solo exhibition at Gelateria Sogni di Ghiaccio, Bologna
Curation and text by Condylura (Paolo Gabriotti, Davide Visintainer)
beloved continues a dialogue begun in 2021 between the artist Paolo Bufalini (Rome, 1994) and the curatorial/editorial duo Condylura around the notion of excavation. Drawing on his own and the partner’s memories and biographical materials, the exhibition presents different declinations of the deep in the affective and temporal, informatic and mineral fields, contrasting the sentimentality of the subjects with the extractive logic it enacts.
Alongside two new productions made for the exhibition, beloved presents an unseen photographic work, born from the collaboration with Marcello Galvani and part of the project Land of Nod, dedicated to the hybridization between digital production and physical space. The project is curated by TretiGalaxie, who contributes to the exhibition with a text in curatorial dialogue: From the dream experiments collection.
The productions on display cross installation, analog and digital photography, found object and sculpture, mediums that the artist uses as instruments of speculation and reification. The works suggest a direct relationship between extraction on the level of the artistic process, both material and of value, and on a more analytical level, interrogating criticalities related to the present time, particularly the relationship with technology, yet from a personal, emotionally invested perspective. An element made explicit by the exhibition environment itself, marked
by a few light points and treated in dark tones, evoking the entrance to a remote place: an intimate space – whether psychic or oneiric – but also a rocky gorge or an underground warehouse.
The Sleeper (life-size) is a 1:1 scale photographic portrait of the artist’s partner, Federica Scaringello, caught sleeping in their bed. The exposure of an already intimate and vulnerable moment enters into a suggestive relationship with an additional form of invasiveness. The photograph indeed conceals a second portrait in the form of a data report, The Sleep, created through a biomedical device – the sensor-equipped bodysuit that is partially revealed in the photo – through which the artist recorded the parameters of her partner’s breathing, heartbeat, and body movements during a night’s sleep. By treasuring an act of appropriation of sensitive data, the photograph seems to take on a virtual three-dimensionality, traversing portraiture from the view camera to biometrics, re-proposing the theme of the machinic image as a capture of the soul.
The confrontation with the logic of the machine is a recurring perspective in Paolo Bufalini’s work, which is filtered in beloved by dynamics of feeling and memory, both personal and datafied. The image of the ‘beloved one’ returns in the refrigerator unit filled with cans of energy drinks, on which is printed a childhood photograph of her in a carnival mask. Tricksters takes the form of a monolithic lightbox that holds at low temperatures the viral multiplication of this crowd of harlequins, emitting a carnal light into the environment. If The Sleeper refers back to the world of data collection, the ergonomic invasion of devices, and the existence of sensitive information circulating outside the horizon of perception, Tricksters seems to call into question the purposes that the same collection of sensitive data has: to the profiling and fragmentation into categories of the subject, its transformation into a reservoir of expendable value follows. The refrigerator thus becomes a hyper-personalized advertising display to enhance one’s performance to a taurine caricature of the self.
The last work in the exhibition is the sculptural group Untitled, a composition of forty-five multiform tins, presented on the wall in the form of a diptych. The work originates from a childhood memory of the artist, a ritual of molybdomancy – the divination of the shapes assumed by molten metal thrown into cold water – that has become a New Year’s tradition in various northern European countries. A family game to be played with children, as in the artist’s memory. The theme of divination, of questioning the future, associated with the promises of technology, also returns frequently in Paolo Bufalini’s production. Several works feature the crystal ball, which the artist conceives as the medieval version of an interactive screen, a possible icon of a time when techno-futuristic and seemingly rationalist narratives conceal a strong component of magical
and mystical thinking, from entrepreneur gurus to predictive algorithms. While tin may evoke a more material image of excavation, it is also one of the most widely used metals for soldering electronic components. Similarly to the sphere, the choice of the diptych seems to echo a medieval motif, the ancient illustrated layout, inviting the viewer to study a kind of codex or encyclopedia of mineralogical prophecies.
