Exclusive Preview Of "Kienholz: Five Car Stud" @ Fondazione Prada in Milan

Milan’s Fondazione Prada presents “Kienholz: Five Car Stud”. The exhibition brings together a selection of artworks by Edward Kienholz and his wife Nancy Reddin Kienholz, including the well known installation that gives the show its title. A self-taught artist from Washington State, Edward Kienholz’s work was described by Germano Celant as “making no attempt to sublimate the meanness and tragedy of life, its condition of loneliness and triviality, but on the contrary using them as a way of highlighting a low and popular universe in which the wasted and the dirty, the depraved and the filthy, represented a new and surprising beauty”. The exhibition features numerous installations and tableaux created by the couple between the early late fifties and the nineties, often directly representing death, violence, war and various kinds of social injustices. Looking at them makes the viewer feel uncomfortable and powerless but, at the same time, turns him into a participating witness as the urge to meticulously explore the details take over: Voyeurism and the power of crude beauty win over the common sense of morality. The main installation, “Five Car Stud”, catapults the viewer into a nightmarish situation, plunging him into a dimension of extreme violence. It recreates a dark, isolated environment, illuminated merely by the headlights of four cars and a pick-up truck,  at the center of which lies an African–American man, surrounded by five white men wearing Halloween masks. The aggressors grab his arms and legs while one of them prepares to castrate him. A woman is forced to watch, shocked and powerless, and a frightened little boy witnesses the scene from the backseat of his father’s car. This work was defined by Kienholz as the representation of “The Burden of Being American”. The exhibition will be on view until December 31 2016 at Fondazione Prada, Largo Isarco 2, Mila. Text and photographs by Sara Kaufman