July 29, 2023



Through approaches that are parasitic, telescopic, fantasmatic, frictional, contradictory or simply based on friendship, Il morso delle termiti attempts to undertake a re-reading of art history through the prism of graffiti. Here graffiti is neither a subject nor an aesthetic but rather an experience, an attitude, an imaginary, an underground current of thoughts: an experience of illegality and broken windows, the wanderings of bodies in movement, an attraction to murky perspectives, a refusal of the romanticism of vandalism, considered here as much in its potential for degradation as in the care of damaged surfaces, and a fascination for visible and invisible languages that confront the precarious matter of reality and which shape themselves from it as well as they transform it.

The exhibition provokes a fragmented and, at times, cryptic dialogue between fifty or so artists, some recognised, some lesser known. In an essay published in 1962, Manny Farber enlights contrasts between termite artists and white elephant artists. Termite artists metamorphose themselves in languages and practices that are more difficult to grasp and manipulate.

In contrast to authoritarian and seductive methods and imaginaries, “a peculiar fact about termite-tapeworm- fungus-moss art is that it goes always forward, eating its own boundaries, and, likely as not, leaves nothing in its path other than the signs of eager, industrious, unkempt activity.

The exhibition’s title is drawn from a passage in Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities, and indeed it is structured much like the city of Tamara that Calvino imagines in this book: here we enter “along streets thick with signboards jutting from the walls” where “the eye does not see things but images of things that mean other things.

Hugo Vitrani, curator
Violette Wood, exhibition assistant

Source: Press Kit Palais de Tokyo, 15.06 – 10.09.2023