Milan

Michael Fliri, The wrong turn offered unexpected discoveries, 2011/2012. Performance view, February 16, 2012.

Michael Fliri, The wrong turn offered unexpected discoveries, 2011/2012. Performance view, February 16, 2012.

Michael Fliri and Asta Gröting

Galleria Raffaella Cortese | Via Stradella 7

Michael Fliri, The wrong turn offered unexpected discoveries, 2011/2012. Performance view, February 16, 2012.

Michael Fliri and Asta Gröting were, respectively, student and teacher at the Academy of Fine Arts in Munich, and this past spring the younger artist decided to show his most recent work together with that of his former professor in a two-person show titled “In Between.” Fliri, who is one of the most interesting artists to have emerged in Italy in recent years, engages in performative works that serve as phases in a specific search for identity. On this occasion, he engaged in an action, The wrong turn offered unexpected discoveries, 2011/2012, that was particularly expressive. Wearing a sort of large, heavy brown coat, the artist was enclosed for a long time inside a wooden and glass vitrine, similar to the ones Beuys used to collect his objects. He remained seated there at length, using his hands to fiddle with a prosthesis, a long tail that stuck out of the cagelike box and extended along the floor until it came to rest on a small wooden structure. Made of scales of artificial skin, the tail ended in a tuft of horsehair, which the artist caused to move at great effort (due to its length). Alongside his interests in the man-animal relationship and in the transformation of the body through disguise, Fliri is attracted to the dichotomy of artifice and nature. An enormous sculpture, Bilateral-Symmetry-Holders, 2012, consists of two spherical forms covered in green latex bearing the imprints of the artist’s knuckles, which he had pressed into broad terra-cotta surfaces, onto which the latex was then poured. The terra-cotta shapes themselves rested on the floor around the great pair of spheres, like skins sloughed off by a snake, but bearing the signs of the artist’s touch.

Gröting’s works also address the relationship between natural and artificial things as well as between those made by hand and ones in which technology plays the more important role. A video called The Shadow, 2005, was made by using computer software to delete portions of scenes from an earlier video, in which the artist was seen walking along disguised as Frederick the Great, King of Prussia. The result is now a white background against which we see a black figure walking: the shadow of the person who was once there, diagonally elongated, proceeding, bent forward, with an almost threatening air. I/work, 2002, is a pile of leather jackets, readymades that, however, implicitly recall the manual labor of dyeing and sewing needed for their creation. Finally, The Space Between Two People Having Sex, 2008, is a sculpture in the form of an arch that looks like it is made of wax but is, in fact, silicone; it bears not the relief, but a cast of the negative space between a male and a female figure connected at the genitals but otherwise separate, in a very gymnastic and hardly erotic position. Even an act that people consider entirely natural is subject to a deforming artifice.

Giorgio Verzotti

Translated from Italian by Marguerite Shore.