La Freccia che
The title The arrow that strikes the target flies forever refers to two videos – one of which is a loop – both based on a sculpture of the same title[read more=”Read More”less=”Read Less”] by Ferruccio Ascari from 2007, made of four pieces of white terracotta.
La Freccia che Colpisce il Bersaglio Vola per Sempre, 2’22”, 2016 (teaser 0’34”)
Memoriale Volubile , the 1st chapter of Restless Matter, takes its cue from an installation made by Ferruccio Ascari, in its first version in 2009 at Darmstadt, for a solo show at Museum Schloss Lichtenberg.[read more=”Read More”less=”Read Less”]The work, in keeping with the characteristic process of the artist, was later developed in a series of variations in relation to the various places where it was shown. Its constituent parts, as happens in this video, are subject to continuous transmutation: they are light, disturbing object/sculptures in which relationships are established, without reconciliation, between transparency and opacity, beauty and ruin; forms that conserve a link to the organic world but also seem to belong to some alien realm. The title – Memoriale Volubile (Fickle Memorial) – sheds light on the work’s genesis: the horror of the series of environmental disasters that have marked our time and the desire to keep their memory alive by combatting forgetfulness, inurement to disaster. The title, as the artist explains, is a “combination of two words with opposing meanings: ‘memorial’ which pertains to recollection or the prompting of memory, and ‘fickle’ which instead points to distraction, forgetfulness […] A formula that wavers between an impossible marriage of opposites and their inextricable conflict.” The soundtrack, an important part of this stop motion video, is taken from Vibractions, a sound installation by Ferruccio Ascari from 1978.[/read]
Interview with Ferruccio Ascari, February 2009[read more=”Read More”less=”Read Less”]
Memoriale Volubile: what does it mean?
It is a contradictory expression, the combination of two words with opposing meanings: “memorial” which pertains to recollection or the prompting of memory, and “fickle” which instead points to distraction, forgetfulness. An expression invented by joining two words with contrasting meanings, wavering between an impossible “marriage of opposites” and their inextricable conflict
In this exhibition we find Memoriale Volubile imprinted on the cover of several white books placed in vitrines, and on cardboard boxes that support metal screen sculptures: so this is a title that repeats, differentiated only by its accompanying serial number. Could you explain the type of seriality indicated here?
Title and image, name and thing are inseparable here. The expression Memoriale Volubile explains – in its irreconcilable ambiguity – the image, the thing, just as the latter explain the expression. This crossed relationship unfolds in the repetition, the serial effect: the seriality evoked by “word and thing” is a tragic series, before everyone’s eyes. It is the infinite series of environmental disasters, for which we have lost track of the quantity, but of which we cannot lose the memory. Precisely the wavering between memory and its erasure is the contradiction that Memoriale Volubile, in its own way, wants to indicate.
Books in vitrines, sealed, that cannot be read…
…books of horror, illegible books, memorials whose covers bear only the image of a place, its name – Chernobyl, for example – and the date of the disaster. Nothing more. I believe this suffices to evoke a horror that is intolerable for any conscience.
Light and at the same time disturbing sculptures. Symmetrical objects, but with an unstable, off-balance symmetry, as if teetering on the brink of an abyss. As if they were in danger, or dangerous. Things in which a relationship is established, without reconciliation, between transparency and opacity, beauty and ruin. What prompted you to invent such forms?
It was sudden, as if on the spot I felt the need to depart, to go on a journey. To leave what I was doing. To go away: a mental voyage, a terrible voyage. I began to search online for those places of memory, places of horror: Vajont, Seveso, Bhopal, Mururoa… an interminable, bewildering journey. And a very concrete one. Nothing virtual about it. One day I began to download images of those places, from the sites I was visiting. More and more photographs of those disasters. They accumulated. A compulsive gesture, as if dictated by the fear that the number of those images would be infinite, and by the desperate desire for it to have an end…
…are those the images that appear on the frontispiece of the white books placed in the cases… and the sculptures?
I felt like the inurement to disaster was unbearable, that danger that those places could be forgotten. Those places, the name of each of them, should be repeated out loud, every day… And yet the voice, speech, is not enough. At least for me, someone who plays with form…
Do you know of anything more serious than play?
