Otobong Nkanga Of Grounds, Guts and Stones, 2022-2023 – Pollenzo – Italy

Tuesday 24 January 2023, 11 am Piazza Vittorio Emanuele II, Pollenzo – Bra (Cuneo) – Lawn in front of the Pollenzo Castle


For its fourth and final installation, A CIELO APERTO, a public art project commissioned by Fondazione CRC in collaboration with Castello di Rivoli Museo d’Arte Contemporanea, concludes with the presentation of the new outdoor sculpture Of Grounds, Guts and Stones, 2022-2023, by Otobong Nkanga. Curated by Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev, Director of Castello di Rivoli, it is created with the scientific collaboration of University of Gastronomic Sciences of Pollenzo and Slow Food.

Nkanga’s artwork will be installed a few kilometers from the center of Bra, on the lawn in front of the historic Savoy castle, the Agenzia di Pollenzo, home of the University of Gastronomic Sciences, with its Slow Food restaurant and hotel and pioneering Wine Bank. The work will be inaugurated on Tuesday 24 January 2023 at 11 am.


In line with the Slow Food philosophy and the theme of regeneration of Terra Madre Salone del Gusto in Turin, Otobong Nkanga has developed a new public art project for the city of Bra.

Paying great attention to the Piedmont region, Nkanga has created Of Grounds, Guts and Stones, a sculptural work formed by a sequence of large benches in carved marble linked by metal pipes. The marble benches house planters filled with local and seasonal aromatic plants. These include species such as Viburnum tinus, Juniperus communis, Lavanda nana hidcote, Helleborus niger – Helleborus x hybridus ‘Pink’, Punica granatum ‘Nana’, Cornus alba elegantissima (red) – Cornus stolonifera flaviramea (yellow), Erica darleyensis, Helichrysum, Cineraria maritima, Hypericum (erect) and Iberis sempervirens, recommended by Alberto Arossa of Slow Food Italy and coming from a local nursery, the VIVAI VERBENE di Ferrero & Demagistris in Bene Vagienna (Cuneo). The selected plants are well suited to the local climate, characterized by very cold winters and very hot summers.

Instead of proposing a traditional sculpture for a square to be experienced passively by the public, the artist sought to create a place where the local community and students can gather, and where native plants and minerals are harmonized in poetic relationships.


Nkanga’s artistic research addresses urgent issues related to our environment, climate, exploitation of resources and sustainability. In her work, she lays out the inherent complexities of our resources like soil and earth and their potential value in food production and our well-being. Nkanga emphasises on how various ecosystems are part of our economies and local territories and traditions.

For the artist, instead of dwelling on what separates or divides, it is better to seek and insist on what, as human beings, unites us to each other and binds us to the planet that hosts us.


Offering a place dedicated to meeting and resting, Nkanga’s work at Pollenzo promotes the value of horticulture as a regeneration practice in which the mixing of native plants becomes a metaphor for happy cohabitation between living beings – both human and vegetable – under the banner of a more equitable and sustainable world. Located in the meadow of the Pollenzo castle, Nkanga’s project enhances the rich history of the 19th-century Savoy royal farm, a model farm and place originally aimed at experimentation in the field of wine-growing.


The President of Fondazione CRC, Ezio Raviola, states “With the inauguration of the fourth and final stage of the A CIELO APERTO project, which the Foundation has promoted to celebrate 30 years of activity, a unique cultural initiative concludes, which has left a tangible and highly valuable mark on the region, thanks to the installation of the works of four significant international artists. We are pleased that this last stage is an opportunity to consolidate the collaborative relationships with Slow Food and with the University of Gastronomic Sciences and to enhance with this work an area characterized by a strong community identity. A special thanks goes to the Castello di Rivoli Museo d’Arte Contemporanea for the scholarly curatorship and the collaboration on this important project.” 


