Marco Bagnoli

The title of this latest installation by Marco Bagnoli, L’anello mancante alla catena che non c’è (The missing link in the chain that isn’t there, 1989), can easily seem like a veritable declaration of poetics. It can also provide the interpretive key to the entire installation, which occupied (or better, interpreted) the powerful, severe space within this wing of a Florentine fortress. The “chain” is perhaps that logical, positivist, evolutionist one that has separated scientific knowledge and esthetic experience, removing them from a single organic philosophical system. And the “link” is perhaps the attempt to reconstitute that lost unity in both symbolical and allegorical form. Thus the forms, elements, and materials that functioned here were linked one to another by immediate symbolic connections and unexpected symmetries.

Bagnoli subjected every visual certainty to the filter of doubt. The wooden form that projected its shadow on the walls of a dark room revealed, in its outlines, physiognomic games, which made obvious reference to the physiognomies of Leonardo da Vinci. And the assertive structure of the octagonal space of the large hall was made uncertain; the octagon carved out of the center of the paving was veiled by a layer of mercury that mirrored and amplified every proportional relationship. Even the large sculpture that rose like a hot air balloon, transmuting the material from the opacity of iron to the pure and shining quality of copper, was off-center—just enough to set in motion the entire spatiality of the hall.

At this subtle intersection between an esthetic truth and a phenomenal reality, the memory of art as a philosophical system and tool for interpreting the world returned, reviving both the alchemic and symbolic significance of materials such as copper, mercury, iron, and wood. The importance of the artisan was recalled by sounds and noises that accompanied the installation; these were none other than the sounds of the continuous activity of the lathe and the chisel working on a wood form.

Seeking harmony and formal beauty, Bagnoli attempted to restore to art its lost identity as a total cognitive system, in terms that were neither sentimental nor nostalgic, but profoundly current and conscious. He did so to achieve a truth, accepted today in certain branches of science, that leaves to observation the capacity to alter or even to construct phenomena. Thus the “missing link” becomes the refound capacity for perception and comprehension of the esthetic event.

Alessandra Mammì

Translated from the Italian by Marguerite Shore.