Ink jet on PVC
33’6” x 40’4”
Lent by the Artist, Courtesy of Galerie Massimo de Carlo, Milan
At Brown: 2004
Installed on the Sciences Library, corner of Thayer and Waterman Streets
From April to August 2004, Paola Pivi’s Untitled (Donkey) hung on the west-facing exterior of the Science Library. The image, a donkey standing in a boat in the middle of water, was a spectacular piece covering three floors of the building. A pleasant surprise in terms of both content and location, Untitled (Donkey) is one in a series of Pivi’s whimsical images in which animals show up in unexpected places—zebras on a snowy mountainside, ostriches in the ocean. This particular piece was created for the 50th Venice Biennale in 2003, and came to Brown upon the close of the Biennale. On display just prior to the presidential elections of 2004, the image prompted amusement as well as speculation about the artist’s possible transnational political interests. Students embraced the donkey, creating its Facebook page and wishing it a fond farewell in the student newspaper where it was pictured in a cartoon, sailing off into the sunset.
Pivi’s art is both photographic and performative. Her images require an elaborate process of staging in which she transports her materials and animals to remote locations and enacts her events with them. The end results are enigmatic, patently absurd, and humorous photographs. In public spaces, they surprise and amuse. They lift viewers from their ordinary routines and encourage people to look in directions the eye might not normally go.
Paola Pivi is an Italian artist who lives and works in Anchorage, Alaska. Employing a variety of media, she often blurs the categories traditionally used for classifying artistic practice. She received the Golden Lion Award at the 1999 Venice Biennale. Since the mid-1990s, she has been featured in many group and solo exhibitions around the world.