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ZACentrale project gets under way – Cantieri Culturali alla Zisa, Palermo

The #ZACentrale project gets under way at the ZAC, with which, after several years of intense activity in the area,  the Fondazione Merz inaugurates a permanent centre dedicated to the arts of our time in Palermo.

This new exhibition and cultural adventure opens with the group exhibition curated by Beatrice Merz and Agata Polizzi, entitled L’altro, lo stesso.

The  ZACentrale project kicks off in the spaces of ZAC – Zisa Arti Contemporanee with which the Fondazione Merz, after several years of intense activity in the area, is inaugurating a permanent centre dedicated to the arts of our time in Palermo, thanks to a three-year agreement with the municipality.

This new exhibition and cultural adventure opens with the group exhibition curated by Beatrice Merz and Agata Polizzi: L’altro, lo stesso (‘The other, the same’), open to the public from Tuesday 26 October 2021 to Sunday 27 March 2022.

The title of the exhibition, L’altro, lo stesso, is taken from a collection of poems by Jorge Luis Borges, dedicated to the process of recreation with which nature continually nourishes the birth of new life. The exhibition project focuses not so much on individual works of art understood as static objects, but rather on proposing a dynamic experience to the public in which the selected works, conceived as constantly evolving living forms, lend themselves to being nourished by each other in a process of mutual care that germinates continuous reactions.

The exhibition includes works by the international artists Lida Abdul, Rosa Barba, Alfredo Jaar, Emily Jacir, Joan Jonas, Mario Merz, Marisa Merz and Lawrence Weiner and a sound work by the international artist duo Silvia Maglioni and Graeme Thomson, who have adopted Palermo as their home. The work, specially commissioned for this occasion and set up in the space outside the building, will welcome visitors as they make their way to the entrance. Although presented as parts of an authentic ecosystem, the works each maintain full autonomy of language: the dialogue between different generations of artists, distant in time and cultural intentions, becomes a collective network in which each intervention contributes to the concept and function of the whole.

Some of the selected works have been remodelled specifically for the exhibition and some of them bear witness to the Fondazione Merz’s interventions in Palermo in recent years. Most of the works by Marisa Merz presented in L’altro, lo stesso have never been displayed before. Among the historical works by the artist is a video entitled La conta (‘The Counting’) of 1967, which accompanies the collection of historical artist videos made in the 1970s by Gerry Schum for the series Identification, then intended for television, which completes the exhibition.

The centrepiece of the exhibition is Pietra serena sedimentata depositata e schiacciata dal proprio peso, così che tutto quello che è in basso va in alto e tutto quello che è in alto va in basso, soprelevazione e opera incerta di pietra serena  (‘Pietra serena sedimented and crushed by its own weight, so that everything below goes above and everything above goes below, a raising and uncertain work of pietra serena’) by Mario Merz. The historic work of monumental dimensions expresses the highly topical concepts of sustainability through the use of fruits and vegetables which, in the exhibition project, will become part of a cycle of transformation and nourishment through the shared social practices of Noz – Nuove Officine Zisa, whose spaces are contiguous to those of the ZAC.

The film letter to a friend by Emily Jacir will be screened on 27 October at the venue of the 2021 edition of the Festival Letterature Migranti, in a perspective of transversal collaboration with the places and activities of the territory.

As a whole, the ZACentrale programme will explore and reflect on the environment, promoting responsible and sustainable practices in all spheres: “The reflections from which the various parts of the ZACentrale project have sprung and around which they will be organised arise from an extraordinarily urgent theme, that of the environment and the role that man plays in it as an agent of transformation. All the meanings of the term ‘culture’ share more than a common root,” declare the curators Beatrice Merz and Agata Polizzi. “We are convinced that practices inspired by criteria of responsibility and sustainability must inform not only the relationship with the natural environment but also run through all cultural production and its distribution chain. If art is considered nourishment to be cultivated and made to grow, it rediscovers its most authentic sense, that of a common good to be shared. This reflection will assuredly burst on to the scene right from the inaugural exhibition”.

The ZACentrale project aims to transform the ZAC – Zisa Arti Contemporanee into a real power house and, at the same time, into a station from which journeys can start that are both departures and returns, welcomes and impulses. Far from being limited to the ZAC area alone, the programme envisages itineraries, relations and fusions between various parts of the city of Palermo: from the old buildings to the outlying suburbs, from workplaces to sports and socialising areas, without excluding the so-called marginal areas.