Agreed. But let’s get back to those forms, their restlessness, their genesis…
…a form, prior to representing anything, presents itself, displays itself. Necessarily. This necessity of the form to reveal itself fascinates me, because it points to a concealment. Without this concealment no unveiling, no manifestation would be conceivable, there would be no “coming to light.” The same dialectic, the same game as between speech and silence. But I am digressing… You want to know something about their birth: I have thought about the forms that could become a warning (and maybe also become monumental), that could attempt, in any case, an opposition to the tendency to forget. I wanted to put them beside those names, those places, those dates, precisely as an admonition.
The choice of placing these sculptures on cardboard boxes conveys the idea that they have just arrived from who knows where, or that they are about to depart: could you tell me something about this installation?
The relationship between a sculpture and its base is rarely a simple one. Actually it is a very difficult relationship. Usually I put my works directly on the ground. In this case, though, the sculptures – especially the small ones that most clearly reveal their character as projects – could not stay on the ground; they wanted to be observed from a different perspective. Placing them on the boxes I had in the studio was the most simple, natural gesture, and it worked. There is something transitional about this placement. As you correctly point out, a desire to move, to change location, like an urgency…
Allow me to make another observation: these forms of metal screen seem somehow connected to a scientific imaginary… a science that seems to be infiltrated by an evil disposition. Am I mistaken? Normally you use natural materials. In most of your work it is possible to glimpse a relationship with the organic world… And while it is true that the forms displayed here could belong to some natural realm, it would in any case be an alien realm, of a nature issuing from a mind dominated by a sort of disquieting scientific obsession…
…you are not mistaken. I must admit that a natural form usually intrigues me more than an artifact or an industrial product. Often a natural form seems to ask me: do you know where I come from, do you know why I have the form that I have, can you predict the form I will assume as I transform, do you understand what moves me? I know that I do not know: and that is precisely what drives me. In my work, in any case, I feel free to use anything that can serve to say what I want to say, without any preconceived limitations. Here, in Memoriale Volubile, the nature I address is a wounded, offended nature. A nature in agony. An agony that cannot be separated from the “disquieting scientific obsession” you mentioned. Exposed to that obsession, these forms are contaminated. You said “an alien realm”: no, here you are mistaken. If these forms speak of alienation, that alienation, that madness is not of another world, but this world. They are forms of madness: mad forms of pain. An unbearable pain. That can no longer be withstood.
So, on closer examination, can we see a political position, in the end, in this latest work of yours?
Can I ask you a question, at this point? On closer examination, is there anything people do or undergo – consciously or unconsciously – that is done or undergone outside of politics?[/read]
Memoriale Volubile, Backstage, 01’31”, 2015
The video shows the phases of work that led to the making of Memoriale Volubile: from paper drafts to metal screen sculptures, all the way to the moment when they “take flight, frame by frame” in the artist’s studio. The soundtrack develops in a crescendo and then a diminuendo of sounds, released by the materials during the work.
This video takes its cue, as in other cases, from an installation of the same name: a set of fragile, threadlike works of architecture arranged without apparent order in space,[read more=”Read More”less=”Read Less”]which seem to respond to a pure impulse of expansion. These are pile dwellings, as the artist calls them, of uncertain stability, a precarious relationship with the ground. Archetypes of buildings that from one moment to the next might take flight. The gauze that covers some of them might suggest the idea of illness, but also of shelter, the necessary protection of something that is fragile and precarious..[/read]
Elena Scardanelli interviews Ferruccio Ascari[read more=”Read More”less=”Read Less”]
This video takes its cue, as in other cases, from an installation of the same name: a set of fragile, threadlike works of architecture arranged without apparent order in space, which seem to respond to a pure impulse of expansion. Elementary edifices of uncertain stability that have a precarious relationship with the ground. Archetypes of buildings that from one moment to the next might take flight. Let’s start with the title: Luogo Presunto. Therefore an imaginary place, whose existence is not assured, with the same consistency as a mirage, a dream. In this work of yours I seem to sense a reference, starting with the title, to Borges and his poetics, especially an anthology of poems published in Italy under the title Carme Presunto. Does this intuition have any basis?
