Nari Ward

Gilded Darkness

Centro Balneare Romano - Via Ampère 20, Milano
September 12–October 16, 2022
Press preview and opening: September 12, 2022
Every day from 12pm to 8pm Free admission


Gilded Darkness
curated by Massimiliano Gioni

From September 12 to October 16, 2022, Fondazione Nicola Trussardi presents a new project created especially for the city of Milan: Gilded Darkness by American artist Nari Ward (b. St. Andrew, Jamaica, 1963; lives and works in New York). In the outdoor and indoor spaces of the Centro Balneare Romano, in the Città Studi neighborhood, Ward’s exhibition will bring together new works created specifically for the occasion, alongside some of his most renowned installations and environmental interventions.


After presenting Ragnar Kjartansson’s The Sky in a Room at the church of San Carlo al Lazzaretto in the fall of 2020, and following the establishment of the Fondazione Beatrice Trussardi in 2021, which brings the Fondazione Nicola Trussardi’s nomadic model to an international stage, President Beatrice Trussardi and Artistic Director Massimiliano Gioni have now decided to return to the city of Milan with a new project, once again in dialogue with the most pressing issues of our time.

Known for his sculptures and installations often made with recycled materials, Ward has contributed to imagining contemporary art and culture as global, polyphonic experiences since the early 1990s.

Of Jamaican descent, Ward moved to New York with his family at a young age, and after studying art he settled in Harlem. Struck by the proliferation of abandoned objects in his neighborhood, Ward began collecting and charging them with new meanings. The manipulation of these materials—including children’s strollers, shopping carts, umbrellas, shoelaces, as well as other found items and urban waste—gave rise to monumental installations, which have transformed the language of contemporary sculpture into a new type of theatrical experience.

The exhibition at the Centro Balneare Romano opens with one of his best-known works, Amazing Grace—produced during his residency in 1993 at the Studio Museum in Harlem: for this large-scale installation, Ward collected more than three hundred abandoned strollers, which he then arranged in the form of a ship’s hull. The installation is accompanied by the voice of gospel singer and African American activist Mahalia Jackson, who sings the poignant “Amazing Grace”.

Alongside Amazing Grace, Ward will present a series of works that focuses on many of the themes underpinning his research. These include: the dialogue between cultures, art as a space of encounter and exchange, shaping identities at the crossroads between different languages and traditions, and, in particular, reflecting on the function of monuments at a time marked by the continual revision of history and the numerous collapses and repeated crises defining these past few years.

Gilded Darkness will occupy the spaces of the Centro Balneare Romano with both physical and intangible traces. This municipal summer bathing center—designed by architect Luigi Secchi during the Fascist period, inaugurated in 1929, and dedicated to the memory of the young Olympic champion Guido Romano, who died at the front during World War I—tells of ideals of victory and greatness, war and athleticism, and nationalism and imperialism. Ward responds to these concepts with precarious monuments and objects that embody stories of small, everyday heroism, episodes of collective joy, as well as images of the defeat and downfall of the triumphant myths shaping the twentieth century.

At the heart of the exhibition is a series of new commissions. Emergence Pool is a site-specific intervention in the swimming pool itself, at some four thousand square meters, it is almost the size of a soccer field.

Not far away, a huge white flag hoisted on a crane evokes images of nationalism, violence, and defeat, while sounds and musical compositions made in collaboration with various groups and individuals living in Milan are broadcast from the loudspeakers of Battleground Beacon. These soundscapes describe the city as a polyphonic mix of voices and sounds from a multiplicity of cultures and languages.

Ward’s Gilded Darkness is part of a series of major exhibition projects carried out since 2003 by the Nicola Trussardi Foundation. Public artworks, temporary exhibitions, incursions, performances, and pop-up interventions have brought renowned international artists to Milan, including Paweł Althamer, Allora & Calzadilla, Maurizio Cattelan, Tacita Dean, Jeremy Deller, Elmgreen & Dragset, Urs Fischer, Fischli & Weiss, Gelitin, Ragnar Kjartansson, Sarah Lucas, Ibrahim Mahama, Paul McCarthy, Paola Pivi, Pipilotti Rist, Anri Sala, Tino Sehgal, and Stan VanDerBeek, among many others.

The Nicola Trussardi Foundation activities are made possible thanks to the generosity of its founding members and “Il Cerchio”, a group of supporters who contribute to its projects.

Gilded Darkness is conceived and produced by the Fondazione Nicola Trussardi and made possible thanks to the collaboration of Milanosport.

Thanks to Assimpredil Ance Milano for supporting the exhibition.

Media Partner: Sky Arte.

Share on