THE MEETING, ANYWAY
It is human history that converts reality into speech.
Roland Barthes, Myth Today
Roland Barthes, Myth Today
It is about tracing the profile of a meeting. Impossible to delegate everything to chance, reductive to record it all as affinity: meetings happen on trails of an individual pursuit; the contingencies of being, of “me” in the world, take as a result both to the other and to the collectivity. It is in this perspective that the productive corpus of Cristina Fiore and Andrea Penzo is researched, starting from 2009 a.k.a. Cantiere Corpo Luogo. In that year the artistic identity has become univocal and the two artists’ parallel individuality has been diverted to another track. It happens, in the same way love happens, more because of a soul predisposition than an obsessive research. Certain freedoms are abandoned, some others are acquired, distributed in a strength that comes to life out of a visionary capacity to create new worlds, to rewrite what had already been and to imagine the present as a sheet of paper to fill in with a new code, left untried until the moment of union.
From here onwards we proceed through attempts, we are guided by instinct and by the will to trade in what in the past was doubled for a singleness, at a price that we never know completely.
It is not about making a clean sweep, but at least re-creating, giving birth to a new operational way. Cristina Fiore and Andrea Penzo did not escape from the issue, but they did what Vincenzo Agnetti, founding father of the Italian Conceptual art, had declared through one of his famous works, “dimenticando a memoria” (lit. “forgetting to memory”).
Starting out from their own past the two artists have made a selection, they united the coincident edges, creating a unique puzzle out of two different compositions. Penzo + Fiore have begun to analyse what had been their “appointments” with the meetings of society, of contemporary history, of the (im)possibilities of the present and its actions, in an aspect which escapes from those aesthetics that characterise much of the latest years’ art, an art thought to be light, ironic, evanescent. The two artists instead have defined their tensions trying to get right to the point of behavioural issues, opening leaks in the mass society’s plans, dodging the apparent surveillance of the tamed codes; the name used by the duet to sign their “curatorial” projects, in the end, already tells in a subtle way the poetics of their own operation: an open workshop on that Heidegger’s “being”, an entity in the world, not to be mixed up with subjectivity.
And the part of the world that they chose to analyse consists of conflicts, of human nature and of its weakness; a mise-en-scène through an acknowledgment of society, with no excuses.
It is no chance if the series which made up the couple’s corpus of work have titles that fully represent the will to keep up the approach to a critical vision, neither a didactic, nor a descriptive one, but rather composed of details, at times even ephemeral ones, put down black and white by actions, photographies, drawings, “alien” carriers, accumulations: Sick Society, Infanticide, Egotism, Psychogenesis are only a few of the macro-projects to which more specific works are linked, created from 2009 or merged, completely revised after the union.
With Sick Society and the documented action with the photographic series Self Possession, of 2010, the stress is placed in unambiguous way on the disorders of sociality and of the self-representation in well defined collective and ritual moments, in this case during on actual opening of an exhibition. A story which is not much based on a human typology but rather on the behaviour which prevails as self-demonstration, the desire to project our own light and achieving, on the contrary, the emphasis of the dark side of a subtle homologation mechanism metaphorised in this case by the action of a regular couple that walks around during the opening, where the woman wears a pair of shoes with exorbitant heels and a much too small support for the sole, so small that she cannot even walk and has to use crutches to do that. An altered behaviour to show superiority or integration: it reminds the famous “capelloni” (lit. “long-haired people”) described by Pasolini, entities that declared their divine “essence” using their hair, distinctive code of a newborn modernity. Leaning on the other, not just on crutches but even on the partner means to trace, even on this occasion, the adherence to a preconceived model: a vision that, Pasolini once more, had in Petrolio, where he described with no excuses the shape of a new capitalism, at the expense of the poor, through the silent complacency of “Il Merda” and Cinzia on via di Tor Pignattara: a couple that everyone had to see “linked in that way”, and that towards the end of the walk looks undone and completely and definitely involved in the game of the massacre of the rising scene.
Moving on the the production of Infanticide we get into what are the origins of language, of schooling and so of a sort of definitive submission to the preconceived criteria of existence, freed from any kind of geography, race or religion. In Imprinting it is childhood and its education that gets undermined, with a very simple action: by using his left hand to write and re-creating the learning process, the artist compiles a series of eighteen copybooks. Along the way the handwriting transition improves and the pieces point out the necessity for the child to implement around himself a sort of recognition, even though context constrained, represented by a small desk with a non-removable chair; a knowledge cage that is destined to be eternally incomplete, outlining future behaviours and possibilities of existence. In the actions and fragments put on stage by Penzo + Fiore is strong, under all circumstances, the will to show the otherness, that shadow which walks by our path and which proves that seen closely nobody looks normal, but we are all laboured by neurosis, obsessions and those cigarettes that should be put out once for all. Solve et Coagula, large installation that was added in the list of production of the series Psychogenesis, includes an action in which a glass of water is constantly poured and passes through about 250 passages in as many other glasses, until the liquid is naturally spent. A way that not only researches an obsessive dimension, but also an action time never to be precisely defined, a physicality that is far from being standard and an application of the dogma that has, in its references, the meetings of the early Body Art with the matter, with the aspects of a psyche that has to deal with the innate desire to spread tidiness in the mess of life, of affections, of sociality.
An obsessive process which is determined by the will to be recognised, loved and popular through the imposed codes of a society that tamed us to the idea of success, to the need of appearing in order to exist, to substantiate the stress towards an impoverished being, that only retains a few softened and transitory traces of the original concept.
Consequently to these trends is Frames, a work still in progress that belongs to the series Egotism, in which it is outlined the frustrated will to belong to the media’s flow. Artists or not, everybody is searching for their fifteen minutes of celebrity to appear in a world worth of mention. A long series of magazines pages with pictures of a performance of Penzo + Fiore overprinted reveals, as written by the duet itself «the extreme narcissism of a paradoxical condition, the one of the artist who is impotent against the large flows of communication, but who is always stretched towards them». And it is here that the circle closes, ideally going back to the Sick Society, but also enriched with a new point of view. There could be no more appropriate conclusion than the story of an introduction, that in this case we will steal from John Berger and his Keeping a Rendezvous, to identify the irreducible value of a meeting, and from the genesis of a new world perspective: we go to places, we live the years, we show up for meetings that happen in traceable places and other that have no physical body: «All of them, of course, have been visited by other travelers. I hope you too find yourselves saying: I’ve been here». In a place, and in the body too.
Milan, September 2012
Milan, September 2012