Milan

Davide Mosconi, Giro del mondo, Amsterdam (A Trip Around the World, Amsterdam), 1974, Polaroid on postcard, 5 1/8 × 9". From the series “Giro del mondo,” 1974.

Davide Mosconi, Giro del mondo, Amsterdam (A Trip Around the World, Amsterdam), 1974, Polaroid on postcard, 5 1/8 × 9". From the series “Giro del mondo,” 1974.

Davide Mosconi

Galleria Milano

Davide Mosconi, Giro del mondo, Amsterdam (A Trip Around the World, Amsterdam), 1974, Polaroid on postcard, 5 1/8 × 9". From the series “Giro del mondo,” 1974.

The 1960s and ’70s were marked by interdisciplinarity. Yet artists whose work was too interdisciplinary often suffered, as viewers and critics found it difficult to situate their output within a well-defined linguistic territory. In recent years, we have witnessed a series of rediscoveries and reevaluations of figures (think of Ettore Sottsass or Gio Ponti) working during that period whose efforts spanned many disciplines, inhabiting a sort of no-man’s-land. The work of Milanese Davide Mosconi (1941–2002)—an artist who moved fluidly among music, photography, and design—might be considered in such terms of linguistic hybridization. His recent exhibition at Galleria Milano foregrounded the ways in which each of his works simultaneously engaged all of the disciplines with which he experimented.

Mosconi’s was a dynamic and multifaceted life: After graduating in 1960 from a music conservatory in Milan, he founded a jazz trio in London; worked as a studio assistant to Richard Avedon in New York; sat for a portrait in Ugo Mulas’s photographic series “Le verifiche” (Verifications), 1969–72; and collaborated with Bruno Munari and Ugo La Pietra—all the while composing and performing his own work. He and La Pietra shared an ethos of eclectic design, which privileged behavior over objects, and together the two shot the short film La grande occasione (The Big Break), 1973, in the empty spaces of the Milan Triennale—a temple of design where La Pietra’s exhibition “Disequilibrating Design” is on view through February 15. The film depicts the frenzy of an artist who, while installing a show, runs excitedly around the Triennale’s empty rooms, imagining that everyone will soon be talking about him.

While that seminal work was not on view here, a similar energy was projected by the sound installation Sezione ritmica (Rhythm Section), the first work in “Sezione aurea” (Golden Section), a tripartite series conceived in 1971, commenced in 2000, and released in 2014. Sezione ritmica consists of six blank vinyl records, each laser-etched with geometric symbols. Mosconi intended for the LPs to be played simultaneously—a prompt he realized would be unachievable, thus ensuring that the resulting arrangement of noise would be different upon each activation of the work. Also included were his photographs from the series “Le Polveri” (Dust), 1998–99, and “Disegnare l’aria” (Drawing Air), 1995–96, in which objects were hurled toward the sky and photographed as they fell. This selection of work offered a mere glimpse into the ways that Mosconi’s every action was an eccentric investigation of the everyday. Of course, there are many precedents for this—from the Futurists to John Cage. But while Mosconi was fully aware of sympathetic artistic strategies and discourses, he was in no way an imitator—the totality of his actions sets his work apart. Each individual piece is a fragment, a memory, or a souvenir of the artist’s singular way of confronting the world.

Marco Meneguzzo

Translated from Italian by Marguerite Shore.