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"A Meditation on the almost-nothing-more" F. D. Ferretti, The Spirit of the Eye, September 2019


The Italian Gallery presents, with Azad Asifovich as curator, the last works of a young Italian artist born in 1982, Luca Resta, who comments on and transfigures what one is tempted to qualify as “almost nothing”. Asked by Michel Serres in 1971, at a time when television still dared to escape derisory and "speeding", Vladimir Jankélévitch - always attracted by limit problems - declared: "almost nothing is the definition of philosophy… that is why it takes nothing for it to be nothing at all. ".  Luca Resta explores the something that nests, that still lurks in places of almost nothing, or almost nothing in the world.

The exhibition is part of a two-part project, called Perfect Unknowable and Reality Slash, respectively. As for the first, let the curator speak: “Perfect Unknowable is a reflection on the current state of contemporary art, when the only traces of the existence of an exhibition are photos shared on social networks… Perfect Unknowable presents a series of works, impressions on marble of screenshots taken from the artist's own Instagram publications, aimed at promoting the project… these images are erased during printing ”.   

We can indeed observe, affixed to the wall of the gallery, a dozen rectangular marble slabs in the format 26 x 30cm forming a horizontal alignment. On these plates, no image other than a text in the standard format of the messaging system. We do not know what the photo may have been, of which no trace remains, and of which the text does not represent the comment, if not perhaps in a very indirect way. Let's read two of these texts, at random: Like everyone else, you were born into bondage, kept inside a prison that you cannot smell, taste, or touch. A prison for your mind. Destiny, as we know, does not lack a sense of humor ”.

To enumerate, to follow day's order, it seems impossible; it better looking for its eternity, its repetition ”.

A first observation stems from the comment that this work implicitly offers us on contemporary society, by the sole structure of the work. The erasure, the fleetingness of images that their very multiplication almost immediately erases in the mind, contradict the support which is a symbol of eternity, of aesthetic or moral transfiguration. In Western culture, white marble - and especially Carrara marble - connotes victory over time. Material that resists centuries, material cherished by Praxiteles and Polycletus, Critios and Myron, heroism marble, that is to say deifies, raises man closer to the gods, preserves the memory of his deeds, of its moral grandeur, of that beauty where Good allies with Truth, where the terrestrial reflection finally meets its prototype image: marble is Platonic by nature. It should come as no surprise that he is so cherished in cemeteries.

The marble slab devoid of relief is simple memento. But memento of what, if nothing is there? From nothing, precisely, or rather from forgetting, from the vanity of what for a moment she could - she could have - let see. Time passes, of course, and this marble is there to bear witness to it, since it persists in resisting it. But nothing clings to this time. No memory, no portrait, no event, no anecdote, no work either. Everything slipped out of time when it was fixed. Did nothing deserve to leave its mark? Or is it not rather that the torrent of images no longer left time to discern what participated in a form of the beautiful, what could claim eternity, carrying any image in a whirlwind of futility?

Myron's Discobolus is not the portrait of such and such a discobolus, he is not a discobolus seized at the time of launching his disc, and who this evening will celebrate his victory with his friends around a pack of beer. Napoleon de Canova was not a Corsican general who took power on 18 Brumaire. The snapshot and the dizzying multiplication of images authorized by digital means produce the opposite effect: it is the concrete details, the lacks, the somewhat miserable artifices of the subject which are suddenly fixed in this unobservable place that is the "cloud". ". Napoleon laughing, or cutting his steak, is no longer Napoleon. This reverse effect becomes so powerful that the "potential hero" waiting for the marble disappears altogether.

If everything opposes the terms that we associate with marble to those that we could associate with the image "posted" on the networks, there is one which is metamorphosed by the nature of the support, and it is that of the beauty. Marble invokes beauty in its classical form of harmony, and the use of marble to fix an ugly figure or object immediately creates a dissonance that calls for interpretation. When the Hydra of Lerna is sculpted with a Hercules, it is obviously not the beauty of the Hydra that is involved but the myth made visually archetypal by the formal harmony that will have known. project the artist.  In the case of the network image, to give it this name, it is quite different. Certainly, the intention of the viewer may be on such and such an occasion - and this is frequently the case with the selfie - to capture a moment of the subject's "beauty", a beauty that is sometimes indisputably objective, sometimes enhanced, as it was. 'moreover the case of portraits or busts of the past. What differs is the aim: to arouse admiration (ad-, prefix expressing the reinforcement of the Latin verb mirari which translates astonishment) in one case, in the other to serve as a tool in order to arouse attraction (in the case of the selfie) or to converse with third parties, but also a means of enjoyment that is born and is exhausted in the capture of the image.

