Rome

Marco Samoré

Valentina Moncada

This show’s content is described perfectly in its title, “Standard.” Largely a Pop fantasy, the exhibition was constructed according to a serial methodology and consisted of just the sort of things that fill our everyday lives in anonymous and repetitive fashion. At the gallery entrance Marco Samori had arranged a heavy curtain like those in certain movie theaters. On a round, fluffy white rug he placed a large sofa and a low coffee table of his own design. Further on, in a comer of the space, was another piece of furniture designed by the artist: a sort of bench or seat on which one easily could imagine a traveler waiting between trains or flights. The entire installation was done in an absolutely anonymous style redolent of the ’60s and ’70s, that is, the time of the artist’s childhood and youth. Six large photographs suggested the sorts of actions or narrative developments that might transpire in such a setting, for instance in a movie thriller. In one, La mia ultima scusa (My last excuse), 2000, a coffee cup has been overturned on a table, its liquid spilling onto the surface. Everything is out of focus except the coffee stain, a clear sign that precisely this incident rests at the core of some hypothetical story. In another photo, Un giorno perfetto (A perfect day), 2000, a briefcase lies open on an unmade bed in a hotel room, displaying its contents: stacks of fifty-dollar bills. Ransom money? Revenues from a drug sale? Cash supplied to an international spy? One skillfully orchestrated image suffices to unleash an entire series of narrative associations that are, indeed, standard and stereotypical.

In this universe utterly saturated with commodities (a universe that has been Samork’s subject from the beginning of his career, that is, for about ten years now), nature is completely replaced by artifice. More precisely, the artificial, the mass-produced, the mechanical, the serial object of consumption become a sort of second nature that eliminates all traces of the first. This is evident in the two photographs titled Standard, both 2000, which depict plants, or rather close-ups of leaves. There is nothing more fake, more artificial in appearance than these fragments of “nature,” beginning with the very type of foliage Samori has chosen to photograph: something you might see in someone’s office or installed to decorate anonymous meeting rooms in large hotels. If this landscape—one that is completely culturalized—is the only one that remains available to us (but sometimes it is we who are available to it), then it will become an object of love and hatred, analysis and tenderness, enchantment and disenchantment. And it also will become, necessarily, an object of art, thereby taking on the appearance of nature, this time to the third power.

Massimo Carboni

Translated from Italian by Marguerite Shore.