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An unprecedented experience of exchanges and encounters between artists, thinkers, and ardent defenders of the forest

The interweaving of spaces with greenery is as essential as an efficacious concept.

A green place attractiveness is manifestly ascertaining as an atavistic human need to get closer to where life is. All the more so when all that greenery is placed in an enclosed place and surrounded by works of art soaked in it.

After much of the Milano area has been plagued in the recent summer weeks - as the whole Lombardia Region - by severe weather storms, whose bursting force has even damaged the exhibition itself, the Triennale keeps on hosting Siamo Foresta, a new project (the sixth) created as part of the eight-year partnership betweenTriennale Milano and Fondation Cartier pour l'art contemporain, confirming the institutions' commitment to encouraging visitors to discover the visions of artists from the most diverse geographical contexts.

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Installation view Siamo Foresta, Triennale Milano, 2023 Photo: Andrea Rossetti

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Installation view Siamo Foresta, Triennale Milano, 2023
Photo: Andrea Rossetti

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Installation view Siamo Foresta, Triennale Milano, 2023
Photo: Andrea Rossetti

Specially conceived for Triennale Milano, Siamo Foresta is an unprecedented experience of exchanges and encounters between artists, thinkers, and ardent defenders of the forest. Each one of them brings a fundamental esthetic and political message on the necessity to rethink the role of the human being within the universe of all living forms.

“Since its origins, the Western tradition has categorized the living according to a scale of value on which the human stands at the top” explains Bruce Albert, anthropologist and artistic co-director with Hervé Chandés, actually at the head of the Fondation Cartier pour l'art contemporain artistic direction as well, and continues “the philosophy of Indigenous societies in the Americas, on the other hand, considers that humans and non-humans (animals and plants) although different in appearance, are profoundly united by the same sensitivity and intentionality”.

That is why the exhibition casts 27 South American artists - mostly from Latin Americans and belonging to Indigenous communities linked to the Amazon Rainforest - except for Fabrice Hyber, French, and the Chinese artist Cai Guo-Qiang.

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Installation view Siamo Foresta, Triennale Milano, 2023
Photo: Andrea Rossetti

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Hanging paintings.
Installation view Siamo Foresta, Triennale Milano, 2023
Photo: Andrea Rossetti

The heterogeneity of the artworks makes the exhibit landscape much varied, due also to their inspiration to the chaos typical of nature, where diversities meet and often coexist in silence: we find some of them suspended, as in a hanging garden, or as those light beings just lowered from their webs, occupying their space in the air; the glass windows create kaleidoscopic facets that cover the spaces and plants with color, giving a safe and living enclosure to the works.

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Installation view Siamo Foresta, Triennale Milano, 2023
Photo: Andrea Rossetti

The spontaneousness is also echoed by non-labeling the works, or, more precisely, by drawing them directly on the walls of the rooms with charcoal sketches signed by the Brazilian artist Alex Cerveney.

The forest becomes a meeting space, a sort of agorà, between a group of artists defined as "a group of friends" by the artistic directors and curators of the exhibition themselves, who speak through their artistic works about bonding, those between people and those between the animal and natural world.

To fortify this vision, the monumental four-handed canvases by Sheroanawe Hakihiiw and Fabrice Hyber welcome the visitors at the entrance to the exhibition, demonstrating the Fondation Cartier's commitment to fostering encounter and exchanges, a principle standing at the origin of this exhibition and resulting from conversations which have given rise to unprecedented collaborations as theirs.

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To the right: Fabrice Hyber e Sheroanawe Hakihiiwe.
Photo: Andrea Rossetti

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Fabrice Hyber e Sheroanawe Hakihiiwe artworks.
Photo: Andrea Rossetti

The presence of Fabrice Hyber should come as no surprise. The artist has been cultivating a forest around his parents’ former sheep farm since the 1990s, giving birth to over 300.000 tree seeds of hundreds of species(!).

I basically do the same thing with my works, I sow trees as I sow signs and images.

They are there, I sow seeds of thought that are visible, they gain ground and they grow. I am no longer in control.

Fabrice Hyber referring to the Valley, in Vendée (France)

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Installation view Siamo Foresta, Triennale Milano, 2023
Photo: Andrea Rossetti

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Installation view Siamo Foresta, Triennale Milano, 2023
Photo: Andrea Rossetti

In order to celebrate this all-round attitude, the installation entrusted to Brazilian artist Luiz Zerbini is functional and immersive: everything is set as an invitation, a feast, to celebrate nature and the naturalness of encounters, an open space that welcomes visitors as they enter the spacious rooms of Palazzo dell'Arte, the headquarters of Triennale Milano, dressed in Amazonian colors, atmospheres and sounds.

Known for juxtaposing realm and fictional nature and mergeing nature with spaces - abstract or not -, Zerbini keeps holding on to a practice he has been doing all across his career since he first emerged within the generational (and global) 'return to painting' of the 1980s, which in this exhibition he seems to want to return to.

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Luiz Zerbini surrounded by plants.
Courtesy of Stephen Friedman Gallery

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nstallation view Siamo Foresta, Triennale Milano, 2023
Photo: Andrea Rossetti

Moreover, 70% of the works on display come from the collection of the Fondation Cartier and bear witness to the relationship that it has established with artists from Indigenous communities of South America, often extraneous to the canonical circuits of the mainstream market and art institutions.

The topic of the earth's crisis in the age of the Anthropocene is subtended, meandering, and omnipresent, however, the exhibition lends its weight to an approach of collaboration and dialogue, within a spectacular fictional forest that inhabits the hall of Triennale Milano, which, as Stefano Boeri reminds us, is a partner in Forestami, a municipal project that envisages the planting of three million trees in the city by 2030.

Siamo Foresta will be open to visitors until 29 October 2023. Be the forest too.

SIAMO FORESTA

PeriodJune 22 – October 29, 2023
Artistic directionBruce Albert, Hervé Chandès
Exhibition designLuiz Zerbini

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