and anthropology, Nonas worked for ten years as an anthropologist and began his artistic research on the manipulation of matter towards the end of the 1960s. In the midst of the radical experiments and social transformations of the 1970s, he founded the Anarchitecture group together with Gordon Matta-Clark. In his work, Nonas explores the hidden emotional power of simple objects, creating small sculptures and large environmental installations. He uses ordinary materials he finds such as stones, wood and steel and arranges them in simple and easily recognized forms. Conceived for indoors and outdoors spaces, his installations give life to what he calls “charged places”. Nonas has written extensively about the meaning of art and its interpretations.

His most recent solo exhibitions include: The Man in the Empty Space at MASS MoCA, Massachusetts (2016) and Richard Nonas: ridge (out, away, back) at the Art Institute in Chicago (2016-17). Nonas produced permanent installations for the Museum of Grenoble (1994), the North Dakota Museum of Art (1990). In 2012, he realized a permanent work in the abandoned village, Vière et les Moyennes Montagnes, France. In 1974, he was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation.

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