Art and design are synonymous with Milan, so it comes as no surprise that the city boasts dozens of impressive museums. But one gallery stands out from the rest, displaying contemporary art within the walls of a former industrial plant.
Created and funded by Pirelli, HangarBicocca takes a bit of effort to reach. You won’t read about it in most guide books, but the journey is most certainly worth the effort for art lovers.
The minimalist gallery is most known for its permanent exhibition ‘The Seven Heavenly Palaces’ by German artist Anselm Kiefer. The seven towers – each weighing 90 tonnes and varying between 14 and 18 meters in height – are made of shipping containers and reinforced concrete.
Towering far above even the tallest of spectators, the structures are impossible to ignore. Named for the palaces described in the ancient Hebrew tract ‘Sefer Hechalot’ (Book of Palaces), the seven works of art represent several moments in time, according to the artist.
Kiefer says the exhibition is a journey into the past, representing the ruins left behind after World War II. At the same time, it looks into the possible future of the world, thereby encouraging viewers to examine the present.
The artist also has more traditional work on display. Five large canvases are showcased among the towers, the largest and most striking of which is ‘Die Deutsche Heilslinie,’ which “symbolically and literally portrays the history of German salvation.”
But Kiefer’s exhibition is just part of HangarBicocca’s offerings, as the gallery also hosts temporary shows. One of those is ‘Casino’ by Mexican artist Damián Ortega.
Running until November 8, 2015, ‘Casino’ includes sculpture, installations, and film.
The most prominent of Ortega’s work is ‘The Beetle Trilogy,’ in which the artist uses Volkswagen Beetles as his tools. Part of the trilogy is a piece called ‘Cosmic Thing,’ in which parts of the iconic vehicle hang in mid-air.
This perspective, according to Ortega, is aimed at offering the “expanded version of an object.” He told the gallery that during the process of creating it, he “started to understand the conceptual importance of technique, and how it is related to form. The whole working process is what composes the piece.”
In another part of the trilogy, titled ‘Moby Dick,’ Ortega uses ropes and pulleys to attempt to control the driving force of a Beetle as it slides across a layer of grease, examining the relationship between man and nature in an urban context.
Also hanging from the ceiling are hundreds of old-fashioned tools found in various flea markets around Berlin. The instruments make up a work of art called ‘Controller of the Universe,’ which Ortega says calls into question the physical identity of objects.
These are just two of the 19 pieces in Ortega’s exhibition, which can be reached via the M5 line to Ponale station. There is a café and restaurant on site.
Address: Via Chiese, 2
Thursday to Sunday: 11 a.m. – 11 p.m.
Monday to Wednesday: Closed