«Percezione Instabile», the exhibition curated by di Sonia Belfiore at Venice’s Palazzo Malipiero, is a reflection on contemporary art’s tendency to be increasingly inclusive towards the viewer. The exhibition aims to restore and corroborate the role of the public as an an element which is essential, relational and active in contemporary art, whose desired reaction is participatory rather than merely passive. Recognising the body as a necessary condition for experience, the show examines the ontological primacy of perception – Merleau Ponty – elevating it to a relevant and essential part of awareness. The viewer is engaged by the sensory and poetic aspect of artworks, which utilise seductive elements to attract, through mechanisms of synaesthesia and pretence, in order to achieve a total receptive subversion which makes the subject – in fact – unstable (instabile). During the course of the exhibition, perceptive challenges are presented through immediate and spontaneous sensations that need to be reorganised and decoded by the viewer, who becomes involved and able to experience new situations and reflections.
The visitor’s route within Percezione Instabile winds among the works of five artists, which completely engage the perceptual capacity of the viewer.
The exhibition opens with Filippo Armellin’s Land Cycles series of photographs, whose placing somewhere between reality and fiction triggers a kind of perceptual short-circuit in the viewer. The subject of these pieces – the landscape – is clear, immediately codified and, for this very reason, insidious: on closer inspection the viewer realises that the desert-like scenes depicted by the artist are nothing more than backdrops, artificially created and then photographed. It’s a mistake that almost feels like deceit, but an innocent deceit. Armellin is playing with his audience, knowing that among art’s thousand variations there are also illusory, deceptive ones. The artist’s landscapes are dually timeless: because they are deserts, and because they never really existed.
If Armellin gives us synthetic matter seeking to become Nature, Tamara Repetto’s installation, Oniria, turns out to be a homage to Nature through technology. By creating a synaesthetic pathway through sound and olfactory components activated only by the passing of visitors, Oniria unfolds an olfactory map which spreads in the air, evoking “other” places and situations. Sounds and aromas blend, becoming the vehicles for a renewed sensory experience which lulls the viewer, awakening their awareness of art experienced through the sense of smell.
Michele Sambin’s 1979 video Io mi chiamo Michele, e tu?, is a further attempt to explore the entirety of human perception. The work is one of the first experiments in open reel video loop, a technique used by the artist from 1976 onwards, achieved by joining the ends of the two tapes used for recording and viewing.
Recorded at intervals, the tape runs to the viewing reel, which then sends the image back to the monitor after a tiny jump. The artist is the protagonist of the video, and becomes his own interlocutor, asking himself a never-ending question. His physical presence meets itself in the monitor, and mixes with the forms distorted by the video-making process, creating an ever-growing cyclical abstraction. An intimate process of self-analysis, to which the viewer is compelled to respond in the first person.
All in the family, an installation by the duo Romano-Monterisi (R&M), consists of two talking stilt houses having a conversation. Through a pair of speakers placed within them, intrigue, conflict, banality and dreams are taken into narrative potential, making the viewer a participant in this imaginary dialogue and a witness to secret and disproportionate situations.
A paradoxical and only apparently private intimacy unfolds before the listener, who becomes an unwilling voyeur, albeit in the least conscious of ways.
The five extremely disfigured wax faces by Giacomo Roccon touch and play with the observer on a conscious and unconscious level. All different, but paradoxically all products of the same mould, and placed alongside precise numerical symbols, they create an ongoing series of references and hidden meanings. Each element of the composition dialogues with a specific meaning and with its opposite: the concrete component alternates with the spiritual, the concept of evolution is linked to that of involution. A dialectic is established between substance and energy, and between substance and spirit.
During their journey through the exhibition, the visitor gradually acquires a renewed and reinvigorated sense of perception, thanks to the capacity for fascination aroused by the works themselves: their highly evocative power stimulates bodily involvement and leads to an intellectual exploration which, it is hoped, expands the viewer’s senses in their entirety and their relational aptitude. (from the press release)
Percezione Instabile, curated by Sonia Belfiore, Malipiero Palace, Venice, Italy, 30.01 – 28.02 2016
images (cover 1) Filippo Armellin, Land Cycles, 2014 (2) Tamara Repetto, Oniria, 2014 (3) Michele Sambin, Io mi chiamo Michele, e tu?, 1979 (4) Romanomonterisi, All In The Family, 2014 (5) Giacomo Roccon, Black Step, 2016 (realizzata appositamente per la mostra).