In Greek philosophical thought, téchne indicates empirical know-how, the mastery of the rules of a craft. It is in essence the origin of art that is elevated when poiesis, the “poetic creation,” first appeared in Herodotus, is applied to practical experience. Technology promises human beings a future of possibilities; indeed, the 20th century opened with great confidence toward the application of knowledge for the evolution of scientific knowledge.
RITA URSO artopiagallery offers a two-part conversation, curated by Giulia Bortoluzzi, between the work of Mario Sironi (Sassari; 1885- Milan; 1961), Centrale elettrica (1926), and the work of Belgian artist Eva L’Hoest (Liège; 1991), The Inmost Cell (2020). The confrontation does not end in generational dialogue, but opens to a poetic speculation on the role of technique as a device that transforms the landscape and the human psyche. The exhibition is the third installment of the Correnti series, which began in September 2022 with Correnti I – Animalia, featuring artists Ella Littwitz and Elena Mazzi, and from December 2022 to February 2023 hosted Correnti II – Blue, a solo show by Marzena Nowak. The series of exhibitions is designed to accompany the gallery toward the transition to its new location in the fall and is intended to decline the various interpretations of the idea of “current”.
We are talking here about electric current, about Centrale elettrica. Isolated on the right wall – as you enter the gallery – Sironi’s work, as simple as it is fascinating, is displayed as if in a museum: a turbine ripping through a mountain made of earth and wounded glaciers. Below there is the power plant, painted in black and white, the color of modernity. The work brings back a gaze fascinated by a technique that changes the physiognomy of the landscape, but we peer into the distance at a healthy mountain, an almost Leonardesque glacier that seems a nostalgic image of a mountain without scars. The work is in tension between a positive and negative consideration of the effect of technical and scientific evolution, of the consideration of nature in the service of humanity.
Eva L’Hoest, on the other hand, proposes a work composed of a video and two sculptures that was commissioned by the 2020 Biennale in Riga, Latvia, and presented for the first time in Italy on this occasion. The Plavinas Dam was built on the Daugava River for the Riga Hydroelectric Power Plant, causing the flooding of small neighboring settlements, of which only submerged ruins remain. The video takes its starting point from this news event: it is a sequence plan made of reminiscences and memories, combined with traditional Latvian myths, and materialized in a new technological form. The images arise from the artist’s reportage on the site, are realized in 3D and CGI to then constitute the iconography of which the sculptures are composed. The work appears as a catastrophe, a destruction, contaminated by a poetic-sounding text. It is not a fierce denunciation as much as a mythological, almost heroic tale that resolves into a volcano made of active red lava, fire and life. The crystal sculptures, carved with lasers, interact with the gaze by changing shape depending on the position in which we observe them; they are both two-dimensional and threedimensional. We see natural forms emerging from the seabed, like botanical plates illuminated by an electric light.
What then remains of the reflection around the technique? We juggle fear, responsibility, trust, and resilience. We wonder how to act in relation to a techno-scientific evolution that transforms the environment as much as anthropology. Through L’Hoest’s work we can grasp hope, a memory that resists a lethal event. The artist’s response is poetic, it is open and interpretive, from the video we hear: «The car is warming up, and I can feel its pulse». Martin Heidegger expresses in The Question of Technique the profound meaning of it, which is not a means to an end but an unveiling of being, technique as the bearer of truth. The two artists in turn unveil two anthropological truths, on the one hand evolutionary enthusiasm, on the other a wound to be healed through poiesis.
Angelica Lucia Raho
Correnti III – Eva L’Hoest e Mario Sironi. Techne
curated by Giulia Bortoluzzi
10/03 – 21/04/2023
RITA URSO artopiagallery
via Lazzaro Papi 2, Milano
is a contemporary art magazine since 1980