Cristian Chironi

Cristian Chironi: New York Drive

A community based performance with contemporary Italian artist Cristian Chironi.

As part of its mission to foster discourse on Italian contemporary art and bi-annual performance initiative, Magazzino Italian Art presented a series of performances by artist Cristian Chironi that took place in various locations throughout New York, from October 12-17, 2021.

Cristian Chironi’s New York Drive was a series of performances which originated and were inspired by Sardinian artist Costantino Nivola, with whom Chironi shares a birthplace (the town of Orani in Sardinia, Italy). This week-long program was, therefore, organized in conjunction with the current special exhibition on view at the museum, Nivola: Sandscapes which explored Nivola’s unique body of sandcast works from the early 1950s to the 1970s. New York Drive invited the public to hop aboard Chironi’s colorful Fiat 127 – a vehicle that is closely linked to Nivola’s life story.

In the early 1980s, close to the end of the artist’s life, Nivola took ill. He had been living in Springs, NY – where he and his wife, Ruth Guggenheim, had moved together in 1948 – and began to worry that the things he had left in his home in Tuscany would never make it back to his birthplace. Nivola decided to enlist the help of his nephew Daniele, who recalls the artist telling him to take as much as possible, including Nivola’s Fiat 127 – the same make and model as the car Chironi will use for the New York Drive performances. Daniele did his best to fill the car as much as possible – Nivola had left behind his own sculptures and paintings as well as works by artists such as Maria Lai, Giovanni Pintori, and Salvatore Fancello – and to return as many belongings as he could to his uncle’s hometown.

Chironi’s New York Drive paid tribute to this important journey while additionally celebrating the friendship and artistic collaborations between Nivola and the renowned architect, Le Corbusier.

In 1946, Le Corbusier served as a member of the international team of architects that designed the United Nations Building, which was a destination during the New York City part of the performance. His chance encounter with Nivola in New York developed into a lifelong friendship, full of mutual respect, admiration and artistic exchange. Nivola frequently invited Le Corbusier to his home on the East End of Long Island. Together, they painted murals around the house and created the artistic environment in which Nivola first began experimenting with his sandcasting technique. The car’s color palette changed for each performance, making it a component that is site-specific to each location. For New York Drive, the distinctive colors of Chironi’s Fiat 127 were inspired by the unique relationship between Nivola and Le Corbusier as well as by an early, pigmented totem work, Untitled [Totem] (1953), which is on view in Nivola: Sandscapes.

For New York Drive, Chironi was accompanied by a number of co-pilots, including museum professionals and art workers, gallerists, journalists, activists, philanthropists, students, and professors. Members of the public were invited to participate by responding to our open call, which began on October 5th, 2021. The drives commenced on October 12th from Springs, NY, where Nivola made a home for himself and his family after emigrating to the United States. It continued on October 14th and 15th with two consecutive days of drives between the Italian Consulate and Italian Cultural Institute in New York City and the United Nations to acknowledge the event that brought Le Corbusier to New York and initiated his contact with Nivola. New York Drive concluded at Magazzino Italian Art in Cold Spring on October 16th and 17th. The car was parked at the museum following the final performance and remained on view until the closing of Nivola: Sandscapes on January 10, 2022. There was a series of musical compositions played throughout the duration of its exhibition at the museum, based on recordings that Chironi took at various homes designed by Le Corbusier around the world and produced in collaboration with international sound artists and musicians. 

With this program, the artist hoped to invite community members to consider a variety of concepts from immigration and memory to home-building and the histories of different locations in relation to our present moment. As a participatory performance, New York Drive sought to inspire people to come together for a unique moment of in-person exchange and dialogue – something that has become increasingly foreign since the beginning of the pandemic. The year 2021 also marks the 50th anniversary of the Fiat 127, designed by Pio Manzù in 1971.

Individuals who would like to participate in the 30-minute drives with the artist could send their name along with the specific date, location, and time slot in which they would like to join to the email

Program Dates and Locations

October 12: Springs, NY
Departure Point: Springs General Store, 29 Old Stone Hwy, East Hampton, NY 11937

The route will include a drive by the homes of noteworthy artists who formed the artistic community of Springs, as well as the beach where Nivola first began experimenting with his sandcasting technique. 

October 14-15: New York City 
Departure Point: Consulate General of Italy, 690 Park Ave, New York, NY 10065

The route will involve a ride through Midtown, beginning at the garage of the Italian Consulate and eventually passing by the United Nations Headquarters to acknowledge the event that brought Le Corbusier to New York and initiated his contact with Nivola.

October 16-17: Cold Spring, NY
Departure Point: Bandstand, Cold Spring Waterfront

The route will begin by the waterfront in the Village of Cold Spring and involve a drive through the roads surrounding several landmarks in the area, including Magazzino Italian Art, where Nivola: Sandscapes is currently on view.

There will be six 30-minute drives each day starting at 10 a.m. There will be a 15-minute break in between each drive, during which the artist will sanitize the car. 

10:00 a.m.–10:30 a.m.
10:45 a.m.–11:15 a.m.
11:30 a.m.–12:00 p.m.
1:00 p.m.–1:30 p.m.
1:45 p.m.–2:15 p.m.
2:30 p.m.–3:00 p.m.

Proof of vaccination was required for participation. 

Windows were open throughout the duration of the performance. 

Masks and seat belts required.

We filmed and photographed the event. 

Cristian Chironi, NYC
Cristian Chironi, NYC
Cristian Chironi
Cristian Chironi
Cristian Chironi
Cristian Chironi

About Cristian Chironi

Cristian Chironi was born in Nuoro and grew up between Orani and Ottana in Sardinia, Italy. His practice involves performance, photography, video, and drawing, often in combination with one another. He works on site-specific performances and installations, focusing on the interactions that take place within a given context. His research aims to relate image and imagination, fact and fiction, memory and modernity, conflict and integration, material and immaterial. He has exhibited widely, both in Italy and internationally.

Chironi has had solo exhibitions at Manifesta 13, Les Parallèles du Sud, Marseille (2020); BIENALSUR Bienal Internacional de Arte Contemporáneo de América del Sur, Buenos Aires (2019); Museo Nivola, Orani (2018) and 16a Quadriennale, Rome (2016). He has completed performances for the FOG Triennale Milano Performing Arts (2019); CND (Centre National de la Dance Pantin), Pantin (2016); Italian Embassy, Berlin (2015); Museo Madre, Naples (2012); and Fondation Cartier, Paris (2014). His work is held in the collections of MAMbo, Bologna; MAN Museo d’Arte, Nuoro; Pierre Jeanneret Museum, Chandigarh; and Patrimonio regionale, Emilia-Romagna.

Nivola: Sandscapes

Magazzino Italian Art
May 8, 2021–January 10, 2022
Installation view of the exhibition Nivola: Sandscapes at Magazzino Italian Art, Cold Spring, New York

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