On November 29, 1997 Francesco Nucci together with Achille Bonito Oliva, Pietro Montani, Daniela Lancioni and Mario Codognato – today on the podium of revered criticstars included within contemporary historiography – began with the group Kounellis Kummer, Pirri and Rüdiger, to lay the foundations of a new philosophy and a different fruition of the art work creating in Rome VOLUME! Foundation. In the years in which we were recovering from the collapse of the art market, after the dissipation and unbridled consumption brought by those famous 80s, and which saw the price of many international artists drop by as much as 50%, thus closing the doors of numerous historic and international galleries, VOLUME! rode the wake of the crisis by creating the idea of a container place. The banner affixed to its royal balcony was anything but the aseptic white of the galleries but the raw frugality of the concrete, instead, the continuous stratification of ever-changing pigments and the search for further thoughts under the sedimentation of traces from past artistic interventions: “an alchemical attractor of energies”, to quote it verbatim.
And so, if you want change, you have to act differently. Even today the potential of Fondazione VOLUME is strongly defended over time through the explicit vindication of the idea of cultural investment and above all through a conscious avoidance of the art gallery effect made up of smug smiles, falsely pretentious intellectual buzzes and shoddy champagne.As much as worldliness and political language may inebriate the viewer, the writer, however, – at least, for those who remember it – always tries to make the idea prevail that behind the logic of buying and selling the presumed “message” that a work intends to pass on always wins in an inevitable relationship with its stage. This principle is the basis of every site-specific work, whether it is saleable or non-saleable. Names such as Abramović, Le Witt, Esposito, Buren, Levini or Paladino – to name a few that were already historical – crossed the threshold of VOLUME! and politically embraced the logic of the art work seen not only as a meaning, but as a container of significant values, the same, multilingual translators who recounted their contemporaneity.
Valentina Palazzari’s artworks (Terni, 1975), built specifically for VOLUME! and on display until 31 October 2023, invites us to place a serious and urgent emphasis on the power of reflection and, says the artist, on «the loss of enchantment in front of the beauty of the sea, a metaphor for today’s cultural condition understood as a lack of freedom and time to devote to thought». The reversal of the logical beginning-end sequentiality typical of vertical thinking intensifies the imaginative force of the work in Palazzari, which places a fracture in the traditional “linear” path occluding the entrance to the space with glass jars, whose aqueous content blends with the rust that the artist creates and encloses within them. The associative process of the spectator is immediate but free to move and alter continuously without following a consecutive but fragmented narrative connection. The electric cables that the artist inserts into the space, cancelling their function as an energy discharge, take possession of a natural identity invading the entire surfaces of the space like floating anemones.
Between the lines “FU MARE”, not only the title of the exhibition but also of a work, is in itself, already in its sign phenomenology, an invitation to activate a continuous mnemonic relationship between traditional cultural legacies and the awareness of what is present and thrown to the ground. It is a continuous allegory of what remains: a semblance of individual knowledge that is forcibly related to a collective imagination. What recalls the marine element, dear to the artist, is then deliberately left at the mercy of free subjective interpretation. The artist insists, through the material used, on how the vanishing point has no measurable coordinates. The tension charge that guides the eye to enter the space and follow its path, induces it, on the other hand, to get out of it, thus echoing that perturbing archetype of the creeping and serpentine movement that invests the electric cables. And it is precisely by plucking the strings of attractive and repulsive cognitive threads that Palazzari discharges the function of the material: the association between the industrial plastic electric cable and a marine element (or one of its creatures) intensifies the ambivalent sign power of the inscription “FU MARE”. The impetuous and obscure scenario that persists in the viewer’s imagination is that of a dried up marine geomorphology, where the watery element is absent and where its memory resonates through the song of a distant siren, whose presence and trace is revealed, to paraphrase Sarchioni, no longer through «the concreteness of material reality», but through the «impalpability of virtual matter».
Valentina Palazzari FU MARE
Testo critico di Davide Sarchioni
27/09/2023 – 31/10/2023
via di San Francesco di Sales 86/88, Roma
Graduated in Architectural Sciences at the Sapienza University in Rome, with a master’s degree in Contemporary Art and Management at the Luiss Business School, she currently works as an intern and project manager at Untitled Association. Graduated in Photography and Art Criticism in Bologna, she currently carries on her personal projects and is part of the team of the Forme Uniche cultural project.