Yes, you’re right… I’ve been rereading Borges, precisely in the last few days. I was struck by what he writes about poetry, in one of his texts. I can read it for you: “all poetry is mysterious; no one knows about everything it is given him to write. The dreary mythology of our age speaks of the ‘subliminal self’ or, what is even less beautiful, of the ‘subconscious’; the Greeks invoked the Muse, the Hebrews the Holy Spirit – it amounts to the same thing.” I think this statement of Borges can be extended to art as well, or at least to how I understand the impulse that lies at the origin of the artistic act. For me, it is something mysterious, a sort of calling; you don’t know where it comes from, you feel obliged to respond to it, as if you couldn’t do otherwise.
Borges’ poetics stems from visions, memories, portents that have the charm of purely imaginary situations, disconcerting mirages: in an infinite perspective, a range of sensations and images that seem to belong more to the material of which dreams are made than to reality. It is the same material of which this work of yours seems to be made, both the installation and the video you have made of it. Could you talk about this?
There are images, arriving from who knows what distances, that take up residence in my head and remain there, as if incubating, perhaps for years. Usually I let them be, I avoid “touching” them, since I know they need time. Then one day the hands, gripped by a sudden urgency, start to move as if of their own accord, with unusual confidence… then those mental images, with a speed that surprises even me, take on form. A sort of utterly mental fixation I haven’t driven away, but haven’t particularly nurtured either, suddenly takes form. I start to hammer the metal wire close at hand on the anvil, I make four vaguely straight bars, rustically welding them together, and they take on the form that perhaps awaited them: a palafitte. Faced with the first of these pile dwellings, which would then become part of Luogo Presunto, it was like being in front of a sudden yet familiar presence. A slender, hesitant presence: you touch it and it wobbles. It continues to tremble, taking a while to settle into stillness. I think: I want to film this. Even when it is still, it continues to speak of all its instability.
Why the palafitte?
Maybe precisely for this presumed instability, its apparent precariousness, this kind of prehistoric architecture has fascinated me since childhood. A house between earth and sky. A suspended shelter, to avoid contact, to protect perhaps more than a solid construction with a foundation, well rooted in the earth.
The materials of Luogo Presunto are iron and cotton gauze: what relationship develops between two materials of such a different nature?
Gauze is the wound, the burn to care for, to protect. Gauze is illness, protection, the hospital… but it is also transparency, levity, the caress.
You told me that as a child you fell into a large vessel full of boiling water, and the serious burns all over your body made you linger between life and death for several days… it isn’t hard to imagine that it was precisely gauze that protected your bed during convalescence, your body as it struggled to stay alive.
I don’t know to what extent that episode can be seen in relation to the materials I used in Luogo Presunto… I can’t rule out the connection. In any case, when I began to work on this project, those slender works of architecture were like wobbly skeletons, made of wire and air… the gauze came later, by intuition, as if it came down from the sky to give a body to those skeletons, without adding weight, or an opacity they could not have stood.
So it is not by chance that in the video the gauze rains down precisely from the sky onto those structures…
I’m afraid that what we call “chance” is simply what we don’t understand, or whose origin we have forgotten.[/read]
Luogo Presunto, Backstage, 02’00”, 2015
Through a series of sequences edited at a fast pace, marked by a metronome, the film documents the phases of the making of Luogo Presunto, revealing its constituent elements.
Per Metameria – like other videos at restlessmatter.net, the web project by Ferruccio Ascari – has been developed from a sculpture of the same name from 2006, composed of 23 pieces.[read more=”Read More”less=”Read Less”]
As for other works in this period, it belongs to a cycle of pieces that investigate the question of symmetry and its breakdown, the dialectic between order as a principle of stability and disorder as a generative factor. In the version from 2006 the various parts were placed on a plane, along a longitudinal access, in diminishing order, symmetrical with respect to a central element, in keeping with a rhythm of crescendo and diminuendo, as the artist described it, borrowing terms from the language of music. In the video this order is disrupted. The individual pieces are arranged in space without a preset rule, rocking in a sort of “perpetual motion” that is actually the outcome of the editing of the sequences (as revealed in the “related video” Per Metameria Backstage). The noises made by the friction of the pieces on the floor are assembled in the video’s soundtrack. The character of the sound comes from the material with which the pieces are made – iron – and from the varied resonance of each in relation to its form and size.[/read]
The Impermanenza (“Impermanence”) video work is based on a previous work by the artist – an installation of the same title from 2013, comprised of three towers built with hundreds of tree sticks of decreasing sizes.[read more=”Read More”less=”Read Less”]Again here, the video takes the original work out of its inherent stillness, lending it a new life and voice – in this case, the voice of the tree sticks, whose varying weight, density, and fall on the ground serve as the raw material of the sound score, a crucial aspect of this work.[/read]
Impermanence and around: Elena Scardanelli interviews Ferruccio Ascari[read more=”Read More”less=”Read Less”]
Inside Restless Matter, in a process of continuous transmutation I think is very consistent with the meaning I see in the whole project, Impermanenza is transformed into a video, or actually something more: a video that is also a game, a basic but not superficial game, transforming viewers into players by stimulating them to make the towers collapse by moving the mouse: what is at stake here?
