Umberto Cavenago

Galleria Galliani

For years Umberto Cavenago has been imitating the mechanical and the industrial with his galvanized-steel, Minimalist forms on wheels. In this way, Cavenago creates artwork that is uncomfortable, unstable, and functionless in its surroundings.

For this current exhibition that shares its title, “A prova di scemo” (Fool’s proof) with the body of work presented here, Cavenago designed and produced 13 pairs of solid cor-ten (corrosion resistance-tensile strength) steel simulacra of roller skates. In addition to these finished objects, the exhibition included prototypes for the skates in terra-cotta and cardboard, and a collection of both technical drawings and sketches documenting Cavenago’s laborious design for the skates. The pairs shown here ranged in size from 4 to 12. Each pair was clearly marked with the number corresponding to the size embossed on the surface of the platform. Playing on the notion of sculptural objects as precious, Cavenago placed each pair in its own wooden crate. But this work immediately distanced itself from the parameters of viewing traditional sculpture. In a scene reminiscent of a crisis of indecision in a shoe shop, the 13 pairs of skatelike objects were scattered about, some still in their boxes, others on the floor amid the opened scattered crates. With this work, Cavenago directly engaged the viewer who felt compelled to search the room for his or her shoe size and, once the correct skates were located, to mount the absurd skates in a gesture that places each viewer on a sculptural pedestal.

The weight of the skates does more than defy motion, it places this artist’s work within the realm of the futile and presents a pessimistic vision of the capacity of art and of the spectators to convey or perceive meaning. Cavenago places himself within the role of the “scemo” or fool involved in a seemingly impossible endeavor. He then places each of his viewers in the same tragicomic position.

Anthony Iannacci