“Accept & Decline”, Carlo Zanni’s first solo exhibition at the OPR Gallery in Milan, with an essay critic and curator Pau Waelder, presents a new body of work “Check Out Paintings” and the newly produced Internet performance “Save Me For Later”. The exhibition is extended between physical space and the digital platform Niio.art (available for streaming on any smart TV, smartphone or tablet), with a selection of his video works.
We enter the gallery space. At first glance, the paintings appear to us as monochrome canvases; the effort to seek an interpretation provokes an immediate reaction. Something invisible is hiding from our eyes, something we need to understand but cannot grasp. Certain signals denounce its existence and draw us towards that reality hidden even to the most attentive eye of the web and social networks.
At a closer look, certain shapes and writings emerge, hinted at in pencil, “layered with one another, blending and even distorting their shapes” (Waelder). These are the signs left by the dynamics of e-commerce, its rituals, marked through textual and visual language, such as drop-down menus and disclaimers, sometimes distorted from their original form. Consumer society and the dynamics of the web are once again in the foreground, now captured in the moment of check-out, that liminal moment between desire and fulfilment, between taste for purchase and guilt, soon to give way to a new desire for possession.
The frames, too, are carefully handmade, with the craftsmanship and attention that has always distinguished Zanni’s work, whether it is an analogue work or the sculptural component containing a digital one. The life of the network, is brought into focus at the moment of isolation during the pandemic, nurtured by the need to want to communicate, to pass the time, to feel alive, easily tempted to possess things that can build a bridge to the outside world.
In the performance “Save me for Later”, a bot surfs the Internet and shops; it inserts itself among millions of taste activators, indexing non-human tastes. When the shopping cart reaches its limit, the items are automatically moved to the ‘Saved for later’ list.
The brochure that accompanies the exhibition is made with the same care that characterises all his other work; it is seductive even in the texture of the carefully selected paper. Nothing, from the layout to the choice of typeface (by type writer Alessio DEllena), to the paper, to the way texts and images are organised, is left to chance. In addition to the critical text by Pau Walder, the combination of works and explanation is treated as systematically as the online products. Works are ‘items’ followed by details, explanations, and excerpts from reviews, often used in the sale of products to reinforce their value. Cross-referencing to other works is organised in the same way that Amazon inserts additional choices to entice purchase. You have arrived at the moment of check -out. But this does not happen online where you cannot even get a precise idea of the text you are reading. You have to go, see and touch, spend time before check-out. Accept & Decline.
Carlo Zanni, Accept & Decline (with an essay by Pau Waelder), Gallery OPR, Milan, 16.02 – 28.04.2023
images: (cover 1) «Carlo Zanni. Accept & Decline», OPR Gallery, Milan, feb-mar 2023, installation view (2) Carlo Zanni, from the series «Check Out Painting», 2023, detail, Courtesy of the Artist(3) Carlo Zanni, «Save me for Later», 2023,still from internet performance (4) «Carlo Zanni. Accept & Decline», OPR Gallery, Milan, feb-mar 2023, installation view