Within the walls of San Leopoldine, an old monastery in Florence, objects and events await discovery. In a way, this waiting is a discovery in itself. It causes a new question to arise, mostly internalised. Self questioning. The voices of Gattarossa and the Magma Collective mingle rise and fall. Works are scattered gracefully in a vast open clearing. These are disparate but harmonious. Sebastiano Benegiamo `s is a fresco, a method preserved only by a few. The portrait of a faceless human being making it impossible to distinguish between male and female. It gives the sense of what might have happened to the real shroud, where Jesus`s face fell into the cloth of Veronica, imprinting only the impression of a weight, the sinister chemistry of the calvary. We see no one here, all personal confessions wiped off, only the outer edge surviving. Andrea Lucchesi`s images speak of a lost paradise, yet there, all is stillness, not a sound, not a change in the light. Is this realm of perfection we pursue the real face of inferno? Can we only reach it once we have stopped the flow of life? Not life eternal as some would affirm but eternal death. This is an important question. Can we truly experience beauty or can we only re-create it ? Carmelo Cutili`s statues evoke the gardens we will probably never see. Guarded by electronic gates, circuit cameras, ferocious mastiffs, the secret gardens of Firenze. Yet, they look like passers by. Flaneurs caught in their thoughts. Laura Calloni shows a set of colour images combining digital , etching and polimer printing, a complex and delicate combination. Are there people there fleeing her gaze? She has captured the acceleration of time inside the incidental frame. We live there, in this wash up of sensations pursuing an exit, an intermediary satisfaction, a fast track remedy to a global malady. Anna Capolupo has produced an urban hybrid, a pictorial exploration of a composite universe. The Medium of paint is stretched beyond its traditional boundaries. We are entranced by the reverse side of reality, a reality that contains no truth until the artist pieces the drifting parts together again, in an nonsensical order. This nonsensicality is the source of beauty that is diametrically opposed to our sense of functional actuality and this is also what we find in Jaime Valtierra`s double sided work. He has painted like a butcher on mescaline and hanged it like a carcass. There, a static moment of violence confronts us. It will later become a prop for his performance, an emotional piece of theatrical furniture. It is what we do not want to see, like the ravage of wars, internal or social, the backdrop of society laid bare. Anna Burelhas transformed a personal experience into a complex psychological journey through a collage where chilhood memories interact with he history of Florence but also with the city she now lives in, London, where Magma began its subterranean course. In the centre of the piece, somehow feeding and unifying the assemblage of fragments like those of a body in search of an identity, a figure stands, the recipient of our unconscious, a Madonna in disguise, her eyes pointing to the upper firmament; there a plane cuts through the monochromatic sky. Some of the photos are purposely blurred, black and white derived from colour films. Text is spread between like mortar between bricks. There is irony in the face of that Mona Lisa, with a hint of sarcasm. We think of the Madonna by Piero Della Francesca opening her mantle to protect or devore the humunculi. Two etchings byYasmine Dainelli reveal a sensual form, slowly emerging from the penumbra. They almost float to the surface of the waters of her consciousness, the awakening of the senses, the rise of Aphrodite from the oceanic mind of Ovid, invoking the eternal muse.Rodrigo Ferreira, Sand Bottle Sand begins, bare foot. He slowly empties a bottle on the terracotta floor, sand leaks in a circle, clockwise as he walks backwards, then places the bottle at hisfeet, empty. He makes a funnel out of white paper and proceeds to gather the sand, , letting it fall back into the bottle. The grains of hours pass from an invisible state to the visibility of glass. He feeds the container gently and relentlessly, like the keeper of a goose, stroking her neck as food turns into agony. A trail of experience had settled on the surface, an image of the dust our memories become, as space incorporates the act, until the act either solidifies into a new object or the form melts into a new idea. The idea of passing through a conceptual wall in order to infuse it with the breath of contradiction, the flux of asymmetry within the ring of a personal stage. Rodrigo is no longer a social entity, is he mankind?A form of life emanating a narrative, the symbology of which is understood at this moment, albeit, in the shadow of the intellect. He gets up and pours the sand once more. It is an endless dance in slow motion. The solitary figure is moving inside the demarcation of a language where the letter “o” can mean Zero. He does not enter it. It remains unspoken. It opens onto infinity, we exist only in the margin. Is Rodrigo blurring the edges or reaffirming them? The erased face of a clock whose borders continually fade to reappear as it fails to disappear. The bottle is not empty, it is full of air, full of potentiality. We make a trace, this trace is a dna string, a memory of ourselves that cannot inform the development of any other being. Then the bottle is filled again, as we are born into a new life. The traces fall into it, psyche watching from above, and passing through the carnal filter of terrestrial life. We may be the ultimate masters of our fate, and the dogmatic makers of time, yet like vandals, we scribble half drunk over involutionary signs loosing sight of their archetypal message. The performer progresses