In 1972, invited by Giancarlo Politi to create an editorial project for Flash Art, Maurizio Mochetti enthusiastically organised an exclusive medium that skipped the art journal to conceive a 70×100 offset whose format in twenty-fourths bears the name of the magazine: 17,5×25 – diciassettevirgolacinqueperventicinque, although for the sake of accuracy the measurement is 17×24 centimetres.
Intended as a complete work of art, capable of turning the page layout of a magazine into a display space, the single edition Mochetti designed resembles an art gallery, a real, physical place in which artists exert a reflexive action and develop a discourse that is personal and metalinguistic, bound by a very precise perimeter: that of the page. Mochetti in fact created an exhibition on paper, a contemplative project in which, on the one hand, he invites a series of his friends to contribute site-specific works, while on the other hand he inserts – as works among the works – an Etruscan funerary phallic stela in white travertine (2nd-1st century BC) from the Chiusi area, a meaningful sonnet by Cecco Angiolieri (LXXXVI – S’i’ fosse foco, ardere’ ’l mondo, LXXXII, Marti edition), a naked study of actress Geraldine Hooper aged 24 and an image of Einstein taken on 14 March 1951, showing him sticking out his tongue at photographer Arthur Sasse.
The publishing team behind 17,5×25 was formed by Mochetti himself and his friend Ettore Innocente, and was located at number 92 Via delle Muratte in Rome: a place of encounter and debate on the birth of a journal which was first and foremost an operational outpost, a place of imagination, the external projection of new ideas.
Opening the slender volume is an advertisement for the first exhibition at the Galerie des 4 Mouvements, which Marcel Fleiss opened in Paris in 1972 with 40 Rayographies 1921-1930 by Man Ray. At the bottom of the same page is news of an exhibition by Josef Albers at the Gastaldi Arte Studio in Milan, while the next page features an entertaining Catalogue d’objets introuvables by Jacques Carelman. After a final ad for a solo show by Carl Andre, held at the Annemarie Verna Galerie as part of the Internationale Kunstmesse Art 3’72 Basel, a visual journey begins among the works of conceptual and minimalist artists who point a finger at the idea, shaped by various stratagems which are open to the (il)logical workings of intelligence, to speculation, to the word or to the thought that thinks of itself among premises and conclusions.
Alongside the invited artists, a quote from John Cage translated by Gianfranco Baruchello, two meaningful captions by Маlevich (White on White and Square) in which the force of thought over image is inferred, and the four voices – Cecco Angiolieri, Albert Einstein, the Etruscans and Geraldine Hooper – who are not part of art’s present but fit easily into the history of human ideas, erotism and desire – there is also an imaginary artist, Bengt Larsen, who opens his paper exhibition with the image of a stereo9 audio cassette and a sentence whose task is to clarify his intention, the idea, the creative process: “On the tape I recorded 45 minutes of silence in room no.3 of the Metronome Records studio in Stockholm at 10,30 am on 29 June 1970”.
Among the advertisements that fill the final pages – along with an ad for the Galerie Denise René and another announcing the opening in Florence of Galleria Schema by Alberto Morelli (who, among other things, had been a frequent visitor at Galerie Denise René during his stay in Paris in 1953), in dialogue with Roberto Cesaroni and Raul Dominguez – there are also spaces devoted to the publishing firm Martano, the Libreria Stampatori and the Edizioni Grafiche ArteStudio in Macerata, featuring an image of pigs rushing to reach a notional trough.
At times bewildering in its intelligence and freshness, at others timely and accurate in the richness of its ideas, 17,5×25 is a kind of common memorial of its time, an exhibition without walls which, even back in 1972, re-drew space and established a hand-to-hand connection between the artist and his or her thought, between the work and its perfect completeness on paper.
Printed in June 1972 and illustrated with full-page black-and-white reproductions of works, phrases or white spaces that highlight the variations of a creative journey open to the observation of nature, phenomena, accidents, thought still thinkable and the realm of freedom, 17,5×25 was ready for distribution at the Documenta 5 art exhibition in Kassel.
Alongside the artist at an initial presentation in the hotel were Leo Castelli, Walter Storms and Giancarlo Politi. Unfortunately the magazine was not presented after this, and all the copies went back to the artist’s studio.
image: Maurizio Mochetti, fotoritratto, Roma, 1978