'Poetry in the box: A tribute to the history of the Mercato del Sale and Ugo Carrega'

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'Poetry in the box: A tribute to the history of the Mercato del Sale and Ugo Carrega'
Anna Oberto, Scrittura a mano, 1976. Mixed media on paper. Collection Museion. Archivio di Nuova Scrittura, Schenkung. Donation Paolo Della Grazia. Foto: Gardaphoto s.r.l., Salò.

BOLZANO.- As of today at 11.00 am, Museion, Bolzano Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, unveils at Museion Passage and Piccolo Museion – Cubo Garutti, the exhibition: Poetry in the box. A tribute to the history of the Mercato del Sale and Ugo Carrega created in collaboration with Mart, Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art in Trento and Rovereto.

The exhibition chronicles the twenty-year connection between Mart and Museion, as co-custodians of the extraordinary Archivio di Nuova Scrittura collection, donated to the two museums by Paolo Della Grazia in 2020 and in which Ugo Carrega plays a key role. In particular, the exhibition revolves around the concept of the box – sometimes a work of art in itself, and sometimes a container for Carrega's works – and pays tribute to the history of the Mercato del Sale (Salt Market) of which the artist was curator and director. Between 1974 and 1989, countless artists involved in visual poetry - many of whom appear in this exhibition - gravitated around this artist-run space in Milan.

Ugo Carrega was a multifaceted figure who operated as an artist, gallery owner, poet, publisher and curator in the field of visual writing in Italy between the late 1960s and 1990s. In 1958, together with artists Anna and Martino Oberto, he started the artist magazine "Ana Etcetera," the first publication in Italy to act as a container hosting a loose format of contributions from various cultural operators.

This initial publishing experience was followed by the magazine he founded entitled "TOOL: quaderni di scrittura simbiotica” (TOOL: symbiotic writing notebooks) in which he developed the concept of symbiotic writing. This encounter between word and matter later led him to coin the term “Nuova Scrittura” (New Writing).

Over the course of Carrega’s artistic career, the box took on an increasingly important role. Between 1971 and 1973, he organized his archive chronologically into a series of 62 white boxes, all carefully classified and labelled and now housed in the “Archivio del '900” at Mart. Each box contains documentation of his artistic-literary research between 1955 and 1973, as well as works and editions created together with other artists.

The exhibition space at the Mercato del Sale (the name comes from Marchand du Sel, a pseudonym of the French artist Marcel Duchamp), that celebrates its fiftieth anniversary this year, attracted a large network of artists that Ugo Carrega worked with, making this space a reference point and booster for international visual poetry. The artists who exhibited there include Martino and Anna Oberto, Liliana Landi, Vincenzo Ferrari, Gianfranco Baruchello, Angela Ricci Lucchi e Yervant Gianikian, Bruno Munari, Ugo La Pietra and Jiří Valoch.

The Mercato del Sale remained active until 1989, when it closed in order to create the Archivio di Nuova Scrittura, with Paolo Della Grazia and Giorgio Zanchetti.

Based on these extraordinary connections and an archive designed and organized by the artist himself, the Poetry in the box exhibition links together the contents of this archive and a selection of visual poetry works from the Archivio di Nuova Scrittura, conserved in the Museion and Mart collections. These include works by Vincenzo Accame, Marcel Duchamp, Betty Danon, Amelia Ettliger, Vincenzo Ferrari, Corrado D'Ottavi, Elisabetta Gut, Liliana Landi, Stelio Maria Martini, Plinio Mesciulam, Bruno Munari, Magdalo Mussio, Anna Oberto, Martino Oberto, Luca Patella, and Emilio Villa.

The display design, curated by Claudia Polizzi, is inspired by Carrega's original boxes. Now used as showcase modules, these boxes exhibit their original contents, all carefully selected and linked to the magazine-boxes produced by Carrega and the works of other artists who worked with him during the Mercato del Sale period.
To mark the exhibition, over 60 artist's books by Ugo Carrega will be available, in full, at the Mart digital library on Internet Archive.

Ugo Carrega

Ugo Carrega (Genoa, 17 August 1935 – Milan, 7 October 2014) was an Italian artist and poet. He was one of the leading exponents of visual poetry, even if he preferred the term "New Writing," or experimental writing that incorporates markings from different origins. Carrega was active mainly in Milan, where he founded the cultural centers Centro Suolo (1969), Centro Tool (1971), Mercato del Sale (1974) and Euforia Costante (1993). He was also founder and editor of the magazines “Tool” (1965), “Bollettino Tool” (1968), “aaa” (1969) and “Bollettino da dentro” (1972).

Museion Bolzano Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art
'Poetry in the box: A tribute to the history of the Mercato del Sale and Ugo Carrega'
March 13th - September 1st, 2024
Curated by Frida Carazzato, Museion scientific curator and Duccio Dogheria, curator and researcher from the Archivio del ’900 at Mart Museum in Rovereto

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