Luca Vitone

Galleria Emi Fontana, Galleria Paolo Vitolo

In the summer of 1993, Luca Vitone acquired ad space in various art magazines to create a work entitled Il Luogo dell’ Arte (The place of art, 1991-92). These simply designed ads consisted of Vitone’s name followed by the title of his project, and a text that read: “The floor plan 1:10 shows the space of an art gallery. Art is a place, the gallery measures its value,” and a rather prestigious, international list of galleries. Vitone then collected the floor plans of the galleries listed and produced drawings of each of the spaces to scale, which he then reproduced as a book and then installed in these two galleries.

Vitone has worked at expanding the notion of the “gallery” to include the natural and cultural environment. When asked to show across different regions in Italy, for example, Vitone often simply filled the gallery with the sounds of local folk songs or offered indigenous foods and wines to the visitors. In his attempt to expand upon a vision of “place,” he has often adopted didactic means of description, the topographical map or scaled drawing, only to render them almost abstract by obliterating all distinctive details. For Vitone, it is not so much the physical site that is important, but its aura.

The association of his work with the names of important galleries he has not shown in ends up underlining his marginality, and evokes a search for place that involves more than a search for a gallery. By filling two exhibition spaces with drawings of other galleries, Vitone presented not only a vision of a young artist in search of a gallery, but foregrounded the obsessive/compulsive impulse that often underlines the artistic process. With this work Vitone indulges in the deconstruction of what could define his production, searching for a voice within the very realm that has not yet granted him one. Through this search, Vitone’s work illustrates a fetishistic relationship to the gallery, as he denies the viewer the possibility of positive identification, instead presenting only indications of the walls, windows, and partitions that compose a particular space. What the work provides us with here is a representation of two concepts of the fetish: as ritual (compulsion/repetition), signified by the obsessiveness of Vitone’s labor (the collection and drawing of the floor plans), and as signifier, that is, a substitution in the form of floor plans for the gallery itself.

This work asks us to question the role of the gallery and as the title of the original list implies, its ability to measure the value of art. With this body of work Vitone relies on both our preconceptions about these galleries and speculation as to what his role inside of their structures might be, but then he negates our expectations by displaying only schematic, utilitarian floor plans. It is from this tension that Vitone’s critique of the gallery as an institution, as an essential part of the work of art, develops.

Anthony Iannacci