Riccardo Giacconi

L’altra faccia della spirale (#1), 2010, (in collaboration with Carlo Orsolini), ink on paper, 24,5x34,5 cm
L’altra faccia della spirale (#4), 2010, (in collaboration with Nunzia Cavarischia), ink on paper, 24,5x34,5 cm

The generation of Italian artists who are currently in their twenties share two distinguishing features, both closely interrelated. First of all, Italy has emerged from years of psychic repression, of literal amnesia, and its History has once again become a source of images. Secondly, the vision of these young artists – who did not experience 1968 or 1977 – is rooted in the 1970s, when a social habitus and political activism, whose impact is still tangible today, took shape. This is a nostalgia-free history, one untainted by the aesthetic of the archive, but which turns the archive, historical memory and document into tools to interpret the present. Film, owing to its ability to record events, is often the medium used to analyze the past, inasmuch as it is bound up with time, and recounts an action in the present.

In his latest creation, Riccardo Giacconi considers 1963 to be pivotal, the year in which two distant yet important publishing events occurred, and which his video L’altra faccia della spirale brings together: Einaudi’s publication of Una questione privata by Beppe Fenoglio, and Urania’s publication of Isaac Asimov’s Foundation Trilogy. Both may be considered genre novels: the resistance novel which, according to Italo Calvino, reaches its apotheosis in Fenoglio’s work, and the science-fiction novel in Asimov’s case. Both became canonical in an already established genre. Above all, in both, the motor of History, its raison d’être, is the individual, either alone or as part of a group. The intended readership was the same, those living in a period in which, not only in Italy but in Europe as a whole, economic and political decisions crucial to Western society were being made. Those are the years that, according to Pasolini, saw the beginning of an anthropological deformation that would prove fatal to Italy’s already weakened value system, itself the result of a war and the anti-fascist resistance. One novel evokes the past, the other the future, but this discrepancy, this time warp, is precisely what makes both texts contemporary – that is, makes them able to speak to their era, but also to ours. The same discrepancy is found in Riccardo Giacconi’s images: six ex-partigiani read excerpts from the Foundation Trilogy, alternating with shots of places that played host to episodes of the Resistance. Asimov’s text is resuscitated thanks to the spoken word, and, set against the film’s landscape, becomes a sort of historical fresco. On the other hand, the portrayal of the ex-partigiano as a private individual reminds us that History can only be told through stories: that is the focus of Fenoglio’s novel, given life in this work. The video is accompanied by tables: the artist asked each participating expartigiano to choose an excerpt from his text. These excerpts, written out in longhand, re-read, re-uttered, and thereby given renewed life and urgency, are presented as tables. Balancing between warning and cenotaph.

Cecilia Canziani

Born 1985, San Severino Marche.
He lives and works in Lyon, France.

Group shows

2010: Dezplazamientos temporales, La Alhóndiga, Bilbao, Spain
You-We + Ablo; Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo, Rotonda di Via Besana, Milan, Italy
Argonauti, ArtVerona Art Fair, Verona, Italy
videoREPORT ITALIA 2008-09, Galleria Comunale d’Arte Contemporanea, Monfalcone, Italy
2009: Documents, Fondazione Spinola Banna, Banna (TO), Italy

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