Monsieur Tête

Presented in the center of the gallery this roomlike structure represents the collaborative effort of four artists: Piero Almeoni, Manuela Cirino, Maurizio Donzelli, and Roberto Marossi. For this singular work entitled Monsieur Tête, 1992, each of the four artists contributed one element that, when brought together, function individually like a wall flooring , or a column. The four artists have not exactly made one work together, it is, rather, one work composed of distinct individually authored parts. This spatial arrangement creates an ambiguous condition about the exact nature of the whole work. The artists have, above all, created a context for their own production, a physical, containerlike home for their works. And within the context of this work these artists can take refuge from the external world and more freely examine the interior world they have created. In its totality Monsieur Tête appears to emphasize the common area of this interior world and this common ground becomes the site of the work’s relationship to personal and social identity. The individual artists become completely merged into some other more universalized type of being.

The union of Almeoni, Cirino, Donzelli and Marossi’s works attempts to articulatemany levels of content without featuring contradictions between these levels. This apparent harmony distances all notions of inner struggle, tension, or paradox and instead calls to mind notions of integration and equilibrium within personal relationships. All four of the artists avoid color, but still other similar common denominators travel through their individual works. For one of their past exhibitions each artist provided the other three with an unfinished work which the recipient then completed. This practice led to a body of works that seemed to be made by the same author. This is not the case here; each artist maintains a certain individuality. Like a wall-to-wall carpet, Marossi’s black and white photograph functions as both a ground and pedestal for the entire work. Marossi’s photographs depict various animate and inanimate objects, dogs, cats, the artist himself, musical instruments, and toys, for example, that seem to have lost their gravity and are falling whimsically into the sky, here a big white hole in the floor. Marossi’s spectacle, and all that stands on it or hangs above it, is watched by two children who are part of the photograph. They too have managed to maintain their gravity by standing off the picture plane on the sidelines. Cirino’s black and white photography depicts an image of a siren lying on a bed. It has been rolled up to form an imaginary column, and the entire column has been re-rolled in heavy plastic as if to intentionally obscure the underlying image. Donzelli also seems to obscure the image he presents here, a gigantically scaled two-sided wall-like painting depicts a headless torso wearing a shirt. The image is slightly veiled beneath a layer of tracing paper and placed between sheets of glass. Almeoni leaves the colorlessness of black and white to incorporate the colorlessness of his found and created materials. He has draped an almost black veillike mosquito netting from the ceiling and suspended within it a bar which supports a rough cast of the artist’s own face at one end and at the other, a vase which defies gravity as if it seemingly accepts the content of this work into its body.

From the sleeping siren to the gigantic torso, from the mask to the photographic self-portrait, each of the artists presents an ambiguous notion of his or her personal identity. The whole of Monsieur Tête provides us with a vision of a communal search for oneself but by conducting this search in the company of others each abandons the heroic notions of the artist in search of himself in order to speak as a social unit, a voice more in tune with our times.

Anthony Iannacci