In jenga, first personal exhibition of Fabrizio Perghem (1981), the artist conceives an entirely expositive space. The author from Rovereto refuses to expose his sculptures outside the place for which they were first conceived. By playing with a sort of personal retrospective, Perghem creates a sound display so that the audience can transcend his work, thanks to using the reverberation of other people’s witnessing. Inside the LOCALEDUE there is nothing, it is an empty room where vibrating walls describe his practices through some telephone recordings: a news reporter interviews some eye-witnesses, explaining them how she should’ve written about Perghem’s work without having seen it. The artist himself recalls his projects by consulting, years after, some people that he pointed out as sources of his own creating.
Eugenio Luciano: Let’s begin with the title you chose. Tell me about the relationship with the display…
Fabrizio Perghem: As you know jenga is a popular board game, which takes his name from the swahili “build!”, imperative form of the verb kujenga. The dynamics of the game constitute in continuously extracting little blocks from the structure, so to keep on building until the construction collapses. These type of tensions have a strong link with my work in general. Particularly, in the LOCALEDUE I began a process that is able to erode those parts that are formally handled in my previous works, such as the vision of the artworks through their canonic documentation. Among the other things, this allowed me to explore how much of the artwork resists once it is deprived of its own image.
That is why the display introduces a developing condition where no support of the retina participates in declaring the artwork as resonant. Thanks to a technology called Solid Void I was able to make it so that no one of the hearing posts was privileged. All of the lateral walls of the space become amplifiers of the selected dialogues, in a ping pong from left to right between the indigenous human source (beginning of the research’s process) and the description of the associated artwork or, to be more precise, what is left of an artistic intervention once the structures of its event and its presence have been taken away.
In your opinion what is the difference for the spectator between seeing your artwork and having it been told to him? The work at issue is the same, but a reverberation is growing here. For instance, isn’t there the possibility that through a subjective look the reverberation may be excessive and therefore the message may come as distorted?
I think the audience is availing itself of a process and such an aspect, for me, will never be something excessive. It is, actually, a condition of reality. The telephone calls redefine the artwork as object of an oral dialogue, they play with the imaginary power that is particular to language. I force the scattered images of the art pieces, that live in our heads, into regaining a definition through the request of narration.
Tell me about the reactions of the interviewed people. Where there any personal interpretations? Also, many of the works you asked to talk about were done a long time ago. Do you think the time distance of the experience had any weight?
Obviously the description of the work is characterized by who does he description. It is interesting to analyze the aesthetic path to which the artwork is exposed. As you may have noticed one of the fundamental aspects, which is clearly pointed out in the audio, is the time distance between the testimony and its object. We can sense the difficulty of digging into the past, even though the oldest artworks aren’t always the ones that suffered a greater distortion. In the end we’re considering different subjects. Anyways, I was interested in recreating this short circuit in which the contemporary element of the personal display would crush the artworks’ chronology.
In 2006 Gianni Motti, in the occasion of his first retrospective at the Migros Museum in Zurich, built a corridor that led the the visitors from the entrance of the museum to a back exit. The visitors were escorted by one of the artist’s assistants that talked about the artist’s work during the way…
The analogies with the cited work end when it comes to the substitution of the opera with the oral narration. Motti’s physical work is surely very different from mine, which is mainly sculptural, and such a distance marks a different experiment. But the most important thing is that jenga’s dialogues were not written by me or by whoever knows me. They take place between people that are not prepared, surprised, on the telephone, in any given moment of the day.
Your practice activates processes that seldom slip away from your control. How did you reach this type of relationship with chance?
While experimenting in a practice of empirical research, the relationship with chance is complicity and generation, it fuels some dynamics that function as accelerators in analyzing the activated process. The choice itself of making the exhibited recordings of non prepared people, a week before the inauguration, may seem as a hazard, but it initiates some mechanisms of the language that are accessible only thanks to this practice.