Gianni Colosimo

Galleria Pack

Gianni Colosimo’s exhibition “WALLPAPER (il vortice del desiderio è privo d’orizzonte)” (WALLPAPER [the vortex of desire has no horizon]) effected a powerful interrogation of the gallery space through the application and obsessive repetition of a single visual module: the fabled greenback, the American one-dollar bill. Proliferating, invading the space, this “decorative” element was in no way “neutral” or innocuous. Rather, it activated the viewer’s visual field to an alarming degree. The banknote, removed from the field of exchange, seemed to have become the exclusive object of a worrisome form of fetishism and, as if in homage to Warhol, became an allover motif, spreading everywhere, covering the walls like wallpaper and the floor like carpeting. Of course one could hardly help but think of a whole range of artistic and social issues, such as those that crystallize around the theme of commodification, but what was most striking was how the place took on vaguely infantile connotations and a certain oneiric quality, as if the gallery had been transformed into the perfect setting for Scrooge McDuck.

WALLPAPER, 2006, lends itself to a vast play of references and transparently reveals various components that refer to both the artist’s early background in experimental theater, with its stress on the strong and immediate involvement of the viewer, and his affection for certain aspects of Conceptual art. The emphasis on the character of the exhibition space, which in this case is tantamount to its reconfiguration through the effect of a powerful intoxication of the visual sense, is rooted in the fascination with the void and the monochrome in the work of Yves Klein and Piero Manzoni, while the obsessive repetition echoes both Warhol and Op art. By imposing on the viewer such a massively repetitive and invasive visual experience, where the absolute protagonist is the god of money, the only universally recognized power today, Colosimo reveals another fundamental aspect of his activity, which tends toward cultural activism.

The installation plays on ambivalence, and if on the one hand it addresses an infantile and playful tendency that brings out a desire in the viewer to run and spin in the space, reveling in the loss of real spa- tial coordinates, at the same time it engenders a strong sense of unease, caused by the obstruction and claustrophobic occlusion of the visual field. Also contributing to the sense of discomfort was the fact that the air was almost unbreathable, owing to the penetrating odor of glue and the resulting sense of asphyxiation. Immersed in a distressing atmosphere with a dangerously elevated emotional temperature, it was hard not to feel trapped, closed off in a cage, possibly at terrible risk. Finally emerging, not without a certain sense of relief, viewers entered the gallery office, where rolls of the same wallpaper were arranged, available for purchase in lengths of three meters, much as the great provocateur Pinot-Gallizio sold his “industrial paintings” of the late ’50s from the roll by length.

Elisabetta Longari

Translated from Italian by Marguerite Shore.