Month: Giugno 2011

UNA FESTA PER GIORNI FELICI 2010

Un vero successo per questo primo appuntamento di Giorni Felici che conferma la magia di Casa Testori.Oltre 500 persone hanno affollato le stanze e il giradino della casa natale dello scrittore dimostrando la vocazione di questo luogo a spazio espositivo fuori dal comune ma davvero affascinante. L’arte contemporanea, spesso troppo lontana dalla gente comune, ha potuto essere ospitata in uno spazio domestico e familiare facendosi così ammirare da un pubblico che solitamente la trascura.

Il fascino di Casa Testori ha però stregato anche un pubblico di grandi nomi e la presenza di numerosi artisti, critici e galleristi alla serata di inaugurazione ne è testimonianza.

Protocollages

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These collages are heralding good and bad personal memories. Good because, after all, they are the first collages I have made in my life. It was summer, more precisely June of 2003, and I was looking for a solution that would have allowed me to leave the areosol bombs I was using in that period – they were too cold and stiff – and I realized that the solution was exactly in front of me: instead of throwing away the paper masks I used to create my aerosol painting, I tried to use directly those masks, sticking one upon the other. Slowly I started to notice that they were – in formal terms – perfect, and they gave me that freedom that I had always experienced in printing from linocuts or in engraving. Well, I’d say that the actual starting point for my collages has been Munch’s and Hokusai’s xylography and Picasso’s linoleum, and of course  Schifano’s anaemic landscapes and Nolde’s watercolours, concerning informal backgrounds. Since then I’ve always kept on this kind of work through the years, side by side with all the other works, as it was a leitmotiv that flows under everything I do, following here as well Emil Nolde’s example, who made all his very simple watercolour paintings in a lifetime, while his mainstream work was proceding always in different directions. Until today, I modified my collages with passing of time, reinterpreting them white on white, sobstituting paper and glue to tissue paper and pins, reinventing them digging in paperboard or nailing papers on walls, but alway representing a cathartic moment – as for my drawings – where I can stop and make the point of the sitiation.
Ah, as I was saying at the beginning: bad memories. I spent a week, between 3th and 10th June, locked in my home, in my own garage, cutting paper without talking to anybody, barely eating, and I never saw the sunshine for the anger and the annoyance I had. The theme of all these collages, the war, come out from these feelings. It was summer and we had just recided in second league after the famous play-off against Reggina. What a disappointment. Unfortunately I still remember clearly everything, from Natali’s illusive goal to Taibi’s bullshit to all the curses and – overall – the aftermatch fights. Hours and hours of fighting. Those are the base of these collages of mine, that feeling of useless defeat. Of course telling it could seem banal, but try to live it.

Johnny

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Johnny takes hold from Dalton Trumbo novel Johnny got his gun (1939), from the homonymous movie directed by the novel’s autor himself in 1971 and from the piece inspired by it One, recorded by Metallica in their album …And justice for all, and it merges the three languages of literature, music and movies in one single multimedia work, with real actors made of paper and light, made with nothing, like Testori theatre of Gli Scarozzanti.
Johnny’s story is simple and terrible: a young american, in the end of the first world war is been sent at the european front where, shot by a grenade, he loses his legs, his arms, his face, his ears and all of his senses but the touch. Considering his state, he is believed incapable of discernment, and he is artificially kept alive year after year just for scientifical reasons, in a small bed in a dark closet. Actually, even if he is unable to communicate, his mind is perfectly awake and aware of the terrible situation, and his thoughts, his fears and his hopes – vain – over the years cross that obscure boundary between life and death, making him unaccepted, the only dead among the alive, the only alive among the dead. I’ve always considered this story as fundamental to me. Certainly because since I was young my family events led me to have a daily realtionship with the deasese. And certainly because I think it could be so extreme, and so unbeareble and so terribly true. Johnny extends his death almost endlessly, living and living again thousands of times the transition from life to death, that passage that none of us could know, the one that in Trumbo’s movie nobody, not even Christ, could understand or just stand. In this frame Johnny seems to me like a Christ armless and legless, who can’t be given not even of a cross – necessary croassroad to the redemption – and thus who can’t be given of salvation.
The only relief he can find is around a sweet nurse next to his bedside, to carry him in his endless transition. While I was reading again an interview to Lucia, Testori’s sister, I noticed how necessary was, in this house, to carry oneself beloved towards the afterlife.
Testori used to sleep in that bed where his parents passed away, keeping physically alive the flame of their presence. Parents who, right here, in this room where the living/dying Johnny rests in his hospital bed, were presented for the last time to the love of their dear ones. “Now the world is gone, I’m just one”.

