Catalogue Greater Torino, Paola Anziché Paolo Piscitelli, 2010
Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo, Torino, a cura di/curated by Irene Calderoni, Maria Teresa Roberto, Giorgina Bertolino

by Irene Calderoni

“Only the instant of the act is alive. In it the future being is inscribed. The instant of the act is the only living reality in ourselves. Becoming aware is already in the past. Brute perception of the act is in the future being made. The present and the future are implied in the now-present of the act.”
Lygia Clark, Livro-obra, Rio de Janeiro, 1983

The path opens with a trap. A network of snow-white, shiny fabric clings to the corridor walls, climbs the walls up to the ceiling, leav- ing behind it seductive silhouettes of light and shadow. Then the net bends and becomes an ob- stacle, as passers-by find themselves caught in a tangle, forced to fight their way through, to make 1.themselves an opening space, and temporarily transform the structure erected by the artist. In Spaziando, 2010, Paola Anziché further devel- ops her research on the relationship between sculpture, architecture and public, i.e. between object, space and body. Each element exists in a relationship with the other components, and the work of art leads an unstable life the moment the two meet/clash. Interaction is a central element in Anziché’s works, we could say it is their crea- tive principle, and aims at exploring the mecha- nisms of perception and of the construction of self. The traditional view of the work-spectator relationship implies and reproduces an ‘exten- sive’ mode of world cognition: in experiencing the work, the two terms of this relationship are separated, in that a clear dividing line is drawn between subject and object.
In the participatory mode, instead, this separation gets reduced, sometimes even erased, for if the object can no longer be perceived as something outside the self, in turn the separation between self and the world dissolves, and the body becomes a ‘recep- tacle’ of every power that has to do with other-ness.
Psychoanalyst Suely Rolnik described this second mode of sensibly apprehending reality as “resonant body”, a notion she originally derived from the work of Lygia Clark.(1*)
The great Brazilian artist has had a special influence on the research of Paola Anziché, who made this reference ex- plicit in her work Aggrovigliamenti. Un Omaggio a Lygia Clark, 20009, a reconstruction of Rete de elastico, 1968.
The work is a clear illustration of Clark’s practice: overcoming the idea of the work of art as something self-sufficient in order to create functional objects, devices, machines that trigger off the process of interaction with the public. To create Aggrovigliamenti, a giant net made of rubber bands installed in the tank spaces of the Fondazione Merz, Anziché involved many people, mainly Academy students, for a perform- ance the public actively took part in, creating an exciting and playful event. Each person’s move- ment influenced that of others, so that together the group modified the net’s geometry.
The playful attitude and the relational dimen- sion of sculpture are also the key elements of Shopping-t, 2004. For Greater Torino this work is presented as a live action that involves the mu- seum’s staff and the public.

Dressed in special t-shirts designed by the art- ist, fitted with pockets on different parts of the body and containing fruit. These t-shirts gener- ate sculptural hybrids, in which body, synthetic object and organic material blend, prompting a reflection on the interdependence between the self and the outside world. This extends to the relationship with other people as soon as the art mediators offer the fruit to the visitors, who are free to accept it, eat it immediately, or take it with them, away from the exhibition space.
While the relationship between the spectator and the object apparently exists as a spatial experience, the most relevant aspect to take into account is actually the temporal level, the way time-matter, in this case, becomes a means of ex- pression. In Spaziando, the object gets activated the moment it is perceived/experienced, and not only does it immediately change, but also bears the traces of its subsequent interactions with the spectators, registering them through a gradual transformation of its own structure, substance and color nuancing, giving a sculptural shape to the passing of the exhibiting time. Therefore, just as works can only exist in the act of their percep- tion, there can be no original, or earliest version of a work, which lives in this very flow, in the hap- pening of its own metamorphosis.

