THE EXPANDED BODY
curated by Angelica Gatto and Simone Zacchini
Carol Rama, Sonia Andresano, Veronica Bisesti, Fabrizio Cicero, Fabio Giorgi Alberti, Julia Huete, Davide Sgambaro, Vaste Programme
Little has been written and debated about the loss of centrality of the body since the noughties. That the body was central was well understood – for example – by the performers and body artists who in the Seventies made presence a virtuous exercise, able to push the body itself to cross its limits – arriving at impersistence, to what is definable as “the void”. Previously, artists such as Carol Rama (Turin, 1918-2015) had already made the exploration of the limits of the body a constant of their research. Through a multifaceted vocation that escapes from the pictorial into installation, the dismemberment of the body in the works of Carol Rama borders on the tangible search for the metamorphic value that the body assumes when it is forced to exceed its conceptual limits, becoming something else, taking root in viscerality.
Culturally, the roots of this centrality, without going back to ancient Greece, could be traced back to the Middle Ages, when corporeal functions and the presence of the body in space are given a leading role in the knowledge of the world and of the self. Here then the shift of axis, this loss of center, has lead in recent years to a polarity “expanded body” / “empty body” that we are able to trace in a new generation of artists who are pushing the medium – whether it is sculpture or video, drawing or installation, embroidery or photography – towards a broader reasoning on the link between body (absent and / or present) and language, in the attempt to test the world with the tools that are already in our possession, and not otherwise.
The exhibition is articulated on the conceptual terrain opened by the notion that gives it its title. All the researches of the seven young artists selected can be traceable to the concept of “expanded body”, although inflected in different aesthetic practices and techniques. In addition to this research on the body linked to the current theme of the expanded, the artists on display are also united by a complexity that does not seem to chase the immediacy of the Instagram virality of certain contemporary art. There is more of a density in the works in which the stratification of signifiers leads to a multiplicity of possible interpretations, and in which the expansion of the body often eclipses its opposite, ending in its disappearance or annulment. Each work bears witness, therefore, to this ground of fluid passage that from the “expanded body” reaches the “empty body”, and vice versa.
In the works of Sonia Andresano (Salerno, 1983) the aspect of becoming is always present, unfolded within an emotional poetics that does not renounce the reality of the world and irony. These peculiarities also return in the sculptural video installation designed in direct contact with one of the elements that most characterize 1/9unosunove gallery’s exhibition space: the checkered floor, used as a board to play the game of draughts. But the two players/performers, instead of playing with light pieces, find themselves forced to move weights for barbells. In the video of the match their bodies are resized to fit into a box, delimiting their action within a sculptural enclosure, in which the view from above seems to crush them. The viewer’s perception becomes even more alienating when is understandable that, although invited to sit and play, the task of the viewer is relegated to that of observer of a game already played, in which he/she cannot intervene.
Through minimal narrative solutions and visual short circuits, Veronica Bisesti (Naples, 1991) starts from the reappropriation of daily practices coming to define a politics of the gaze and a precise emotional condition. Don’t keep me within compass and the series of five nickel-plated sculptures specially produced for the exhibition refer to the study of Christine de Pizan’s book The City of Ladies (1405) in which the author tells of the appearance of three ladies (Reason, Rectitude and Justice) who came to her studio to comfort her after the release of Liber lamentationum Matheoluli (c. 1295), a markedly misogynistic text by Mathieu de Boulogne, and therefore encourage her to build a city that was a place of welcome for virtuous women, a city made of shining stones in which each lady could reflect herself. The vessel in which recurs, overturned, the iconography belonging to a collection of moral teachings of the Eighteenth century, defines a symbolic and representative space, for this newly founded city: a space of freedom, and emancipation, open to the sky. Through the series of five nickel-plated stone sculptures, Bisesti imagines to populate the City of Ladies by building its ideal foundations and occupying the space with the ghostly presence of de Pizan’s virtuous women: massive and shining bodies, of chthonic origin, designed to trigger a direct link between heaven and earth.
