A herd of small polar bears runs through the halls of the Fundació Miró. They play or fight with each other, romp, do yoga or swing on a swing. Instead of their trademark white fur, the pups sport fluffy, fluorescent-colored feathers. Here are the largest carnivores on earth turned into luminous, fierce, tender and vulnerable creatures, by the work and art of Paola Pivi (Milan, 1971), an Italian creator who challenges our vision of the world by turning it upside down. Or, at least, generating strange situations where nothing is expected and that force us to rethink it again and imagine other realities: zebras in the middle of the snow, a small donkey drifting in a rowing boat, horses in the Eiffel Tower or a replica of the Statue of Liberty with a mask that simulates an emoji of the face of an Asian child.
“My work is meant to make you think as much as you can. You must never stop thinking. But if you laugh, laughter is also welcome”, Pivi has explained on some occasion, whose installation We are the gang of little ones (2019) opens a unique exhibition at the Fundació Miró, Imaginary Friends, conceived as an antidote to the fear of contemporary art, whose depth does not necessarily have to make it boring and impenetrable. "On the contrary, it can be a very close experience and a source of joy and fun," says director Marko Daniel, who especially wants to reach out to children. And he adds that "imagination is a very special element in the project, that of the artists but also ours when it comes to getting closer."
Martina Millà and Patrick Ronse, director of the Belgian platform Be-Part, have selected nine installations that culminate with one of Martin Cred's rooms filled up to half with orange balloons (Half the air in a given space) which, if leaves out claustrophobia, going through it makes the world seem much lighter and more loving, as if we were one more balloon in a sea of balloons.
Paola Pivi, Martin Cred, Pipilotti Rist, Meschac Gaba... Leading swords of contemporary art for a playful and participatory proposal underlying "profound issues such as the revision of feminism, the role of the West in Africa, queer consciousness or how non-normative bodies are felt in a heteronormative world”, emphasizes Millà. The Belgian Kasper Bosmans recreates the atmosphere of a child's bedroom at that moment in which "you enter the world of the night, in the dark and the first fears creep in." Half a century later, American Polly Apfelbaum appropriates the title and image of a 1963 symposium, The Potential of Woman, which addressed female emancipation with its back turned to feminists.
Meschac Gaba, founder in 1997 of the traveling museum of contemporary African art, talks about the difficulty of creating autonomous and free nations through devilish puzzles with the flags of seven countries, Afra Eisma creates imaginary worlds that can be inhabited and Pipilotti Rist gives us the possibility of seeing again with the perspective of a child in a room with oversized furniture. And still, in Pati de Olivera, one of the benches modified by the Danish Jeppe Hein waits for the visitor to interact with him and his benchmates.