Of the two texts cited above, the first seems to refer to the Gnostic theses of separation of the two worlds, to the terrestrial prison of which the fool is not aware but from which the sage tries to escape in order to regain the lost Kingdom. Emphasizing the erasure of the image, the text designates the prison wall that is precisely this absence made blinding by the empty whiteness of the marble rectangle.

The second text is intriguing by its imprecisions, its syntax errors, of which we cannot say how deliberate they are, but which make the subject obscure like the utterance of a sybil. A first paradox is that of the error written in stone. Usually, what is carved in marble receives extreme care since the material is expensive, correction impossible, and the medium intended for the very long term. However, these blunders of language are now fixed, and as if highlighted: lack of image, there is only this short text to read. Social networks abound, as everyone knows, from foul language mistakes to the erasure of the language itself, to the erasure of the intention behind words - or simple graphemes - which have become silent for want of being more or less correctly ordered. One discerns a quest for eternity in the face of the surge of moments, but a quest that has become in vain, where the "it better" in the manner of aposiopesis seems to translate a resignation in the face of the certainty of this vanity.

The exhibition dedicated to Luca Resta contains another series of works whose technique, materials and form differ significantly from those we have just mentioned, but where we can distinguish a kinship of meaning. It is a series of objects made of cardboard, foam, or plastic, each covered with a whitened adhesive tape that gives it the appearance of a ceramic sculpture. The titles - Armatura VIII, Armatura IX… - would be puzzling if we were not instructed that it is in reality protections cobbled together by demonstrators from plastic bottles or other waste objects, or helmets, intended to protect themselves from possible blows from the police. The same ambivalence appears here: to a certain extent, these protections - metonymies of social struggles are heightened by the fact of their exposure to this dignity that art almost inevitably confers on what it evokes.

But simultaneously, the medium - this fake ceramic with a chalky appearance - underlines the somewhat derisory character of these objects which have lost their function, which bear no traces of any action, and seem both useless and devoid of dispossessed - of the burden of all narration, of all history. Nothing more contradictory than a ceramic breastplate. The glorious weapons that Hephaestus forged in the past for Achilles at the request of his mother Thetis have become Badoit bottles and Mobylette helmets ... By a double reversal, a mechanism of heroisation manages to operate despite everything in this implicit opposition between the fixed derisory in false ceramic on the one hand, and an invisible and brutal force on the other hand, a force whose reality shines through, suggested by the very function of the objects. This force, which is neither named nor proven, even less figured, is the phantom summoned by the artist to give to his forms, to his sculptures if we accept this unsuitable word, the power of meaning, of criticism. , a commentary on the world that we are entitled to project into it. 

A word finally on very remarkable photographs of approximately 200 x 150cm excellently presented by the gallery owner in an adjacent room, and entitled Ripetere Ripetere (“Repeat Repeat”). We believe to see there some kinds of tree trunks whose soul would have been released over part of the length, in an obvious reference to Giuseppe Penone. These "trunks" are arranged on several planes, each appearing with great clarity as betraying the depth of the field, and subtly giving the lie to the expected optical effect. In reality, they are peeled and partially "sculpted" carrots, photographed by means of a superposition of successive shots focused on different depths. This long exercise in taking pictures leads a battle with time which makes the vegetable too overripe to retain its original shape. This is a work of rather rare formal intelligence, at the same time a commentary on the artist's work, a commentary on the evanescence of forms, and on the metamorphosis always possible by the artist, but also by any man having the desire, of the eminently futile - a cut carrot - in object of contemplation and perhaps of meditation. The carrot of the scholar, in a way.

