“Villa Aquarama”. From a simple Google search, the first useful result refers to holiday structures located in Sanur, a coastal resort on the island of Bali, a sporting architecture that seems to claim the tireless intention of making the classic Duane Hanson-style tourist couple feel at home within environments overflowing with a simply constructed exoticism. If the objective is summed up in these lines: «These villas have been made to gather western comfort and Indonesian life in an open space on nature. We wish you a pleasant and memorable stay in Sanur, Bali», one could hardly have thought of different architectural choices. The function determines form by perfectly integrating with it.
It is precisely around the binomial “form-function” and the narrative dimension, that the latest intervention “Villa Aquarama” by Clément Grimm (Switzerland, 2001) promoted by Spazio ORR in Brescia at the Route du Port in Pully (Switzerland) is articulated. Founded in 2019 by artist Federica Francesconi, Spazio ORR has from the outset set an ambitious scope and declaration of intent aimed at establishing a constantly investigative and challenging dialogue with respect to the current contemporary scenario. As she explains: «Digitalisation is changing the way we see and enjoy the culture. Contemporary art exhibitions are a prime example: today, many of them are mainly enjoyed online, through blogs or social networks, even though they were initially presented as physical events. […] Ascertaining the fact that no exhibition will be forever, and no work will be visible to everyone, here then the documentation of art comes, which can be books, articles, films or other narratives engaged in a ‘transposition’ to reach the general public. […] By inviting established and mid-career artists, the focus of Spazio ORR is on investigating several themes related mainly to this. The aim is to go beyond the conventions or limitations associated with normal art media such as sculpture and installation, exploiting all collateral narratives as part of the idea of an ‘exhibition’».
Why then Clément Grimm? The intention to question the concept of “exhibition” in the traditional sense and of the exhibition space itself is fully in line with the Swiss artist’s desire to go beyond the spatial and conceptual limitations classically associated with the idea of exhibition activity, focusing instead on the potential inherent in the specificity of the place and the relative, indefinable system of meanings that it becomes able of generating. The narrative is a key element underpinning Grimm’s practice, which is structured within a heterogeneous media range spanning sculpture, installation, video and photography. Through an approach aimed at the free association of objects (and not), Grimm’s goal becomes that of giving birth to new interpretative possibilities, perspectives and visions that detach themselves from the static nature of reality and in which the specificities and stories linked to the components of his work are not to be considered in the limits of their singularity but rather in the innovation derived from their juxtaposition.
Moreover, real distortions and enigmas break free from any pre-established temporality to define unexplored horizons capable of making the past, present and future coexist through the act of artistic expression. The metaphor used by Grimm himself and which he says best describes his research is particularly evocative in this regard: «When I woke up, I found this note in my pocket». The reference is to an event that can be translated according to the following logic: one finds a note in a pocket without having the slightest idea of what it means and who might have put it there. One has no knowledge of what has happened, is happening and will happen. It is precisely this sense of perpetual mystery that fuels Grimm’s stimulus for the persistent questioning of a commonly understood form of temporality as if one were confronted with a story without a beginning or end.
“Villa Aquarama” fits fully within this vision. Randomness dictated both the choice of the place on which to intervene and the linking – through the physicality of the forex PVC inscription affixed to the lake jetty for the mooring of boats – to the imagery of a hotel/wellness centre, which is central to the artist’s conception. In fact, as he explains, the hotel is a neutral place, a space of passage where everything is transitory and unknown. Its guests are not known, nor are their stories, thus configuring itself as an uninterrupted mystery. The evocativeness generated by the contrast between the sign “Villa Aquarama” and the structure on which it rests – a whole that for Grimm is configured as the artwork itself – drastically subverts the logical consequentiality whereby from a function must necessarily derive a form. In the case of “Villa Aquarama” (i.e., a mooring point that nevertheless refers to a hotel), this fixity does not apply.
Instead, through associative action, Grimm offers spectators the opportunity to define an interpretative multiplicity within the apparently immovable aura of the present in which they find themself. An openness that therefore induces the creation of as many new imaginaries as there will be, from time to time, the observers who, even for a moment, will stand in front of it, declining that specific semantic juxtaposition on the basis of their own individual experiences. It almost gives a concrete dimension to that hotel, which is only a mental construction, a meeting point between an uninterrupted flow of individuals and stories. The experiential datum, therefore, is fundamental for the subversion of the relationship between form and function, linked together through the narration generated, in turn, by the free association of different elements (and therefore meanings).
Grimm explains: «I think that form and function can communicate through the narration that we bring to them, as for example with the Villa Aquarama, the gesture of simply annotating, or giving a title to a place/object gives it a different reading, I think that if we give the title ‘Cheeseburger’ to a sculpture, we will necessarily be influenced by this title and try to connect the title to the object. It’s just a game, and if you want something to look like something unrelated, just say it another way». In some respects, Grimm offers us a perspective that is paradoxical as simple in its conception as it is difficult to materialize, namely that “change”, in all its forms, can start from even the smallest of gestures. It is enough to start calling things differently and, in the instant of a glance, we can really in our smallest way “bring the world into the world”. Or as Grimm put it: «an attempt to open doors without even having the keys».
“Villa Aquarama” – Clément Grimm
Route Du Port, 1009 Pully, Svizzera
Spazio ORR, Brescia
With a specialist degree in Economics and Management of Cultural Heritage, passionate about the field of Contemporary art, its economic dimension and, more generally, the dynamics characterizing the art market, Gabriele has gained experience over time in contexts such as contemporary art galleries, start-ups and Art Advisory. He currently works in the Art-Rite auction house as an assistant in the department of Modern and Contemporary art.