The tin concretions – random forms generated by the hot-cold clash evoked throughout the whole exhibition – recall a figure of becoming, seemingly contrary to the mathematical clarity of computer code. Yet the invitation to a practice of reading by an association of images, in which the phenomenon of pareidolia – the recognition of known patterns from random shapes, as in the reading of clouds – takes place, also refers back to computer vision, to artificial intelligence software such as Google Deep Dream and Dall-E.
From the photograph that captures a part of the soul as a kind of Horcrux, to the cold room that contains the reproductive power of a meme, up to the metalized viscera interrogated by a priest- algorithm, the space of Gelateria Sogni di Ghiaccio is turned into a camera obscura, where at the
extraction of the profound is discovered to be fixed a technical internalization of the world.
beloved has been realized thanks to the support of:
Settori Musei Civici Bologna I MAMbo - Ixart - OmniArtVerse - FAB Foundation
and in collaboration with: Treti Galaxie e Ass. BOCA
Graphic design: Studio Visivo (Marco Casella, Mattia Pajè)
1-3 exhibition views
4-7 The Sleeper (life-size), 2022, inkjet print on baryta paper Canson II 103,5x130x4,5cm
8-11 Tricksters, 2023, refrigerator, 239 customized energy drink cans, 196x120x70cm
12-15 Untitled, 2023, tin, 110x100x7cm
16 Graphic design
Ph: Manuel Montesano
online/IRL project curated by Treti Galaxie
The starting point of Land of Nod is the recording of biometric data (breathing rate, heart rate, body movements) of my partner, Federica, during sleep. The recording, made through a wearable biomedical device, provides a report, a sort of portrait in data form, then recorded and marketed as NFT. The process was documented through a photograph taken with a view camera, in collaboration with photographer Marcello Galvani. Produced in two versions - contact print and print from digital scanning brought to the actual size of the depicted subject - the photograph constitutes the physical part of the project. Land of Nod thus consists of an edition of NFT, titled The Sleep, and the two versions of the photograph, titled The Sleeper and The Sleeper (life-size). The fruition of the NFT, a three-page pdf file, is restricted to buyers. The project is accompanied by a sci-fi text by Treti Galaxie, titled From the Dream Experiments Collection.
The Land of Nod, from which the project takes its title, is a place mentioned in the Book of Genesis (4: 16), located “on the east of Eden”, where Cain was exiled by the Lord after the murder of his brother Abel. Often described as a dark place, dwelt by monsters and beasts, the Land of Nod was also reported by the Christian scholar Origen as a place that symbolizes the condition of all those who abandon God.
Later, being in the Land of Nod took on the idiomatic meaning of being asleep, and gradually lost its somber connotation. It is precisely this combination of serenity and nightmare that piqued my interest.
Land of Nod is commissioned by OmniArtVerse and has been realized thanks to the support of FAB Foundation
Graphic design: Studio Visivo (Marco Casella, Mattia Pajè)
Tropico del Cancro
1-3 The Sleeper, 2022, contact c-print from 4x5” negative on Fuji Chrystal Archive papaer, 36x27x3cm (framed)
4-6 The Sleeper (life-size), 2022, inkjet print on baryta paper Canson II 103,5x130x4,5cm
7-9 The Sleep, 2022, pdf file, 0,99 kb (blurred)
10 Graphic design
Ph: Manuel Montesano
pins and entomological cases, 8 photogrtaphs taken in 2001 by the artist and his mother during a trip in the US (Washington D.C., Vermont, New York) in 2001, three elements 52x39x5cm each
The work consists of three entomological cases, containing eight family photographs. The photos were taken in 2001 by my mother and me during a trip to the United States. Many of these photos were taken at the American Museum of Natural History in New York, specifically in the Hall of Biodiversity, a permanent installation that includes hundreds of specimens. The title, The Kingdom, has a threefold meaning. It refers to taxonomic nomenclature, but it also defines the realm of imagination and the kingdom understood as territorial and/or cultural hegemony.
