11th March - 24th April, 2021
Clarissa Baldassarri, Aron Demetz, Serena Fineschi, Sabine Marcelis, Andrea Mauti, Tulio Pinto, Giulio Scalisi, Sophie Spedding, Manon Steyaert, Leonardo Anker Vandal.
Curated by Edoardo Monti
Real places, structured and defined, yet absolutely different from all other social spaces: these are Heterotopias, as conceived by Michel Foucault. Worlds within worlds, mirroring and yet upsetting what is outside. They are disturbing, intense, incompatible, contradictory or transforming.
We used to think of them as places such as prisons, gardens, cemeteries, museums, asylums, cinemas, ships. What happened these past months catapulted all of us in a massive, universal heterotopia.
The fil rouge for the exhibition, which celebrates the founding of Bubble’n’Squeak, travels across each of the invited artists’ practice, which are able to represent, contest and overturn the reality we live in.
Through the six principles that summarize the definition of heterotopia, we navigate the represented artworks. First of all, heterotopias become established in all cultures, but in different forms. Andrea Mauti, born and raised in The Eternal City of Rome, paints what comes from a selection of archive images dating back to the early twentieth century, in which the findings of works dating back to the Roman period are documented. The conceptual passage in which the image is translated into painting reflects on the idea of historical memory in which the ruin, the fragment becomes poetic testimony of the reappropriation by time and memory in relation to the fragments of the face of the Era as a metaphor for the passage and extinct presence of the human being.
Second, heterotopias mutate and have specific operations at different points in history. Leonardo Anker Vandal is drawn to various and often unusual media for their symbolic potency, and engages in a strong dialogue with the past. His work deals with notions of vgcuniversal balance and contrasts. It strives to reunite the opposite forces and knock over the discomfort of uncertainty. On another side, Clarissa Baldassarri encapsulate the past through moulds and ultimately wax “copies”, giving items a new life and meaning. Yet she does not think it is possible to build a new world, but believes in the power of the gaze to make what surrounds it new. The daily routine, the ritual actions of the day often push us to see everything in the same way. A blindness given by passive habit and fear of change that makes man, in his mobility, become a “mobile”, immobile. We settle in spaces, accumulate dust in the too accommodating known. But sometimes it doesn’t take much. Move, reverse, disassemble and reassemble. Small uncomfortable gestures but with the great power to change the identity of the subject; to transform common spaces in other places and the same places in other places, giving life to new and solid realities.
Third, heterotopias juxtapose in a single space several incompatible spatial elements.
A visionary 3D master, Giulio Scalisi often tries to gaze inside himself as a subject living in contemporaneity, knowing that the “individual” is nothing short of the product of mixed forces from the external world. Such forces are able to induce feelings of desire, joy or fear, and the study of these compulsions is often the subject of his practice. At the same time, Manon Steyaret embraces latex and silicon, creating sculptural canvases that engage an emotional, yet physical dialogue. What would hardly make sense, takes on a new meaning after being elaborated by Steyaert. She makes incompatible, compatible. Manipulating unusual materials, painting the surface with physical movements. Túlio Pinto, through factors such as weight, density and dimension, establishes interactions that are often unstable, obtaining pieces in their natural condition. He takes control of the material’s own powers and limits, constantly materializing the invisible force of gravity, the ultimate force we feel and can’t see.
Fourth, heterotopias encapsulate spatio-temporal discontinuities or intensities. Sabine Marcelis’ mirrors are both utopia, and heterotopia. Utopia, because the image reflected is a ‘placeless place’, an unreal virtual place that allows one to see one’s own visibility. Heterotopia, in that it is a real object. At once absolutely real, relating with the real space surrounding it, and absolutely unreal, creating a virtual image. We should considers Sabine’s designs to be true sensorial experiences and not simple static works: the experience becomes the function, with a refined and unique aesthetic.
Fifth, heterotopias presuppose an ambivalent system of opening/closing, entry/exit, distance/penetration. Aron Demetz, a wood master working and living in a valley protected by the Dolomites, which has for centuries hosted an incredible community of woodcarvers, juggles on the notions of humility and power, infusing into his wooden or bronze artworks with strange, or unexpected attitude that takes into account the surrounding space. He creates a portal, yet we can’t find the entrance. We want to touch the sculptures, but from a close look we realize we’d get hurt. His incredible works succeeds in representing the biological and cosmic energies that animate every human being.
Lastly, heterotopias have a specific operation in relation to other spaces as, for example, illusion or compensation. Sophie Spedding uses trust in self fictioning to create redemptive pararealities, that have corresponding ideas of desire, being a hauntingly unencumbered practice of care, trying to speculate on the fiction that comes with the power of intoxication a potential body has. Translated into posthuman scenes and characters, empathetic to the body, to facilitate retelling speculation and acceptance of extreme emotion as a part of our experience projecting desire into reality, in hope of change. In Serena Fineschi’s practice, the human body becomes the paradigm in relation to other spaces. We are present to the world only through our body and her creations manage to encapsulate a movement, a touch, a caress, an action in a manner like no other. Serena uses the body, her body, as the size, the measure that determines her practice.