Critics’ Picks

View of “Emilio Vavarella: rs548049170_1_69869_TT (The Other Shapes of Me): Sourcecode,” 2021.

View of “Emilio Vavarella: rs548049170_1_69869_TT (The Other Shapes of Me): Sourcecode,” 2021.

Bologna

Emilio Vavarella

GALLLERIAPIÙ
Via Del Porto 48 a/b
May 4–September 8, 2021

Curated by the Salento-based cultural organization Ramdom, Emilio Vavarella’s solo exhibition centers around the video installation rs5480491701_69869TT (The Other Shapes of Me), 2020-21, titled after the first line of the artist’s genotype. Embedded in an enormous Jacquard loom is Genesis (The Other Shapes of Me), 2021, a video that depicts the artist’s mother Marinella gracefully and skillfully using it to translate her son's genetic code into warp and weft. The result is a long piece of fabric woven from white and black threads, approximately eighty-three meters long by sixty centimeters wide; it too is on display in the gallery, rolled up inside the machine. At any time, the pattern can be deciphered and converted back into the language of DNA.

A series of tapestries entitled “Sections (The Other Shapes of Me),” 2021, is created through the same process, but using a modern, digital Jacquard loom. The fabric, this time in yellow, green, red, and blue, is exhibited on the wall in vertical fragments that resemble the stripes of a barcode, each as long as the artist is tall. The orderly totality of the sections conveys Vavarella’s genetic makeup, their cumulative visual impact producing a sense of vertigo. The viewer's gaze succumbs to waves of color and to an undifferentiated mass of information, unable to identify the ordering syntax of the compositions. Interlacing the marvels of technology with his own personal history, Vavarella transforms the codes that define us on a cellular level into a mode of abstract self-portraiture. Its implications, however, far surpass the individual, traversing a continuum that stretches from the organic to the analog to the digital, and perhaps back again.  

Translated from Italian by Marguerite Shore.