Happy Turtle
Invited to the 1992 Documenta in Kassel, during a site inspection in July 1991 Pistoletto chose to show in a disused shop opposite the entrance to the Museum Fridericianum, the exhibition’s main venue. He then decided to call his artistic activity for the following year Happy Turtle, molding his work into a “time continent” of thirty places in which he would metaphorically transfer his house like a turtle. The Kassel show constituted the point of arrival, with an installation that underscored the interlacing of the public and private dimensions in his work. Within his exhibition space and clearly visible from outside through two shop windows, he arranged, on one side of the room, Self-Portrait Through My Father (1933-1973) and a sofa; on the other his daughter Cristina, seated at a table, executed a performance of her own, Mouthpiece, during which she sang newspaper excerpts while eating a dish of rice. The room was cut in two by a stone construction similar to an antique Roman road, which from the open front door went all the way to the back of the shop where stood The Etruscan (1976), a copy of the bronze statue known as L’arringatore (Speaker) with its arm reaching forward to touch a mirror that reflected the statue’s own image and, in this case, the Fridericianum. For a description of the entire Happy Turtle project, see the volume edited by Cecilia Casorati and published by Carte d’Arte (Messina, 1992).

“After the opening of the reflecting threshold that offers an alterative to time-honored perspective, art must raise an arm and hold out its index finger to point, in the mirror, to the road that leads beyond the wall on which human individuality is shattering: an extremely high wall where the progressive quality of modern media mixes with old beliefs, antiquated and abhorrent associative methods, devastating rules. An arm’s length is the first distance that one can take from the tragic point of final impact. This is in the work that I presented, at the end and beginning of a road, at Documenta IX in Kassel” (Michelangelo Pistoletto, La distanza senza ritardo, in Fama & Fortune Bullettin, P&S, Vienna 1993).

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Documenta IX, 1992
The Etruscan and the Roman road, 1992
The Etruscan and the Roman road, 1992
Selfportrait through my father, 1973
Mouthpiece, 1992