Marcel Duchamp’s idea still works today
Exactly one hundred and one years have passed since Marcel Duchamp decided, in 1917, to sign a urinal and place it in an artistic context (it was published in a magazine but not shown in a gallery), investing it with new, unexpected significance.
It was certainly a provocative gesture which forged a completely new path for modern art, and whose consequences are still felt today.
As we know, the idea of the ‘ready-made’ comes precisely from this gesture and some types of photography, for example the Polaroid, have also often been likened to the operations of “removal” and decontextualisation that are made possible by this medium. The work that Fabio Bolinelli has continued in the last few years can, in my opinion, also be considered a part of this large family of which Duchamp is the founding father.
Someone who has lived in a city for a long time, or even forever, ends up knowing it like the back of their hand; they wander its length and breadth, in a way they visually “consume” it and so they struggle to be amazed by a “beautiful photo”, because they have already seen the city in all kinds of ways and from every possible point of view.
However, Bolinelli reinvents it with a photographic formula all his own, and suddenly the city is rediscovered, or even discovered for the first time, as perhaps you had not noticed a certain perspective or kind of architecture.
The artist creates perfectly detailed and realistic photographs, but they are cut out and transported into another dimension, one that is fantastical and captivating because it is the product of a refined digital editing process: a work of decontextualisation and displacement, a practice held dear by the surrealists, but then also picked up again in the 60s by some pop artists.
His work is appreciated not so much for its post-production acrobatics (which not everyone is able to do), as for the possibility it gives us to fully savour architectural objects “liberated” from their often suffocating or jarring urban context, all reinterpreted in elegant tones.
So it is that the Duomo in Milan or Palladio’s ‘La Rotonda’ seem even more fascinating to us than they are, because they live in magical solitude amongst gravel, arid lands or those invaded by water. Portals, arches, small temples and equestrian statues are given a new breath of life, thanks to the artist’s creativity.
Taking on an air of mystery, the architectural pieces stand out with dazzling clarity against captivating skies, with daring perspectives. In front of his lens they transform into something surprisingly new, placed in large open spaces, with horizons that stretchas far as the eye can see.
The monuments magically become lighter: the windows and arches are pierced and allow us to glimpse skies, clouds and landscapes; they let us penetrate the space in a way that has never been tried before, and it is as if our view deepens as it looks
towards the horizon. Then, as a final analysis, after the pleasure of having appreciated the beauty of our country with newfound joy, Fabio Bolinelli’s work prompts us to consider: to what extent can seeing and photographing be considered a passive act, almost automatic, ruined by the everyday, and how much can we, on the other hand, change this act?
How far can this artist’s way of showing us the architectural reality invite us to overcome the real or banal to venture instead into a different dimension, one that is unknown to us and therefore fascinating?
The emblematic image that ends this series of works, at least temporarily, is undoubtedly Piazza Gae Aulenti, in which we appear to perceive the crackling of a lightning bolt that seems to tear the Unicredit building in half, as if the two emerging towers had generated a strong electromagnetic field: the power of a new vision.
Identity and memory
The photographs produced by Fabio Bolinelli in the latest period of his research are Renaissance compositions for the way he studies perspective and light, for the well-proportioned shapes and masses and the elegance of the elements he selects and arranges in the space.
The subject of the artist’s work are the worlds of unspoiled Nature and those of emblematic monumental Architecture, and he relates them by alluding to the dimension of Time, following scenographic rules which have a great aesthetical and emotional impact. This is his way of rendering an otherwise impossible narration visible and eternal, of remembering and telling of past events which leave eloquent testimonies, packed with narrative energy which probes, asks questions, even makes forecasts.
It is these interrogative forms that place his photographs in the oxymoronic condition of saying the “Unsayable”, underlining the danger of detaching natural existence from cultural existence.
Unspoiled, inaccessible landscapes play host to the necessary fragments of great human civilisations, relegated elsewhere, forgotten, erased from Memory. For the artist this is, first and foremost, selection.
Its nature is twofold, as Bolinelli reminds us, because keeping and remembering also means leaving and forgetting, like a two-faced Janus who reveals yet conceals.
This leads to the fascination, the suspension of the flowing of historical Time, the enigmatic articulation of the space where man ceases to be, distracted and attracted by other things, incapable of building and living in harmony with the world.
When this “thought” becomes a “vision”, the artist exposes it to the air, to the floods, the dark light of the setting sun, awaiting unpredictable and uncontrollable historic and meteorological events.
- I appeal to Nature and Art for faith, because without them I am all at sea; because I can question them and go beyond the limits of space and time which would otherwise be unsurmountable – states the artist.
These limits, the starting point for his work, appear in the artist’s “metamorphosed” creations, with their dark atmospheres, inappropriate colours, empty parts of buildings we can see through, which take on wonderful shapes, represent sublime, silent moments that are apparently denied to mankind.
At a time of phenomenological globalisation, Fabio Bolinelli calls upon the Architecture of Identity to strip down and narrate extraordinary events, glories of the past in the present, catastrophes and splendours that give History a fantastic/realistic identity.