From September 25, 2021 to July 3, 2022, Nkanga presented her solo exhibition Otobong Nkanga. Of Cords Curling around Mountains at Castello di Rivoli Museo d’Arte Contemporanea. The Director of Castello di Rivoli, Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev, states, “After two and a half years of pandemic, it’s time to go out into the open air. A project like this, strongly supported by Fondazione CRC, reminds us how art has healing and beneficial effects on the public and also calls us to our responsibility towards the environment, so rich in aesthetic stimuli and so open to welcoming the works of art.”



“The enormous challenges that characterize our times,” states Edward Mukiibi, the incoming President of Slow Food, “affect every single person on the planet, human and non-human alike, and call for everyone to collaborate in regeneration. Contemporary art is also called upon to do its part, making available the extraordinary ability of artists to read the times we live in, imagine the future and transform thoughts and visions into expressive forms of great impact. The regeneration that the Slow Food movement is referring to is echoed in the work of contemporary artists, as artists such as Otobong Nkanga today walk alongside the communities of Terra Madre.”



The overall A CIELO APERTO (Open Air) project presents four new permanent, public artworks which are installed in four locations: the Piemontese towns of Bra, Mondovì, Cuneo and Alba – the area of Cuneo where Fondazione CRC operates, characterized by vineyard landscapes and historic hill towns. This project is part of the program La generazione delle idee (The Generation of Ideas) by Fondazione CRC to celebrate its 30th anniversary, and it is designed to be enjoyed by the community and celebrate a spirit of renewed freedom in the open air, in contrast with the limitations that have characterized the last few years of cultural activities.


This final installation of the project follows the inaugurations of the artworks The presence of absence pavilion, 2022, by Olafur Eliasson at Castello di Grinzane Cavour (formerly the home of the 19th-century statesman Camillo Cavour, who led the reunification of Italy), Il Terzo Paradiso dei Talenti, 2022, by Michelangelo Pistoletto in Cuneo, and A Song A Part, 2022, by Susan Philipsz in Mondovì, which have followed one another in recent months.




The initiative aims to establish a new balance between local communities, history, international artistic culture and nature, with particular attention to the themes of ecology which today are expressed in an effort to slow down climate change, to seek a quality and sustainability in food production, as well as in the cultural memory that constitutes the identity of these places and distinctive landscapes, protected with UNESCO heritage status. This region, famous for its white truffles and Barolo wine, is also the birthplace of the Slow Food Movement and home to the Slow Food University in Pollenzo, just outside Bra, which partners with one of the art works of ‘A CIELO APERTO’. The combination of art and land of the A CIELO APERTO project connects the execptional local gastronomic and enological culture and ecosystems to the experimental culture of contemporary art.


The project, which involves four internationally renowned artists, creates a dialogue between different cultures and generations. The works of Olafur Eliasson (Copenhagen, 1967), Michelangelo Pistoletto (Biella, 1933), Susan Philipsz (Glasgow, 1965), and Otobong Nkanga (Kano, 1974) have been acquired by Fondazione CRC and are presented respectively at Castello di Grinzane Cavour (Alba), Cuneo, Mondovì, and Pollenzo (Bra).


Fondazione CRC thanks Castello di Rivoli Museo d’Arte Contemporanea for curating and installing the project, as well as its Education Department for the collaboration.







Press Office, Castello di Rivoli Museo d’Arte Contemporanea

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International Press, Castello di Rivoli Museo d’Arte Contemporanea

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Images: [email protected]


Italian Press, Castello di Rivoli Museo d’Arte Contemporanea

Stilema | [email protected] | tel. +39.011530066



The artworks



Otobong Nkanga



On 24 January 2023 the new work by Otobong Nkanga Of Grounds, Guts and Stones, 2022-2023, will be presented in Pollenzo (Bra). For the public art project, the artist drew a new sculptural work made up of a sequence of marble seats, metal pipes and planters that house local and seasonal aromatic plants. The whole draws a landscape characterized by curved lines and organic shapes, alluding to potential food containers and enhancing the products of the earth. 
Nkanga’s artistic research deals with urgent issues related to the climate crisis and the exploitation of resources and sustainability, in line with the philosophy of Slow Food, the international non-profit association born in Bra in 1986. Founded by Bra resident Carlo Petrini, Slow Food’s aim is to restore the organic relationships between food, ecology, and cultures and to give food its correct value by respecting those who produce it, in harmony with the environment and ecosystems, preserving the knowledge of local territories and traditions.

