Alessandra Mammì

  • Fiorella Rizzo

    In this installation, 22 upright steles made of red earth (sometimes tinted black) enclosed a sort of sacred, resonant space, like hermetic and indecipherable monoliths left behind by some ancient culture. The theme was the visualization of the mystery that surrounds the number 22, the emblematic cipher common to signs and symbols of diverse civilizations. There are 22 letters in the Latin and Hebrew alphabets, 22 books in the Old Testament, 22 chapters in the Apocalypse, 22 tarot cards, 22 prayers in the Avesta, 22 signs in the Syrian alphabet, 22 things that God generated during the six days

  • Bizhan Bassiri

    A lava stone suspended above our heads symbolically opens the exhibition. Symbolically, not only because it suggests a lump of undifferentiated matter from which the vertical black sculptures are wrought, but because, like destiny, it is a sword that hangs over us—the unpredictable fate upon which we all depend. The title, “Cervello” (Brain; all works 1990), supplies yet another layer of symbolic meaning. It refers to neither mind nor reason, but specifically to the physical organ and primary origin of every thought and sensation.

    Bizhan Bassiri was born in Teheran, but has lived and worked in

  • Marco Formento and Ivano Sossella

    “The gallery . . . has the pleasure of informing you that in agreement with Marco Formento, one of his pieces will be on view for the entire season.” This message is repeated on each invitation, for every gallery that has hosted Formento’s work. (It would be misleading to say “shown” instead of “hosted,” since the exhibition of the work precedes the opening.) The project begins with the announcement and follows every aspect of the art system—the distribution of the work, its viewing, and its sale.

    Without any subversive intention or pronounced ideological agenda, Formento and Sossella revive the


    THE 44TH BIENNALE has left many visitors with mixed feelings. Director Giovanni Carandente had the laudable goal of returning the institution to the artists, and imposed no central theme for them to conform to as the exhibition’s core. But though it’s true that the prepackaged themes of the ’80s Biennales were realized all too predictably, in this version one misses a critical idea, if only as something to disagree with. In the Central Pavilion, in the place of a strong critical or historical subject, is the “Ambiente Berlino”show, a display of (West and East) Berlin artists. Unfortunately this

  • Alessandra Mammì

    RAUSCHENBERG A NOI, Noi a Rauschenberg” (Rauschenberg to us, we to Rauschenberg) is the title borne by the Soviet Pavilion at the 44th Venice Biennale, the site of an extremely timely exhibition that focuses on an (obviously beautiful) piece by Robert Rauschenberg, around which rotate the works of six young Soviet artists (Guram Abramischvili, Andrej Jachnin, Aleksandr Jakut, Evgenij Mitta, Ajdan Salachova, and Sergej Volkov). Self-conscious in its irony, the show conveys the new political situation and mood, the détente that has occurred, the (cold) peace that now has swept away every suspicion

  • Stefano Arienti

    Behind this pair of shows lies a diary, a canvas-covered cardboard box in which Stefano Arienti gathered some 50 images he likes. Actually the diary is a multiple of 100, each an apparently disorganized accumulation of postcards—famous works of art (from Rubens to Salvador Dali, from Gauguin to Velázquez), Carlo Carrà’s “metaphysical muse” in puzzle form, portraits of rock stars, Disney cartoon characters, and a series of works by young contemporary Italian artists.

    Arienti is one of a generation of artists that tries to stop or to span the uninterrupted flow of images that informs every perception,

  • Felice Levini

    Where do angels live? Above our heads, in the skies of our cities. With an installation that recalls Wim Wenders’ Berlin angels, Felice Levini has imagined them suspended in the sky above Rome, sketching them in black on white at the center of a cloth outlined by the skyline of the Eternal City, and then stretching the cloth across the ceiling. One might say that those wingless shapes flying above the city are not angels, but really humans, the outlines of acrobatic parachutists, fixed and stopped in a timeless space that Levini creates with an ambiguity that refers as much to the craziness of

  • Claudio Pieroni

    Claudio Pieroni’s installation here, Pulpito (Pulpit, 1989), was deceptive. At first glance it brought to mind a dialogue between the artwork and the space, as well as the cold, minimal language that characterizes the last generation of Italian artists. But the piece was a trompe l’oeil, like many that Pieroni uses in his work. The large structure (a pulpit in iron supported by imposing columns and topped by a large grating covered with stones) might recall the euphoria of neo-Minimalism, just as the column of metal screens—filled with river stones—might bring to mind both a certain poverismo

  • Vettor Pisani

    Well beyond conceptualism, metaphors, and metalinguistic and metaphysical tensions, the work of Vettor Pisani has always been a sort of critical conscience of the most advanced artistic research. Pisani has had the virtue of adding questions to questions, of overturning all assumptions, of doubting even the possibility for art to reflect on itself. Thus, after having criticized numerous myths, after having declared every reconciliation impossible(especially arte povera’s desire for a harmonious encounter with nature), Pisani has reached a point where he is attempting to contradict himself,

  • Marco Bagnoli

    The title of this latest installation by Marco Bagnoli, L’anello mancante alla catena che non c’è (The missing link in the chain that isn’t there, 1989), can easily seem like a veritable declaration of poetics. It can also provide the interpretive key to the entire installation, which occupied (or better, interpreted) the powerful, severe space within this wing of a Florentine fortress. The “chain” is perhaps that logical, positivist, evolutionist one that has separated scientific knowledge and esthetic experience, removing them from a single organic philosophical system. And the “link” is


    Einstein’s discovery of the cosmos is the infinite dimension, without end. . . . What must I do to go further? . . . I make a hole, infinity passes through it, light passes, there’s no need to paint . . . everyone thought that I wanted to destroy, but it’s not true: I have built, not destroyed, that’s the point.