Fabio Bolinelli’s poetic style is rooted in the words of Lucio Fontana who, in his famous “Manifesto blanco” of 1946, wrote “When the universe burns around us, neither time nor space will exist, there will be no memory of the monuments erected by man…”
The places collectively dedicated to rituals, the Holy, commemoration and representation, take on the decontextualised value of a “document” introduced into Nature. A witness that legitimately expresses hope, beauty, life, that yearns to be the common legacy of the collectivity once again.
- Will we know how to receive this witness? – asks the artist.
- If we trace back its limits and identities – respond his works while, around us, Nature, in its wildest and most powerful form continues on its course.
Milano, everything can BE
Luigi Pedrazzi – Arteutopia Milano
Contemporary Italian photography is currently experiencing an unexpected season of creativity. Digital technologies are changing back to tools instead of aims for the photographer, who now employs them with a particular creative purpose. As a result, digital manipulation photography is finally conjugating a really innovative, mature and explicit language. Fabio Bolinelli’s approach is truly ‘secular’ compared to the digital, and he’s not hiding It. On the contrary, he immediately makes it explicit and then transforms it into a tool of audacious fancy without ever betraying the clear overview, the evocative force, the symmetry and the typical honesty of the best photography, which is not only a tout-court capture of an instant or a graphical play with useless, sensational colours in which the digital interventions are often empty, flat exercises.
Bolinelli’s metaphysical representations expose an intense and magic photography where the objects of the perceived reality, such as statues, monuments, cathedrals, are revealed in dream-like but true parallel realities, and the meaning they gain increases the symbolic and universal values they were born for. Bolinelli’s photos succeed in transfiguring the object with its more intimate and secret nature through an almost prophetic de-contextualization, to investigate its deepest and esoteric meaning and then rid it of the crusts of our present. The outcome is a renewed and intense spiritual tension which lays beyond the already worn-down mould of modernity and is meant as a supine resignation of a global propaganda that denies tradition in the name of money and cultural homologation, where ‘the market’ wants to creep in even in the heart of the artists. Fabio Bolinelli is a real believer and his stimulating images tell us that besides their eyes and mouths, men also have spirits and souls, and that many of them still prefer freedom to wealth, struggle to resignation, fancy to roles.
The vertical frontier
A great silence surrounds the world of Fabio Bolinelli who analyzes reality through the key concepts of contemporary art.
His vision of landscapes is naturalistic in which unusual elements come to materialize.
Influences derive from cinema (mainly science fiction), 1900 avant-garde art, Neoclassicism and its formal choices, whilst being fascinated by the suggestions of classical art.
Knowledgeable quotes and enchanted time’s still induce a leisurely perusal, an investigation into the links that tie language to an understanding of issues.
All in his work must be processed through interpretation. To see analytically seems to be the absolute imperative, and to hope, and to question again and again. Finally to surprise oneself whilst reveling in the pleasure of the enigma, the sense of surrender and rendering of words, which have never been able to reveal the only truth of things, since “ the aura which surrounds certain natural scenarios, certain personal desires and sorrows, cannot be transformed into words” ” (G. Steiner, Vere presenze, Garzanti, Mi, 1992, p.94).
''One can sense the profile of figures set beyond the binds that envelope them; it is possible to attempt a leap into the infinity of thought, it is possible, finally, to plea for the authority of silence'' (A. Trione, Mistica impura, il Melangolo, GE 2009 p. 37).
These master keys free from the need to understand and induce the appreciation of multiplicity without the limits of meaning.
Fabio Bolinelli lets the unit of internal poetry loose and sets it beyond the vertical frontier of mundane time and space; this is the idiosyncrasy that distinguishes each of his pieces.
The colors black and white are annulled by blanched hues, deprecated or distorted by intense and over realistic pigments. Improper fragments and elements coexist brushing lightly as they float suggesting unforeseen presences and parallel realities.
Symbols and sills suggest a passageway, a different place where all has already happened or where all and nothing is lost. An Elsewhere, in which enigmatic and unfathomable events allow poetry to exist.
This vertical frontier enters into the real world via a doorway suspended on the marine horizon, an improbable threshold; black and monolithic through which one can and cannot traverse. A little further on the creation of life that takes the originating form of an egg. The egg as an holistic expression of birth, whole containing universes, the infinite and the void, the light at daybreak and the looming night. It contains the Emptiness in which angels, planets, moons and Tuareg nomads on desert dunes move. Each seems to be a thoughtful and solitary set in a real but virtual nature, as they perceive the minimal vibrations of the flux of existence.
For Fabio Bolinelli it’s about capturing thought and breath through mystery, and above all through the awareness on the part of man, of being a fragment of the same mystery. Ineffable and incomprehensible, exposed to the winds, beyond and elsewhere. Everywhere is life and the beauty of absolute enchantment.
Here man feels nostalgia for an initial perfection which might be lost, and regaining it entails escaping time and creation, beyond any frontier. First and foremost the mental and vertical one.