Turin

Marco Mazzucconi

Galleria Franz Paludetto

Marco Mazzucconi’s manipulations of transparent films and fields of solid color over aluminum sheets appropriate a look of mechanical reproduction. This appropriated, or feigned, look, combined with the artistic use of images, text, and painting, results in a kind of collage, or graft. The elements in Mazzucconi’s works include text in several languages, draped leather and granite, 50,000-lire bills, and playing cards; they are often repeated, cropped, and inverted. Like his use of mechanically produced images, Mazzucconi’s use of painting, here monochromatic stripes and squares, maintains a direct relationship to its original territory: painterly abstraction. These works call into question the Modernist relationship to representation and meaning, and to the current state of communication, while functioning in the shadows of a romanticized notion of mechanical reproduction.

The ink-black color of Mazzucconi’s images and the aluminum sheets over which they are collaged provide these works with a resemblance to the plates used in lithographic printing. And like simulacra of those lithographic plates, these works abstractly read as if they were used in the mechanical reproduction of themselves. In one such work, Daltonico e analfabeta (Color-blind and illiterate, 1988), the aluminum sheet is divided by a simple grid (a form found in most of Mazzucconi’s works). Each of the 16 squares on the left of the work is occupied by a different color — orange, red-orange, blood-red, baby-blue; each of the 16 squares that form the work’s right half, by a cropped, altered, or inverted text—each in a different language, and different ideographic or phonic system. The collaged texts that Mazzucconi presents simultaneously occupy their original site and the site in which Mazzucconi presents them. In their original territory these texts were part of a valid, coherent means of communication, a domestic linguistic structure; here, these texts are rendered incommunicable and obscene: incommunicable both because of their cropped or inverted presentation and because of their new-found “foreign” status, and obscene in that they can be seen as a reference to the current inundation of meaningless information. In this work the literate becomes the illiterate and the painterly becomes the colorblind, as the grafted linguistic or imagistic element, divorced from its original structure of meaning, is placed in a representational chaos. The work’s title refers not to the viewer nor to the artist, but to the current state of art itself.

In Paesaggio marino (Marine landscape, 1988) the upper part of a large, square aluminum sheet is covered by a grid of mechanically reproduced, transparent images of granite; the lower section, by a deep purple, painterly stripe. Mazzucconi highlights his brushstrokes in the stripe, thus emphasizing its relationship to the action of painting. The granite and the painted stripe of color can be interpreted as “virgin” materials; however, the disparity between the geometric division of the images, and the traditional representation of a “marine landscape,” negate any pure sculptural or pictorial potential of these materials.

Mazzucconi nihilistically challenges the communicative value of both representational and nonrepresentational artistic practice. The process of actively reading, comparing, and interpreting the various fragments the artist presents is aborted by the disparity between their original site and the context in which they are presented. Mechanical reproduction is seen as handicapped by its ersatz status, and all systems of communication and representation are called into question. Mazzucconi’s works thus function as interruptions in the processes of signification, rendering images and linguistic systems equally mute.

Anthony Iannacci