In a world of continual change, of constant upheaval, and unexpected turns how do we make up our mind? ‘Glasstress – State of Mind’ presents the seventh edition of the famed exhibition of contemporary art in glass. Originally launched back in 2009 as a collateral event of the Venice Biennale the exhibition has continued to attract international artists and designers eager to experiment with the medium of glass.
Coinciding with the 59th Venice Biennale, ‘Glasstress – State of Mind’ runs from 4 June to 27 November 2022, and brings together a group of leading contemporary artists from Europe, the United States, Latin America and Africa. “In the turbulent times in which we find ourselves, art always has a way of finding its feet.” Adriano Berengo observes, “It makes me incredibly proud to see how we have brought this new edition of Glasstress into the heart of Murano to showcase the incredible variety of sculptures being produced.” Glass has always had a special significance for Murano, and for the occasion of the United Nations’ Year of Glass the Studio is immensely proud to highlight how the limitless creative capacities of this great material are continuing to uncover new unchartered ground.
The group show is curated by Adriano Berengo and Koen Vanmechelen with the contribution of Ludovico Pratesi. New names at this year’s edition include eL Seed, the French-Tunisian artist who presents experimentations in handblown forms made in collaboration with the glass masters in the furnace, while several other new names at this year’s edition have chosen to develop works in Berengo Studio’s specialised casting workshop. Notable new faces including German artist Paloma Varga Weisz and Italian artist Vanessa Beecroft. Although the artworks they present might feel familiar to other sculptures in other mediums, their forms are given new life in the material of glass.
The Studio is also particularly excited to have collaborated with the English artist Ryan Gander for the first time, and in fact a detail of Gander’s installation was selected as the official exhibition image. Thanks to extensive exploration into the material Gander has managed to create a realistic replica of snow using glass dust, creating an eerie scene of cold desolation in the midst of the Italian summer heat. The juxtaposition is striking and opens up an engaging dialogue with an audience that cannot help but point to the subject of the climate crisis as well as the internal ‘seasons’ of the mind.
Another exciting debut comes from Endless, an artist notable for their mysterious anonymity, who takes a classic channel perfume bottle and pollutes it with an unexpected guest. Another unsettling and surprising work comes from the contribution of Liam Scully, whose surreal emoji-inspired clown chandelier makes a bold commentary on the political leaders of our time. In this way many of the artists present in ‘Glasstress – State of Mind’ encourage their audiences to challenge and subvert expectations. The large-scale hanging chandelier by Cuban artist María Magdalena Campos-Pons that fills the central hall of the exhibition, comes to Murano after debuting in Berlin as part of Art Gallery Weekend at the Barbara Thumm Gallery. Originally the installation was conceived as part of ‘The Rise of the Butterflies’, an exhibition dedicated to the memory of Breonna Taylor, whose death became a fundamental part of the Black Lives Matter movement. The captivating mobile spins from the ceiling of the old furnace, the large glass forms taking their colours and unique patterns from the unique designs of butterfly wings, a symbol of regeneration and hope. Another large-scale sculpture the Studio is delighted to be hosting for the first time is ‘Giuseppe’s Door’ by the Italian artist Chiara Dynys, which returns to the island after its debut at Villa Panza last year. A self-charging artwork thanks to its cunning use of photosynthetic glass, the piece provides a subtle commentary on sustainability, demonstrating our own agency in the paths we choose in life.
As well as The Year of Glass, 2022 will also be remembered as the year we lost the great artist Jimmie Durham, and the Studio is immensely proud to be exhibiting its latest collaboration with the artist as part of the exhibition. “The core theme of Glasstress 2022 – State of Mind is fragility.” Koen Vanmechelen observed. “In our times, not only is the process of birth fragile, but in the challenging context in which we live, life itself has become fragile too.” Glass has often been associated with fragility but there is also a fortitude to be found in the artworks within the exhibition. “The works are shown in the birthplace of glass, an ancient furnace, a landscape that reveals how fragile these times are, particularly for the human mind. Everything can be broken, yet all can be restored. Destruction also creates opportunities for reconstruction.” Vanmechelen continued: “we must focus on a new generation. What comes out of the fire will be fragile and must be cherished. Among the sculptures on display, we find a chair on which you can sit, or you can be hurt, a chandelier surrounded by bees who risk being the Icarusses of our times, burning their wings and crashing to earth, unseen and forgotten. The chandelier reveals the precious identity of humanity. The glass heads on display tell us that also our leaders are fragile, while the mind is our most powerful tool to imagine a new future. Therefore, we must protect, be mindful and be transparent. Only in transparency can one discover the new generation.”
Information for visitors:
From 4 June to the 27 November 2022
Opening hours: from 10.00 till 17.00 (Tuesday-Sunday). Free entry.
Location: Fondazione Berengo Art Space, Campiello della Pescheria 4, Murano (VE)