This point of view is summarized and suggested by my choice of the project’s title, the title of the collection of Bruce Chatwin’s writings written between 1968 and 1987 and published posthumously in 1996. Chatwin, the great explorer of the “short century”, incarnation of the “nomadic alternative”, asked himself in 1966, in the world of economic upturn after the second world war, a world that was starting to deal with colonialism: “Why do I become restless after spending a month in one place, unbearable after two?”. The world, since Chatwin’s death and especially since the book has been published, has become much smaller, apolitical and apparently without mysteries. His question which had given rise to the collection seems to resonate in all the artworks presented in the exhibition. The subject today lives, from his private space of the electronic device’s screen, in a continuous state of restlessness, not knowing where to lower his gaze because he is “over excited” by the thought of being able to be everywhere or that this everywhere is frozen and eternal. Consequently the artists participating in this project explore this state of mind exactly to re-evaluate what we mean by privacy, by archive, by intellectual property, by community, by memory, by artwork and by representation of the visible/conceptualizable.
Discovering the world for the artists of ‘Anatomy of Restlessness (Anatomia dell’irrequietezza)’, means first of all verifying and resetting the rationalizing and symbolic mechanisms with which it is made sharable by everybody. In fact, the core question these artists are dealing with seems to be: why is it common opinion today that a photographic image “is born” at the time it is shared on the space of the web and not when it is taken, as was the case in the previous mechanized era? That’s why all of their works are not a comparison/clash with reality, but are visualizing the cognitive and productive modalities they are made up of. Thus they are configured as devices of compressed time turning their attention to the making and unmaking of things in relation to that specific context they manifest in. For example the photographic series ‘Unnecessary Complications’ by Joe Clark, whose subject is a sheet of shining metal on which are cut up abstract forms that allow us to make out the urban or natural landscape it is placed in, becomes a testimony of the attempt to grasp the atmosphere of a general environment and not only the formalization of the piece of art as an end in itself. Tom Esam, by displaying the project ‘ESAid (water campaign 1)’ consisting of some flyers in a plexiglas showcase, with images about a campaign to bring water to children in Africa, directly visualizes the time it takes for the spectator to decipher the marketing messages that politics or fashion adopt to create reassuring and manipulative situations, suggesting a criticism of all this. The photographic series with the title ‘Modulit’ by Philip Topolovac has as subjects the models of satellites sent into space, but translated into cardboard models and photographed not with the will to create a perfect mimesis, but highlighting the trick and searching for the autonomy of that material/object, positioned half way between what it was and what it’s imitating. Whereas the photographic series by Sarah Schönfeld, again working on the translation of movement and the liquid phase into a fixed form and vice versa, represents abstract compositions that are enlargements of the solution to clean the ipad’s screen as it is upon it, thus transforming the means of spreading images on the internet into the subject of that specific vision. These works of art I have just mentioned emphasize the moment of perceptive and constructive translation that transforms an object into another, revealing that its identity depends on the context, but mostly on whether the observer’s gaze is aware or not. In some cases this quest for awareness coincides with the artist’s, related to his capacity to create: create what? Thus Claus Philip Lehmann asks himself about the repeated pictorial gesture of drawing and this leads him to completely cramming with graphite some sheets of paper, erasing or sublimating the single gestures, which however go on to forming part of a wider composition when they are exhibited on a square portion of wall painted in blue. Whereas, with Yorgos Stamkopoulos’ paintings, the painter’s gesture is destructured through paintings that are asking what usually allows the background to become a subject, or a decoration to become an abstract artwork. This query about what is the artwork’s limit and influence on the surrounding, dependently or independently from the frame that contains it, is also widely explored by David Prytz. The latter exhibits an artwork made up of two elements, a glass surface that is exposed on a pedestal and one made of brass that is wall-mounted, containing two geometrical shapes reminding us of the alignment-surface established by the planets Venus, Mars, the Earth and Mercury on the day of the inauguration and on the closing day of the exhibition, thus creating a further temporal tool connected to that physical/mental context. Instead, the sculpture by Felix Kiessling, displayed outside the gallery, is made up of an egg-shaped stone engraved by orbits naturally set within it and balanced upon a pyramidal pedestal, and it summarizes the quest for perfect balance that humans have always yearned for, between abstraction of ideas and elements produced by forces of nature, between maximum systems and specific cases.These artists investigate, through different techniques, the limits and identity of the surface of the “image subject”. Their artworks, therefore, are the representation of intimate gestures that insinuate themselves directly into the mechanisms with which information/images of the “expanded surrounding” are mediated, to highlight their functioning and thus be able to influence, as individuals and as a community, the perception and most of all the capacity of each individual to interact with the world.