The work of Arcangelo Sassolino does not follow the trend toward dematerialization that seems to apply to so much contemporary art. In his hands, material assertively occupies space: The “life of matter” makes itself feltthrough noises, metamorphoses, structural tensions, and often-violent movements. Canto V (all works 2016), a sixteen-foot tree trunk, sawed longitudinally into thick beams and suspended in midair, was subjected to extreme pressure from a hydraulic jack that bent it first in one direction and then another. A series of creaking noises, something like the sounds that emerge from the torsion between the rigging and the mast of a ship, personified the piece of wood, imbuing it with what we might call, in human terms, “suffering.” Another work, Piccole guerre (Small Wars), seemed more technologically advanced but was in fact more barbaric. Nitrogen from a tank
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