Liliana Moro

Galleria Emi Fontana

In what was the final show at Emi Fontana’s Milan space, one of the gallery’s “historical” artists, Liliana Moro, exhibited four new works. Proceeding from the entrance toward the back of the exhibition space, one came upon Flo, VI, Ru (all works 2009), three orange sculptures in the shape of suppositories that take their name from characters in the short play Come and Go (1965) by Samuel Beckett, an author congenial to Moro’s hermetic spirit. All That Fall, a collage of photos clipped from newspapers, also refers to Beckett through its title. Then there were two untitled works: One consists of about 150 transparent jars and vases of various sizes resting on the floor; the other, stuck on the back wall, is an old portable cassette recorder.

The latter piece, deliberately humble in its old-fashioned technology, seemed to function as a device capable of unifying the apparently unrelated works in the show. The recorder emits city sounds; the artist had left it out on her balcony for three days in order to obtain this simple and direct trace of the noise of the world, evidence of reality. Perhaps due to the basic equipment employed, the sounds of the city of Milan mix with those coming from inside the apartment, and the result is an imprecise and rhythmic flow, a discontinuous noise reminiscent of ocean waves. With an ear held close to the device, one’s thoughts turned to the existential, to internal and external perceptions of lived experience, concerns that seemed to underlie other works in the show as well.

The group of glass objects on the floor in Untitled is composed of food containers, the kind one buys at the supermarket, and glasses, bottles, and goldfish bowls—vessels for the sustenance of life or for living things. The three large orange suppositories, on the other hand, are reminiscent of the rubber syringes used for enemas, objects that inject liquids into the body to heal it by forcing it to expel noxious liquids—suggesting the passage to and from an internal state, transposition from a physical to an emotional plane. Created by a master glassblower, the three vessels are not identical, not modules, but three distinct examples with minimal variations in size. A revival of manual skill is explicit in a different way in the work based on newspaper images. In an era when Photoshop reigns supreme, Moro uses scissors and clips pieces of paper to glue onto a surface, almost as if to lay claim to what might be called the handmade value of the body as a creative tool. Moreover, the selected images seem to confirm this intuition: They show faces of people, famous or anonymous, whom the camera has captured in a moment of profound suffering. There are small pictures of Paul Newman and Susan Sontag from the 1960s; among the more striking images is one in which the soccer player Ronaldo was caught grimacing. Perhaps most affecting, though, because of the status of the subject, is an image of Karol Wojtyla, his mouth gaping in pain.

Giorgio Verzotti

Translated from Italian by Marguerite Shore.