The Butterfly Affect

11 May 2023 – 15 October 2023

Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo

The Butterfly Affect

Artists: Patricia Domínguez, Sharona Franklin, Ja’Tovia Gary, Lungiswa Gqunta, Sebastiano Impellizzeri, Isaac Julien, Kapwani Kiwanga, Jumana Manna, Jota Mombaça, Zoe Williams, Rachel Youn.

Curated by Irene Calderoni and Bernardo Follini

11 May – 15 October 2023

Opening 11 May at 7:00 pm

Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo

On 11 May 2023 Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo opens the group show The Butterfly Affect, an exhibition articulated through the works of eleven international artists, from sculpture to installation, from painting to video.

“Does the flap of a butterfly’s wings in Brazil set off a tornado in Texas?” mathematician and meteorologist Edward Norton Lorenz wondered in 1972. The theory, known as the ‘Butterfly Effect’, is based on the belief that any action, even an apparently insignificant one, can have extreme consequences in different space-time coordinates.

Fifty years after Lorenz’s hypothesis, in a context punctuated by the harmful effects of actions on our ecosystem, the exhibition intends to record artistic approaches that intersect the responsibility associated with individual agency with collective processes of care, pleasure and ecology. The Butterfly Affect presents the sphere of interspecies affectivity as a way to imagine new paradigms of social and environmental coexistence, moving away from the prescriptions of the extractive domain. The artists traverse the natural sciences, with a particular interest in botany, as terrains of conflict governed by dynamics of exploitation and oppression. The exhibition discusses how natural space is physically constructed and juridically normed, and how access to it is regulated. The themes of vulnerability and health are explored starting from herbal knowledge, bringing out the processes of medicalization of the body and stigmatization of illness. Affection and relationships are expanded in a trans-human perspective that blurs the boundaries between sexual bodies and vegetable bodies. Finally, ecological destruction is read in connection to the trauma engraved on the bodies of different communities, allowing the artists to imagine spaces for new practices of collective healing.

Jumana Manna (1987, Princeton, USA) investigates the social and economic impact of the Israeli government’s nature protection laws on the Palestinian population, while Lungiswa Gqunta (1990, Gqeberha, South Africa) deconstructs the patriarchal and colonial legacies that regulate land access and ownership. Kapwani Kiwanga (1978, Hamilton, Canada) addresses the asymmetries of power referring to the English garden and Victorian-era botanical technologies. Ja’Tovia Gary (1984, Dallas, USA) focuses on a renowned garden, Claude Monet’s garden in Giverny, to reflect on the violent politics around the representation of the black body.

Sharona Franklin (1987, Canada) explores the relationship between biology, pharmacology and social interdependence from the perspective of disabled and bioethical activism. Isaac Julien (1960, London, UK) re-enacts the story of care and rebirth of Prospect Cottage in Dungeness, the famous refuge where Derek Jarman retired after being diagnosed HIV positive.

Sebastiano Impellizzeri (1987, Catania) paints maps of complex decoding, which contain the spatial and emotional coordinates of cruising areas, the practice of sexual encounters between strangers outdoors. Zoe Williams (1983, Salisbury, UK) manipulates ceramics to construct hybrid forms in which care, vanity and precariousness project erotica into a transhuman dimension. Rachel Youn (1994, Abington, USA) builds installations using artificial plants and massage machines, producing an ironic and grotesque imagery of care, pleasure and intimacy.

Patricia Domínguez (1984, Santiago, Chile) addresses climate anxiety and extractivist dynamics by employing ethnobotanical knowledge and interrogating the notion of well-being within the process of digitization of the living. Jota Mombaça (1991, Natal, Brazil) observes the rise of the sea and the environmental crisis in the light of today’s gender, class and race discrimination, presenting an installation originally produced for their performance “in the tired watering”, which took place on the Island of San Giacomo in Venice, the new venue of Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo.