Home » Galerie Alberta Pane

Tag: Galerie Alberta Pane

Les yeux qui louchent Eng

Les yeux qui louchent

Igor Eškinja, Fritz Panzer, Manuela Sedmach, Michele Spanghero, João Vilhena

Venezia (I), Galerie Alberta Pane
September ― December 2017

TextThe artists
Desirable Strabismus
Daniele Capra

Reality is the condition in which we are immersed and in which we develop our existence in a subjective form thanks to the use of our senses and cerebral structures that allow us to order and elaborate experiences. As Kant wrote, “the consciousness of my own existence is at the same time an immediate consciousness of the existence of other things outside me”:[1] the consciousness of existing therefore implies not just a boundary that defines me, but also the presence of something to know beyond me, on the outside. It is thus that we ourselves – by a continuous negotiation with other individuals – forge the interpretive instruments through which we perceive reality and the mental representations that map it.[2]

Every artistic practice based on reality – that is, that treats it as a subject to be delved into in its countless implications – requires the artist to have a sort of “double vision”. However, it mustn’t be specularly two-faced, like that of Giano, but must move forward on different trajectories. Indeed, if an eye must be turned towards that which is in front of it (that is, oriented forwards toward what is in his view), the other instead must look beyond – behind, below, above, elsewhere – and divergently, so as to take in an unordinary view of the world. The artist is therefore asked to make himself voluntarily and necessarily cross–eyed, in any case allowing him to sidestep the prefigured dictates of the orthogonality of sight. So he must visually – and even more so mentally – be outside his comfort zone, conscious that this condition must be transmitted to his works. Only thus is, his work more than just a description, empty caption or appendix, but an awkward element of tension that aims to delve into and make manifest the innermost reasons that comprise and animate reality.

The awareness that art aims to give the observer a critical reading of the world is fundamental if we don’t see the work of the artist as that of a mere producer of products with aesthetic properties, but rather as an intellectual practice that has a social utility in the Marxist sense. In the awkwardness of his own intellectual condition, visually and linguistically conveyed to the observer, a process of attention is thus activated, and that makes the cross-eyed artist an unorthodox sentry, gifted with geometric power – power of vision and of thought.

[1] I. Kant, Critique of Pure Reason, edited and translated by P. Guyer and A. W. Wood, Cambridge University Press, 1998, p. 327.
[2] See P. L. Berger and T. Luckmann, The Social Construction of Reality: A Treatise in the Sociology of Knowledge, Garden City, NY, Anchor Books, 1966.

The artists
Daniele Capra

In his research Igor Eškinja merges different visual planes, creating stratifications that lend themselves to multiple levels of reading. The Golden Fingers of Louvre series exposed overlaps the imaginative value of the French museum with the almost baroque pictorial detail of the imprints left by visitors. The marks of the hands are thus material elements that disorient the viewer, who is stimulated to direct his interpretation elsewhere, towards the visual abstraction or a possible Institutional Critique.

Fritz Panzer’s artworks are real drawings with real dimension of the represented subject made of metal wire, though they have a three-dimensional development. Thanks to the use of thin lines of iron, with which the corners and sharp edges of the object are outlined, the artist brings the volumetry back into a single visual plane, compressing fiercely its camouflaged potential and putting the viewer in a condition of perceptive ambiguity.

Manuela Sedmach’s works on canvas are the result of a minimalist pictorial exercise whose objective is to render visual landscapes in an undulating and profoundly intimate form, combining realistic aspects and elements that are the fruit of elaboration. Characterised by a limited palette of colours and a soft and hazy rendering of details, her artworks tell us of submerged and imaginary worlds, about the mental universes in which the spaces are not submitted to the rigidity of prospective metric.

With the Translucide series that stems from a reflection by Gilles Deleuze, Michele Spanghero analyses the way in which an image manifests itself to us in the form of a revelation that needs a translucent support on which it can lay. In a video and some photographic images, the artist makes this process concrete slowing it down exorbitantly, transforming the image into an event and a dilated flow of blindingly obvious information.

João Vilhena’s research is characterized by a conceptual use of drawing and painting. The series L’amour des corps arises by condensing, in the form of graphite drawing, the complex bond of visual nature featured by a woman with whom, fortuitously, the artist established a relationship of an exhibitionistic type. The images of her – aware of being seen – in the building in front of her window, are returned in poetic form, as snippets of an intense visual relationship, in which the spectator can take the place of the artist and get tangled up in a game of visual triangulations.

In my beginning is my end Eng

Igor Eškinja / Marco Godinho / Adam Vačkář
In my beginning is my end

Paris (F), Galerie Alberta Pane
April ― May 2015

In my beginning is my end
Daniele Capra

What we call the beginning is often the end
And to make and end is to make a beginning.
The end is where we start from.
T. S. Eliot

In My Beginning Is My End compares works of Eškinja, Godinho, Vačkář whose conceptual, visual and expressive connotations are so dominant that they may interrupt the visitor’s own, unsure, notion of time, and act upon him by the dynamics of friction, of repositioning and anticipation. We don’t pay attention to the duration of fruition, but only to its pursuit that generates meaning, ever aware of the fact of not being on par with the temporal reference points that we commonly call past, present and future. Many of the exhibited works have the power to be at the same time alpha and omega [2] – or the other way round –, and able to defy the viewer in search of a permanent rearrangement of time.

The idea of using time as the component of a process, and not as a quality against which to fight incessantly, does not consciously appear in Fine Arts before the avant-gardes of the 20th Century. It is particularly applied in Italian Futurism (we could mention Marinetti or Boccioni here, but also the acoustic experiments of Luigi Russolo) where a great interest in the depiction of time is evident in representing the effects of movement, just as in the quest for a fourth dimension that stood at the beginning of the revolution in painting once started by the cubists. In the 1960s, variations of time enter the means of expression as a central element of new artistic developments, in an anti-rhetorical appearance, not objective and proudly anti-consumerist. Happenings are born, and Fluxus declares: “The line between art and life should be kept as fluid, and perhaps as indistinct as possible”.[3] The artist acts in the first person to create an ideological context that liberates him from being a producer of objects, a role historically based on the usage of materials that occupy a space and become fetishes of the market. Unidirectionally advancing time guarantees the singularity of an artistic action, defines the limits and determines the viewer’s fruition, keeps him from repeating the visual experience. In this context, the time of an artwork and the time of its perception never meet, and the work becomes exclusively a mental space of memory, the trace of neuronal relations that chemically define memory.

But an artwork that is neither an instantaneous and ephemeral creation (as is a performance or a happening), nor destined to perish (e.g. some paintings of Gustav Metzger that are treated with acid to provoke the corrosion of their surface) interacts with the viewer’s notion of time, essentially due to a phase-shift. Beyond the time we need to watch/perceive an artwork, the moment when the time of the work and the time of the viewer meet in the presence of both, a work that succeeds in its very essence (meaning much more than a banal exercise of style or a simple occupation of space, but a work of art as true ergon [4]) contains the roots of the future. These roots live with elements of the past and the present that we traverse. The artwork allows the traversal that collects a portion of what lies beyond the needle, and signals the progression of time at the same time with everything that “has just happened now”.

The perpetual shifting of the artwork’s space and time (here and now) determines an unexpected temporal expansion as it acts on the world and the viewer according to a continuous repositioning that suggests the exact moment which is briefly present and then past. In a way, we could acknowledge in the artwork the existential modality that the philosopher Giorgio Agamben detects in what is contemporary: “This means that the contemporary is not only the one who, perceiving the darkness of the present grasps
a light that can never reach its destiny; he is also the one who, dividing and interpolating time, is capable of transforming it and putting it in relation with other times”.[5] If, from its creation on, an artwork does not add something to the future, it loses one of its main purposes: to be subversive, oblique, able to question the viewer, to transport him to another place and another time. The power, the vitality, of an artwork originates from its capacity to tell us of the past and to anticipate what is not yet manifest. In the last instance, the artwork acts like a mental instrument used by our subconscious, a desire for strabismus or the will to look and to see beyond our powers.

One of the most significant questions raised by T.S. Eliot’s Four Quartets concerns the nature of time, the modalities of its uninterrupted regeneration while recomposing the scansions of time (past, present and future), and turning this taxonomy useless for any telling of the human condition. Whereas in the first Quartet, Eliot writes “Time present and time past / Are both perhaps present in time future / And time future contained in time past”, [6] at the end of the Four Quartets, he concludes: “What we call the beginning is often the end / And to make and end is to make a beginning”. [7] The end is thus not a conclusion but the beginning of a new waiting, a starting point, and events that challenge our capacity to arrange cause and effect chronologically follow each other in a circular movement. Consequently, the temporal horizon’s univocity is only guaranteed if we adopt a model of probabilities or by continuous and successive adjustments.

In the same way, the works of In My Beginning Is My End are born from a desire to defy the viewer, to question him on what is represented and on the process of its realisation (Eškinja), on the labilities of definitions and the fragile permeability of traced borders (Godinho), on the conventional values that determine economic relations, and on modern dynamics and previsions of the future (Vačkář). In uncertain conditions that have to be continuously renegotiated, the only ideological security is to never stop questioning oneself. Before, during and after the present.

[1] T.S. Eliot, Little Gidding, in The Four Quartets, Harcourt, New York, 1943. The exhibition title quotes the first verse of East Cocker, the second of the Four Quartets.
[2] In the Book of Revelation Jesus says “I am Alpha and Omega” three times (verses 1:8, 21:6, and 22:13). The letters alpha and omega (α and ω) are symbol of the totality of the world, since they are the first and the last letter of Greek alphabet. Often α and ω were used together with the holy image of Jesus in medieval art and Orthodox Church tradition.
[3] A. Kaprow, Untitled Guidelines for Happenings, in Assemblage Environments and Happening, New York, 1966, reprinted in Essays on the Blurring of Art and Life,  University of California Press, Berkeley, 1993, p. 62.
[4] I refer to the definition of an artwork given by Immanuel Kant in the Critique of Pure Reason, though not to the duality of ergon/parergon (work/frame).
[5] G. Agamben, What Is the Contemporary, in What is an Apparatus? And Other Essays, Stanford University Press, 2009, p. 53.
[6] T.S. Eliot, Burnt Norton, in The Four Quartets.
[vii] T.S. Eliot, Little Gidding, in The Four Quartets.

Nemanja Cvijanović – Ivan Moudov. Non

Nemanja Cvijanović / Ivan Moudov

Paris (F), Galerie Alberta Pane
January ― February 2011

Video courtesy of Vernissage TV. Thanks to Heinrich Schmidt.

Provocation Strategies
Daniele Capra

Even though the current financial crisis has upset many people’s certainties, those who live in the Western world and are basically well-off tend to measure their own role in the public sphere almost exclusively as a result of market dynamics; in other words as being homo oeconomicus,[1] even anthropologically. Economic and professional activities, that is, basically constitute the only area in which people can lay claim to their own role and actions, while other variables have been substantially devalued. Above all, as Slavoj Žižek has recently said in an interview, democracy doesn’t seem to be all that interesting, with the paradoxical effect that the citizens living in a democratic context do not always seem to be aware of it and anyway they are not immediately interested in it.[2] Even the many expressions of dissent that have swept European countries following the crisis, unemployment, and bankrupts, have deep economic causes at their heart but only rarely ideological motivations. The paradoxical result is that, without even being aware of it, a crude and perverse kind of economic realpolitik has taken over and has ousted democracy from the area of interaction.[3] In the same way, the great political utopias that enlivened and inflamed the past two centuries have demonstrated themselves to be inapplicable now because they are unable to bear the weight of a reality that is slowly being pulverized. All this could be a reason for admitting defeat by those who believe that one alternative or another are still possible: there is no space for a depressing white flag.

Nemanja Cvijanović ‘s Don’t seems to give an answer both to this sense of frustration and to those who think that no more battles merit being fought. This is a video that actually shows a white flag flying: the unequivocal symbol of defeat. Except that the flag is not really white because the artist has tinkered with the monitor: in fact it is a beautiful red, a colour that alludes to the revolutionary political tradition of the left but that is also the symbol of a challenge by those who have not yet laid down their arms. So defeat really becomes impossible; or, if we want to push things to the limits, every defeat hides within itself a revolutionary potential. In fact Cvijanović manhandled the television in order to make impossible the transmission of green and blue, the additive colours for constructing images on the screen. The image ambiguously recounts the subversive potential hidden within all representations, but also the limits that this imposes: the world, the context in which the flag flies, loses its own identity and leaves space for a vision that distorts its chromatic nature, perhaps by dirtying it with an ideological point of view.
In reality, Don’t reveals that Cvijanović views the world in a playful way and that he shows the subversive potential of a simple gesture of subordination to the status quo. In fact the artist warns the viewer about the interpretative ambiguity hidden within every vision of the world by conferring on art the role of creating a boundary between realistic detachment and ideological farce. An anarchic (and underhand) approach, instead, allows us to become aware that things do not add up and perhaps never will, and that it is convenient to raise our attention-span even higher. This also occurs in Scenography for Applause! (a specific installation for the gallery) in which the metal barriers are both a sculpture that ironically ridicules Constructivism and the tool used by the police for crowd control. So whoever visits the gallery is at the same time both a viewer of the art and also a protestor who is publically called to take up a position, even if it is against someone or something. Without our even being aware of it, participation means taking sides.

The creation of a museum of contemporary art is a complex activity from the point of view of management as well as being financially onerous, whatever the ways and means adopted. Even while having a great deal of backing from private sources, structures of this kind could not exist in Europe unless public institutions considered it of fundamental importance to develop and make visible the interests and work of young artists. This paradigm, however, does not function in the country where Ivan Moudov lives: not so much, or at least not only, because of economic considerations, but because the laws currently in place in Bulgaria and the obtuseness of ministerial administrators and bureaucrats (only habituated to putting paintings and sculptures with a decades-long history behind them in the museums) make it practically impossible.
Already some years ago Moudov acted in this deeply anti-contemporary context by inventing  a new museum based in an old train station in Sophia. On that occasion – in 2005 – the artist affixed posters around the city, published adverts, and invited art workers, the public, and politicians to the opening. The result was an alienating collective party: hundreds of people took part in it in the belief that they were about to see the start of a new institution which, in fact, did not yet exist and even now has still to see the light. On that occasion Moudov built up the right expectation and used to his own advantage a historical building and the mechanisms of communications. Furthermore, the people who gathered for this imaginary museum’s inauguration demonstrated that it was something to be continued.
So the Musiz project evolved into The Creation of a Museum of Contemporary Art in Bulgaria, a video interview with a Bulgarian lawyer who recounted the vicissitudes and strategies used for realizing a museum which the artist felt a need for, even though only in a legal form with all documents in order and all necessary permits. If, that is, the artist over the past years had exclusively tried to get around the institutions, to use the gaps existing in the worn fabric of Bulgarian society, for his own advantage and that of society, now he developed his need to follow the stricter path imposed by bureaucracy: his subversive and aggressive gesture has thus become the scientific and rational determination for acting on reality: not by opposing it but by directly intervening on it. In particular, Moudov has chosen to fight against the institutional elephantiasis inherited from the communist period by playing its own game, but with the fresh legs of a player with strong lungs and imagination. This position marks a new approach in the dynamics of the political involvement when compared to other artists of Moudov’s generation who, until now, have underlined the critical aspects of emergent countries almost exclusively from a social point of view. With this new work the Bulgarian artist leaps further ahead and dirties his hands with reality, not only by highlighting the contradictions inherent in the system, but by sparking off – as Beuys suggested – the processes necessary for mending it. And of course we can only hope that this happens.
What is surprising is the site-specific work that Moudov has created for the gallery and which the visitors will have firsthand experience of, a work that is part of the complex logic of interaction and emancipation which Rancière has spoken of.[4] In fact Moudov has replaced the internal handle of the work’s door with a spherical one that does not permit a direct exit. Whoever has to leave must either wait for someone to come in or attract the attention of a passerby to open the door. A sign explaining this is affixed to the gallery wall and invites visitors not to panic. There is no other solution than to accept being ridiculed and to wait, perhaps while thinking about the inclusive/exclusive dynamics that belong wholly to the world of art and where the play between the various actors – critics, the market, fairs, galleries, collectors – develops by starting from such choices as these. Or else to search for a second way out in the hope that some terrible joke might not be lying in wait here too.

[1] Homo oeconomicus is a fundamental concept for classical economics theory. It refers to a person whose principle characteristics are rationality and an exclusive interest for looking after his own individual interests. Here the word is meant in its widest sense.
[2] S. Žižek, L’effetto Berlusconi, interview by A. Gnoli, in Alfabeta2, n. 4, November 2010, p. 3.
[3] See A. Badiou, S. Žižek, Philosophy in the Present, Cambridge: Polity Press, 2009, p. 75.
[4] J. Rancière, The Emancipated Spectator, London: Verso, 2009, p. 13-14.