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Nanni Balestrini: Art As Political Action

The Center for Italian Modern Art (CIMA) announces its new exhibition, Nanni Balestrini: Art as Political Action. On Thousand and One Voices, curated by Marco Scotini. This is the first retrospective exhibition in the United States of Nanni Balestrini (1935-2019), an Italian experimental visual artist, poet, and novelist known for his revolutionary artistic practice and passionate involvement in the social-political movements of the 1960s and 1970s.

This exhibition focuses on two crucial decades in the career of Balestrini, the 1960s and the 1970s. It includes over 70 works by the artist, along with a range of documentary material. The works from the 1960s illustrate a creative phase when Balestrini shared research interests with Luigi Nono, one of the most important 20th-century experimental composers, and when the neo-avant garde literary movement Gruppo 63 was also founded. The final works in the exhibition date back to the late 1970s; some of them were conceived in connection with a poem dedicated to the New York City electricity blackout of 1977.

The exhibition also includes a reconstruction of Balestrini’s Tape Mark I (1961), one of the earliest examples of computer-generated art. A combinatory poem produced by an algorithm written in the Unix programming language on a massive IBM mainframe computer, Tape Mark I anticipates many of the contemporary questions surrounding Artificial Intelligence, and was featured in the 1962 edition of the Bompiani Literary Almanac, which was dedicated to “the application of computers to ethics and literature”, a theme of utmost relevance today.

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