The Wunderkammer-style fascination of specimens, of artifacts, becomes, in the eyes of a child, a fantasy realm in which to lose oneself in a joyful reverie. This sense of happy curiosity, of discovery, parallels, looking at the photographs in retrospect, a reflection on the links between scientific, knowledge and objectification.
2023 Premio E.ART.H, Eataly Art House, verona, curated by Treti Galaxie
Subjects, places and authors:
1. Me in front of a redwood section, Hall of North American Forests, American Natural History Museum, New York, Luisa Prayer
2. Me in front of the skeleton of a Tyrannosaurus Rex, ANHM, New York, Luisa Prayer
3. Spectrum of life, Hall of Biodiversity, ANHM, New York, Paolo Bufalini
4. Butterfly Conservatory, ANHM, New York, Paolo Bufalini
5. Butterfly Conservatory, ANHM, New York, Paolo Bufalini
6. My mother and I in a hotel room, Washington, D.C., Luisa Prayer (self-timer)
7. Me in front of the Spectrum of life, Hall of Biodiversity, ANHM, New York, Luisa Prayer
8. Me in bed, in the house where my mother and I were guests, Vermont, Luisa Prayer
Ph: Manuel Montesano
velvet pillowcases, arduino, xbee modules, 3d print, cotton, foam, ten elements 50x50x20cm each
A group of pillows, equipped with an internal mechanism, breathe in synchrony. Slow and continuous, synchronous breathing recalls a kind of telepathy, technological animism. Indeed, the idea of the work is to transfer breath from the body to objects. The pillow thus results as inhabited by a ghostly presence, and the group as a kind of silent chorus, immersed in suspended time. The slowness of breath is reminiscent of sleep or meditation, in any case a threshold state between consciousness and unconsciousness, of surrender but also of submission, in this case to a computer code. This ambiguity between something as delicate and vital as breath and the rigidity of code reflects my poetics’ more general interest in the interweaving of the equal and the other, the familiar and the unfamiliar.
2022 Casting the Castle III - They Repeat Themselves Constantly, but Do Not Create a Sense of Habit, Civitella Ranieri Foundation, Umbertide (PG), curated by Saverio Verini
2021 Peng on the Beach, Circolo Tennis Italia, Bologna, curated by Xing
Ph&videos: Manuel Montesano
solo exhibition at MASSIMO, Milano
curated and text by Paolo Gabriotti
“The exhibition, conceived as a site-specific environmental installation housing two sculptures, is articulated as a game of overlapping between different temporalities. On the one hand, the past, evoked by the carpet of shredded texts and documents, discursive scraps that become landscape, and by the bones contained in the bedside tables. On the other, the future, evoked by the crystal sphere and the movement through time recalled by the saddle. The title, eve, alludes to the correspondence, in English, between the noun “eve” and Eve, thus evoking a sense of expectation, the imminence of an event, but also an original gaze, The title, eve, alludes to the correspondence, in the English language, between the noun “eve” and Eve, thus evoking a sense of anticipation, the imminence of an event, but also an original gaze, situated at the dawn of humanity. The orange light, as well as the placement below street level, alludes to an underworld, in a metaphorical as well as literal sense.
Almost two years ago I was preparing an exhibition with Paolo, the production of the works was almost complete and so was my text, then the virus came, blowing among the many things also this one up. I had chosen to open the text with a quote from Mircea Cărtărescu’s Orbitor Trilogy, probably altered as I have never been able to recover the page. It had stuck with me because as soon as I read it I immediately thought of Paolo’s work. I propose it again, as I remember it: “There is nothing to decipher, yet everything seems to ask to be”.
I believe this time Paolo has played a nasty trick on me. I have to write a text on an exhibition that literally emerges from a haystack of shredded papers, almost as if he wants to warn: mind that the work is born where the word ends. So I find myself looking for the famous needle with an inadequate medium, and as I write I hear the noise of the shredder, with him giggling as he inserts the pages. I confirm the first impression, there is nothing to decipher. I should stop here, yet everything seems to ask to be.