"Transformare un gesto banale in una performance. Una ripetizione ossessiva, una metafora sull'alienazione umana" by A. Ballabio, INSIDEART n ° 112,  pp. 42-47

Luca Resta (1982) was born in Seriate, but has worked and lived in Paris for a few years. His performance Superposition reached the final of the Talent Prize 2017. Resta's artistic research is eclectic: through sculpture, installation and sound, the artist explores the notion of repetition and its relationship to the present. “I am interested in notions of series, reproduction, temporality and mechanical reiteration, as well as the processes of accumulation, collection and cataloging conceived as empirical devices of superposition and manic addition. By using them as instruments of analysis, from which I isolate the rules, I try to extrapolate their intrinsic aesthetic and conceptual potential ”. Resta works with objects, using their narrative potential: “From the sculpture, I came closer and closer to the concept of repetition, which I see today not only as an impulse from within, but also as a phenomenon distinguishing society. I am fascinated by the aesthetic and stylistic potential of objects, which I have always considered to be the essential subject of my collections. My heuristic approach allows me to reach a certain level of abstraction, of functional and formal decontextualization, which transforms these elements into metaphorical images, theoretical objects for critical research ”. This argument is found in several of Resta's works, where we find an exasperated feeling of time, dilated in a mechanical and repetitive gesture. An example of this approach is Papers, started in 2013, which consists of sheets of marble a quarter of a millimeter thick, obtained by the artist by manually smoothing slabs of marble of different sizes for hours. Likewise, Utensili # 2 is made up of 13 marble toothpicks that the artist himself created by sanding pieces of marble for days on end. In another representative work, Studio per una Lista # 1 Resta takes the practice of cataloging to the extreme, manually deconstructing the entire lexical structure of the French translation of Italo Calvino's novel Le Château des destinies croisés, and sorting out each word of the book - punctuation included - by chapters, depending on their recurrence in the text. The result of this effort is a new book, and ultimately a sound work composed of two computers reading the resulting text simultaneously, 30 minutes apart from each other. The work was a site-specific installation presented for the first time in 2016 in the desecrated church of San Michele all'Arco in Bergamo, as part of the Babel exhibition. During the eight hours of reading, the text undergoes a slow semantic degradation. The onomatopoeic and lexical potential of words, now reduced to their original status of sounds by repetition, scrutinizes time and creates a rhythmic and obsessive motif in which sound dialogues with the environment of the exhibition space. At the last edition of the Talent Prize, Resta presented a performative work that only exists in the time of its staging, leaving only a trace. Superposition, presented last year at the Palais de Tokyo in Paris on the occasion of a project by Vittoria Matarrese, sums up a number of subjects dear to the artist and, technically, involves a slow process of coating the space. display with overlays of subtle strips of paper tape. “Coating an entire room with an obsessive technique requiring scotch tape struck me as so absurd that I was immediately motivated to adopt it. The origins of the work, however, are more complex. It starts from an old childhood memory. When I was a child, my parents took me to visit Giorgio Morandi's house-museum. The only memory I keep of that day is my fascination with Morandi's painted bottles, which he coated with a layer of paint before reproducing them on canvas. In 2013, I decided to use this keepsake in my art: I replaced the paint with scotch tape and started covering every item in my plastic bottle collection, which currently has 1,391 different pieces. It was necessary to focus this effort on architecture: I wanted to distance myself from Morandi and concentrate on my technique and on the meaning of the concept of iteration ”. The time element, expressed by the repetitive mechanical noise produced as the tape unwinds, has central significance in Superposition, and almost becomes its centerpiece. Concretely, the work aims to ask a question about the value that we generally attribute to time: “In superposition - explains Resta - my repeated gesture and the time it expresses are linked. The mechanical and rhythmic noise coming from the tape resonates constantly, hypnotically, repetitively through space, almost like a mantra. The work transports us, as well as the spectators, into a parallel temporal dimension, where time is not divided into seconds, but by the mechanical noise of this gesture ”. The superposition could also be seen as a metaphor for the current and everyday human condition, and a paradox of society with its emphasis on repetition and monotony: “This work - continues the artist - starts from the deepest meaning of the work. manual, imitating the operation of a machine. The movement in a way simulates the movement of a printer which, layer after layer, imperceptibly redraws space. There is a reference to the human condition and to the paradoxes of our society, through a sublimation of mechanical action. However, there is nothing functional in my gesture The intrinsic alienation of repetitive actions is therefore detached by a simple intention of social exposure and isolated as a pure aesthetic gesture linked to the creative value of reiteration, in the sense that Deleuze heard him. projects: Fight for your right to party, a paradoxical board game structured around the concept of sabotage, imagined and produced by Autopalo (artistic project on contamination between art and football in collaboration with Matthew le Tissier), which will be presented in 2018 at the Palais de Tokyo, Paris, during the Do Disturb event. The same year, the second part of The Serialist project will be held at Centro Luigi Di Sarro. The project includes a series of shows dealing with television imagery and web series, curated by Giulia Lopalco and Emanuele Rinaldo Meschini.

