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23 Aug 2013

Visions of Labour at KUNSTHALLE São Paulo

Cora Piantoni, We were cinema / Wir waren das Kino, 2010, 12'33'', film still

LX92 #4 Visions of Labour | Cora Piantoni, Enzo Umbaca, Cosimo Veneziano | curated by Silvia Simoncelli



Saturday 24 August 2013, 4pm-8pm
Sunday 21 September, 6pm-10pm

Marina Coelho
+ 55 11 2339 8586

Rua dos Pinheiros, 411
05422-010 - São Paulo - SP

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Visions of Labour explores living conditions, rituals and memories of workers' communities in three different geographical and historical contexts. Through the means of video, interviews, performance, installation and music, artists Cora Piantoni (CH), Enzo Umbaca (IT), and Cosimo Veneziano (IT) generate processes of self representation. Leaving aside the stereotypes of chain work, they explore relations between people, their working environment and society. Neglecting material aspects of labour, the artists have produced intense portraits of worlds that are somehow fading. As they concentrate on the relevance of residual elements such as sound, gestures, routine and informal conversations, their works convey images which are both abstract and firmly rooted in the life of workers. By researching archives and discussing and producing new formats to translate shared experiences, they highlight the way these communities have developed as political, historical and economic subjects, rooted in labour.

In her video We Were Cinema (2011), Cora Piantoni visits different cinemas in the former German Democratic Republic (GDR), meeting people who worked there in the years before 1989. At that time they were mostly young and unwilling to submit to the system of control that was exercised in society through factory labour. They now remember - 25 years on - how they found in movie theatres a space of informal working conditions and the possibility of free speech, which they nurtured with films and retrospectives, and shared with audiences alike.

Metallurgic Sounds (2006) is a video of the concert-performance which marked the final stage of a long term project conducted by Enzo Umbaca in the small mountain town of Forno Canavese, near Turin, one of the oldest centres of steel manufacturing in Italy. Umbaca approached this place and the workers with the intent to give voice to their 'soul of sounds'. Exploring the noise landscape of steel production machinery, and merging it with an anthem aptly composed for the village, Umbaca has produced in cooperation with professional and amateur musicians, steel workers and common people, a piece of music in the form of a one-time event involving the whole community as producers, performers and audience.

For his work, Cosimo Veneziano has transformed a piece of urban furniture into a monument dedicated to the women who worked in a shoe factory which has since been dismantled and replaced by a newly built block of flats. Questo è dunque un monumento? (Is this then a monument?, 2011) is the result of a long research process which the artist started by examining the archives of the factory, where he focussed his attention on some pictures documenting the simple repetitive routine of gestures performed by workers. He decided that he wanted to meet the women, who are now elderly retired ladies, and ask them to demonstrate once more the gestures they still know by heart. He later turned the images of their hands into metal plaques, which he mounted as fragile ex-voto onto the converted fountain, as a late celebration of women´s identity in labour.


About the artists

Cora Piantoni
(*1975, in Munich). She graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts in Munich and the University of Art and Design in Zurich where she now lives and works. She is an artist, photographer and filmmaker, working with storytelling and re-enactment. Through extensive research, she focuses on the end of the Cold War and the political changes in Eastern Europe. She is interested in political situations and their effect on people's everyday lives, on survival strategies and resistance movements. She has exhibited her work in solo and group shows internationally, in Poland, the Czech Republic, Sweden, Germany, Holland and Switzerland. In 2004 she was awarded the Bavarian State Sponsorship Award for Photography and in 2010 the HWP-Grant by the Bavarian Ministry for Research and Art and was as artist in residence in Klenová/CZ, Dresden and at Wyspa Institue of Art in Gdansk/PL.

Enzo Umbaca was born in Calabria, in the South of Italy, and now lives in Milan. His research encompasses a variety of media, including video, photography and performance, and concentrates in particular on the theme of identity, entering literally in the role of the 'other'. He has had solo exhibitions at Artecontemporanea Bruxelles, Belgium; Galleria Franco Soffiantino, Turin; a+mbookstore, Milan; Galleria Sogospatty, Roma; Artopia, Milan; Placentia Arte Piacenza; Viafarini, Milan; Care/Of, Cusano Milanino. His most recent group shows, include: Fuori Uso, Pescara; AtWork, Galerie La Manège, Institut Francais de Dakar; Obbligo di transito, Galleria R. De Grada, San Giminiano; Roaming, Copy-Left, Alkatraz Gallery Ljubljana (2012); Il bel Paese dell'Arte, GAMeC, Bergamo (2011); Dwelling-in-Travel Center for Contemporary Art Plovdiv, Bulgaria (2010); WE DO IT, Kunstraum Lakeside, Klagerfurt; T.A.M.A. Side Effect, MAC, Lyon (2009); VideoREPORT ITALIA, GC.AC, Monfalcone (2008); La parola nell'arte, MART, Rovereto; Silenzio, una mostra da ascoltare, Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo, Turin; Capricci, Casino Luxembourg, Forum d'Art Contemporain, Luxembourg (2007). His work was published in Cream 3, Phaidon, London, 2003.

Cosimo Veneziano
(* 1983, in Turin). Lives and works in Turin. His research stems from the idea of tracing a path through an anthology of experiences which try to emerge out of the exclusion of 'official' history. Among his projects: La possibilità di un'isola (The Possibility of an Island,2009) presented in the spaces of Associazione Barriera and Non è cosa, Cappella Anselmetti for the 'Laboratory of History and Stories' created by Massimo Bartolini in Turin; L'era delle passioni tristi (The era of sad passions, 2010), Tirana Institute for Contemporary Art, Tirana; Estensione del dominio della lotta # 1 (Broadening the field of struggle, 2011); Carte Blanche - the historical archives, four interpretations, Unicredit. In 2011 he produced two works of public art: La fine del mondo e il paese delle meraviglie (The end of the world and the wonderland) for the cultural district of Vallecamonica in Edolo (Brescia), and Questo è dunque un monumento? (Is this then a monument?) for the city of Turin. Since 2007, he is one of the founders and organisers of the residency program for artists Diogene Bivacco Urbano (


About the curator

Silvia Simoncelli
(Milan, 1976) is art historian and independent curator. She teaches at NABA in Milan and is research associate for the Postgraduate Program in Curating at ZHdK, Zurich. Recent projects include: Who is Afraid of the Public, symposium, ICA, London, 2013; Performing Structures, Wascherei, Kunstverein Zurich, 2012; Deimantas Narkevicius, Revisiting Utopia, special program, Winterthur Short Film Festival, 2011; Flurin Bisig, Mit dem Rucken zum Publikum, Wascherei, Kunstverein Zurich, 2011. She is co-publisher of the web journal on-curating and contributor to catalogues and magazines.


About LX92

Created by curator Marina Coelho, the project LX92 consists of a series of exhibitions of foreign artists at KUNSTHALLE São Paulo, and aims to create an international dialogue between São Paulo and Europe, specially Switzerland, expanding the local art scene for the ideas that are being discussed in those countries and promoting European artists. The project title is a reference to the direct flight that connects Zurich to Sao Paulo.


About KUNSTHALLE São Paulo

Opened in September 2012, KUNSTHALLE São Paulo is an independent contemporary art space. Holding projects and exhibitions of national and international artists, the space is characterized by experimentation, community formation and the creation of discussions around current social and contemporary art issues. Comprising an exhibition space and a small book shop, KUNSTHALLE São Paulo functions as a meeting point for artists, theorists, and people who are interested in art in general, who may suggest projects, discursive events, such as lectures and debates, video projections and concerts.