The relationship with the African continent and Nigeria, where the artist comes from, represents a key point in building a sustainable future. Nkanga’s empathetic relationship with the earth and the environment produces in those who experience his works an unprecedented cosmogony for the future.



Olafur Eliasson


A CIELO APERTO is developed in four phases, the first of which began on Saturday 25 June 2022 with the presentation of the work The presence of absence pavilion, 2019-2022, by Olafur Eliasson at Castello di Grinzane Cavour (Alba).


The presence of absence pavilion by Olafur Eliasson is a rectangular bronze sculpture, which contains a hollow organic form that represents the void produced by the melting of a glacier, in reference to the climate crisis and global warming. The work evokes an ice cube hollowed out from within and was created by melting a block of ice from the Nuup Kangerlua fjord, off the coast of Greenland, an area where the ice sheet formed over millions of years and today loses tens of thousands of similar blocks every minute. In The presence of absence pavilion the melted ice is present only as an absence or as a memory. The placement of the work on the lawn next to the Castello di Grinzane Cavour, not far from the vineyard belonging to the Fondazione CRC, also establishes a relationship with the erosion created by water on the surrounding hills and the melting of the ancient glaciers that once covered this region and created the valley.


The presence of absence pavilion recalls both the artist’s exhibition Your waste of time held in 2006 at neugerriemschneider, in which Icelandic ice blocks were exhibited in the cooled exhibition space, and the public art work Ice Watch, in which twelve immense blocks of ice collected from a fjord outside Nuuk, Greenland, were placed in the shape of a clock in public spaces in Copenhagen, Paris and London between 2014 and 2019, and remained for several days to slowly melt. Eliasson’s works are created to reproduce the power of natural elements, as well as produce perceptive and aesthetic phenomena of great quality.


Michelangelo Pistoletto

On 14 October 2022 took place in Cuneo the presentation of the new work Il Terzo Paradiso dei Talenti, 2022, by Michelangelo Pistoletto.

Open to exchange, Pistoletto’s art is the meeting and dialogue of multiple voices, an aesthetic founded on relationships and participation thanks to the ability to go beyond the confines of the work to bring art back to social life and life in art. The monumental work represents the infinity-like symbol of the Terzo Paradiso, a concept of Pistoletto that refers to a balanced connection between the man-made and natural realms. The piece promotes the idea of community participation, youth talent and collective work. It was created with the contribution of local communities and in particular through the combination of 122 drawings made by children and collected by the Education Department of the Castello di Rivoli Museo d’Arte Contemporanea in synergy with various people from the city of Cuneo.


Started in 2003, Terzo Paradiso is a set of works and actions, sometimes temporary and always shared, which express the further evolution of the artist’s responsibility towards society. Between the two contiguous circles of the mathematical sign of infinity, which indicate the two opposite poles of nature and artifice, the artist has inserted a third central circle that represents the generative womb of a new humanity, an ideal overcoming of the destructive conflict that causes characterizes the anti-ecological present.


In 2003, Pistoletto theorized in the manifesto of the same name: “Terzo Paradiso is the third phase of humanity, which takes place in the balanced connection between artifice and nature. Terzo Paradiso means the passage to an unprecedented stage of planetary civilization, indispensable for ensuring the survival of mankind. To this end, it is first of all necessary to reform the ethical principles and behaviors that guide common life. Terzo Paradiso is the great myth that leads everyone to assume a personal responsibility in the global vision.” Since 2004, Terzo Paradiso has been publicly announced by Pistoletto as the next phase of his work, becoming a great collective and participatory work. Between 2018 and 2020, thanks to the development of an international network of Embassies and Forums to spread these ideas, the activity of the Terzo Paradiso has further intensified.


