Daniele Puppi

At Hangar Bicocca, Daniele Puppi made a single gesture, on a monumental scale. The site-specific video and sound installation Fatica 16 (Effort 16), 2007–2008, altered the architecture of the space through a double movement of expansion and contraction. On the back wall, the artist projected the image of his own torso across three separate screens corresponding to the three naves that make up the space. The two side sections showed his open arms, with a cymbal in each hand. The central portion seemed completely black, but in fact what it showed was the artist’s dark T-shirt, which became visible only when his arms moved, clashing the cymbals together at the center. At that moment, a loud metallic sound filled the gallery, and the image of the clashing cymbals reappeared, as rapidly as a flash of lightning, fleeting and apparently infinitely multiplied, across the pitched ceiling.

Puppi’s video installations always emerge from an encounter between body and space. That’s why he calls his works “fatiche,” or “efforts,” indicating the physical, corporeal, and performative as his point of departure. The artist uses his own body as a means for measuring and interpreting the space, exploring, occupying, absorbing, and entering into symbiosis with it. In this case, Puppi took possession of Hangar Bicocca’s volumes, sight lines, and raw industrial materials—cement and iron—by occupying them with a powerful action, filling the space with a violent sound that has nothing to do with music, amplified until it reached the limits of endurance.

The video was filmed on site, and thus the projected image seems to break through and extend the real space. The naves are visible in the projection, making it seem as if they continue on behind the artist. The central scene is activated when the cymbals come together; the image spreads in a contrary movement, not toward the back of the space but forward, toward the entrance. And so the space shatters into a multiplicity of images, which then contract and withdraw toward the central scene, which once again becomes black, as soon as the arms and the cymbals expand.

Fatica 16 stages a pulsating rhythm based on counterpoints, contrary tensions, and opposite movements of expansion and contraction, intensification and respite, as if the space were a living thing. The body of the artist also explodes and takes on gigantic dimensions, breaks apart, multiplies, and passes from shadow to light. The central perspectival view branches out, as in a play of mirrors, forcing the spectator to continually reconsider his position. In this way it radically transforms one’s perception of the space, through an experience that is completely sensory. Puppi’s intention is to locate an image, a sound, and a movement that contain a multitude of images, sounds, and movements, in an expression of the specific context in which he finds himself working. The environment that Puppi creates is not reassuring, but it is rich in possibility, restless, and palpitating. It does not need to be understood but felt.

Alessandra Pioselli