The body understood as a field of tensions and explored in its most visceral, technomorphic, alien and uncontrollable declinations was the great protagonist of the selection made by Cecilia Alemani in the exhibition The Milk of Dreams she curated as part of the 59th edition of the Venice Visual Arts Biennale, which recently ended with an extraordinary success with the public. The exhibition has made it clear how, especially in the field of sculpture, several female artists who have recently entered the threshold of the mid-career are united precisely by an elective affinity based on the fact that their research on the manipulation of form springs from the creation/destruction of hypothetical hybrid bodies. Bodies, which are from time to time boned, elastic, fluid and contradictory, but always mysteriously intact, question the concept of structure by imagining new relationships between materials and apparently incoherent suggestions.
One of the most representative exponents of this sensibility is June Crespo (1982, Pamplona), included in the International Art Exhibition with three artworks from the Helmets series (2019-2022), enigmatic sculptural combinations alluding to dismembered torsos that incorporate industrial materials, clothing and symbolic objects. The Spanish artist is now the protagonist of the Acts of pulse exhibition at P420 gallery in Bologna, which had already begun to take an interest in her work in 2018, further proof of the intuition of Alessandro Pasotti and Fabrizio Padovani for what is significant before its unanimous recognition.
June Crespo’s practice is centered on the unification of ordinary materials and objects and their plastic reinterpretation in assemblages alluding to a dystopian yet tenderly sensitive corporeity, which can be interpreted as a reflection of our contemporary experience of composite cybernetic creatures. Using fiberglass, synthetic fabric, resin, ceramic, bronze and rods, the artist amputates, dismembers, dilates and reorganizes existing elements to generate new intuitive forms that offer themselves to the viewer’s gaze, arousing in him/her the desire to enter their nooks and crannies and to listen to their imperceptible pulsations.
Some sculptures incorporate direct drawings from reality or recognizable casts, taking the form of clusters of concrete busts and mannequin limbs, piles of clothing or cast iron radiators, while others favor a more formless and abstract dimension. Each of her works evokes a body incorporated in an architectural armor which generates ambiguous impressions between protection and constraint, a structure so innate with the essence of the organism that it outlines as to seem an emanation of it. Crespo’s installations in large spaces, such as the sumptuous white cube of the P420 gallery, materialize rarefied but exuding mental landscapes, in which space is measured by the silent interactions between bodies belonging to a single inorganic super-species.
In the first room, bronze carcasses gather on the walls and we immediately imagine that they have incorporated and disintegrated the animal or vegetable organisms whose negative appearance they have assumed. In June Crespo’s sculpture, the soft elements (replicated with the mold technique or alluded to by analogy) are fossilized by bronze castings, as in this case, or other “cold” materials such as cement or plaster. But, instead of transforming into their opposite as one might expect, they acquire new vitality and ductility thanks to the heat supplied by colored technical fabrics positioned in the interstices between the exterior and interior of the structures. These synthetic sheets, originally designed to retain an existing heat without dispersing it, seem to activate a sort of reverse thermal insulation and diffuse a warmth that protects the biological reminiscences of these scraps of creature like an amniotic sac, involving whoever approaches them in the same protected atmosphere. Osmosis with the surrounding space is ensured by an integrated piping system which has its most capillary aspect in the casting pins (through which the liquid metal is poured into the mould) still attached to the edges of the sculptures and its most scenographic in the columns of steel, fiberglass and polyester that reach the ceiling of the gallery. Energetic flows, in which the artificial sap of the materials mysteriously passes through in the evocation of an expanded organic matrix, are one of the main themes of the artist’s poetics, who interprets these processes of exchange in an architectural and sentient way.
The pulsation evoked by the title of the exhibition underlines the involuntary and instinctive component of the underground movement that animates the forms, as if their re-generation were the natural consequence of the material and poetic combinations triggered by the artist. In the second room this aspect unfolds with an almost mythopoeic value in a coherent environmental orchestration in which everything originates from the repetition and duplication of a horse saddle and from the amplification of its undulating rhythm. The relationships of mutual positioning between the sculptures and their structural and material affinities metrically scan the space suggesting to those who access it the idea of being inside a sort of body-temple spread over several dimensions and encapsulated in an imaginary post-archaeological era populated by finds in which the past and the future are no longer distinguished.
But these at first glance inanimate finds, when observed at close range, seem rather to refer to domestic and intimate spaces due to their worn and fragile appearance and the incorporation of fabrics that exhibit a human imprint or a functional connection with the necessities of the body. June Crespo’s sculptural practice is born from this, from an irresistible inclination to pursue that elusive moment in which the first vital spark arises and separates the creature from undifferentiated disorganization. As Marinella Paderni’s critical text points out, in the universe of which the artist becomes through «the shape of a petal is also the line of the tongue that pushes against the palate curving, exactly like the curve of a riding saddle draws a new space and also a void. The physical reality of the world unfolds in interrelated figures, a potentially superior design, never definitive, which shows both the infinity and the finitude of things».
For all the images: June Crespo, Acts of pulse, 2022, installation view, photo Carlo Favero, courtesy P420, Bologna
June Crespo. Acts of pulse
26/11/2022 – 5/02/2023
Graduated in art history at DAMS in Bologna, city where she continued to live and work, she specialized in Siena with Enrico Crispolti. Curious and attentive to the becoming of the contemporary, she believes in the power of art to make life more interesting and she loves to explore its latest trends through dialogue with artists, curators and gallery owners. She considers writing a form of reasoning and analysis that reconstructs the connection between the artist’s creative path and the surrounding context.