through the toil. The quantity of sand diminishes as he keeps emptying and filling the bottle. This reminds us of a process of purification, when matter slowly dissolves into the atmosphere, a life time of distillation. The bottle itself is made of sand once heated up to about 2500 degree Celsius and turned into a hollow volume, an allegory of incarnation. Even this quasi miraculous crystallisation will wither, through the erosion of a natural game of oscillating equilibrium. After Bill Howard`s videos from the Lab Festival collection in Hackney,‘Commuting: Dark Heart of the Lea’, London, and preceding his poetic performance, a combined piece, text reading and video also shown at the Victoria and Albert Museum earlier this year, Ines Von Bonhorst and Yuri Pirondi create a night and Day vision of Florence Cleave, Alexandra Baybutt performing, Music by Matteo Penta. A shape is moving wrapped with screen material , Ines is holding a beam to cover the human cocoon in light. It opens up, and moves upward, becoming a second screen. It becomes the body of a city, changing, waking, rising, reflecting a soft scenery turning into urban dissonance. The pace has suddenly shifted from the pattern of a dream to the ambiguous assault of a nightmare. Ines draws the form out of the corner of our eye, The ringing sound becomes almost a litany, a cry and a protest. The human shape uncovers and recovers, the projector directs her movements; it seems to act as a bate, coaxing her from the darkness. Yuri filmed the day , while Ines filmed the night. The music by Penta echoes both dimensions, bonding them into an organic totality. While the night returns filled with statues, the day fills the screen with concrete monumental structures. There a cloth is agitated, by a draught, it has been trapped there may be for months. It looks like a moth flapping its useless wings in a void. The human shape echoes its febrility. Now stone faces adorn her as she faces the bridge, Ponte del Indiano, two dancers entering in the choreography surrounded by some gigantic walls, reflect ancient postures seen in hellenistic sculpture, reborn through the hands of Michelangelo, Donatello among others. She falls back into herself, as the light dies, like a flower, when the night returns. Two worlds collide and unite, Mars and his relentless progress, Venus in her veils of longing. The land, the river, the curve of infinity? The geometry of politics,, the cultural borders, the city. A new set up, a chair, a hanging painting like a swing, the back of a woman, facing a white screen.“Marlon plays Adolfa Musso Lina Lisa” There is something uncanny, before she even makes a move, she could be a character invented by Cindy Sherman, the lost girl on a deserted road, another, her hair hiding her face. A fake identity, a persona in limbo, stuck in a huis clos or a character in one of the brother Quay animated films In Absentia . A painting hangs like a swing. The woman steps sideways, crab like, and begins to draw on a column. She is wearing a green top, with painted yellow wings, angel of derision; she rips the paper of it and shows us. It looks like her, in a infantile representation. On the screen, the Duomo, a man as big cuts through its walls with a circular saw. It makes fire works. She wraps the brown paper around her head and draws again, this time, the simplified but disorderly schema of a human face the distortion of which contains the chaos of her mind. She remains motionless, seconds stretch into an indistinct length of time. Suddenly, her hands grab and tear the mask from her face, her blond wig falling there instead. She returns to the screen as a child to the drawing board. She pulls the chair backwards, to face the hanging wall. There, an image was painted by the performer, Jaime Valtierra. The image he is now incarnating. She sits, looks around her uncertain, as if she had felt a presence. She jumps, startled, she does all this three times over, the ghost of an aggressor obsessing her. She looks again as if she had hard something behind her. She gets up and removes her coat, the screen environment now filled with the Duomo on its side on top of a band of moving sky. Now she is reversing the act. She attacks an invisible victim, sitting where she had sat a moment ago. She shouts at the chair covered on the back of which the coat still hangs. She is still there, an empty shell receiving signals from another splinter of herself. She puts her outer skin back on and returns to the screen, each time her back to us, each time as if she erases the previous scene in the blankness. Amnesiac, recalling only sensations, faceless enemies. She could be inside a laboratory, like cats , running in their sleep. She grabs a shovel and throws earth at the chair. It makes a pile. All the while a light bulb was glowing on the floor, uselessly. She hurries to the chair, climbs on the mound of earth, stretching her arms out, shouting “art” as if it ,meant nothing, not as we know it, a sound that could open a flood gate, that could save her from herself, or an unknown intruder. This is the groan of the forlorn. She is desperately attempting to reach an image of the Duomo now suspended upside down on the screen, some kind of incomprehensible Paradise, its access a double impossibility. She climbs down and carries the chair back to a central position. The head composed of two Greek philosophers rotates. She is stunned once more, and removes her coat, as if the thing assailing her intended to denude her, to strip her of meaning. She is up and whispers something in the ear of who had sat there, but is instantly forgotten as who she is, an after Image of herself in the past and the future. She lies down and falls into a deep slumber.
Pascal Ancel Bartholdi
Review in Italian by Martina Scapigliati: http://www.firenzeurbanlifestyle.com/la-bellezza-fa-13/