Where: museo d’arte contemporanea Villa Croce

When: 21 novembre 2014 – 8 febbraio 2015

curated by Ilaria Bonacossa with Anna Lovecchio


Museo d’Arte Contemporanea Villa Croce presents the first survey exhibition of A Constructed World in Europe. A Dangerous Critical Present displays the widely diverse modes of their practice and features six distinct installations of the artist’s works, one for each room of the museum’s first floor, that highlight the repetitions and re-occurrences existing among their paintings, sculptures, editions, immaterial gestures and shared spaces of interaction with the public.

Gathering works made over the past fifteen years across a variety of media, including video, installation, painting, performance and ephemera of all kinds, the exhibition traverses a number open models from the twenty-year-long practice of A Constructed World: Fire works, Explaining contemporary art to live eels, Atheism and luck, Pre-emptive drawings, Paintings , paper works and Chrématistique.


Without ACW really intending it, the Fire works came together over time as a succession of works depicting destruction by fire. The artists investigate the fate of objects and ideas when they cease to function, raising questions about the impulse to obliterate objects, the operative needs of capitalism, and what remains after something is destroyed.

Explaining contemporary art to live eels belongs to an ongoing performative project in which guest speakers are invited to explain contemporary art to live eels that are later released back into the wild. The work addresses issues of transmission, diffusion, sending, receiving and not-knowing and is also related to the research project In translation developed by curator and art historian Sébastien Pluot, which ACW have contributed to with several exhibitions and publications. In this case,the aquatic environment of Explaining contemporary art to live eels does not host the performative event butis reconfigured as an archival space where manifold effects from past performances are displayed together with a bronze edition, in a sense a facsimile of a live eel, produced by Villa Croce and cast at the Fonderia Artistica Battaglia in Milan.

Atheism and luck is an edition of plastic carpets that have been shown alternatively as a floor piece, a wall hanging, a support for the works of other artists, as well as being used as a space to perform on, meditate, or listening to music. Here a new element is introduced, a modest chandelier laden with good luck charms: Italian horns, hand symbols and Turkish and Chinese charms, that creates a speculative space of uncertainty where not-knowing and the anticipation of future opportunities are ironically blended.

The Pre-emptive drawings are plans for performances, exhibition and installations. Looking more like drawings made after the event, they are in fact the plans, or instructions, for the placement of people and props in performances and installations in gallery spaces. They are works that anticipate and predict rather than document. The drawings selected for the room include plans for a number of installations of Explaining contemporary art to live eels, Medicine Show performances and diagrams and charts for developing works.

The Paintings and paper works room includes a selection of paintings that make a transition between mediums, such as performance, video, and painting, that somehow exchanges or subverts their inherent qualities. The paintings are installed over large paper works made with the group Speech and What Archive, bringing together an archive of the groups endeavours in a collection of texts, notes, and images. This room as a whole tests out the spatio-temporal potential of painting and literally turns the space into an enveloping paper room.

Chrématistique is a set of three works – a painting, a video and a sculpture – that reflect on the shift towards neoliberalism occurring over the past decade or more. Following the research of French philosopher Fabien Vallos on the Aristotelian notion of chrematistics, ACW consider the process of accumulating wealth through money and goods regardless of their use value


Informed by a consistent disregard for conventional hierarchies, a rigorous deskilling of the art gesture and a deep-seated attraction to the unpredictable and the improvisational, the aesthetics of A Constructed World is consistent in reminding us that understanding is not the primary goal of art. Often fueled by the energy of collective thinking and collaborative modes of production, their work is not so much concerned with comprehension as with investigating our desire for signification and broader issues of communication and exchange. Since their inception, A Constructed World have been blurring the borders between authorship and participation, knowing and not-knowing, artists and non-artists, in an attempt to sidestep the insider knowledge too often deemed necessary to access contemporary art.

A Constructed World, founded 1993, is the collaboration of Paris-based Australian artists Geoff Lowe and Jacqueline Riva. Their first major survey exhibition, Increase Your Uncertainty, was presented at the Australian Center for Contemporary Art, Melbourne, curated by Juliana Engberg (2007) and a retrospective, Based on a true story, was curated by Bala Starr at the Ian Potter Museum of Art, the University of Melbourne (2012). They have presented solo exhibitions and performances in museums and art centers including La Panacée, Centre for Contemporary Culture, Montpellier (2014), Spring Workshop, Hong Kong (2013), Les Laboratories d’Aubervilliers (2013), Artspace, Sydney (2013), FRAC Champagne-Ardenne, Reims (2012), Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney (2012),Villa Arson, Nice (2010), Royal Academy of Fine Arts, Stockholm (2011), CAPC Museum of Contemporary Art, Bordeaux (2008) and Artists Space, New York (2000). Their work has been included in group exhibitions in various venues among which, most recently, the Witte de With, Rotterdam (2014), Cneai, Chatou (2014) and The National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne (2013).

A Constructed World has participated in numerous conferences and symposia around the world and have initiated conferences themselves. They produced and published Artfan magazine (1993-2002), errors deceits mistakes (2006-2010) and they publish the newspapers of Speech and What Archive. Their most recent project salon Jackie facilitates performances, events and conversations by artists, curators, critics and philosophers in their atelier in Paris. They have been invited to make workshops for institutions such as the Serpentine Gallery in London, Goldsmiths at the University of London, National Centre for Contemporary Dance, CNDC, Angers, the Dirty Art Department, Sandberg Institute, Rietveld Academie, Amsterdam and Manifatto in Situa, Parco per l’Arte in Cancelli, Umbria. In 2009 they initiated the collaborative project Speech and What Archive, bringing together professional and emerging artists, curators, art historians and a philosopher.