The artificial lighting, the tattered pages, the bedside tables and the skulls, the horse’s saddle topped by a crystal ball. Even though I know there is no solution or message, I’ll try to respond to the invitation, to suggest some correspondences. A possible starting point is that these elements fully belong to Paolo Bufalini’s practice, focused as it is on the affective performativity of the image, which is explored through certain themes, such as animal and technological otherness, the vitality f magical thought, the restlessness of the intimate and the domestic. The house, the bones, the reptiles and the code are composed in his work in images that are as alienating as they are synthetic, characterized by an extreme formal cleanliness, often played on chiasmi, objects in pairs and contrasting juxtapositions. The compositional order, however, seems to be charged with a subtle violence, almost as if it were an attempt to translate into images the experience of a disturbing, dysphoric reality, turning into an omen.
Faced with this amputation of words that is growing in the floor, I have no choice but to look for references, to stitch together quotations from which suggestions may emerge. I pick up a page by Tim Ingold, a passage on the illusions produced by the myth of the will: “To presume mastery in any situation of existential uncertainty is to court disaster”. Paolo’s formal control makes me think of a courtship with disaster, for his works seem to be innervated by the sensation of the impending, in which biographical elements and iconological references mingle, calling into question broader criticalities of the present age. The way it reveals, day by day, a conjuncture of many ends of the world - social, environmental, economic - but above all the apparent historical incapacity to express them if not in the immobility of a retroactive prophecy. The very title of the exhibition, eve, the vigil, conceals in the harmony of the palindrome word a reference to cyclical time, to a feeling of being trapped in an imperishable wait, which is though essentially dead time as it does not seem to be able to find a resolution in the event.
I insist on the title, eve, the vigil, but also a play on words, recalling the proper name and its biblical origin. The formal synthesis that characterises Paolo’s work also counters the search for a proliferation of signs, an ambiguity that links images and imaginaries that span time, starting with the references to the history of art, such as the horse and the skull. In his work, one often has the impression of being confronted with a kind of strange elliptical archaeology, made up of sharp juxtapositions, like a jump-cut montage in which the present becomes a spectre hidden between the folds of the temporal link. An example of a similar collapse between past and future cosmologies can be found in the recurring presence of the crystal ball, which the artist sees as an interactive screen ante litteram. A symbol of clairvoyance, of the questioning of the future, which from medieval legends sheds light on spheres that are only apparently more rational, such as technological development, at a time when both surveillance and finance rely increasingly on the algorithmic promise of predictive analysis.
I look at the electric orange light as we prepare the exhibition in the studio, and I am reminded of another literary passage, this time by Thomas Ligotti, on metaphysical horror: “Billions of years had to pass following the formation of this planet before its atmosphere became… atmospheric”. I’m not sure whether this light makes me think more of a physical, mythical or fantastic atmosphere: Blade Runner, the Apocalypse or the burning skies, so familiar lately from Australia to Sicily. A metaphysical scenario, a Last Day atmosphere, what Kant called “the end of all things”, in the face of which rational thought cannot but find itself immobilized, as if on “the edge of an abyss: for anyone who sinks into it no return is possible”. And yet fascinated, constantly driven by the impulse to look at the world from the viewpoint of its end. To remain in the epic, one could speak of the terre gaste, the wasteland of medieval poems revived by Eliot... Almost immediately I looked up the word eve on Wikipedia and discovered that it is a great chivalric theme, the sleepless night before the investiture at dawn.
