Turin hosts controversial ‘Shit and Die’ show

Turin hosts controversial 'Shit and Die' show
The exhibition title is a reference to artist Bruce Nauman's 1984 work One Hundred Live and Die. Photo: Marco Bertorello/AFP
Turin is seeking to cement its place as a major stop on the international contemporary art circuit by hosting "Shit and Die" - an exhibition that has sparked controversy at city hall.

The collection of works from some 50 artists, including Britain's Sarah Lucas, opened to the public Thursday and will run until January 11th at the city's Palazzo Cavour.

Its launch coincides with the opening of the annual Artissima contemporary art fair in the northern Italian city, which is best known as the home of Fiat and Juventus football club but is seeking to forge a future as a cultural hub.

The Shit and Die collection was curated by provocative Italian artist Maurizio Cattelan, best-known for his work depicting the late Pope Jean-Paul II felled by a meteor.

Cattelan was briefed to come up with an exhibition that takes the city of Turin as its point of departure.

But the exhibition, which features nudity and expletives, has prompted controversy at Turin's city hall. Councillor Silvio Viale has written to Piero Fassino, the city's mayor, asking to cut sponsorship for the art project, La Repubblica reported.

For the organizers, the exhibition is a "space that turns into a surrealist dream – or nightmare – where Contessa di Castiglione [the mistress of Napoleon III] rubs elbows with Nietzsche's ghost while more than 60 artists occupy what used to be the house of Camillo Benso Conte de Cavour, [the] invisible but still present head of household."

And at the risk of being castigated for pretension, they defended the use of the provocative title for the exhibition, which they said was a reference to artist Bruce Nauman's 1984 work One Hundred Live and Die.

"It [the title] sums up life reduced to its simplest and most universal elements, which is exactly what the show is about," Artissima said.

"Turin, its history and its stories are treated like signs that, when translated through the syntax of contemporary art, shape into a wider statement on the complexity of human beings and the torments of life."

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