Galleria Paolo Vitolo

Marco Formento and Ivano Sossella work as a team. Part of this exhibition, entitled “Supplemento/Due Montagne” (Supplement/two mountains), consisted of a catalogue, made up of eight folders, all with the same image (of mountains) on the outside, and containing different images and texts inside. Four folders held texts by Angela Vettese that examined specific works by the artists; the other four, organized by various specialists, addressed opera, underwater fishing, design, and Sherlock Holmes. The exhibition was also divided in half. One side of the space contained objects (for the most part, tents and posters) that the artists, on other occasions, had presented as their work; these were piled into two heaps. The other side of the space existed almost as a separate exhibition and contained cassettes of opera, books by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and other objects related to the four nonart disciplines addressed in the folders. “Supplemento/Due Montagne,” was not only the title of the show, but also the subject of an unquestionably artistic intervention, a drawing of mountains executed on sheets of paper folded at an angle so that the image could be seen from both the left and the right. The simultaneous presence of the two heaps of objects (art and nonart) obviously provoked reflection on the legitimacy of criteria and artistic attribution, an argument that also involved the drawing, an intermediary formal exercise.

In this show, Formento and Sossella shifted reflection on art from linguistic specificity to the system that legitimizes this specificity. They did so by defining a separate space, which they called “Supplemento” (Supplement), in such a way that they distanced themselves from the system (arranging things so that the subject of their thought, an entity in and of itself, could not be the object of that thought). Their work intrinsically forces their interventions to expand from the art system to the more general information system which the artists use in parasitical fashion.

All their publications, whether printed or audiovisual, are called “Supplemento a” (Supplement to) and, indeed, these are attached to catalogue or art publications and are conveyed and distributed through various channels depending upon their particular characteristics. According to their logic, the chosen sphere of production is optional, since it assumes the role of a gift in the unique way in which it appears in the distributive network of the capitalist market. What is optional is the artistic quality, and the artistic quality consists in the informational surplus (ideological, metalinguistic, or sentimental in nature) that an object assumes once it has been defined as a work of art.

In “Supplemento/Due Montagne,” this surplus was tautologically determined by the artistic use to which the objects were subjected (the tents acted as sites for their in situ performances). In contrast, the objects from the other pile had only affective value (opera, design, mysteries, and fishing are equal passions for the two artists). However, these objects simultaneously participate in four cultural ambits that, in their turn, are organized into productive-distributive systems on an equal level with art, and it is to art that they were being compared.

Giorgio Verzotti

Translated from the Italian by Marguerite Shore.