Not with a bang but a whimper
It may not seem to be a very important issue, but 'seem' is the operative word here. Because especially today, bedazzled as we are by a plethora of images, shapes and words, having the courage to remain (almost) silent is a splendid form of resistance. In fact it's a political act. If the term weren't hackneyed enough already, we might almost talk about "agility", the ability to transcend the prose of humdrum daily life in order to seek out some kind of essence, some ineffable and naturally unfinished synthesis of the infinite multiplicity of things: the subtle tension that flows beneath the visible surface, a very difficult concept to express in words.
And sure enough, this text is by its very nature flawed, a failure. I don't think there is any way of expressing the (virtual) nothingness that these artists put together. Therefore the article below is only a rough guide that I was duty-bound to put together.
So we're talking about five artists, though they could number many more, who are carrying on a long tradition in Italian art in the ongoing search for condensed, minimal meaning. Theirs is a constant, stringent attempt to boil things down, to achieve a kind of density; an effort to record a phenomenon, a meaningful moment in the seemingly meaningless flow of reality. It’s a matter of synthesizing and controlling. While the word "epiphany" may have something of a mystical flavour to it, their aspiration is still to identify, record or recreate that ephemeral and surprising moment, that crack though which reality reveals a "different", telling meaning.
It little matters whether the moment is simply recorded, or rebuilt, or indeed forged out of nothing: these artists, whether by choice or by necessity, create their works out of very little. If we but look closely, though, we'll see that reality already approaches perfection as a ready-made product. Almost everything lies in the initial decision, in the grasp that the artist's eye exercises on the world. It's often enough for them just to pick out certain revealing details, to place them back on the stage set and to get them to dialogue, in order to capture the perfect moment between something and nothing, between a gesture and silence, between the work of art and its context.
These are mostly fragments, slow and alienating images pervaded at times by a sense of hypnosis: they don't communicate head-on but through a kind of roundabout reflection, an echo that spreads through and over time. The rest we have to do ourselves, building the fabric of these details.
Alex Cecchetti collected numerous images of the "superior mirage" or rising horizon phenomenon observed in the setting sun, from photographers, observers and scientists for a number of years. Mounted together and speeded up in a video (One Day Old, 2008), they build up a single hypnotic loop that is positively apocalyptic in mood. The pictures of a distorted sun become fleeting matter, a vibration that defines the horizon of an uncertain future. As always in Cecchetti's work, it is an image that symbolises our daily struggle for survival.
Using different media such as sculpture, installations, photography, video and sound in total freedom, Christian Frosi's work depicts a world of shapes and images defined in their extreme vagueness, their lightness and their mutability. Natural phenomena, as in some of his more recent works, are used as a metaphor for adaptability and metamorphosis, as a hypothesis of freedom. They are visions for a future model of society built on more direct relations between one individual and another, and between those individuals and nature.
A sort of osmosis between the work and its context is typical also of Alice Cattaneo's work. Her installations, rapid additions to the architectural space, use cheap and lightweight materials, the kind of thing that one might find amid the refuse in a DIY store. Like minor explosions of matter, exercises in balance and tension between the walls of a building, Cattaneo's installations mark a moment of crystalised energy, a precariousness that has taken shape due to an anomaly in the laws of nature. Ironic and surreal, her short videos are like visual Haiku's, condensed notes that reveal hidden meanings in the details of daily life. In short, in both instances it is an attempt to forge new relations in the hidden folds of reality.
Another story of fragments, a matter of expanding an image's sense and its strength: Farid Rahimi's videos and video-animations are imbued with a mood of subtle and suspended tension. Works such as “F_______H”, 2007 and “Devero”, 2006, are micro-stories with an elusive and mysterious tone, potential fragments of longer stories that have yet to be told, bordering on the noir and the grotesque. Rahimi treats other media, such as video-animation and, more recently, painting, as though they were today's embodiment of an age-old tradition based on landscape painting. Their static nature asks us questions about our own perception of time, the bizarre technical mechanisms adopted in the filming cast an ironic light on the mechanisms of vision and representation themselves. Reduced to their formative principles, to the extreme syncopation of their component parts, Rahimi's works are a reflection of our relationship with images and their (in)ability to portray reality.
Danilo Correale, the most immediately political of these artists, also use syncopated forms of extraction from reality to express his interest in alternative kinds of social communion. Photography, graphic art and installations are his favourite tools in an exploration of reality that has one eye firmly trained on history and on politics. His intervention in the city structure or his extraction of material from that texture are his way of playing a critical role in society; they are islands of resistance fighting against society's standardisation and control. Someone had painted the word "revolution" on a wall that was being demolished in Milan. Correale has now turned that image into an unlimited edition poster which visitors can take home after seeing the exhibition. Even a revolution can weigh no more than a few grammes.
Translated from italian by Stephen Tobin