Pescara, Italy

Daniele Puppi


Daniele Puppi’s most recent exhibition in Italy was entitled “Zero” because it was intended to mark a turning point in the artist’s work, a kind of new degree zero. Real space has always been Puppi’s point of departure, but this time there were no more video installations, no more images—only the space of Vistamare’s ten rooms, which occupy an entire floor of a building in the center of Pescara.

Here, viewers found themselves face-to-face with the gallery itself, illuminated solely by the daylight that filtered in through the windows—at night a weak light was added—making it possible to see without difficulty. But a mechanism connected to the doors and windows made them slam shut violently on their hinges according to a pre-established rhythm. At first one felt disoriented in these spaces, seemingly inhabited by ghosts; it was difficult to move from one room to another as the doors alternately opened them up and closed them off, the light became intermittent due to the rhythmic closing of the shutters, and the noise was deafening.

In this way, an unusual and extremely intense sensory adventure began. One began to get the knack of moving in accord with the opening and closing doors to find one’s way. Visiting a space “prepared” in this way becomes an experience that goes beyond mere visual reception; to be understood it must also be inhabited, and one must learn to overcome the structural obstacles it presents. The installation also included two rooms dedicated permanently to site-specific works by Ettore Spalletti (Sotto il tavolo [Under the Table], 1997, a large blue cube that almost entirely filled the space) and Enzo Cucchi (a wall painting, T Giotto, 2001), and a surprising and almost aggressive dialogue with these works was created. In fact, violence has often been a part of Puppi’s work—in video installations that become disturbing because of their noise, or in huge enlargements of images that jarringly appear and disappear—because he attempts to rouse viewers, strongly disrupting their perception of the here and now into which they have fallen. The step forward that this show represents is, precisely, the involvement of the viewer, who becomes an integral part of the work. Unlike with many current video installations, and also much site-specific art, viewers here are not only required to ecstatically perceive the technological miracle that awaits them but also to react. Wandering among the rooms, in solitude or in company, acting autonomously in response to the disquieting situations in which they find themselves, the viewer finds that his body becomes the plastic and mobile element of a new, extreme, difficult, and fascinating proposal for sculpture.

Giorgio Verzotti

Translated from Italian by Marguerite Shore.