Dreams of reason. Highlights from the Sandretto Re Rebaudengo Collection

5 April 2013 – 1 September 2013

Centre of Contemporary Art Torun

Curated by Dobrila Denegri

In collaboration with Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo

With patronage of Italian Embassy in Warsaw

How can a collection of contemporary art become a subject for a thematic exhibition? How can it be interpreted or perceived by an external gaze? How can it become a paradigm? Each collection contains an infinite variety of inner narratives and, for the collector, it can be challenging to discover some of them and share them with a different audience. For this reason some of the highly-renowned collections have been shown in the Centre of Contemporary Art in Torun over past five years. In each of these exhibitions, the effort was to present not only the finest pieces of the collection, but also the different ideas and motivations that lay behind the willingness to select, gather, save and store works of art – in other words, to collect.

The exhibition dedicated to the Sandretto Re Rebaudengo Collection opens yet another perspective to the desire and urge to collect which, more than the creation of a set of extraordinary artworks, can be seen as a way of framing a particular historical moment. This moment could be called the “Turn of the Century”, as well as in many other ways, but it is definitely that sequence of political, social or economical turbulences that shook the world in the last twenty years. Started at the beginning of the 90s and, since then, progressively growing, the Sandretto Re Rebaudengo Collection has evolved as a lucid and vehement view on this historical period in all its complexity and incongruity. It has embraced the spirit of criticality and engagement of current artistic practices, and has laid particular attention to discourses which dealt with the social position of women, environmental urgencies and with the effects of globalisation and transculturality. Numbering more than two thousand artworks by some of the leading contemporary artists, this collection can be seen as a model of excellency, but even more as an example of cultural and social engagement channelled through the exhibitive and educational activity of the Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo, situated in Turin and Guarene.

It is the collection’s history and its range that constitutes the departure point for the journey on which the exhibition at CoCA Torun wishes to take its audience: a voyage through a multitude of cultural contexts and theirtransformations over the last two decades. It’s a period of profound political change and social ruptures which artists tried to grasp, often in a critical and disenchanted way, but always with the intention of raising people’s consciousness and shaking it out from a state of passivity and anaesthesia. So the exhibition, as a journey through a variety of intersected visual narratives composed by some of the leading international artists, offers a kaleidoscopic picture of a contemporary world: a world taken over by cultural clashes, decay of the natural environment and an increasing sense of powerlessness of the individual.

The conflictuality of cultures is a theme addressed from different perspectives through the works of artists like Hans-Peter Feldmann (Germany), Thomas Hirschhorn (Switzerland), Paul Chan (China/USA), Wael Shawky (Egypt), Shirin Neshat (Iran) or William Kentridge (South Africa), while entropy and erosion, both as natural and cultural processes, pervade the works of Doug Aitken (USA) and Paul McCarthy (USA). It is the reflection on the present that constitutes the core of the work of these artists, but in today’s hyper-mediated world both the present and past bear the taste of docu-fiction, as works by Robert Kuśmirowski (Poland) or Liz Glynn (USA) seem to imply. So this exhibition seeks to present not only one extraordinary collection of contemporary art, but an “array” of world-views by artists who have embraced engagement and criticality as the dominant tone of their artistic position. It’s a position that art perpetuated many times from the Romantic period till today, as Goya’s prophetic piece The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters reminds us. There is distress and awe in today’s art, but also the sense of humour and hope which this exhibition wishes to underline, portraying the world of today not only as a place dominated by conflicts and fears, but also as a place of positive visions which art is capable of creating. Thus it’s the journey through the Dreams of Reason that the audience should undertake through this exhibition which brings together some of the masterpieces of contemporary art belonging to the Sandretto Re Rebaudengo Collection.

Dreams of Reason/Highlights from the Sandretto Re Rebaudengo Collection exhibition will be accompanied by a catalogue with essays about artists and interviews on the theme of collecting, involving Patrizia Sandretto Re Rebaudengo and the curatorial team gathered around the Foundation.

The Centre of Contemporary Art in Torun and Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo would like to thank the Italian Embassy for its patronage and to the Italian Cultural Institute for support and collaboration.

Centre of Contemporary Art in Torun


Doug Aitken, Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller, Paul Chan, Maurizio Cattelan, Hans-Peter Feldmann, Liz Glynn, Thomas Hirschhorn, Piotr Janas, William Kentridge, Robert Kuśmirowski, Yong-Baek Lee, Sherrie Levine, Sharon Lockhart, Sarah Lucas, Paul McCarthy, Aleksandra Mir, Shirin Neshat, Paulina Ołowska, Sergey Sapozhnikov and Albert Pogorelkin, Wael Shawky