"The Repetition of the Difference: Time and Space in Contemporary Performance Art", (conference extract) by P. Bianchi, International Symposium, REPETITION / S Performance et Philosophie in Ljubljana, University of Ljubljana, September 21/24, 2016

[…] Luca Resta is a young Italian artist based in Paris who, for 12 days, literally covered the gallery space (from floor to ceiling) with layers of adhesive paper, in a manic gesture of superimposition.

Layering is a performance, but also a kind of decorative technique exasperated by a manic overlap of strips of tape stretched horizontally, from bottom to top. Each strip is superimposed on the previous one (at a distance of 4/5 mm), to create a wallpaper, a second skin that adapts and redraws the architecture. Performance links action and time; it is a mechanical and repetitive gesture that has no end point, it could ideally go on forever. Only the duration of the exhibition determines the performance time. In this regard, the artist speaks of a specific “time” dedicated to something apparently unnecessary. Resta thus plays with the main meaning of manual labor and, in doing so, brings into question the daily condition of man and the paradoxes of society.

In the case of Superposition's first production, in a Parisian gallery, the exhibition lasted 12 days. The artist used 11,850 meters of tape (237 rolls), thus obtaining a compact and geometrically perfect membrane. He worked, like an employer, 10 hours a day, trying to cover all the space. However, as the work focuses on the idea of repetition and monotony, there is no real goal. The artist does not want to cover all the space, Resta only wants to spend his time doing a useless, repetitive and alienated action. It is a slow, steady movement that simulates the action of a printer. In addition, the mechanical and rhythmic noise produced during the action marks the time and articulates the action, expanding the repetition of the sound in space.

Even if the idea is based on the repetition of the gesture, each repetition of the performance is different depending on the location of the action. So it's a creative, unique and different repetition every time. Last April, for example, the artist made this performance on the stairs of the Palais de Tokyo, in Paris, during Do disturbs, a 3-day event. For this exposure, the duration of the repetitive action was three days, 12 hours per day.

In Luca Resta's work, the concepts of space, duration and repetition intersect, visually translating what Bergson defines as the essential dimension in the constitution of number and series. In this regard, without entering into the specificity of the Bergsonian thesis, I nevertheless want to see in the notion of duration, the passive synthesis of which Deleuze speaks in his text Difference and Repetition. In other words, I consider the concept of duration as the juxtaposition of quantifiable impressions in an auxiliary space, where the hands of the clock (just to evoke the famous example of Bergson) lose their uniqueness to be part of a whole, d 'a time.

In his performances, the exhibition space becomes a theater in which repetitive action is built. In this regard, the artist superimposes not only strips of scotch tape, but also moments that mark the rhythm and outline the representation. The automatic and mechanical gesture becomes a ritual act, a kind of mantra played in a specific time dimension. It thus offers a new skin for the space, a new look at the place. The artist's movement is thus the device that highlights repetition as an artistic, performative and creative act.

In this sense, for Luca Resta, the concept of series and sequence must be understood as a unit and simultaneously as a plurality of different repetitions. The recurrence of a performative action in different spaces becomes an event, a total work. This is why, finally, according to Deleuze, we can see in the iteration “an active force […] producing difference” (Dictionary Deleuze, 223).

To conclude, depending on the role played by repetition in their gestures, the four artists exploit the notion of time and temporality differently: 12 hours for the artist duo Elmgreen & Dragset, one year for Tino Sehgal's curatorial project, a minute for Nadia Vadori Gauthier, 12 days, or an exposure time for Luca Resta. The duration of the performance is therefore a constitutive parameter both for the importance given to repetition and for the constant presence of the gesture over time. Here, the difference lies in the direction of the spatial dilation of the gesture which articulates repetitive actions. What is repeated over time is not the Identical, but identical is the repetition of what is repeated: it is the difference, the aesthetic specificity which, in doing so, calls into the question the ontological meaning of artistic creation and performance exhibition.

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