Patrick Tuttofuoco

A parody of a city: a group of ten skyscrapers, each about six feet tall—i.e., human scale—made of wood, plastic, and painted metal. They are bulky and colored like toys; neon lights invest them with an artificial splendor. The title of Patrick Tuttofuoco’s WalkAround (all works 2002) refers to both the possibility of moving around and amid the elements of the installation and the fact that the work reflects the artist’s wanderings through East Asia, particularly the high-tech centers of the region’s megalopolises, which are futuristic but also subtly permeated by an atmosphere of kitsch. Tuttofuoco, a young artist who lives in Milan, takes a playful, imperturbably subversive approach, poking fun at architecture, the design process, and the planning and appearance of urban spaces as well as an idea of habitation that is thought to be based on rules and preestablished schemes.

Tuttofuoco stages a joyous, colorful, and ironic architecture, one that can bring to mind innumerable places or none at all. These constructions seem like those imagined by a child, the result of a building game that is at once a parody of serious design and its synthesis.

The skyscraper is not new to Tuttofuoco’s work. In 2000 he created Grattacielo (Skyscraper), an eccentric tower organized into five superimposed blocks, each conceived independently of the other and designed by the artist in collaboration with a different person, using Merent shapes and materials; the result was a fantastic and nonsensical castle. Tuttofuoco strips things of their function and purpose but also introduces collaborative processes that unleash a multiplicity of situations, opinions, and possibilities for using and undoing objects, places, and materials. One of his first outdoor projects, Otto, 2000, consisted of his taking a spontaneous ride on a motorbike through the square in front of Milan’s principal train station, repeating the same path over and over again past friends and passersby. Repeating the gesture, Tuttofuoco deprived it of meaning and delineated an abstract form in the urban space. For “Casino 2001,” in Ghent, he created Velodream, 2001, a series of incongruous-looking mini-vehicles, which people were invited to try out on a racecourse.

A sense of play and a desire for public involvement in activities that are often apparently without objective seem to be the two steadfast principles behind Tuttofuoco’s work. Although these themes may be less evident here than in his earlier pieces, the new works nonetheless stem from a methodology of exchange, exemplified by the journey brought to completion with friends—a journey also recalled in the scores of small untitled drawings reworked by computer that accompany WalkAround. The logical thread that connects Tuttofuoco’s work, from this show to the Skyscraper project to his urban performances, is the creation of an ideal but useless form, achieved through an approach that is nondesign and nonrational but, conversely, playful and happily anarchic.

Alessandra Pioselli

Translated from Italian by Marguerite Shore.