New York

Marco Bagnoli

Salvatore Ala Gallery

Marco Bagnoli’s Anti-Hertz consisted of a large canvas screen suspended diagonally between two pillars of a darkened room. An old-fashioned theatrical lamp threw a long, white light across the gallery floor. It touched the base of the canvas and illuminated a circular cake of red paint beyond it. The chimney of the machine caused a circular light on the ceiling and, on the gallery window in another part of the room a slide projector cast the image of a wooded landscape with a church. Imagine the whirring of the machines in the darkness; the changes in quality of the long light and the tinge it lent the red paint; the almost tangible quality of the spotlight in comparison with the less numinous projector; and the hectic, pullulating quality of the moonlike circle, caused by the hot air escaping from the machine. A text by Bagnoli completed the composition. Its distinction between “the cone of sight” and “the sphere of vision”—“sight comes from the earth/whereas vision originates/from the cosmos”—was presumably a reference to the two types of light issuing from the large machine, since the “cone of sight contains the sphere of vision.” While the machine as human head located objects obliquely and with difficulty, no adequate conjunction of emotion and observation was possible. Bagnoli’s romanticism was most evident in his complete distancing of the outside world and the feeling of the impossibility of grasping the universe in its chaotic aspect. The stiffness of Anti-Hertz may have been due to his reluctance to make life easy for the viewer. Yet there is such a thing as destructive ambiguity. Did the red mark correspond to a perceived or represented or “outered” version of the “moon” image? What was the purpose of the large screen? In visual terms the elements seemed too much like lecture props, too little like an enacted whole. Yet the text was the most obscure part, pointing toward a philosophical dialogue for which the piece provided equivalents but seemed unable to explore fully.

Stuart Morgan