Aldo Tagliaferro, Memoria-Identificazione (variante blu) (Memory-Identification [Blue Version]), 1972, photograph on panel, 15 × 58 5⁄8".

Aldo Tagliaferro, Memoria-Identificazione (variante blu) (Memory-Identification [Blue Version]), 1972, photograph on panel, 15 × 58 5⁄8".

Aldo Tagliaferro

Osart Gallery

In a note concerning his work Identificazione in una variabilità oggettiva temporale (Identification in an Objective Temporal Variability), 1973, Aldo Tagliaferro writes, “Two moments exist as components in the structure of the work. One is direct and objective, fixed by a date. The other is indirect and subjective in the sense of memory and the identification of a subjectively ideal reality . . . attaining the point of verification when the ideal reality is no longer our (real) reality.” The central piece in this exhibition and the resulting cycle of works, Memoria—Identificazione—in una variabilità oggettiva temporale (Memory Identification—in an Objective Temporal Variability), 1973, consists of ten repetitions of a photograph taken by the artist and printed on emulsified canvas in a chromatic variation ranging from white to black. The eight central images are articulated via a progressive dating, in thirty-year spans, from 1732 to 1972. The artist has assigned the date 1882 to the original photo, the one with the correct exposure, which represents the midrange tonal value. Every “preceding” image is incrementally lighter, every “subsequent” image darker, creating a sense of gradual appearance and disappearance as one scans the sequence. The work was part of a new phase in Tagliaferro’s development, defined by an interest in the dimensions of memory and subjectivity, which the artist addressed through the conceptual key of analytical verification. The show also examines the developments that predate the piece, with a “project” and a study for it as well as two works based on the same initial photograph: Memoria-Identificazione (variante blu) (Memory-Identification [Blue Version]), 1972, and the diptych Identificazione Mnemonica (Mnemonic Identification), 1972.

The photograph reiterated in all these works depicts an old, narrow alley between high walls, beyond which luxuriant greenery appears. The little lane is covered at the end by an arch and curves toward the right. It may seem banal, but it has not been selected by chance: Tagliaferro calibrates a careful play of lines of convergence, using the walls as perspectival directionals. The shadowy area of the alley enclosed beneath the arch becomes the focal point of the image, even if it is not precisely at the center. Since the path makes a turn that prevents the eye from continuing along it, it functions as a threshold toward an extension of an implied but not yet visible space.

Memoria-Identificazione—in una variabilità oggettiva temporale posits the dissolution of space and time and hence of objectifiable reality. Space and time extend beyond our reach. The closed and controlled environment between the walls stretches toward an elsewhere (the little alley that continues who knows where), while conventional time, cadenced and regulated by dating (“objective variability”), unfolds forward and backward in a potentially infinite progression, encapsulating the out-of-focus and evanescent nature of memory. The term identification in the title indicates the process of recognition: a correspondence between the image and a purely subjective and mental reality.

In the work’s original installation at the Galleria l’Uomo e l’Arte, Milan, in 1973, it was hung in a thirty-foot-long curve between two walls, so that the row of photographs cut off the corner of the space. That allowed visitors a panoramic and quasi-cinematic view of the entire work, which placed them at the center of the space. Here, the work is hung along one wall, requiring a different performance from viewers: a linear path from a point of departure to one of arrival, alongside the work, from the first to the last frame, or vice versa—but either way, following its temporal rhythm.

Translated from Italian by Marguerite Shore.