This light signals a state of phase, a threshold, like the twilight which is dawn on one side and sunset on the other. Thus, the paper haystack, the scene of desolation, of shattered words overflowing from a pair of bedside tables, can be taken not only as a figure of thought and imagination, but also literally, as a blanket falling over the bedroom, when the muscles relax and the words mingle, opening up to dreamscapes. Before he shreds this one too, I transcribe a page by Gaston Bachelard, where he describes dream time as a space traversed by the movement of a tide, which first drags us towards the psychic midnight and then brings us back to the intimate light of dawn: “In the morning we can only find a few fragments of our nightlife. These shreds of dream, these scraps of dream-space, are connected according to the geometric patterns of the clear space of daylight. The dream is therefore an anatomy of dead parts”. The exhibition appears to be traversed by a continuous two-step movement: the light and the paper, its environmental diffusion and the objectual presences that one finds kept in it, the sight of the bedside tables and the discovery, only at the last moment, that an unfathomable message is hidden in one of them.
It is not clear to me why, but that pair of skulls that seem to be looking into each other’s eyes reminds me of the discovery of the charcoal lovers emerging from the rubble of Pompeii. Disaster is courted, but not known, as it does not respond to a principle of readability. It insinuates itself into ambiguous and allusive images, like a dream or a prophecy, but has no exhaustive words.”
Exhibition booklet ENG/ITA
Graphic design: Marco Casella
ATP Diary (interview)
1 external view from the courtyard
2-3 exhibition views
4-5 Untitled, 2021 horse saddle, glass sphere, 50x40x60cm
6-9 Untitled, 2021 bdside tables, shredded paper, skulls, two elements 55x40x48cm each
10-12 exhibition views
13 Graphic design
Ph: Niccolò Panzeri
snake skin, iron, 45x31x2,5cm
The work consists of a metal frame in the form of an e-mail icon, lined with snakeskin. The snake is for me one of the most tangible evocations of the alien as a threat, and more broadly an element whose symbolic significance interests me - from biblical tradition to mythology and the eternal return. Mail is a message formalized not as verbal content, but as a mere perception of threat, at once indefinite and fatal.
2022 emERgenze contempoRanEE (permanent), Museo della Città, Rimini, curated by Cristina Ambrosini, Claudia Collina, Giovanni Sassu
2020 Futuro. Arte e società dagli anni Sessanta a domani, Gallerie d’Italia, Vicenza, curated by Luca Beatrice and Walter Guadagnini
1-3 Mail (I), 2020
4-6 Mail (II), 2021, installation view at MAMbo, Nuovo Forno del Pane
7-9 Mail (III), 2022
Ph: Filippo Cecconi, Manuel Montesano
snake taxidermy, hat, 120x20x25cm
Ph: Manuel Montesano
camail, alligator paw, 45x20x10cm
Installation views at Snoozin’ Gutssss, Neverneverland, Amsterdam, curated by MRZB
Ph: Filippo Cecconi
chainmail, glass sphere, 100x40x15cm
A glass sphere rests on a sort of ventral sac, obtained from a chainmail. I see the latter as a phantom, a casing emptied of the body, that carries a predictive tool. The glass sphere is a potentially all-encompassing, transparent, and at the same time cryptic container. Shining with reflected light, it refers to a lunar type of knowledge, i.e.based on irrational intuition rather than on the dissection of words and concepts. The work can be read as an evocation of magical thinking, of its persistence in contemporary narratives. The topos of clairvoyance, in fact, today returns in the form of hyper-advanced technologies, such as the predictive algorithms used in Data analysis.
2019 Homo Sapiens, DAS, Bologna, curated by Davide Da Pieve
2019 Ducato Prize finalists exhibition, Palazzo del Podestà, Castell’Arquato (PC)
2018 Communal Leakings, Macao, Milano, curated by MRZB
1-3 installation views at Communal Leakings, 2018, Macao, Milano, curated by MRZB
4-6 installation views at Homo Sapiens, 2019, DAS, Bologna, curated by Davide Da Pieve
Ph: Roberto Casti, Filippo Cecconi, Manuel Montesano
puzzle, human skull fragments, 50x30x12cm
2018 Bello (duo w/ Daniele Pulze), Dimora Artica, Milano
2018 Low (solo), Adiacenze, Bologna
1-3 installation views at Bello, 2018, Dimora Artica
4-5 installation views at Low, 2018, Adiacenze, Bologna
Ph: Filippo Cecconi