In the new installation proposed by Fabrizio Cicero (Barcellona Pozzo di Gotto, Messina, 1982) we find the use of artificial light and drawing, characteristic elements of his research, but filtered through a metal mesh that creates an impassable visual diaphragm between works and the public. The wall layout tells of a desire to extend its borders, but this propensity seems to remain unexpressed because it is hindered. The distance between the viewer and the subject of the drawings is cloaked in a mystery that, through mesh and backlighting, filters reality. The three “windows” of which the installation is composed become thresholds in which the dichotomy between external and internal, between presence and absence, is transformed into a reflection on the subtle limbo that separates possible and impossible, tangible and intangible world.
Fabio Giorgi Alberti (Leiden, Netherlands, 1980) focuses his research on the relationships that the work triggers with the viewer and space. Placing himself in the tradition of conceptual art and employing a multimedia language – sculpture, installation, analog and digital video, writing – Giorgi Alberti reflects on the phenomenology of matter and on the linguistic potential inherent in the relationship between matter and space / reality. After using mirror surfaces of industrial production, in the last year the artist has undertaken a research on the artisan production of mirrors, starting from the silver salt mirroring technique developed in 1835 by Justus Von Liebig. From this research are born the mirrors produced for the exhibition placed in relation to the concrete, iron and pigment installations of Concrete Poetry: mirroring surfaces and located objects establish a relevant link in the intentional relationship of the body with space, a multifaceted approach that turns into language, populating the space with apparently inert matter and ready to welcome active experience and knowledge on itself.
Julia Huete (Ourense, Spain, 1990) works on abstraction using various techniques and media (mainly textiles, collage and drawing), to investigate the enunciative capacity of abstract form as if it were a language. Her works develop as processes that, through the use of certain materials, influence their identity, as in the case of the Composiciones monocromas: large cross-stitch embroidered tapestries with simple compositions made through a continuous line. In this minimal sign we can glimpse the use of the body and the desire to explore “physically” the concepts of line and volume. The artist’s intent is twofold: the main event takes place on the level of the image (with a two-dimensional composition), yet the medium, the process and the material emphasize its quality as an object and anchor its presence to something more tangible.
The research of Davide Sgambaro (Cittadella, Padua, 1989) develops starting from an intense preliminary planning phase in which the variables of a processuality that has to do with existence and its unavoidable precariousness collide. Through installation, video, photography and happening, abandoning any auratic determination and self-referential inspiration, the artist investigates the gap between a sense of impotence and extreme volition. In the photographic series Four days with an electrostatic friend, Sgambaro develops a narrative, in time and space, starting from a childish game: once a balloon is inflated, the artist rubs it on the hair creating electrostaticity and subsequently documents its resistance until the fall. The object becomes a MacGuffin and, at the same time, a substitute tool as a metaphor for the dramatic precariousness of the individual, constantly suspended between tangible presence and estrangement from himself/herself and what surrounds him/her.
Vaste Programme is a collective born in Rome in 2017 from the meeting between Giulia Vigna (1992), Leonardo Magrelli (1989) and Alessandro Tini (1988). Their installation Gänzlich Unerreichbar (“absolutely unattainable”, quoted from Nietzsche’s The Birth of Tragedy) draws inspiration from Greek mythology as a pre-scientific tool of knowledge and investigation of the world, focusing on the “dark” ways of exchanging and reworking data between man and machine, as in the phenomenon of the Black Box, for which it is impossible to observe the internal processes of artificial intelligence during the deep and machine learning phases. In the video, the camera travels inside what may look like a cave or some organic apparatus. It is instead a three-dimensional model of which, only at the end, we discover the subject. The slow movement of the camera is accompanied by a voiceover, which recites a series of sentences, all extrapolated from the answers provided by AGI androids during some interviews.
Angelica Gatto and Simone Zacchini
The exhibition will be open until Saturday, March 26, 2022