Lucia Romualdi

Studio Bocchi

From her beginnings in Conceptual art of the ’70s up to these latest pieces, Lucia Romualdi has always set out to study the process of investigation in her work. She has questioned the limitations imposed on vision by fixed time and space. For her, it is necessary to encounter space as an unlimited experiential field and to be aware that time is a dimension of space. For this show Romualdi exhibited her work in the gallery and in the basement of the Palazzo della Cancelleria, designed by Bramante. The two spaces correspond to two organisms, perhaps antithetical, that coincide with her need to depict the present as a unique, real time through a continual consideration of its dialectical components of past and future. She also questions fixed space and space in movement, as the double title of the show suggests: determined and closed for “Stanze d’Acqua” (Rooms of water, 1992), and open and uncertain for “d’acqua” (of water, 1992).

If the past is a presence in the obligatory passage through the Roman, medieval, and Renaissance fragments that occupy the basement of the Palazzo della Cancelleria, it is even more palpable in the two “rooms” that contain Romualdi’s work. These spaces are the result of the ruins of Roman-Republican walls, and they are totally flooded. One of the most secret spaces in Rome, they were revealed by the artist through a completely immaterial intervention, carried out within the span of a few hours. In negative, a white sign against a black background, slides of fish taken from the cinquecento codices of Guillaume Rondelet illuminated the space, skimmed the water and interacted with it to enliven a relationship of exchanges and resonances that passed over the room, revealing its nature as a simple articulation of time. In the gallery, the same principle was set in motion, but in different ways, more strictly tied to the canonical languages of art. There, the proposition was articulated in terms of a process that is nurtured by immaterial infinitude specific to ideas. In the “Stanze d’Acqua,” everything stayed within the realm of the art product, of the tangible, given, finite, real object. Danzatrice-Opera n. 7 (Dancer-Work no. 7, 1992), a three-dimensional piece, is a fountain that rises up vertically, the water concealing the mosaic partitions of the three basins that make up the piece. The work’s title alludes to a potential for movement in the space, to a blocked occurrence, and therefore to a nontime. Sixty wax slabs, which covered the two sides of a low wall, referred to this same condition, evoking water in its solid state. The artist’s “voyage” concluded with the theme of water in the second room of the gallery, where Per ogni necessità (For every necessity, 1977), a double sequence of 31 images, is shown: the upper sequence is a series of photocopies, the lower a series of drawings. Each sheet repeats the image of a boat beneath a guiding star, and is accompanied by an introductory caption. It also corresponds to a day, and all together to the month, while the texts offer indications of behavior and of the scale between self and environment. These drawings substantiated an idea of time, fragmented into realities, into manifold presents that are as unportrayable as they are incommensurate. Here, time is not a condition of occurrence, but occurrence is the condition of time. Romualdi does not want to lose the memory of herself and of her work, and thus reacquires it and causes it to come together again, precisely at the point at which the opposite projections of past and future break apart.

Mario de Candia

Translated from the Italian by Marguerite Shore.