The Others (Turin, Italy)

03 NOVEMBER 2022 – 06 NOVEMBER 2022

Tom Bull, Francesco Pacelli, Qikai Guo

DES BAINS is pleased to propose Will-o'-the-wisp.  The exhibition explores artistic practices that engage with folk horror narratives and cultivation through the exploration of (im)materiality within different media. Approaching our relational and communication systems through the non linearity of time and space, how can art reconcile our vision of folklore and spirituality within a fictional context and from different cultural perspectives? In various folkloristic traditions around the world, the folk narrative is said to imbue its tales with authenticity.  Drawing on legends and beliefs, on the architecture of old houses and the iconic power of religious symbols, folk horror tales often evoke the concepts of rituals and the past in order to explore a perceived loss of traditions in the present. Folk horror is built around social anxiety, on personal fears of not belonging, externalised and made manifest by the society surrounding us. Folk Horror is a jovial community leader draping flowers around your neck and sticking the knife in your belly; it is the blissful smile on the true believer as they plummet to their death.

Through Francesco Pacelli production we dig into the long history of translating, preserving and passing knowledge that has been pursued by artists and other practitioners within the realm of material-based practice. The project presented here, by exploring the mechanics material presents itself as living ecosystems. Pacelli’s quasi-objects refer back to the idea of slowing down, in an anachronistic attempt to go back to a society of objects and feelings which is not always as ideal as it might seem. With Tom Bull’s sculptural work the aim is to capture the lived experience within these dark, strange and untrustworthy times. Through a landscape of folk, rural living, informed by modernity and rituals, he investigates the tension and slippage between fiction and representation, truth and mythology. With a wide range of tools and materials borrowed from architecture, model making, carpentry, farming and forestry, the artist employs a sculptural practice that confronts and manipulates traditions, time periods, lore and genre. In his work he questions the idea of ‘country life’ by confronting personal and collective issues around land, loss, community, wealth, access, labour and violence. In Guo Qikai works’ a strong communicative urgency is immediately perceived, which led him to develop a pictorial language that firmly sticks to the dream-like representation of his thoughts and fears. His hearing impediment binds the artist into silence and darkness, a mysterious and frightening world within which the artist’s discomfort increases, and expands throughout his body. A powerful spiritual dimension is evident in Guo’s work, his inner thoughts exploding with purity in a dream-like, surreal world, made up of mysterious figures suspended in another dimension. The fictional imaginary of the unconscious where past and present experience merge, are translated in his canvases inhabited by enigmatic figures, abstract shapes that always carry with them a profound iconological meaning. The world he recreates in his work is animated by flashes of light that pierce the darkness in which they are immersed, while bringing comfort to these small folkloristic microcosms. Reality and fiction, light and shadow, memory and imagination, fear and joy, are blended together in a continuous search for balance, a pictorial portrayal of the yin and yang philosophy, at the centre of many cultural aspects of Chinese life, while creating an alienating and horrish world that pushes the viewers towards a deeply personal journey.

Through the exploration of the conception of folk horror, across diverse cultural structure and art practices, the exhibition aims at exemplifying the lost agency felt by most in these uncertain times, that we are although unable to deposit onto a tangible evil. Modern evil does not operate under the shadows of darkness, but in broad daylight, where we feel most safe and where we go to escape. Horror shocks most when carried out in plain sight.

Curators: Maria Valeria Biondo, Vittoria Martinotti