Easy come, easy go

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While I am walking with Julia through the rooms of Casa Testori, during the first inspection for the exhibition, we find ourselves in the big hall, the biggest room of the house. I check the measures, i make a couple of calculations and I realize that, right there, Johnny is perfectly fitting. So I try to lower the shutters to estimate the darkness’ degree of the room, thinking of the video-projection.
As I’m lowering them, I notice a particular drawing created by the extierior light between the holes in the shutter itself. I ask Pietro, who’s right there, what is that, and he explains me that it’s the shadow of the decorated bars in front of  the windows. I turn around looking at the three big windows of the apsidal porch, and I immediately picture me plugging some of the shutters’ holes with scotch tape.
The principle is easy; is the chinese shadow’s one, the principle of the end of 18 century’s theatre: a shape and a back-projected light.
Inquiring about the several room’s function, I find out that was exactly in the porch where the beloved deads’ bodies where brought to the last goodbye: so, on these three big shutters, I portray a Christ’s Deposition and Transport, using as the three crosses, the central wooden axis of the french door and putting in open dialogue this work with the opposite Velazquez’s Crucifixion reported and divided in Johnny’s video-installation.
The semantic link between these two works is also enhanced by the itself experience of Johnny the soldier who – as represented down on the right in the installation – is shot and mutileted by a granade while carrying a dead body toward the trench.
The ironical title of this work, Easy come, easy go (that it’s actually the title of the whole exhibition), underlines the precariousness of the human condition and even of the divine one, both by representing the empty cross and by the utilized technical support (the half-lowered shutter): as the Saviour arrives, he’s already gone.

Dracula / Chirotteri

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Dracula has been accomplished for the first time in 2008 at Nickelodeon’s exibition at Milano’s 1000events: Bram Stoker’s Dracula is among the novels which have had the biggest number of film adaptations, we can count approximately 650 out of it. In this work I show the video-screening of eight movies based on transylvanian Count’s history (from 1922 Murnau’s Nosferatu to Herzog one, up to Coppola Bram Stoker’s Dracula, touching 1931 Tod Browning Universal’s versions and 1958 Terence Fisher’s Hammer) made on book backs of about 60 different editions of the novel itself. This work, besides emphasizing the unavoidable differences of interpretation both at a direction level and at a novel translation one, takes hold from the copyright’s concept about the transposition of any given literary work towards film: indeed Nosferatu has been the first acknowledged case of plagiarism made by a director against a novel. Even if Murnau changed the title and the names of the characters, he entirely resumed Stoker’s book plot. The writer’s widow sued the director for plagiarism and she won, forcing the director to destroy the movie. Just by chance a couple of copies has been rescued, allowing us to still admire this masterpiece. This case created a judicial precedent and since then the copyright was enlarged to any film transposition of literary works, too.

On the ceiling, Dracula is completed by Chirotteri’s installation, approximately 200 books about bats, cut and fixed with screws side by side. This work clearly takes hold from Enciclopedia dei fiori da giardino and was born in a 2009 October’s night: I was in New York and I was actualizing, with my assistants, the Non ci resta che piangere ship, the installation for the Museum of Art ahd Design. In the night, after having worked for 12/14 hours, I often walked by Strand Books, this huge bookshop beetween 12th street and the Broadway, where every time i used to look for new ideas for new works, and so I ran into this amazing volum exclusively about bats, the kind of stuff I’ve never seen in Italy. Immediately started the idea of covering a whole ceiling with books of that genre. That was the primitive core of The Island of Dr. Mastrovito’s installation at Governors Island in 2010, that besides the bats on the ceiling, it contemplated hundreds of books about butterflies on walls and volums about every animal’s species – life-size represented – on the floor.
This room, exactely located where was one of Testori’s libraries, close the cycle of the three rooms books dedicated, room that Testori himself dedicated to books’ and works’ study.