The idea of metamorphosis is also central to the carpet-work series. These take on a different shape and identity depending on the context they are placed into and the way they are presented. The very fabric they are made of, the traditional pezzotti, carpet scraps woven together from rags, evokes an idea of fleetingness, because it is the product of recycling, and because the pez- zotti were once used by nomadic shepherds. The pezzotti consist of multi-colored, tough stripes, and their main quality is mechanic resistance, i.e. they easily retain their shape. The artist creates her tapis, or carpets, by sewing together a cer- tain number of pezzotti, and the resulting carpets have of course varying shapes and proportions.
The tapis, however, are not yet finished – they are waiting to be experienced, used and manipulated in order to acquire a specific, if only temporary, structure. This is how the artist came to the live performance entitled Tapis-à-porter (2009), where the carpet turns into a garment, ‘worn’ by performers and repeatedly changing its configuration as a result of the interaction with the hu- man body. Object and body thus engage in a signi- fying dialog that generates forms and meanings, a dialog in which neither term can exist outside its relationship with the other.
A specific aspect of the performance is cho- reography.
Anziché often introduces dancers who interact with her works, not in an immedi- ate manner, but following a highly detailed, rigid script based on a conscious, structured practice of movement.
At the preparation stage for the performance the artist works with dancers to create figures, i.e. to construct specific formal relationships between body and object, a proc- ess documented by the video Tapis-à-porter, also on exhibit. These figures are a central issue in the work of Anziché, especially as they relate to the temporal dimension, i.e. they are the product of an impeded, blocked movement – like frames of a potential film development, suspended images ex- tracted from a flow of motion and time. The work entitled Functional Fake Objects (2007) casts a revealing light on this. Anziché’s complex project originated from a photo series, which subse- quently gave life to a choreographed perform- ance. While photography usually serves as an aide-mémoire, a trace, a document that records what happens during a performance, Anziché subverts this process and re-starts the moment frozen in the photographic image.
This procedure may emerge more clearly in the work Paesaggi istantanei, 2009. The perform- ance, created in collaboration with the Esperia dance company, involved dancers who interacted with the rubber net of Aggrovigliamenti. The art- ist contrived a special choreography, based on photo shots taken during rehearsals. The per- formance starts from a static position and ends in another, equally static, situation. Movement is functional to the creation of the figures in a sort of tableau vivant.

The work evokes to our minds the image of the ‘danza per phantasmata’, the phantom dance, theorized by the XIV century Italian choreographer Domenico da Piacenza, and analyzed by Giorgio Agamben in his essay on Aby Warburg.2* What Domenico calls phantom is an abrupt stop in between two movements, such that the resulting inner tension produces a virtual crunch in the measure and memory of the whole choreographic series.
The halt is time crystalized, an intensity where the body and, in this case, the object, still retain traces of their previ- ous and next movement. A pause, therefore, not static and quiet but charged with both memory and dynamic energy.
In the work of Anziché, this image of suspend- ed tension is emphasized, and made physical by the interaction between the dancers’ body and the reticular structure. The underlying notion is that of elastic energy, which accumulates by suc- cessive movements, and is then freed thanks to the act of releasing – yet in the pause between one movement and the next there is no stillness, but a creation of strong energy, potential energy, intensity. It seems to me that the same reading key could be applied to the carpets that are ex- hibited in sculptural compositions, Tapis-accro- ché, Origami-tapis and Tapis-à-porter ( 2009). The definite shape they take in this case is not final, but alludes to a potential change, recalling past performances and envisaging the possibility of further developments. These are dialectical im- ages, to use Benjamin’s terminology – images that contain a tension between past and present.
Benjamin wrote that both thought movement and thought suspension are qualities pertaining to thought. The dialectical image, for Benjamin, appears where thoughts halt, in a constellation saturated with tensions. It is an interruption, a caesura in the movement of thought. Of course its dwelling place is no ordinary place: Benjamin says that you have to search for it, in a word, go where the tension between dialectical opposites reaches a peak.
This notion of temporality as becoming, as a dialectical tension between past and present, condensed in the present act, refers us back again to Lygia Clark’s research. To her Paola Anziché has dedicated Indagando, a work-in- progress project. The artist has started to inter- view former students of Clark’s, who taught at the Sorbonne in Paris during the 1970s. In these university courses, structured as workshops, the artist developed the propositions that char- acterize the last stage of her æsthetic evolution and that she called Fantasmática do corpo or Corpo-coletivo.
And it is precisely this memory that Anziché is trying to rescue – the memory of an experience, of actively participating in an act of creation, of unleashing, through collective actions that involve the body, those unconscious fantasies we call ghosts. Yet the ghosts are also, as we mentioned above, images charged with both past and future, condensed in one present moment, just like Anziché’s work. For, while it re- evokes the memories of those who participated in Lygia Clark’s actions, it simultaneously rescues and restores to our present time an æsthetic project that still retains its full potential.

1*Lars Bang Larsen, Suely Rolnik, “A Conversation on Lygia Clark’s Structuring the Self”, Afterall, Spring / Summer 2007

2*Giorgio Agamben, “Nymphae”, Aut Aut, May - August 2004

3*Walter Benjamin, Paris Capital of the XIX Century. The Arcades Project. Edited by R. Tiedemann, translated by Howard Eiland and Kevin McLaughlin. Harvard, 1999, fr. 2a, 4