    —Lucio Fontana

    MAURIZIO MOCHETTI’S WORK BEGINS where Lucio Fontana’s left off: at the cut Fontana made in the canvas, the gateway to another space. Mochetti acknowledges this in his Fontana - Fontana, 1987, the title of which is almost a dry declaration of his poetics. At first the work

  • Enzo Cucchi

    In the catalogue essay for this exhibition, Amnon Barzel suggests a comparison between Enzo Cucchi and halo Calvino. It is certainly not the central point of his text, nor the only interpretive route to be taken, and yet this comparison can become a key to the entire show, particularly if one bolsters Barzel’s intuition with a reading of Calvino’s posthumously published Lezioni americane. Sei proposte per il prossimo millennio (American lessons. Six memos for the next millenium, 1988). In one lecture particularly, which is presented as an homage to the concept of lightness in art, Calvino

  • Miquel Barcelò

    Through the five large paintings and the series of watercolors shown here, Miguel Barcelò explores the theme of the desert. He chooses it, not as a figurative idea, but as a mental and sentimental location—as the site for his discourse on painting. Barcelò uses painting as an instrument of investigation and awareness; he faces the problems of European pictorial culture, at the same time revealing a profound connection with the great Spanish tradition. In terms of technique, he shows a virtuosic ability to bring together areas of extremely condensed material and others more fluid and rarefied,

  • Carlo Guaita

    This show was a rather articulate declaration of Carlo Guaita’s intentions and of the possible ways in which his investigations might develop. The four works (all Untitled, 1989) confirmed his adherence to a cold, minimal set of values—to a taut, spare language based on the structure of the grid. Although made of solid iron, the structures seemed light and ephemeral, more mental than physical. And the proof of their flexibility lay in their range of possibilities.

    In one work here, Guaita engages in an openly conceptual play between painting and structure, between the field of infinite mental

  • Vincenzo Agnetti

    “There is just one obligation: logic. Logic commits suicide through coherence.” This is a statement by Vincenzo Agnetti, a concise, explosive declaration of poetics that might have been the ideal commentary to accompany this show. Since his death in 1981, Agnetti’s name has continued to reverberate as one of the most interesting in the circles of Italian conceptual art.

    The exhibition consisted of some significant pieces created between 1967 and 1973, such as Il libro dimenticato a memoria (Book forgotten by heart, 1968), Tempo-azione (Time action, 1972), La macchina drogata (Drugged machine,

  • Pino Pascali

    Retrospectives always run the risk of burying the vitality of a body of work in favor of a posthumous interpretation that, while perhaps shrewd and well thought out, inevitably resembles an archaeological examination. Fortunately, “Ponti sull’acqua” (Bridges over water), an exhibition in homage to Pino Pascali 20 years after his death, avoided this approach. It is difficult to say whether the credit should go to the original installation or to the innate quality of Pascali’s work which still manages to preserve its original freshness and sense of amazement. It is a small miracle, held in a

  • Jonathan Lasker

    Jonathan Lasker presented four large canvases here—Digital Affection, The Politics of Reality, Histrionic Affinity, Fake Freak, all 1988—one on each wall of the gallery. Employing a dry, peremptory, affirmative language, the pieces show him pushing to the limits of the coldest geometricism. His structures end up being so taut that they move beyond abstraction. It is difficult to find harmonious relationships in them, or to discover their historical sources. Lasker’s work seems more linguistic than pictorial, to the point that its structural arrangements bring to mind the obsessive and repetitive

  • Tatsuo Miyajima

    At the most recent Venice Biennale, Japanese artist Tatsuo Miyajima scattered 100 digital watches, each set to a different time, over the floor of a dark room. The numbers darted about crazily, from one point to another, simulating a strange nocturnal landscape (the runway of an airport? a bird’s-eye view of a city by night?), and at the same time tormenting the perceptual security of the observer. The piece produced an enormous clash between perceptual deformation and a simplicity, even poverty of means. Finally, the work’s title, Il mare del tempo (The sea of time), seemed to contain a concise


    The 43rd Venice Biennale will go down in the institution’s history for two revisionary gestures: the restitution to Italy of the Giardini di Castello’s central pavilion (which has for the last 20 years been the site of the Biennale’s thematic shows); and the revival of one-artist exhibition spaces in that building, both in the part redesignated as the Italian pavilion and in the separately curated rooms containing a show entitled “Ambiente Italia.” Many of the national pavilions are also devoted to one-artist monographs. In its own way, each of these gestures enforces an idea that also appears

  • Mimmo Paladino

    Some shows mark a significant point in the life and the work of an artist. For the viewer, these rare events communicate an immediate sensation that transforms him or her into a witness to a fragment of history, important not only for the understanding of the work of that painter or sculptor, but above all for the formation of a collective sensibility. Mimmo Paladino’s recent exhibition, entitled “Oro” (Gold), was of this type. It shared a desire for rigor that characterizes the investigations of many European artists, yet it did not take this to an extreme. With Paladino’s capacity for synthesis,