Susan Philipsz

On Saturday 5 November 2022, A Song A Part, 2022, a new sound installation specially conceived by Susan Philipsz, one of the most important international artists working in sound art, was presented at the Museo Civico della Stampa Ex Collegio delle Orfane, formerly the seat of the Discalced Carmelite Fathers in Mondovì. Conceived for Fondazione CRC’s A CIELO APERTO public art project, the installation is created through the use of the artist’s voice and is located at the entrance to the Museo Civico della Stampa, towards the garden and the external areas of the Ex Collegio, facing the fascinating scenery of the Alps.

A Song A Part draws inspiration from the Primo Libro de Madrigali, 1568, by Maddalena Casulana (1544-1590), the first woman to have had an entire book of her music printed the history of Western music. In the 15th and 16th centuries, polyphonic music was handwritten or printed in notebooks, with each part appearing separately. A part, Canto or Soprano, of Casulana’s book of madrigals used by Philipsz in her work, was discovered by the musicologist Laurie Stras in the Biblioteca Civica in Cuneo, not far from Mondovì. It contains the famous proto-feminist quote written by Casulana for Isabella de’ Medici, a noblewoman of Florence and patron of the composer:


show the world (.. in this profession of music) the vain error of men, who believe themselves to be patrons of the high gifts of the intellect that it seems to them that they cannot equally be in common with women.


In A Song A Part, Philipsz recalls the history of the convent and later orphanage that now houses the Museo della Stampa and refers to the period of the birth of typographic printing – a technological revolution dating back to 1455 – and in particular to the figure of Antonio Mathias, a Flemish printer originally from Antwerp, who moved to Mondovì from Genoa to escape the plague. In 1472 he founded in Mondovì, in collaboration with Baldassarre Cordero, the first printing house in Piedmont and one of the first in Italy.


Philipsz chose to sing two songs from the Canto part, that is Soprano, of the Primo Libro de Madrigali found in Cuneo, and recorded them so that the words became abstract tones. These recordings are played by two loudspeakers, placed at the entrance to the museum. The songs play simultaneously so that they blend and overlap creating dissonance and harmony. Through her installation, Philipsz sadly alludes to the disappearance of traditional typography in favor of digital and also to the history of women who, like Maddalena Casulana, had to struggle to enter the world of art.


Biographies of artists


Otobong Nkanga (Kano, Nigeria, 1974, currently lives and works in Antwerp, Belgium) is considered one of the most interesting artists on the contemporary scene. She studied at the Obafemi Awolowo University in Ile-Ife, Nigeria, the École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts in Paris, the Rijksakademie van beeldendekunsten in Amsterdam, DasArts Amsterdam and was awarded a residency at the DAAD in Berlin. Her works are present in the collections of numerous international institutions including Center Pompidou, Paris; Tate Modern, London; Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; Castello di Rivoli Museo d’Arte Contemporanea, Rivoli-Turin and has exhibited in exhibitions and biennials all over the world, as well as her solo exhibitions at the Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA) in Chicago (2018), at the Tate Modern and Tate St. Ives, United Kingdom. In 2015 she was awarded the 8th Yanghyun Art Prize and in 2017 the Belgian Art Prize. Nkanga’s project Carved to Flow was presented the same year at documenta 14, Kassel – Athens. Her most recent solo shows have taken place at Zeitz Mocaa, Cape Town and Ta-te St. Ives, UK (2019-2020) and Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art (MIMA), UK (2020-2021). In 2019 Nkanga was a resident artist at the Gropius Bau in Berlin where she further developed the Carved to Flow project, culminating in the solo exhibition There’s No Such Thing as Solid Ground in 2020. In 2019 the artist received a Special Mention at the 58th International Exhibition of Art of the Venice Biennale; she was awarded the Prize for Best Permanent Installation at the 14th Sharjah Biennial (with Emeka Ogboh); she won the prestigious Peter-Weiss-Preis and was also awarded the Flemish Cultural Award for Visual Arts – Ultima. Also in 2019 the artist was the first recipient of the Lise Wilhelmsen Art Award Program and in the fall of 2020 she presented the solo show Uncertain Where the Next Wind Blowsat Henie Onstad Kunstsenter in Høvikodden, Norway. In June 2021, the artist presented the retrospective When Looking Across the Sea, Do You Dream? organized in collaboration with the Castello di Rivoli, which included the solo presentation Otobong Nkanga. Of Cords Curling around Mountains.


