Critics’ Picks

Filippo Berta, “Common People,” 2021, fine art print on diasec, 20 1/2 x 29".

Filippo Berta, “Common People,” 2021, fine art print on diasec, 20 1/2 x 29".

Milan

Filippo Berta

Prometeo Gallery Ida Pisani
Via Giovanni Ventura 6
September 15–October 20, 2021

Filippo Berta’s solo exhibition “Common People” consists of drawings, photographs, a sculpture, and a video, all conveying different aspects of One by One, an ambitious project the artist developed over the course of 2019 and 2020. Traveling to the barbed-wired borders of Slovenia, Croatia, Hungary, Serbia, Greece, North Macedonia, Bulgaria, Turkey, Mexico, the United States, and South Korea, the artist recruited a handful of locals to count the barbs on the fencing out loud. Powerless against the physical limitations imposed by international politics, the performers in the ten-minute video Gente Comune (Common People), 2021, carry out their counting in a delicate and intimate manner, each using his or her own language against the varying backdrops of woods, seaside, or low-lying plains. It is as if by arriving at these nearby but usually forbidden borders, the participants have finally allowed their minds to roam, to explore beyond their ordinary limits, including the invisible and interior ones that structure collective and individual identities. In this regard, Berta’s work reminds me of that of Gina Pane, the Italian-French body artist who, in Azione sentimentale (Sentimental Action), 1973, implanted the thorns of a rose one by one into her arm, in a gesture towards the torment of being suspended between religion, nature, and the human condition. The totality of the voices of Berta’s counting performers suggests a universal litany, recited before razor-wire rosaries that join and divide races, cities, and landscapes. This metaphorical synthesis is embodied by the sculpture endless, 2021, for which the artist welded individual barbs of concertina wire into an infinity sign.

Translated from Italian by Marguerite Shore.