Loris Cecchini

Museo Castel Nuovo

The work of thirty-one-year-old Loris Cecchini takes two apparently distinct forms: the actual-size reconstruction of ordinary objects in soft, monochrome rubber and the photographic construction of an outsize world. Visitors entered the second floor of this exhibition, “Cargo,” which brought together Cecchini’s work of the past three years, through Stage evidence (soft door), 2000—just what its subtitle said. It led to a white-walled room containing a series of rubber simulacra of computer monitors, keyboards, and cables, all lying limp on the floor like dead or exhausted beasts. The walls of the adjacent rooms, in contrast, held large, computer-generated photographic prints. These depict scenes reconstructed with plastic models, with images of real people digitally inserted: a parked trailer; a gas station where a female traveler is arriving; a tranquil scene of a couple reading in a landscape with a bicycle and street lamps. The viewer immediately realized these settings could only have been a few inches high, and yet the proportions between figures and objects were respected.

While Cecchini’s works are formally diverse, they are conceptually consistent. He is dealing with our perception of the world and the need to find a new equilibrium. To do this, he has adopted a neo-Dadaist method one might call “homeopathic.” He accentuates the effect of alienation and breakdown with regard to the ordinary world and everyday reality. Objects collapse, lose their structure, relinquish their function, but somehow maintain recognizable form. One could not sit down on Stage evidence (pausa paesaggio), 2000, a flabby bench, but it was a bench nonetheless. No illusionism here; not even for a moment was one tricked. The artist presented us with a series of objects that were not only functionally but also visually “unusable,” yet were still known objects.

Similarly, in the photographic works the sense of alienation was immediate, but the motif was also instantly recognizable. One saw that the landscape was made of scale-model objects, and yet the figures possessed a precision and wealth of detail that only real figures have. Once again, everything was clear, and the mind had only to perform an extremely simple act of recognition: The artist showed no desire to deceive, or even to reveal gradually the fictional nature of the scene, let alone to conduct the viewer’s intelligence toward interpretive subtleties or visual enigmas. On the contrary, his goal was almost brutally simple: to declare the end of possible fictions, the depletion of the refined game of straddling reality and representation, object and simulacrum. The object, rendered gray and flaccid, lost not only its “function” but also its “fiction”; that is, it was neither useful nor evocative, but merely spent and dead—a carcass. The scene evoked, as in the artist’s photographic works, immediately revealed its gimmick and thus surrendered the ambiguous aura that is often the moving force of narration, the heart of the tale. The traditional menu of tools at our disposal for observing the world is exhausted, and the artist is telling us that we need a new bag of tricks.

Marco Meneguzzo

Translated from Italian by Marguerite Shore.