The (Art of) Dissemblance – Press Release
According to the New Oxford American Dictionary, to dissemble means to conceal one’s true motives, feelings, or beliefs. To assemble is the act of fitting together the separate component parts of an object. The (Art of) Dissemblance is a diptych, a double reflection on the use and perception of objects, paintings, printings, and photographs, and on their repetition, combination, appropriation, and counterfeit in relation to art practices, strategies, and identities now, half a century after the 1961 MoMA landmark show, The Art of Assemblage. While the latter presented avant-gardes’ and neo-avantgardes’ practices of combining different elements in single works during the first sixty years of 20th century, The (Art of) Dissemblance suggests a shifted condition at the beginning of the new millennium: here, images are disassembled, modified, and recomposed as something substantially fictional. The question is no longer about the threshold between art and life, but rather between seeing and experiencing, images and objects at large.
In the hybrid work Landscape from Her, the calendar scheme of Patrizia Novello’s three months at HSF is reproduced on the wall through 90 fake Polaroids. These are actually fragments of a generic, extremely simple landscape painting by the artist herself: cut into Polaroid-sized, almost monochrome pieces, each is framed by white painting. Rearranged in a different order, the landscape is dismantled and turned into a calendar, a personal journal. The landscape/diary is completed by three large canvases that simulate typewritten notebook pages. Finally, on display is the original manuscript of the artist book, Landscape from Her, which will be published by HSF in a limited edition of ninety copies, each containing a handmade Polaroid. In the era of the digital disembodiment, the artist reflects, by means of painting, on the objecthood of both photographic images and written words. Novello deconstructs and questions the accepted boundaries in art practices between genres (landscape, diary), media (photography, painting, installation, object, text), and strategies (conceptual, emotional, industrial, handicraft, minimal, painterly).
Masato Nagai has combined black and white images in World Tour (2007-2008), a huge wall piece (77”x187”). Photocopies of photographs shot by the artist in Melbourne (Australia), Kochi (Japan), and New York are alternated with silkscreen reproductions of photocopied details from Nagai’s own etchings, and with photocopies from books, catalogues, and posters related to the artist’s sojourn in New York. Auto-biographical visual notes from the artist’s experiences – in his homeland, during his stay at the Australian residency program Wardlow Project, and at HSF – coexist with fragments from his work in a monumental surface, which swarms with interlocked figures, landscapes, and texts. The diverse whole is united by the poetic presence of irregular snippets from Nagai’s etchings, which transmigrate with the zig-zag of a butterfly through the 77 photocopies. If on the one hand, images that are extracted from their contexts as isolated Xerox copies are reintroduced here in a fluid cognitive/memory dimension, on the other hand they are reduced to a changing interrelationship of blacks and whites against the regular grid of the photocopy pages.
Raffaele Bedarida, June 2008