Santa Croce sull’Arno is honored this year to host Ukrainian artist Zhanna Kadyrova. Her show at Villa Pacchiani entitled “Animalier” curated by Ilaria Mariotti opens on Saturday, December 14, at 11am. “Animalier” is a continuation of the “Arte – Impresa – Territorio” Project that the Municipality of Santa Croce sull’Arno has been sponsoring for years now together with advocates from the worlds of business and culture. The spotlight this year will be trained on Alpa S.p.A. and the artist Zhanna Kadyrova.

Developed together with Galleria Continua and Arte Continua Association, perennially interested in the relationship between art and the territory and firmly convinced of the role played by artists in enabling new reading of the local economic and social fabric, with contributions also from the Arti Contemporanee in Toscana Foundation, the Luigi Pecci Center for Contemporary Art, the Firenze Fine Arts Academy, and the Santa Croce sull’Arno School District, the project has been selected by the Toscanaincontemporanea call for projects once again in 2019.

“This project that reached conclusion in just a few weeks is the herald of important observations,” affirms Mayor of Santa Croce sull’Arno, Giulia Deidda. “An artist from an environment entirely different from ours gained sudden awareness of the world of tanning, in this way encountering a way of organizing the work and discovering a key to the reading of relationships between people, encountering the metaphor that the final product, leather, offers as a key to the interpretation of the territory and its customs. The result each edition of this ongoing project presents is fascinating and intense. This time, perhaps even more so. “Animalier” is vivid and sincere. The artist Zhanna Kadyrova has been given total freedom to express her interpretation of Santa Croce sull’Arno. I hope that many people come to see it. Talk about it. Wonder about it. “Animalier” is an invitation to abandon prejudice and discover our real authenticity. Another one of the many issues our district needs to address is how to make our production ecologically sustainable. Always the subject of heated debate here, it often reflects our prejudices.”

Zhanna Kadyrova has risen to public and critical acclaim in the last ten years with her use of video, performance, sculpture, and installation. She shifts styles and languages from one context to another, placing the role of the spectator in question. A significant part of her practice is dedicated to the study of materials and their continual re-invention and recovery. Juxtaposing materials of different weight, consistency, and nature generates meanings regarding the spheres of politics and history. Zhanna Kadyrova’s work was shown at this most recent edition of the Venice Biennial.

The show “Animalier” presents works unveiled expressly for this occasion. The artist has been touring the territory for months, visiting first Alpa, then Dolmen (a project technical partner together with Silmont S.r.l), then the area’s various purification plants (Aquarno: Consorzio Depuratore, Ecoespanso, Centro Recupero Cromo) before reaching the Po.Te.Co Tanning Technological Park.

The show focuses on our capacity for adaptation to present conditions, on humans’ continuing need to rethink vanishing materials they will always need or desire. Adopting reinvention as a principle of adaptation is becoming a necessity. This holds trues also for the many animalier prints that imitate or reinvent the coats of animals no longer utilizable by humans (leopard, for example). In this exhibition for Santa Croce sull'Arno, Zhanna Kadyrova uses art as a suspension of judgement, as an amazing element for visitors. Making costumes for animals out of a contemporary material obtained locally: leather. Stretching reason and equilibrium to the breaking point through the principle of absurdity. Inverting the roles of prey and predator in the animal food chain. Toying with tautology. Addressing the myths of desire and the concepts of luxury, fashion, and clothing without didacticism

“Throughout the entire learning process, Zhanna assumed the role of observer in her intention of rendering the complexity involved in our transformation of resources. The artist was deeply impressed by the quantity of colors and patterns in which leather is available and surprising in terms of visual perception. Another level of reflection is provided by the industrial system that adapts its production to modern needs regarding fashion, popular trends in taste and desire, and sustainability as well,” explains the show’s curator, Ilaria Mariotti.

Serving as the exhibition’s principal partner, Alpa is a company that has been providing the tanning industry with chemical products for over sixty years. CEO Gloria Gualtieri illustrates the firm’s approach to the experience as follows: “Dialogue with Zhanna Kadyrova has led us to many discoveries. In her, her design, her interpretation of our activity and daily research, the craftsman’s knowledge and know-how essential to our type of work regenerate unexpectedly. Finding effective solutions for the achievement of the artist’s poetic objectives and materials defines what we do every day, knowing that the result is often unpredictable and extreme. We see her vision of the territory – derived from what she saw of our company and way of working in a complex system - as utterly interesting, and also the aspect linked to the responsibility every one of must assume in building our society’s future.”

Municipality of Santa Croce sull’Arno Councilor for Cultural Institutions and Policy Elisa Bertelli emphasizes the Administration’s commitment to facilitating encounters between different types of culture: industrial culture and knowledge culture, the culture of a people’s traditions and the culture that regards art and the meaning of human existence: “craftsmanship culture, significant working knowledge, important questions regarding how we and our work are perceived in the present and future, and the ways in which a community’s history entwine with international and global narratives. The encounter of excellences from different sectors, art and company, set unexpected outlooks in motion and lead to significant encounters and synergies. This show will surely provide one and all with emotions,” Councilor Bertelli concludes.

Participation by the Firenze Fine Arts Academy and the Arti Contemporanee in Toscana Foundation Luigi Pecci Center for Contemporary Art has led to the development of a diversified program of events and activities for the training of young artists and the education and involvement of students and the general public.

Zhanna Kadyrova was born in Brovary, Ukraine in 1981 and lives and works in Kyiv. Over the past years she has held solo exhibitions in Galleria Continua, Havana and San Gimignano; Bureau for Cultural Translations, Leipzig and the Kunstraum Innsbruck, Austria among others. She participated in collective exhibitions at: Garage, Moscow; Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; Ludwig Museum, Budapest; Centquatre, Paris; Ukrainian Pavilion, 55th and 56th Venice Biennale; Badischer Kunstverein, Karlsruhe; Polish Institute, Dusseldorf; Saatchi Gallery, London; Architekturzentrum, Vienna; Kunstraum Lakeside, Klagenfurt; Zimmerstraße, Berlin; Museum of Moscow, Moscow; Palais de Tokyo, Paris; Izolyatsia, Platform for Cultural Initiatives and the Donetsk Museum of Modern Art, Warsaw among others. She won the Miami Beach Pulse Prize, PinchukArtCentre Prize in 2011 and, in 2013, the Kazimir Malevich Artist Award. In 2019 Kadyrova takes part in the International Exhibition of the 58th Venice Biennale curated by Ralph Rugoff, as well as the Ljubljana Graphic Biennale, curated by Slavs and Tatars. Zhanna Kadyrova’s works are part of several public collections, such as State Tretyakov Gallery, Russia; Museum Voorlinden, The Netherlands; Garage Museum of Contemporary Art, Russia; Mystetski Arsenal, Ukraine; Museum of Modern Art of Warsaw, Poland; among others.