Olafur Eliasson (Copenhagen, 1967, lives and works in Berlin) has, since the mid-1990s, carried out numerous and important exhibitions and projects all over the world. In 1995 he founded the Studio Olafur Eliasson in Berlin, which today counts among its collaborators a large group of craftsmen, architects, archivists, researchers, administrators, cooks, programmers, art historians and specialized technicians. In 1999, the artist exhibited at the Castello di Rivoli Museo d’Arte Contemporanea, his first museum exhibition. In 2003 he represented Denmark at the 50th Venice Biennale. In the same year, he installed The weather project in the Turbine Hall of Tate Modern, London. Take your time, the survey exhibition organized by SFMOMA – San Francisco Museum of Modern Art in 2007 toured until 2010 in different venues, including MoMA – Museum of Modern Art, New York. Innen Stadt Außen, organized in 2010 by Martin-Gropius-Bau in Berlin, consisted of a series of projects exhibited within the museum and scattered throughout the city. In 2011 the exhibition Seu corpo da obra, made in collaboration between three different institutions in Sao Paulo in Brazil – SESC Pompeia, SESC Belenzinho and the Pinacoteca do Estado de São Paulo – was an event spread across the urban space. In 2014, with the project Riverbed, the artist brought stones and water into the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art in Humlebæk, Denmark, emulating a river in a rocky landscape. In the same year, Contact inaugurated the Fondation Louis Vuitton in Paris. Verklighetsmaskiner, held at the Moderna Museet in Stockholm in 2015, was the museum’s most visited exhibition by a living artist. In 2016 Eliasson carried out a series of interventions for the palace and gardens of Versailles and sets up two large-scale exhibitions: Nothingness is not nothing at all at the Long Museum, Shanghai and The parliament of possibilities, at the Leeum, Samsung Museum of Art, Seoul. Green Light, an artistic laboratory developed in collaboration with TBA21 (Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary), offered a response to the challenges of mass migration in relation to climate change. Hosted by TBA21 in Vienna in 2016, the project is part of Viva Arte Viva, the 57th International Art Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia, in 2017. The site-specific installation Reality projector opened in March 2018 at the Marciano Art Foundation, Los Angeles, at the same time as the solo exhibition The unspeakable openness of things at the Red Brick Art Museum in Beijing. In 2019, Tate Modern in London inaugurated the retrospective In real life, presented the following year at the Guggenheim in Bilbao. In 2020 the artist presented the exhibitions Symbiotic seeing at the Kunsthaus Zürich and Sometimes the river is the bridge at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Tokyo. In 2021 the artist presented Life at the Beyeler Foundation, Basel. Olafur Eliasson is also the author of numerous projects installed in public spaces. In autumn 2022, he presented a new exhibition spread across two important institutions in Italy: Castello di Rivoli Museo d’Arte Contemporanea in Turin and Palazzo Strozzi in Florence.



