Critics’ Picks

View of “Michele Zaza. Opere / Works 1970–2016,” 2016.

View of “Michele Zaza. Opere / Works 1970–2016,” 2016.


Michele Zaza

FM Centro per l’Arte Contemporanea
Via G.B. Piranesi 10
October 27–December 23, 2016

This retrospective is a journey into the personal motivations behind the work of Michele Zaza. The show begins with Simulazione d’incendio (Simulation of Fire), 1970, which Zaza shot to document an action he created in Molfetta (in southern Italy): exploding smoke bombs close to a town park, in an unexpected and incomprehensible event. People scattered about, unaware and in disbelief of what was taking place. Here, Zaza brings the social tensions of that period into the rural world of his native Puglia.

In Naufragio euforico (Euphoric Shipwreck), 1974, and Dissoluzione e mimesi (Dissolution and Mimesis), 1975, the focus is narrower and deals with his family. In the former, a monitor that Zaza placed in a meager bedroom reverberates with scenes from a newscast; in the latter, the artist shows himself hung upside down at the family table, in the presence of his mother, disturbing the calmness of the family scene.

There is a sense of suspension throughout this show, and the silence leaves room for the noise of ideas, for the beating of the heart, for life. Perhaps this is precisely what fascinated Yvon Lambert when he saw Zaza’s work in 1975, when the young artist arrived in Paris. Mimesi (Mimesis), 1975, captures the artist and his father as they gravitate toward one another in an empty and silent space: an interior, their house, in Molfetta. The addition or subtraction of elements, while following a rhythm of condensation and rarefaction, has persisted throughout Zaza’s career.

Translated from Italian by Marguerite Shore.