Libraries are not made, they grow

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In my work I’ve often resorted to photocopy. After I had photocopied the whole Analix Forever gallery in 2007, the very next year I found myself in New York, at the Italian Academy at Columbia University. They had in here a wonderful (aesthetically) library, huge, warm, comfortable: it invited you to lie down on big couches and read books all day long, if only all the volumes weren’t disposed randomly and an index or a catalogation weren’t missing. All that because, as it seems, the whole Italian Academy’s big books collection was been sold (I think to the Columbia) and the italian Government had thought only after many years to send tens of boxes containing thousands of loose books, from the litterature ones to the art history ones. Disposed like that, the volumes looked actually beautiful and new (some of them were still wrapped up, but they were basically unusable. I’ve been really impressed by the concept of “frontside”, were the book became a piece of furnishing (the fact that the libraries of the Academy were empty, back in time, it had sicken several Columbia’s professors, that notice them while taking a walk on the Amsterdam Avenue), and because of that I decided to create by myself the books index, just by photocopying the whole library, volum after volum, and re-installing the photocopies on the actual books. In the meantime, to facilitate the usage of the new photocopied library, I binded two different copies of all the approximately 1360 images used in two big catalogues of two volumes each. The metonymy as far achieved, the container for the content (the library INSIDE the books), allowed the visitator to leaf quickly through every back of the library’s books and find thus, in an easier way, the wanted volum.
The idea of rebuilding this “travelling” library at Casa Testori starts from here: the original images’ files are been readapted to the measures of the room that was Giovanni Testori and his nephews’ studio, and these files cover now the walls simulating  the presence of books and shelves. The fact that this library is, for its own nature and from the beginning, easy come, easy go, makes it especially suitable to the walls of Casa Testori, where Giovanni used to have his real library, or his collection’s pictures that, after having been studied and eviscerated, they were straightaway replaced with new paintings by different authors.

Enciclopedia dei fiori da giardino – Pampurzini

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I got the idea of these “gardens of books” in a two years ago evening, while I was arranging the studio. Zizi, my fraternal brother, came to ask me to make, at once, necessarily, a little work for a girl he had to seduce, a dancer. So, after an ungentle discussion, to make it fast, I decided to take one of the Degas’ books I had on my shelves. I open the book on a riproduction of two ballerinas and I cut them on three of their four sides, letting them attacked to the page by their feet. Once they were bent perpendicular to the page, seen from the side, they seem actually dancing on the book. Zizi grabbed the volum, he gave it to the dancer, and thanks to the power of Art, they are now living together in a nice house next to the Serio river. Reaching the Enciclopedia dei fiori da giardino was an easy step from there: I noticed the naturalness and the immediacy of that work, but I needed something to give it strenght and verity. So I thought of flowers: strenght, because from the flower arises the fruit, from the fruit the tree, from the tree the paper and from the paper the book, that in my work was coming back as a flower, closing the circle going back to the starting point of the cycle. Verity because flowers on handbooks are usually in 1:1 scale, in their real dimensions, thus likely to see. In Casa Testori I show this flowerbed reproducing the exact shape of the trompe l’oeil painted on the ceiling above, becoming itslef a trompe l’oeil. Specular to the fresco also in the placement of the doves between flowers, the flowerbed find its raison d’être in its central heart, represented by the “pampurzini”, the cyclamens, the flowers that Giovanni Testori used to prefer, he that, after a heavy nervous breakdown, painted them in a famous ten-small-paintings cycle that he gave to his familiy, as a gratitude sign for having been next to him during that desease.

Manuale per giovani artisti

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I accomplished this 26 portraits series in two sessions. 22 in 2007 summer, the other 4 in 2009 spring, these last for 2009 fall/winter Kris Van Assche’s advertising campaign (and here i drew myself much more hotter, besides I had to look like a model – pretty tough matter). At the beginning they just should be little reverse “fioretti”, inverting the topic of  Franciscan “fioretti” (one of the first drawings is actually mocking Giotto’s Sermon to the Birds, replacing birds with paper planes), or rather little meaningless – but at the same time – essential miracles: biting a shark in open sea, scaring Count Dracula, drawing the sun in the sky, planting flower books in the ground… But more and more that the work was progressing, I realized that I was dealing, actually, with an handbook, drown in Hokusai’s mangas style: a survival handbook for artists, an interpreting key of reality that allowed me to create a link between the ideas I had and what I wanted to do. So, a lot of these drawings, between 2007 and 2009, became a starting point for a lot of big installations, from Eine Symphonie des Grauens to Robespierre, from The Origin od the species to several collages to arrive to Enciclopaedia of Garden Flowers that is inspired by the drawing where, tearing pages from a botany book, I saw them in the ground, waiting for them to grow. In this exibition, for the first time, these 26 drawings are shown to the audience: I think this is an important viaticum for the exibition. Being disposed in the two room next to the entrance, they discreetly invite the public to enter in touch with my most secret and intimate world, showing all the things that are at the base of my last years work, following Testori’s method, according to wich he used to sorround himself of all the paintings he found of a given artist and, then, understanding the life, the desires and the passions just through his painting, his (de)sign.