Michelangelo Pistoletto (Biella, 1933) began exhibiting in 1955 and in 1960 held his first solo show at the Galatea Gallery in Turin. His first works explored  the self-portrait. In the two-year period 1961-1962 he began making his now-famous mirror paintings, which brought him international recognition and success that led to solo exhibitions in prestigious galleries and museums in Europe the United States. Between 1965 and 1966 he produced a set of works entitled Objects in less, considered fundamental for the birth of Arte Povera, an artistic movement born in Turin, of which Pistoletto was a leader. Between 1975 and 1976 he created a cycle of twelve consecutive exhibitions, Le Stanze, in the Galleria Stein in Turin. In 1978 he held an exhibition during which he presented two fundamental directions of his future research and artistic production: Division and multiplication of the mirror and Art takes on religion. During the nineties, with Progetto Arte and with the creation in Biella of Cittadellarte-Fondazione Pistoletto and the University of Ideas, he puts art in an active relationship with the various areas of the social fabric in order to inspire and produce a responsible transformation of society. In 2003 he was awarded the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement at the Venice Biennale. In 2004 the University of Turin awarded him an honorary degree in Political Science and on this occasion the artist announced what constitutes the most recent phase of his work, called Terzo Paradiso. In 2007 he received the Wolf Foundation Prize in Arts in Jerusalem. In 2010 he is the author of the essay Il Terzo Paradiso, published in Italian, English, French and German. In 2012 he promoted the Re-birth-day, the first universal day of rebirth, celebrated every year on 21 December with initiatives carried out in various places around the world. In 2013 the Louvre Museum in Paris hosted the solo exhibition Michelangelo Pistoletto. Anneée 1 – Le Paradis sur Terre and the same year he received the Praemium Imperiale for painting in Tokyo. In May 2015, the Universidad de las Artes de Havana awarded him an honorary degree. In the same year he created a large-scale work, entitled Rebirth, located in the park of the Palace of Nations in Geneva, headquarters of the United Nations Organization. Between 2018 and 2020 the activity of the Terzo Paradiso further intensified, thanks to the development of an international network of Embassies and Forums. In these same years he was also particularly active in various countries of Latin America with solo exhibitions and various initiatives related to Terzo Paradiso.


Susan Philipsz (Glasgow, 1965) trained as a sculptor, having earned her BFA in sculpture from Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art in 1993, and MFA from the University of Ulster, Belfast, in 1994. Philipsz considers herself a sculptor, although her materials are time and space rather than marble or plaster. Her only instrument now is the human voice. Using PA systems in places like the San Antonio Texas Greyhound bus station or under the bridges in Glasgow and Munster, Germany, Philipsz broadcasts recordings of herself singing folk songs or pop a cappella. In November 2010 she told The Observer how the transition from sculptress to singer made sense: “It’s about how the emotional and psychological effects of sound can increase awareness of the space in which one is. […] It seemed a very natural progression to go from sculpture to sound.” Philipsz released her first sound work in Belfast in 1994. Entitled Safe, it was the interpretation of a lullaby from the opera Hansel and Gretel, played down a fireplace in a former retirement home. But Philipsz’s turning point came in 2000 when she was invited to contribute a piece to the Manifesta 3 international exhibition in Ljubljana, Slovenia. For the occasion, the artist recorded a version of the old socialist anthem The Internationale and played it under a public catwalk. Sung in a neutral voice by Philipsz, it became ambiguous whether the song was intended as a call to action or a nostalgia for the past, before Slovenia separated from the communist nation of Yugoslavia in 1991. Her work has been featured in solo shows at ICA, Institute of Contemporary Arts, London (2008); Wexner Center for the Arts, Ohio State University, Columbus (2009); Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago (2010); and IHME Project 2010, Pro Arte Foundation, Helsinki (2010). She also created the Carried by Winds commissions, Radcliffe Observatory, Modern Art Oxford, Oxford (2008-2009); Appear to Me (Hazte ver), Monastery of Silo, Burgos (2009); Lowlands, Glasgow International (2010). Her work has been featured in numerous group exhibitions including those at Carnegie International, Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh (2008); Walker Art Center, Minneapolis (2009); Haunted: Contemporary Photography / Video / Performance, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York (2010), to which Philipsz contributed with a work specially commissioned for the exhibition, as well as the one at Tate Britain, London (2010). In 2010 she won the Turner Prize. In 2012 she took part in dOCUMENTA (13) in Kassel; subsequently she exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art and Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh (2013), Hamburger Bahnhof, Berlin (2014); Tate Britain, London (2015); Kunsthaus Bregenz (2016); Castello di Rivoli Museo d’Arte Contemporanea (2019); Kunstmuseum Bonn (2021).

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