Every artwork in its own essence (when it has one), is a proposition for a new world. This proposition is essentially the artistic gesture given to the observer. In reality, this gesture already belongs to the observer. As if, at the moment it is given, the observer unconsciously remembers it. The observer in this case doesn’t make use of the artwork in a traditional sense, he doesn’t read it, he doesn’t consume it, but computes a demiurgic act in initiating it. “The image is what lets itself begin, all the rest is lost to our imagination,” thus affirmed Jean Baudrillard, in one of his last lectures, surpassing his apocalyptic vision of the postmodern world of media and the mediated.
The physical experience and the imaginative evocation are the beginning of the image, intended as an imaginative initiation. I describe a demiurgic act, as precisely this imaginative initiation, with this I mean an image that is essentially performative. It may seem strange, but for me this image has a preordained moral sense.
This “Beginning” presents itself with an undeniable and unmistakable concreteness, to the point that it lead me to think of it as “truth.” The question of “truth” brings with it a moral value and responsibility: this is the beginning of an immanent morality. And it is the inaugural image that, with its truth, brings a moral sense. The five propositions for a new world (which allude, with gratitude, to Italo Calvino’s Lezioni Americane) each crystallize an image that allows itself to begin, which is precisely what distinguishes the new world from the old one.
Sotto la superficie, la verità della concretezza (Under the surface, the truth of concreteness). To go under the surface, a deep reaching gesture of rupture (of vision, of thought) is necessary, as is the surface itself, or the superficiality, which veils this depth. Within this paradox of surface/appearance and depth/concreteness bare experience is established. This dichotomy constitutes a poetic act. Taken separately, the first – the surface – becomes a chimera and the other – the concreteness – is reduced to mere aesthetic taste. On the other hand, a synthesis between these two poles suggests that the profanation of mediated perception bears the onset of experience. And here it is: a wedge of Bardiglio marble tearing an ink jet print photograph of the sky that I took some times ago while crossing the Alps.
Alpha e Omega (Alpha and Omega). Freed from being a purely functional act, the work becomes a concrete symbol of time. The time of the beginning and the time of the end, divided from their becoming. The becoming is the finished work that, from the same entity, creates two different bodies, with two different sensibilites, two different lights. A roughly cut piece of a seasoned beechwood defines a triangle shape of the A of Alpha, and the gesture of sanding and polishing the curved surface of the cylinder of the same seasoned beechwood outlines the O of Omega. Alpha and Omega are separated, but at the same time united by the path that embellishes: the work.
Piegarsi per il proprio peso (Bending for one’s own weight). To be astonished by things, not just by their effects, but to physically feel them, signifies the constitution of their causes and to invest oneself in a true responsibility. To feel the bending of a piece of paper as if it was one’s own body does not just indicate an effect, but it also inaugurates the cause, an artistic act. It is the moving body of the artist, incarnated by a graphite drawing, that weighs on the paper, creating a gravitational force. This imaginative synthesis between cause and effect becomes a concrete allegory for the artistic act and, at the same time, in the words of Kierkegaard, “a leap which exceeds doubt.”
Il mistero nascosto da una nuvola (The mystery hidden by a cloud). The act of being veiled has always characterized the nature of mystery, that is to say, something that lives in the abyss of our imagination, not totally understood. The vision of mystery manifests itself in an obscurely open fashion, and for this reason, it is continuously vital. On the other hand, it is in this act of veiling itself, like the veiling on a chocolate cake with powdered sugar, that the mystery manifests itself. It manifests concretely, like the moment in which a mountaintop pierces a cloud, or a face is hidden by a veil. Nature loves to hide itself – re-veil itself so to speak – it is precisely in hiding itself that it manifests as image – a paradox of logic. But here, I have the feeling that nature does not ask us for comprehension, but instead welcomes us, a relaxedness in which we allow ourselves to begin from that which appears as mystery.
Iniziare un tempo (Begin a time). The time of the apparition of a figure is distinguished and separates that which was before its unveiling. In its apparition, the figure begins its own time, like the comet that launched beginning of the western time. A previous work titled Cause (Causes) 2004 is the origin of this work, for which I now decided to keep the casting tubes and part of the earth that covered the cast itself, just enough for the figure to unveil and articulate itself. It seemed strange to me the way in which that icon, rooted in our memory, solidifies in the material like the abyss of our unconscious, the figure, unveiling itself, each time giving a decisive face. This decided face of being outside of time, of eternity, from our abyss, enters in our familiar space and begins a new time, much like a comet does.
In the end, in what does this morality consist?
You will know when it is born within you, as it was born in me.
Gianni Caravaggio – Cinque proposizioni per un mondo nuovo (Five propositions for a new world) at Kaufmann Repetto, September 16 – November 11, 2013.