I’d rather talk about the video game later, I’m still working on it. But I can tell you something about the video. Impermanenza-video starts with a temptation, that of getting away from the fixity of the environmental installation to enter a reality of images that is totally different, that of cinema. Though starting with an identical subject, the two paths diverge, speaking different languages. The installation with all its precariousness evokes an invisible time, that of the construction and the collapses of the towers in the past, made visible by the wood scattered on the ground; and the same time it conveys the anxiety of the “not yet,” of a possible ulterior collapse, an imminent ruin. It is as if the environmental installation were suspended between a past and a future, both invisible and yet precisely for this reason capable of being “’present.” The film, instead, displays a continuous present, utterly illusory but continuously reproducible. Let me explain: Impermanenza-video is composed of a number of photographs equal to the number of the sticks that make up the towers; each photograph records the gradual construction of the towers, piece by piece; the hands that place the sticks, however, as in all stop motion films, are never seen. Perhaps it is the animation of the photographs that gives the towers an independence they would never otherwise have attained: in the film the towers grow (and un-grow) as if driven by their own volition. I think the environmental installation, presenting itself in all its precarious balance, manages to suggest the illusory character of what we call “real,” while the film, announcing its deception from the first frame, invents – precisely through the illusion of movement – its own “reality” and asks the viewer for the complicity necessary to enter that second-degree illusion that is cinema. Personally I think of the animated film as the form most at the origin of cinema, the form that proves most able to represent what I care about. I am getting very interested in the language of video games because it raises illusion and complicity to the highest levels. You ask me what is at stake: if the film illusion is at the second degree with respect to what we call “life” and if the illusion of “life” in the interaction of the video game is even higher than that of the illusion of cinema, then the video game player paradoxically risks more than life.
Sound is another important feature of this video. It is not something extraneous to the nature of the elements that make up the towers. In fact, precisely their voice provides the material for the composition: it is the voice of the individual pieces of wood, with their different weights, their different densities and the different impact on the ground when they fall. Would you tell me something about this?
As you know, from my earliest works sound has been one of the most important elements in my research. In this work, Nicola Ratti helped me to sample the “voice” of each single stick. Nicola made these recordings with the sensitivity only a musician of his caliber can have. Once each frame had been associated with the corresponding sound of each stick, editing the film was like playing an instrument, like composing sounds through the progressive composition of the visual sequences: a very captivating game I will show in an upcoming video, La freccia che colpisce il bersaglio vola per sempre (The Arrow That Hits the Target Flies Forever).[/read]
Impermanenza. teaser, 2015
Impermanenza, Backstage, 01’25”, 2015
This video presents, in a sequence of very short scenes, the consecutive development stages of Impermanenza (“Impermanence”), from its conception in Ferruccio Ascari’s countryside house and the installation at Museo Tornielli – where a first video was shot documenting the collapse of the three towers; up to the stop-motion shooting in the artist’s studio.
