Critics’ Picks

View of Pennacchio Argentato's “#Burn Burn Burn,” 2018.

View of Pennacchio Argentato's “#Burn Burn Burn,” 2018.


Pennacchio Argentato

Vico Santa Maria a Cappella Vecchia 8/A
March 31–June 20, 2018

Pivoting on themes of liquidity and combustion, Pennacchio Argentato poses an increasingly relevant question for our time in “#Burn Burn Burn,” the Neapolitan duo’s second solo exhibition here: To what extent must we sacrifice our privacy online in order to fuel an ephemeral sense of self?

The series “The New Oil” (all works 2018), consists of four abstract wall sculptures that evoke the trajectories of a human finger dragging an unlock pattern on a smartphone. This rote and intimate gesture is juxtaposed with the public nature of the images used in the background: shots of a combustible liquid—viscous, iridescent, simply downloaded from the Adobe Stock Image digital data bank. As evidenced in the series title, the artists suggest that the moving force behind the global economy has transitioned from oil to data, a notion reinforced by recent headlines. It’s all about me also features an abstract wall sculpture, this time forgoing an oleaginous background for a golden mirror as a support. The viewer at once sees and is seen by the work, which emphasizes the tolerance of a system in which vanity overtakes privacy by a long shot.

Swim in your sweat, a Plexiglas, shower-curtain-like sculpture, introduces an organic element in its depiction of sinuous waves that reflect the heat of a body—or perhaps two bodies. Public-private and natural-artificial dichotomies have been present in the work of these two artists since they first began showing in the 1990s, and here, these topics are enriched with a sophisticated investigation into both the perception of materials and the materials of perception.

Translated from Italian by Marguerite Shore.