For the Best of 2012 In Print, see the December Issue of Artforum.

View of “Caption,” 2012–13, Padiglione d’Arte Contemporanea, Milan.


THIS YEAR, three exhibitions shared a similar theme: the science of building bonds that are capable of signifying multiple and unexpected connections between the past and the present, between inside and outside, and among various social, aesthetic, and behavioral concepts. “Caption,” the first retrospective of Alberto Garutti’s work, which is curated by Paola Nicolin and Hans Ulrich Obrist and is on view at the Padiglione d’Arte Contemporanea (PAC) in Milan until February 3, 2013, is one such show. A standout piece consists of twenty-eight devices for recording audio in the galleries, and is installed in such a way as to document every sound, noise, word, voice, comment, whisper, and exchange of information from visitors in the show, as well as from the museum guards, and even the curators as they installed the exhibition. The title of the work, IN QUESTE SALE 28 MICROFONI REGISTRANTO TUTTE LE PAROLE CHE GLI SPETTATORI PRONUNCERANNO. UN LIBRO A LORO DEDICATO LE RACCOGLIERA (IN THESE ROOMS 28 MICROPHONES RECORD ALL THE WORDS THAT VISITORS SAY. THEIR WORDS WILL BE COLLECTED IN A BOOK DEDICATED TO THEM.), 2012, underscores how Garutti has transformed the space into a long, ideal conversation or narration.

Alessandro Agudio expressed another tale in his solo exhibition, which closed on November 24 at the nonprofit space Gasconade, also in Milan. Titled Sleek like a Slum feat. Primitive Art, 2012, the project was presented as if it were on a stage via an intricate system of sculptures, which the artist treated as “pure” images. The show seemed to act as an ideal video recorder that could fast-forward, abruptly rewind, or unexpectedly pause images. For example, Agudio made a work based on one of his childhood memories and then unexpectedly transformed it into a fantasy machine—a delicately colored canvas that, when viewed up close, proves to be a print on fabric of an enlarged photo of the pupil of an eye.

In Petrit Halilaj’s solo exhibition at the Kunst Halle Sankt Gallen last summer, “Who Does the Earth Belong to While Painting the Wind?!,” long metal wires emerged from the walls; attached to them were innumerable drawings, dating from the artist’s early childhood through her adolescence. The work exposed a sense of identification, of shared experiences tied to early forms of creativity that all mothers (particularly mothers of artists) proudly save in their bedroom chests, amid those pieces of furniture that, for all intents and purposes, constitute more an emotional than a physical architecture of the home.

Marco Tagliafierro is an art critic and curator based in Milan.

Translated from Italian by Marguerite Shore.