All’origine del video ‘Impermanenza’ c’è un precedente lavoro, un’installazione del 2014 dal medesimo titolo: tre torri costruite con centinaia di rami di misura decrescente.[read more=”Read More”less=”Read Less”]Anche in questo video gli elementi di cui le tre architetture sono costituite escono dalla fissità dell’installazione, assumono vita autonoma, trovano una loro voce: la voce dei singoli pezzi di legno. Il loro differente peso, la loro differente densità, il diverso impatto con il suolo nell’istante del crollo fornisce il materiale per la traccia sonora che rappresenta un aspetto fondamentale di questo videowork.[/read]
Impermanenza e dintorni: Elena Scardanelli intervista Ferruccio Ascari[read more=”Read More”less=”Read Less”]
All’interno di Restless Matter, in un processo di continua trasmutazione che mi pare molto coerente con il senso che io intravedo in tutto il progetto, Impermanenza si trasforma in un video, anzi in qualcosa di ulteriore: un video che è anche un gioco, un gioco elementare, ma non superficiale che è quello di trasformare lo spettatore in giocatore sollecitandolo a far crollare le torri muovendo il mouse: qual è la posta in gioco?
Del video-gioco preferirei parlare dopo, ci sto ancora lavorando, posso intanto dirti qualcosa sul video: Impermanenza-video prende avvio da una tentazione, quella di uscire dalla fissità dell’installazione ambientale per entrare all’interno di una realtà immaginale del tutto differente, quella del cinema. Pur partendo da un identico soggetto, le due vie, parlando linguaggi diversi, si biforcano. L’installazione con tutta la sua precarietà, evoca un tempo invisibile, quello della avvenuta costruzione delle torri e dei crolli passati, testimoniati dai legni disseminati per terra; nel contempo emana ansietà per il ‘non ancora’, per un possibile ulteriore crollo, per un’imminente rovina. L’installazione ambientale è come sospesa tra un passato e un futuro, entrambi invisibili eppure, proprio per questo, capaci di farsi ‘presente’. Il filmato ostenta invece un presente continuo, del tutto illusorio, ma continuamente riproducibile. Mi spiego meglio: Impermanenza-video si compone di un numero di fotografie equivalente al numero dei legni che compongono le torri; ciascuna foto registra il progressivo innalzarsi delle torri, legno dopo legno; le mani che nella realtà li muovono – come accade in ogni stop-motion – non vengono mai ritratte. Sarà l’animazione delle foto a prestare alle torri un’autonomia che altrimenti non avrebbero mai posseduto: nel filmato le torri crescono (e de-crescono) come mosse da una loro propria volontà. L’installazione ambientale, offrendosi in tutta la sua precarietà, credo riesca a suggerire l’illusorietà di ciò che chiamiamo ‘reale’, il filmato, dichiarando fin dal primo fotogramma tutta la sua finzione, inventa – proprio attraverso l’illusione di movimento – una ‘sua realtà’ e chiede a chi guarda la complicità necessaria per entrare in quella illusione di secondo grado che è il cinema. Personalmente penso al film d’animazione come alla forma più originaria di cinema, comunque a quella che che più si dimostra capace di significare ciò che mi sta a cuore.
Quello del video-gioco è un linguaggio che mi sta interessando molto perché illusione e complicità qui si elevano all’ennesima potenza. Mi chiedi della posta in gioco: se l’illusione cinematografica è illusione di secondo grado rispetto a ciò che chiamiamo ‘vita’ e se l’illusione di ‘vita’ nell’interazione del video-gioco è ancora superiore all’illusione cinematografica, allora il giocatore nel video-gioco paradossalmente rischia più della vita.
Il suono è un altro elemento Importante di questo video. Non è qualcosa di estraneo alla natura degli elementi che compongono le torri. Anzi, proprio la loro voce fornisce il materiale per la composizione: è la voce dei singoli pezzi di legno con il loro differente peso, con la loro differente densità e il diverso impatto con il suolo nell’istante della caduta. Mi vuoi dire qualcosa in merito?
Come saprai, fin dai miei primi esordi artistici, quello del suono è stato uno degli elementi che più hanno contato nella mia ricerca. In questo lavoro per campionare la ‘voce’ di ogni singolo legno mi sono fatto aiutare da Nicola Ratti. Nicola ha eseguito queste registrazioni con la sensibilità che solo un musicista della sua vaglia può avere. Una volta attribuito ad ogni fotogramma il suono corrispondente a ciascun legno, montare il filmato è risultato essere come suonare uno strumento, come comporre sonorità attraverso il progressivo comporsi delle sequenze visive: un gioco assai catturante che riprenderò in un prossimo video, La freccia che colpisce il bersaglio vola per sempre.[/read]
Impermanenza. 01’37”, 2015 (teaser 0’50”)