12/02/2016 > 09/04/2016
Opening on 11/02/2016, from 7 pm to 9 pm
For his first solo exhibition at the gallery, untitled Everyone Stands Alone at the Heart of the World, Pierced by a Ray of Sunlight, and Suddenly It's Evening, ALFREDO ACETO (b. in 1991 in Turin, lives and works in Geneva) mixes together references to both his own life experiences and art history. The exhibition arises from the will to create a place where would mix together the various strata of a linear form of time. From the artist's control tower to an open stage for the visitor's wandering, the exhibition space turns into a platform from which signs of different ages emerge, and where an exploded chronology is shown.
First, there is the Ukrainian city of Pripyat, which is turned from an existing geographical place into a representation of ACETO's mental landscape, and which is the starting point of the present exhibition. The artist is not so much interested in its recent and dramatic history, linked to the nuclear disaster of Chernobyl central, which is not far from Pripyat, as in its poetical potential and the dreamy thoughts this abandoned city where he never went fills him with. Discovered in ACETO's textbooks at school, Pripyat became the main subject of the young artist's paintings between 2005 and 2007.
In the exhibition, the visitor can see a painting (S.L.A.V.1) which is the reproduction of the façade of the gallery in Turin where ACETO put on his first show, and where was presented a selection of works from a series of collages and acrylics on paper inspired by Pripyat. The wall is technically and materially represented as a theatre backdrop, thus bringing back into question the veracity of the historical event and giving material form to a mix of reality and fiction. The imaginary Pripyat and the premises of the gallery in Turin both help to create one of the artist's mental landscapes. The large canvas is the same size as the door of Bugada & Cargnel Gallery, introducing a spatial and mental overlapping. Thus, the visitor is invited to enter into what is not so much a physical setting as the mental world of ACETO's obsessions and melancholy.
The sense of space-time alienation is heightened by the presence of an orange-coloured floor, which becomes a base on which the various items on show appear to float. Pripyat is still present: the paintings from the artist's adolescence are reproduced by photoengraving on zinc plates (Re-Mental Landscapes I, II, III, IV). There is nothing coincidental in the choice of this material, for it requires a particular method of engraving based on photographic developing. If photography has long been considered as a potential proof of truth, here, it represents more a desire to capture the moving image. The plates reveal their content only if seen from a particular angle, in lighting conditions that must be constantly sought by the observer, contributing to develop a singular interaction with the visitor. They also point out a certain degree of immobility, which the city appears to have acquired when it was abandoned in 1986.
ACETO returns to this static mental landscape in order to discover its previous motility. As he digs into its past in search of Pirpyat's anthropological and historical foundations, he comes across the Cucuteni-Trypillian culture (Vth–IVth milleniums B.C.). Coming from the present Ukraine, the Cucuteni-Trypillian went to the present Romania. There, in the Piatra Neamt museum, the artist got interested in the artifacts of Cucuteni-Trypillian culture, and, more specifically, in a statuette named The Thinker which fascinatingly depicts a man holding his face in his hands.
Piatra Neamt municipality having for project to reproduce, in a large scale, some of the museum statues to set them up on roundabouts, ACETO decided to do the same, and to create a sculpture (The Thinker) which would be a midway between an original archaeological find and a decorative urban sculpture. Its archaic aesthetic contrast with the high technology used to produce it – sculpted from a 3D scan into a polyurethane block by a robot used to make automobile prototypes. The roundabout on which ACETO imagines The Thinker is enthroned is, once again, in a mental Pripyat, allowing fantasising the possibility of Pripyat return to movement.
What underlies The Thinker reminds the visitor of the language of theatre and of stage design. A bronze-coloured PVC curtain (Loyal Sauce B.C.–Noisy Whitish A.D.) once again acts as an element of space-time encounter. Nothing is random, yet everything makes the visitor think of a linear order that is constantly brought into question. The bronze refers to the age which follows the one of the Cucuteni culture, the curtain refers to the artist's mental arena, and the material emphasises the fact that all this production is specifically contemporary.
Going through this curtain, the visitor is facing a sculpture (Everyone Stands Alone at the Heart of the World, Pierced by a Ray of Sunlight, and Suddenly It's Evening) which symbolises a continuous present and which concentrates the artist's reflexions and work. This horizontal window, put on the floor, is a reproduction of an architectural element from the Winchester House (San Jose, California), the house of the famous arms manufacturer's widow, Sarah WINCHESTER, a house that has a singular history. When her husband died in 1981 from tuberculosis, only one year after having inherited from his father, Sarah began to think that their family was cursed. A psychic advised her to build a house for her and for the spirit of all the people who were killed by a Winchester rifle, and she would live as long as the house will be under construction. Following this advice, Sarah bought a farm in 1884 and began to extend and embellish it, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year, for 38 years, until her death in 1922. The plans were designed by Sarah, who worked every night in a private sitting room, taking into account–she said–the demands of the spirits, and giving the new plans to her architect in the morning. Originally constituted of 8 rooms, the house has now 160 rooms, and presents some unique curiosities like doors that open to the void, staircases that conduct to the ceiling, bottomless closets, or even windows on the floor.
On a wall, the visitor can see a clock riddled with bullets (Pripyat) which crystallises the intentional interruption of time and which, in a way, brings the visitor back to a certain reality. In this case, time is made manifest in accordance with its most mechanical reproducer. And yet its intentional interruption shows us how, in any case, time representation necessary for and desired only by human beings. It is why we can find a way to control and reconsider it.
The spatial level of the gallery is further defined by the presence of tripods on which spotlights have been mounted. These acquire their true purpose when the sun goes down for their artificial light brings all the works on display back to the same level, as items that belong to a classical museum. The space appears like a traditional natural-history museum, with the display installations subverting the space-time order in favour of a quantitative accumulation. In this particular case, the artist's approach is broader, showing us how the display installation is actually a natural disrupter of space-time orders.
Inside the exhibition, there is just a single date, which appears in the original brochure of ACETO's first show in 2007. Actually, it is the only thing that documents an event that really occurred, and which determined the existence of the present exhibition, where there are no diverted motives, where everything follows a narrative, and where everything has its own logic and harmony. Everyone Stands Alone at the Heart of the World, Pierced by a Ray of Sunlight, and Suddenly It's Evening is the actual beginning of a journey that, however, does not reveal its conclusion.
The title is no more than an emotional and sensorial suggestion–like a perfume or a smell–addressed by ACETO to the visitor entering the space-time dimension set up by the artist in the exhibition.
Under the title, there is the inscription "loyal sauce B.C.–noisy whitish A.D." which draws on a mnemonic technique of phonetic conversion invented by the German mathematician Stanislaus MINK VON WENNSHEIN, and that ACETO studied when he was young. The technique consists in associating a particular sound with a number, in order to create words that are then easy to remember. The time-space of the exhibition is thus included between "loyal sauce B.C." and "noisy whitish A.D" – and it still has to be decrypted.