Giulia Cenci (IT)

Giulia Cenci - field (2018)
Hybrids (2018)
Photography Gert Jan van Rooij

Giulia Cenci – field (2018)

Giulia Cenci (b. Cortona, Italy, 1988, lives and works in Amsterdam) generally makes alienating, erratic landscapes featuring indefinable objects. These protrude from the white walls and lie on the floors of art spaces, looking organic, yet synthetic and industrial. Sometimes a length of electrical wire can be seen, or part of a plug or another element of a device. All the objects are the same semi-transparent white-grey colour because of the multiple resinous layers that have been applied.

Cenci adapts and combines the objects in many different ways, by hand and mechanically, constantly adding and removing elements, so that what Cenci refers to as an indefinable unity develops, which both embraces and undermines classical sculpture. Looking organic yet artificial, amorphous yet familiar, traditionally crafted yet industrial, Cenci’s work is multi-hybrid.

While a white cube provides all the necessary space for the art, precisely the opposite occurs at De Oude Warande. The work has to fit into the wooded space. The work that Cenci has made for Hybrids enters into an interaction with that space. The erratic shapes seem to be branches of the trees. Some of these go around the trunks, effectively embracing the trees. These objects are based on parts of cars, trains and other machines and devices, which have been treated with the light material urethane foam, which has no impact on the trees, and then coated with several layers of silicone rubber.

Cenci deliberately selected a piece of land with a relatively high density of trees. The artist herself talks about crowded verticality. She allowed these custom-made objects to occupy the available space, just as branches, mosses and fungi do. In an organic way, the installation followed the lines of the branches while, paradoxically, a unique, elusive and artificial panorama simultaneously came into being.

Giulia Cenci - equal minds (alone) (2023)
aluminum, steel frame, steel strap
courtesy the artist
photography Gert Jan van Rooij

Giulia Cenci – equal minds (alone) (2023)

From fantastical landscapes to forbidding constructions, the sculptures and installations of the Italian artist Giulia Cenci (b. Cortona, 1988, lives and works in Amsterdam and Cortona) are characterised by an unsettling assemblage-like quality. Casts of human and animal body parts and tangled tree roots and branches are combined with ironmongery and scrap metal, medical devices and everyday utensils – sometimes fused and intertwined, and at other times wedged in or split in two. This creates what Cenci calls ‘indefinable units’. With this approach, she challenges existing categories such as ‘human’, ‘animal, and ‘nature’ and the point at which these become ‘objects’, ‘products’ or ‘waste’. Cenci’s oeuvre therefore lends itself perfectly to the theme of Eartheaters.

Cenci, who had a striking presence at the Arsenale in 2022 during the Venice Biennale, has previously participated in Lustwarande. Her installation field (2018) extended across a densely wooded plot: a shattered panorama of objects that, like plants, mosses and mushrooms, adapted to the available space and appeared to live parasitically on tree trunks. This similar work, specially created for Eartheaters, offers an experience that is ‘more tranquil’ and ‘more intimate’. Visitors can rest their gaze and feel free to speculate. The interaction between the tree trunk, the car seat and the heads displayed on it forms an eerie encounter of elements. Is this an accident involving a single vehicle, or is an imminent confrontation brewing? A thorough inspection, an intimate embrace or a showdown that will reveal who is the stronger? Cenci explores a visual language to prevent her works from conveying an unequivocal message. In the words of the artist: ‘It is about the freedom of the imagination and about everything that can’t be killed by today’s society.’