Michal Rovner, Alert, 2016, video projection © Michal Rovner

Museum Exhibitions

Michal Rovner


Oct 31, 2022 – Jan 29, 2023
Fondazione Merz
Turin, Italy

From October 31, 2022 until January 29, 2023, Fondazione Merz presents ALERT, a solo exhibition by Michal Rovner. Curated by Beatrice Merz and conceived specifically for the spaces of Via Limone 24 in Torino, the project offers the public an immersive experience rooted in the artist’s practice.

Stemming from the artist’s research which for years has focused on the dialogue between art, architecture and politics, ALERT elicits themes and practices refined by Rovner who has shifted her attention over the years to video mapping. The exhibition will transform the spaces of the Fondazione, greeting visitors in a quiet space with no light, reminiscent of waiting areas, where they can observe and study the jackals who are the true protagonists of the exhibition. The animals take control of the environment by inhabiting it and revealing themselves to be absolute guardians.

Beatrice Merz, Fondazione Merz President and curator of the show, explains: “The work of Michal Rovner poses questions, examines itself, the visitor and the space, and welcomes the work and people in a metaspace free from ornaments and thus absolute. The wavering of a symbolic system which characterizes the identity of individuals, sets in motion an ongoing narrative around human frailty. A common thread, a need to unveil, leads Rovner to uncover sensations, stories or signs of the passage of time; to allow for all those hidden or repressed aspects to resurface from under our skin as discrete but immanent presences.”

ALERT explores the state of emergency and sense of fear which arises from the encounter with the other, with that which is not familiar and therefore perceived as hostile. To fully restore this globally shared sentiment, Rovner identifies the jackal as a particularly evocative figure, an animal usually associated with destruction and wary of human contact. A period of intense field research, where the artist immersed herself in the nocturnal habitat of the animal, reawakened a strong fascination for noises produced by the animal and its powerful hereditary iconography. The jackal, in fact, is inextricably linked to the mythological figure of the Egyptian god Anubis, who accompanied dead souls in their journey to the afterlife, acting as a divine intermediary between heaven and earth.

Slipping along the walls and taking ownership of the space, Rovner’s jackals build a tense environment where they take on the role of menacing observers, placing the visitor in the uncomfortable position of being the foreign and unwelcome element. In a reversal of perspectives, the human being is revealed to be the intruder as much as the jackal is alien to them, and they are thus channelled into the heart of the exhibition.

By building an intangible space crossed by a flurry of profound energies and sensations, Rovner’s aim is to set the stage for reflections on fear, threats and the misgivings we feel upon encountering the other, without excluding the possibility of a meaningful exchange with something or someone we are used to fearing.

The exhibition includes a documentary element with which Rovner asks the viewer to consider the enormity of the migration experience which, according to the UNHCR, this year alone has involved over 100 million people. She conveys how the boundary between existence and disappearance is ephemeral and terribly fragile. In this sense, Rovner’s work draws upon the power of images to reveal that which is real, the stories concealed by history and here laid bare in their most primitive and elementary core.

  • Museum Exhibitions — Michal Rovner at Fondazione Merz, Oct 31, 2022