Milan

Cesare Viel

Galleria Paolo Vitolo

An actor read a long text from a video screen. If one listened closely it became clear that it was a particular type of monologue, directed toward someone who seemed to be far away. One soon discovered that what was being read was a letter, or really four letters, one after another. The voice emanating from the video screen, located in a corner of the gallery, created an invisible diagonal trajectory that propelled the viewer toward the side wall. There, four photographic panels without frames—hung at a slight distance from the wall seemed suspended in the space between speaker and listener. The panels depicted the studio where the video was taped, but the actor was no longer there. What the viewer saw in the photographs was the architectural and technical shell where the actor’s recitation had been filmed—the space inhabited, not by speech, but by silence. The only testament to the reading were the lights, still on, the tripods, and a series of backdrops. What occupied the stage was the writing in its graphic form—each photograph contained excerpts from the letters, in printed and enlarged form. A few lines written in white characters floated in the space depicted, their transparency creating a mysterious depth between the lights and shadows of the room. The black and white schema—typical of the printed page—set up an interchange with the multiplicity of colors in the photographs, and alluded to another type of superimposition: the one made by the hand that, in making alphabetic marks on the white sheet, determined one’s view of the written word.

Cesare Viel entitled this series “Esecuzioni comunicative” (Communicative executions, 1993), thereby linking listening and seeing. As a symbolic place of dialogue between the self and the other, between the self and the object, these letters tell us that only in the relation to the other can we succeed in quantifying the effort of seeing and retaining information. Viel’s four letters explicitly declare the double movement that ties listening to seeing, the utterance of the word to its written form.

For Jung, feeling, thought, sentiment, and intuition were the cardinal points that orient consciousness in the process of experience. Viel has oriented his letters along this quadrant: “Memories/Thoughts/Abilities/Desires.” These divisions characterize the current relationship between writing and drawing, speaking and listening. The message that Viel finds within memories/thoughts/abilities/desires is not tied to an intellectual journey, but to the search for the awareness of self.

Francesca Pasini

Translated from the Italian by Marguerite Shore.