by Gianluca Marziani
We see it, on the wall of a gallery or museum, indoors or outdoors, in or on a monitor screen, hanging, suspended or resting … to us the work of art always appears as a finished project. Ultimately, we see the end result and (almost) never behind the scenes, with executive backstage passes to witness the time between conception and design.
The question seems simple: who are the most influential Italian artists in the American context? The answer can also be simple, if we limit the list to include only the giants that the world envies Italy for. If instead we want to test the influences on the present (at the moment that the events occur) or their influences beyond their giant status (in a context outside of their irreplaceable names), it is therefore necessary to define a suitable criterion, a measurement of incisiveness that doesn’t stop with history or the market, but touches on the figurative conscience of the work, the background and backstage of the events, the hidden inspirations, and the deepest linguistic intuitions.
The topic of which I write arrives in the nick of time (perhaps I should say in the “flick” of time in honor of the filmatic subject). What follows is a general exploration of Italian video art, the subject of a fortunate concomitance with the exhibition I have just curated for the Rocco Guglielmo Foundation. Entitled Electronic Body, the show gathers together 16 artists using the video medium exclusively to express a range of issues, approaches and visions.
Italian Contemporary Art: Three words suggesting such a tangle of opposing considerations, cultural and commercial developments and widespread interests that it is quite difficult to have a comprehensive picture of it. For historical reasons and recent twisted events, the Italian art world embodies an anomalous reality, both for its well-acknowledged qualities and its congenital faults. We have a great tradition of art that the world much appreciates – this goes without saying. From Giotto to Mario Schifano, enviable talents and universal geniuses have come one after the other, producing new expressive modes and groundbreaking innovations.