Piero Golia and Fabian Marti

Istituto Svizzero Di Roma

Italian artist Piero Golia and Swiss artist Fabian Marti conceived of their collaboration “Ruins, Regrets and Visible Effects” in an ingenious way: an exhibition on two levels, where the main attraction was the membrane joining the inner and outer areas of an elaborate installation—a liminal space reminiscent of a “third landscape,” a nether- world between natural environment and artificial construction, as formulated by landscape architect Gilles Clément. A twisting architecture of plywood arches, columns, and tunnels—designed by Marti in consultation with Golia—unraveled, like catacombs rising to the surface. The walls were colored in five different tones, reproducing the plays of shadow generally created by exhibition spotlights. The resulting environment was disorienting, not only in its initial impact, but even upon further observation.

The architectural structure became both support and container. The exterior of this armature displayed photographic works from Marti’s series “To Be Titled under the Influence,” 2009, as well as ceramics created in situ during his residency at the Swiss Institute in Rome. These are objects with defined but malleable forms—distorted vases, but also ashtrays and a large dog striking a pose (TINMLO MZL IOM RF MJTJSM, 2009). Foregrounding the originally soft material, the artist allows his process to remain apparent: Signs of manipulation are visible and any equilibrium appears precarious. The sculptures were scattered around the structure, covered in incomprehensible writing (the titles of the works), and thus attested to Marti’s tenacious display of expressive freedom, an optimistic openness to free association. A duality based on the use of superimposition prevails in both the sculptures and the photographs. While the sculptures, with their black-and-white palette and glazed surfaces, become akin to images of the objects they represent, the photographs instead tend toward a sense of three-dimensionality. Combining found images or his own pictures into collages of unrelated scenes (their surfaces sometimes covered in dust), Marti digitally scans the resulting arrangements to create photographic images of spatial ambiguity, playing with our sense of depth.

A roughly two-foot-wide opening in one of these photographs led inside the structure; crawling into the shadows amid the odor of wood, one came upon seven hidden works by Golia. The viewer unexpectedly confronted pieces such as 19 Mercedes Hood Stars Ring, 2005, a framed, circular chain of Mercedes-Benz hood stars, and Concrete Cube with Juicer, 2007, a Philippe Starck fruit juicer set in concrete with its legs protruding, all created recently but rarely or never exhibited. The arrangement formed an atemporal passage through this artist’s oeuvre, removed from the context of Marti’s formal references to the early twentieth-century avant-gardes, with their allusions to the scientistic and the subcultural. Rather, Golia’s sequestered work turned inward, toward a personal past, one culled from the oxymorons and artifacts of American popular culture. Not only visible but also invisible ruins, a kind of postindustrial melancholy, remained.

Francesco Stocchi

Translated from Italian by Marguerite Shore.