Rocco (Siffredi) e i suoi fratelli

Questa stanza è stata l’ultima che ho ideato e realizzato per la mostra.
Nel realizzarla pensavo al lavoro di Martin Creed, e ad un racconto di Luigi Polla. Quando Luigi lo conobbe – mi diceva una sera – Martin, che era un ragazzino, gli tirò fuori una pepiera ed una saliera rifatte in rame e acciaio. Gliele appoggiò lì, sul tavolino su cui stavano mangiando. Erano praticamente invisibili, fra i piatti e le stoviglie. Gli spiegò che, per indole, non aveva voglia di fare nulla. Ma NON fare nulla era impossibile, per un artista. Allora, ogni volta, trovava la maniera di fare, realizzare la cosa più vicina al nulla, il minimo sforzo.
Mi ha sempre colpito questo racconto (ripenso ai suoi palloncini pieni d’aria della galleria, ai fogli accartocciati, ai metronomi..). Così pensai che la stanza semi-vuota sarebbe stata perfetta per chiudere il percorso ideale della mostra. Anche perchè, a quel punto, ero troppo stanco per qualsiasi altra cosa.
Fatto sta che, tra tutto, mancava un qualcosa, un appiglio alla violenza gergale delle storie testoriane, e parlo di storie inventate e vissute. Mi venne in mente allora la sua amicizia/inimicizia con Luchino Visconti. Visconti che aveva preso ispirazione dai suoi Racconti del Ponte della Ghisolfa per Rocco e i suoi fratelli. Erano amici e si stimavano, all’epoca; poi successe che per un ruolo promesso e non dato ad Alain – compagno di Testori – in Ludwig, Giovanni si incazzò come una bestia e prese ad odiarlo a morte (fino a presentare pubbliche scuse dopo la morte di Visconti) tanto che nell’inedito epilogo dell’Ambleto si scagliò contro il “sozzialista registore” insultandolo e affibbiandogli vizi e perversioni: “in te amare è avere un cazzo di cane da leccare”.
Per questo ho preso come spunto la locandina di Rocco e i suoi fratelli, in cui è raffigurato Simone che violenta Nadia. La violenza del gesto è mitigata dalla trasparenza invisibile dell’immagine ottenuta grattando il vetro opaco della portafinestra, cui fa da contraltare, microscopico, sulla parete di sinistra, Ceci n’est pas une pipe, opera realizzata per la personale Postmodern nel 2006. Qui il rapporto uomo/donna è capovolto (letteralmente, la donna sta sopra) e la citazione magrittiana sta a spiegare anche qui “cos’è l’amore”, giocando sul fatto che “pipe” in francese ha un doppio significato: pipa – come tutti ben sappiamo – e pompino, appunto…

Lo Studio Testori

Per realizzare questa stanza ho tenuto presente una delle rare foto che ritrae Giovanni Testori nel suo studio privato. Qui lo scrittore custodiva i quadri raffiguranti nudi di uomini che attribuiva a Courbet e Gèricault. In questa foto, si notano cinque quadri sullo sfondo, sopra la libreria. Di quattro si hanno notizie e dimensioni certe, del quinto – il torso di uomo sopra il ritratto di moro – non si sa nulla.
Guardando la foto, ho riprodotto nella loro posizione originale i quattro quadri noti, utilizzando solamente la materia di cui era composta la parete, ovvero gli strati di pittura, gli intonaci fino al cemento ed i mattoni, come per la stanza con l’immagine della famiglia Testori al completo. In questo lavoro è l’assenza a parlare: quando togliamo un quadro che è stato appeso alla parete per lungo tempo, ci accorgiamo che sul muro rimane, lì dove era il quadro, una silhouette più scura, preservata dall’usura della luce e della polvere. Partendo dall’ìdea di quella traccia lasciata dai quadri, sono arrivato ad immaginare che l’intera figura fosse rimasta impressa sul muro che, perforato, tagliato, scavato, ha infine restituito il ricordo che tratteneva.
Esattamente di fronte ai quattro quadri scavati nel muro, un televisore al plasma propone una selezione di 13 video, tutti riguardanti l’Arte e la Storia dell’Arte, e realizzati con la regia di Zizi (Marco Marcassoli) tra il 2003 ed il 2006.
Tutti i video sono una riflessione – critica e non – sull’Arte, sui suoi meccanismi, sulla storia stessa dell’arte e sul rapporto tra artista ed opera, e trovano qui, in quello che era lo studio in cui Testori passava gran parte del suo tempo osservando e scrivendo, il loro posto naturale.
Dagli Haiku, sorta di tableaux vivants o di piccoli sketch sulle pretese dell’arte contemporanea e non, fino a 150 chiodini di plastica per esprimere il tuo talento artistico in cui immagino di riportare una serie di celebri artisti moderni ai sei anni di età  e di dare loro in mano dei chiodini di plastica per vederli riprodurre le loro opere più celebri nelle forme più semplici, e CH, in cui, con Stefano Arienti e Luca Francesconi tra i protagonisti, un museo viene preso d’assalto – sulla falsariga del Batman di Tim Burton – e tutte le opere distrutte e deturpate in nome di una nuova, violenta avanguardia ultrafuturista.