Through the end of the 1990s, sociologist Richard Sennett wrote: “Failure is the great modern taboo […] Coming to terms with failure, giving it a shape and a place in one’s life history, may haunt us internally but seldom is discussed with others”. With Corrispondenze Vol.1, currently on view at Palazzo Braschi within the Quadriennale’s program “portfolio”, curated by Gaia Bobò, Luca Marcelli Pitzalis offers to those who desire it a collective platform precisely to do so. “What is the point of hiding if we are running out of time? Before the end everything collapses”: through such an invitation to share “ideas, feelings, wanderings of thoughts and intimate revelations”, the artist launches a newsletter that he sends for almost a year to anyone who wishes to receive it, every other Wednesday at 10 pm. Approximately 130 among friends and strangers answer by confessing “doubts”, “anxieties”, “despairs”, “sadness”. Someone writes: “It would be nice to talk about these exchanges, or experience them, only here, by email, without ever mentioning them in person, as far as possible”.
The interaction proposed by Pitzalis, who not surprisingly graduated in psychology, is protected by anonymity. The rules that apply in this cathartic, almost therapeutic space of exception, negate those of self-design, sharply identified by Boris Groys as a distinctive character of the digital age. According to Groys the mediatization of experience translates into the transformation of subjectivity into image, of the artist into the work of art, in a constant movement of self-correction and adaptation. Obviously, “becoming an artwork not only provokes pleasure, but also the anxiety of being subjected in a very radical way to the gaze of the other”. By intercepting the common desire of a generation to desert the constraints of constant self-design, Pitzalis exhibits a vulnerability that transcends the individual dimension and triggers a collective reaction.
In most of his productions to date, the artist himself represents the main material of the works. This is the case of the 2021 performance The Song in which for 25 minutes Pitzalis performs in an uncertain karaoke by singing clumsily a reassuring refrain in front of a confused audience that gets increasingly involved as time goes by. Through this sort of anti-performance, the artist intentionally surrenders to the dynamic that Groys describes, becoming a work; however, the vulnerability and the emotionality of the self-image he projects interrupts and reverses the obligation to constant improvement. In Corrispondenze Vol. 1 Pitzalis goes further, by offering to the public the collective portrait of a generation that shares the desire to subvert a system that condemns it to competition, success, entireness. In the choice of the newsletter as a format we can read the artist’s intention to refer to and subvert the logic of the art system, also regulated by fierce competition and incessant production: unlike the countless newsletters to which we offer ourselves as passive receptors to be informed about everything we should and will never be able to visit, users are here called to an active interaction, only structured by the subjects of the emails sent by the artist, on view: First light, Desire, Only life that flows, Don’t try to separate things, I’m a villain, A plain August day, Today I have so much to do, Writings on art n.1, Everything is salvation, Exercise of imagination, A law, The Stars, Talk to me, Law n. 2.
Proceeding from Mail Art as in the progressive erasure of boundaries between art and life and the creation of a virtual community, Corrispondenze Vol. 1, however, takes the form of a carefully designed installation. At Palazzo Braschi two rows of semi-transparent A4 sheets punctuate the corridor formed by the longitudinal walls: aligned like clothes exposed to the sun, they hang from the aluminum profiles of the plasterboards used to modulate exhibitions’ itineraries, a further allusion to the art system here under examination. Pitzalis deletes recipient and sender from the exchanges on view, as well as entire sentences or paragraphs that he considers superfluous, exercising the unquestionable authority of the artist that distinguishes his function from the meticulous one of the editor or proofreader. Maintaining the original layout, he proceeds by subtraction, almost – according to the artist himself – through a sculptural process, progressively freeing the form from excess material.
The aseptic and minimal aesthetic is Pitzalis’ stylistic feature: it characterizes not just this but most of the works he produced to date, and it must be read in deliberate contrast with the treated subjects. The intimacy of open-hearted confessions finds voice in the cold standardization of the Helvetica font as well as in the traditional layout of the professional tool par-excellence – the e-mail – that the artist preserves. Such choices allude to the technologization of experience within which the need to “build together a space to live in” arises, to quote the artist’s words. Since his foray into artistic creation, Pitzalis has been able to demonstrate a formal and poetic coherence that makes his production clearly recognizable: life and work constantly overlap in works that intercept the frustrations of a generation forced to deal with a competitive society saturated with contents, that only in sharing his vulnerabilities identifies a possible way out.
 Richard Sennett, The Corrosion of Character: the personal consequences of work in the new capitalism, (New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 1998), p. 118.
 Boris Groys, “Self-Design and Aesthetic Responsibility”, E-flux, Issue #07, giugno 2009, available at: https://www.e-flux.com/journal/07/61386/self-design-and-aesthetic-responsibility/.
Luca Marcelli Pitzalis, la quindicesima mostra della sezione Portfolio
parte del ciclo QUOTIDIANA
21/12/2023 – 21/01/2024
Museo di Roma a Palazzo Braschi
Roma, piazza San Pantaleo, 10
Quadriennale e Roma Capitale, Assessorato alla Cultura – Sovrintendenza
Capitolina ai Beni Culturali
is a contemporary art magazine since 1980