Falsità in buona coscienza
Falsità in buona coscienza
Perhaps the highest aim of art is to simultaneously carry out all these repetitions, with their difference in nature and rhythm, with their respective displacement and transposition, with their divergence and their discontinuity, to insert them into one in the others, and, from one to the other, to envelop them with illusions whose “effect” varies case by case. Art does not imitate because, first of all, it repeats and repeats all the repetitions on behalf of an inner power (if imitation is a copy, art is a simulacrum, the power to overthrow copies in simulacra).
Gilles Deleuze, Difference and repetition.
As Gilles Deleuze says the highest goal of art could be to break definitively with ontological hierarchies that distinguish between different levels of truth, or rather authenticity. Then the exhibition of Matilde Sambo Falsity in Good Conscience presents its own subtle and sophisticated study of this idea. As we will see, rather than an idea it is all a praxis to remove the imaginary borders between common dichotomous oppositions.
Deleuze strips the concept of simulacrum of all the negative connotations attributed to it by Plato until the twentieth century: so the concept of simulacrum is no longer associated with the idea of falsehood or deception, as in Jean Baudrillard, but it is the concept of a world thought in non-dichotomous terms i.e. true-false, material-immaterial, sacred-profane, and in particular as written in the quote above, is an interesting concept for thinking about certain artistic practices.
So, if some artistic practices seem have been created after these theoretical developments, Sambo’s work delves into more subtle, or apparently more indirect aspects of the theme. In fact the artist’s recent research, and in particular the project developed for the present exhibition, started from the theme of the limit, or rather from its deletion and its lack of clarity. Pairs of seemingly opposite concepts are shown, in Sambo’s work, as a continuum, and the borders become unstable. In this sense, the discussion of the possibility of a clear separation between what is nature and what is artifice, or what is sacred and what is profane, crosses all the works on display in more or less obvious ways. Furthermore, the continuity between apparently opposite ideas and phenomena is reinforced by the different cycles, temporal, natural and retroactive in the presented series.
In this sense, the sculptures belonging to the Cantus ab aestu series, which the artist creates using cicada suits found on the trees as molds, work as an amalgamating element of the set of works in space. The title of the series alludes to the myth of Eos (Aurora) and Titone, according to whom this last one will convert him into a cicada, a friend of the poets and the Muses, so that he can dedicate his days to sing the praises. The cicada adores the god Apollo, and therefore sings only during the hottest and brightest hours of the day. In this work we find references to the continuity between life and death, as a life and time cycle, but also as a possibility of permanence through a change of state: in the case of the myth, Titone, who grew older but did not die, becomes a cicada that dedicates its existence to praising the god Apollo; in the case of Sambo’s sculptures, the change originates from the works. In each new installation situation, the set of cicadas changes material, number of elements, and every single element is always unique, as are the subjects who strip themselves of the original wetsuit. Thus, cycles, origins and limits between nature and artifice still fade. Furthermore, a question arises about the widespread concept of cyclical time: can we really talk about “natural” cycles? Or are they like time, pure conceptual artificiality?
In the gallery space, together with the cicadas, there is another series of works that further question the distinction between natural and artificial through simple intervention strategies or overlap: shells modified in an almost imperceptible way, or strands of hair, wax and thorns that form small, slightly disturbing compositions.
Often these compositions are semi-hidden, or are installed in places that are difficult to access for the viewer’s gaze, as if visibility were not his first purpose.
Also for the “true” relics destined to the worship of the faithful that can be found in thousands of shrines, pilgrimage sites and churches of the world, visibility is not the first goal, or at least its permanent visibility, and this irrelevance is linked to the second series of works on display, Matter is never in place: a series of “fake” relics displayed in four reliquaries, modeled by the artist and cast by the Artistic Foundry Battaglia, which contain stalactites found in a cave. Considering the cave in which Sambo gathered it as a desecrated temple, stalactite becomes artifice through the artist’s gesture. In this way, the clear differences and the limits between what is sacred and what is profane confuse once again, as well as what is considered as “work”, or (and?) Object of devotion.
Finally, there is Omeostasi, belonging to the Untitled-Monitors and Materials series: a video installation on two monitors in which the artist documents a “manipulation” session. In one of the monitors the gaze is focused on the masseur’s hands, in the other on the patient’s reactions, which passes from intense laughter to distressed tears. The work may seem at first unplugged impact of the organic nature of the above described, but also in this work, as in the previous ones, there is a question about what one chooses to believe in a certain context, and about the reality or the fiction, or the lack of distinction between these: faith in this case is not related to the religious element as in the case of the relic, but to a type of therapy that in Western culture is considered an “alternative” to a scientific approach. How, then, can one be wary of an alternative therapy and at the same time believe in the thaumaturgical power of the relic?
The cancellation of the limit is found in this work also in the passage, sometimes indistinguishable, between joy (or better, enjoyment, following Lacan) and suffering: in the second screen, the patient passes from laughter to tears without interruption, and it is to sometimes difficult to distinguish if its expressions are of ecstasy or deep anguish.
Homeostasis also considers another aspect of (once again) a false distinction between natural and artificial: the transformation of hands from ends shared with other species, as they still are in primates, to tools that distinguish us, perhaps, from non-human animals. From the moment the human animal stands up straight on the legs, the hands remain free to manipulate objects, and to build them. However, as we have been discussing for some time, human animals are not the only ones to “create” technology and manipulate objects, and this creation is also an integral part of the species, so to understand technology as “artifice” and as distinct from “nature” it is itself a false separation.
It becomes so evident how the conscious use of the simulacrum by Matilde Sambo in Falsità in Buona Coscienza becomes an artistic strategy that has as objective to invite us to rethink the world, or at least a part of it, in cyclical and not contradictory terms.