Interviews and texts
Thomas W. Eller
15/01/15Can you hear the wall? Do you sense the vibrations? – The wall ripples and resonates, as if agitated by a gigantic sub woofer, fed by an obscured energy source. Thud, thud, ... Thud.
The effect on me as a viewer is visceral and shifts the framework through which I used to look at art. It goes beyond that even – it makes me question reality. What could possibly be hidden behind the wall that effects such optical noise?! It appears to be of great powers, as it is not an easy task to visually liquify a wall. Seeing only the effect of an intangible force is a delimiting experience in its own right, sending our reassuring everyday-notion of cause and effect into a spin. Moreover there is noticeable absence of sound, a strange quietness, as if the energy causing Cecchini’s “wallwave” was broadcast on a frequency outside the human range of perception. While looking at the large wallwaves I find myself tingling with the fine hair on my skin lightly raised...
What a stark contrast to the limp objects with which it all began. The series ‘Stage Evidence’ begun just before the new millennium is comprised of everyday objects, like doors, radiators, bicycles, etc. cast in urethane rubber. These life-size objects appeared as if, well, life had been sucked out of them, becoming objects that were standing in for their counterparts in reality. Rather dull grey in color, they also seemed to remove themselves visually from their very own existence. However there was always something very touching about them. As these objects retained just enough tension within, I always wanted to come to the rescue, help them up, and make them stand properly again. It seemed feasible with just a bit of my attention...
As we can see, these two bodies of work (and others of course) by Loris Cecchini do not exist in an abstract world. They can only live with us as the audience. Their visual rhetoric is directly geared toward their audience and the ensuing interaction between them and one individual.
They strongly relate to our bodily experiences with objects, weight, space and time, before, we even perceive the object. Brian Massumi, the cultural theorist, calls this mesoperceptioni – a knowledge of things that precedes our actually touching or handling them. Gauging weight, dimension and other properties of objects relies on previously acquired body experience. Tactility has a large part in that. So the artist toys with what is basically not allowed in an art gallery today. He also pushes his objects towards manifestations that are ever so slightly off of what our expectation of them would have been and disrupts the establishment of something that we would accept as proper reality. Walls just are not supposed to ripple and objects should not be limp. This is the artist’s way to open a rift in the fabric of things and to let in another kind of reality, one that conveys unspoken powers.
Loris Cecchini developed his aesthetics of engagement of the audience right around the same time when Nicolas Bourriaud started speaking about relational aestheticsii at the end of the 90s. In recent years Bourriaud’s ideas of micro-utopias, derived from relational aesthetics, have been widely criticized as making activism commensurable to the status quo as well as utilizing seemingly “inclusive” artistic strategies in a highly exclusive environment called art world. The fact that these ideas have come under so much pressure frees the perspective on other notions of utopia. Going back to real utopian times Jacob Taubes, a Jewish philosopher of religion, and one of the most fervent supporters of the students revolt in Berlin developed a notion of Utopiaiii in the 1980s in which it is not on human terms that it will be attained. It will not be a gradual process and not one that can be crafted. Instead once the messiah comes, according to Taubes, he will not add or remove anything. He will just move everything over ever so slightly and all will be in the right order.iv
That appears to be a notion that applies to Cecchini’s work. Slight shifts are abundant in his work. From the limp to-size objects in the series “Stage Evidence”, to the Wallwaves in theseries “Extruding Bodies”, “Splinter’s of Architectures” and the “Photo Assemblages” that by conflating different scale objects in one image have opened the paths of the artist’s research into the microscopic world. In his latest works Stratashades, he has discovered color as a new energy source. Derived from microscopic images the reliefs made from synthetic felt visually transform into planetary surfaces of some sort, contradicting scale and shrinking or expanding the viewer almost at will. With some of them it is a bit like looking at a Chinese ink drawing of a vast landscape. One can get lost in them for a long time just visually wandering about. Much quieter in their energy output, those digitally enhanced relief works vibrate an energy that is reminiscent of Chinese Taihu or philosopher’s stones that are highly prized appreciations of enhanced natural lime stones.
Utopian, not having a fixed identity, not being firmly at home, are one of the traits of Cecchini’s work and maybe also personality. As many Italian artists he now lives in Berlin and frequently travels to China to have his works produced there. Or more precisely, to have the modules for his works produced there.
Meticulously crafted and manufactured only in small numbers for the artist, those objects represent biological matter of some sort. They are inter-connectable by predetermined threads. They grow in forms reminiscent of bacterial or fungal growth. The ensuing geometry mimics nature’s pattern. Put together in numerous instances they seem to grow out of themselves and occupy not only the space of the gallery. Loris Cecchini also let’s them virtually supersede entire cityscapes.
With those works he is very close to current discussion about art and urbanism in Berlin, yet addresses those with his own particular approach. So far we have been witnessing Cecchini ?s ability to culturally connect to many different environments, Western Utopian ideas, Asian
notions of art and philosophy as well as scientific methodologies. The latest modular works may be the most literal reference to what the artist really deals with – organizational forms of microbial life. We see a huge force absent in quite a few of his series. Absence is a philosophical term. In a world that is obsessed with everything that can be measured, quantified, qualified, where everything can be accounted for and everything can be tallied and cataloged: absence is not a category, it is a threat. This is the critical part of his work: he crosses out the notion that everything has to function according to plan and is always accountable for. Instead he let’s us see a secret dynamic behind the existence of things which crosses out a capitalist command of all things.
In the practice of Loris Cecchini, absence is present in most works. Seemingly lifeless early objects that have paled to grey, speak of the same force that can also transubstantiate walls – just in absentia. His work is not about lack or loss or simple voids, instead one senses a huge transformation of energies that is going on behind the surfaces of his work. They are many manifestations of this previously unspoken force. Whichever name one wants to give this force depends one one’s denomination – it is the force that gives life to all things.
i “The object has an excess of affect over perception. Here a modern tendency to identify perception with vision trips us up. It is not the surface that affects us imperceptibly but engages what the cultural theorist Brian Massumi has called the mesoperceptual apparatus of the flesh—bodily perception—is itself differentiated. The skin perceives differently from the muscles and ligaments and from the viscerae. The skin registers tactility; the proprioception of muscles and ligaments is keyed to movement and spatial orientation; our insides register intensity, viscerally. Mesoperception partly comes into play through handling.” Jonathan Hay: Sensuous Surfaces. The Decorative Object in Early Modern China, London 2010., pp. 79–80.
ii Nicolas Bourriaud, Relational Aesthetics (Les Presse Du Reel,Franc, 1998). iii Utopia is derived from Greek: U-topos – without location/space. iv Quoted from memory