Daniele Puppi

MASSIMODECARLO | Milan/Lombardia

As an art of both space and time, video succeeds in telling us something interesting only when the artist can affect our perception of these dimensions in fresh, even disruptive ways. Daniele Puppi’s videos, with their strongly disorienting spatial effects, are always disruptive—and they achieve this without recourse to advanced technology. His most recent solo exhibition was a confirmation of the hopes that many in Italy are placing on this young artist.

Puppi installed his video Fatica no. 14 (Effort no. 14), 2001, in the smaller of the gallery’s two rooms, but the subject of the work was the larger space; the artist’s stated intention was to animate it by taking away the perfection and self-evidence of this light-filled, typically modernist white cube. On one of the walls in the smaller room hung a double screen whose two panels met at an angle several inches from the wall. On each of the two panels, separated at the center by a vertical “zip,” was a looped projection shot in the larger space. The image was of the artist himself behind a column around which he was gradually moving his body. Focusing on the hands, the camera turns along with the artist so that his body always remains concealed, exposing to view only his hands grasping the pillar; with the camera the surrounding mace turns in a continuous vortex, to unsettling effect. The depicted location was surely recognized by the viewer, who had to traverse it in order to reach the room in which the video was shown, but this recognition could only have occurred through vertigo and thus not in an immediate way. We might say that the “familiar” emerged thanks to the nonfamiliarity that the artist had instilled into the explicit and rational nature of the gallery space. The velocity of the rotation also interfered with one’s perception of the stability of the architectural elements: The column, for example, seemed to become a malleable structure, like clay manipulated by a ceramist. In any case it seemed elastic, since the separation of the two screens at the center accentuated the effect of the image’s vibration.

The concept of space expressed by Puppi is always dynamic; in this case the work seemed to have to do with activating the potential energies of the space by placing them under tension. In fact the artist has stated with exemplary clarity that every space is a reality with a life of its own, an essence to be perceived. In itself, a room is a reservoir of forces in latent movement, and any unexpected shift can unleash its unexpressed qualities and characteristics.

Giorgio Verzotti

Translated from Italian by Marguerite Shore.