IGLOOSMario Merz at Pirelli Hangar Bicocca

A home, a temporary shelter
for our temporary era.

Curated by Vicente Todolí, Artistic Director of Pirelli HangarBicocca and realised in collaboration with Fondazione Merz, the exhibition spans the whole 5,500 square metres of the Navate and the Cubo of Pirelli HangarBicocca, placing the visitor at the heart of a constellation of over 30 large-scale works in the shape of an igloo: an unprecedented landscape of great visual impact. Fifty years since the creation of the first igloo, the exhibition provides an overview of Mario Merz’s work, of its historical importance and great innovative reach. Gathered from numerous private collections and international museums, the ‘igloos’ will be displayed together in such a large number for the first time.

“As its starting point, the exhibition ‘Igloos’ takes Mario Merz’s solo show curated by Harald Szeemann in 1985 at the Kunsthaus in Zurich, where all the types of igloos produced up until that point were brought together to be arranged ‘as a village, a town, a ‘Città irreale’ in the large exhibition hall,’ as Szeemann states. Our exhibition at Pirelli HangarBicocca will be a once-in-a-generation opportunity to re-live that experience (but expanded from 17 to more than 30 igloos) created by one of the most important artists of the post-war generation.”  Vincente Todolì

Through this group of works, the exhibition reveals the most innovative aspects and themes of Merz’s research, inserting it within the international contemporary artistic panorama of the last 50 years, through the use of natural and industrial materials, the poetic and evocative deployment of the written word and the dialog with the surrounding space and architecture.

Mario Merz’s practice developed in Turin from the ’50s onwards.
A key figure of Arte Povera, he was one of the very first in Italy to use the installation medium, breaking through the two- dimensional nature of the picture by including neon tubes in his canvases and in everyday objects, such as umbrellas and glasses. He investigates and represents the processes of transformation of nature and human life, using elements from the scientific-mathematical field, such as the spiral and the Fibonacci sequence, and, from 1968, introducing what would remain one of the recurring and most representative motifs of his practice for more than 30 years: the Igloo. These works, visually traceable to primordial habitations, become for the artist the archetype of inhabited places and of the world, as well as a metaphor for the various relationships between interior and exterior, between physical and conceptual space, between individuality and collectivity. His Igloos are characterized by a metallic structure coated in a great variety of common materials, such as clay, glass, stone, jute, and steel—often leaning or intertwined in an unstable fashion—and by the use of neon elements and wording.
The delicate precariousness of these installations takes on major symbolic importance, sometimes a political one, opening up to the artist’s reflection on contemporary living, as Merz himself states: “The igloo is a home, a temporary shelter. Since I consider that ultimately, today, we live in a very temporary era, for me the sense of the temporary coincides with this name: igloo” Mario Merz