On Saturday 2nd of April the Centro Espositivo SMS San Michele degli Scalzi and Villa Pacchiani will inaugurate the exhibition Vision systems / Reality systems: Loris Cecchini, Giovanni Ozzola. Curated by Ilaria Mariotti, the exhibition has been planned and promoted by the municipalities of Pisa and Santa Croce Arno sull’Arno in collaboration with the Centro per l’Arte Contemporanea Luigi Pecci, as well as the Galleria Continua, the Associazione Arte Continua, and the firms IDS Ingegneria dei Sistemi S.p.A. and Superior S.p.A., with the support of Renato Corti S.p.A.
By building a network connecting the region − its communities, institutions and specific industrial and production activities − with international artists, the overall project aims to link current thought and culture and their creation with the production realities of the territories involved. This ambitious project stems from the conviction that art can be an effective instrument for action, and artists the promoters of relationships and shared experience − including those between the public and private spheres − which can help restore the identity of a place. Such conviction is shared steadfastly by the Galleria Continua and the Associazione Arte Continua, who, as advocates of the need to involve artists in a process of re-examining social matters, have long been involved in the relations between art and place.
Two artists have been invited to act as the voices of this ambitious project: Loris Cecchini and Giovanni Ozzola. The former goes to work in Santa Croce sull’Arno, the ‘capital’ of the Tuscan Tanning District, known the world over for its fine leather products and workmanship. The latter focuses on Pisa, the historical city whose rich immaterial resources stem from the historical presence of its university, its research institutes and hi-tech firms that export their products and know-how to a global market. Meetings conducted over recent months between the artists, the local communities and their highly regarded institutions have led Cecchini and Ozzola to undertake an endeavour with two highly research-centred firms based in the area who enjoy wide-ranging international relations: the Superior S.p.A leather tannery in Santa Croce sull’Arno, and the electrical engineering firm IDS Ingegneria dei Sistemi in Pisa.
In the work by Loris Cecchini the most disparate materials constantly mingle and interlace in a research that delves, inquisitively and deeply, into the physical characteristics of the materials, transfiguring them in a constant dialectic between art and science. Objects that become liquefied to reveal dysfunctionality, walls that flow like liquid surfaces (according to the laws of physics), the inorganic which becomes organic, elements of nature that are continually hybridised upon re- examination through cognitive processes (whose primary tool is design) − these all recall an image of the world of nature in which man moves, builds, plans, and creates. Cecchini takes up leather − the material produced by Superior S.p.A. for the world of fashion and luxury – as the defining material of the entire area, which is delineated not by its mere geographical boundaries, but united under the definition of ‘Tanning District’ (the municipalities of Castelfranco di Sotto, Montopoli Valdarno, Santa Croce sull’Arno, Santa Maria a Monte and San Miniato, in the province of Pisa, and Fucecchio in the province of Florence). He creates a series of tables that together make up the contours of this territory. Starting with a worktop, the artist reformulates the concept of territory to create a sculpture that represents a great map, whose surface is in relief − its highs and lows covered with the material that defines the national and global identity of a piece of Tuscany. No longer functional, or a table, or even a geographical map, the object, in which the precious nature of the material is preserved, is transfigured, becomes uncertain and ambiguous and enters the world of sculpture. It enters territories that not only constitute administrative and geographical references, but that evoke the complex mechanisms of relationships within a community. In short, they highlight complex processes that define the very nature of the territories: economy, social phenomena, wealth, reference values.
The entire exhibit created by Loris Cecchini at the Centro Espositivo di Villa Pacchiani plays upon paradox, on the dysfunctionality of the object that, free from the need to carry out any function, opens itself up to manifold meanings. The materials − leather, glass, steel, plastic − are surprising in their anomalous behaviours: they camouflage onto the walls, they recompose themselves to create organic wholes, even though they are made up of various complex materials, they lose and regain consistency to progressively build up emotional mass that emerges in reference to the place, to the space.
From the very first meeting between Giovanni Ozzola and IDS Ingegneria dei Sistemi it became immediately evident that an essential concept in the company’s business vision intersected with some recurrent themes in Ozzola’s work; one such theme is invisibility. There is a poetic dimension here, that is, to the artist, the invisible conjures up images of the unknown − a dimension underlying fear and anxiety, desire, and searching. But on the other hand, here is the dimension of the search for scientific truth, research with precision instruments, the building of precise systems implemental to the activities of man. It was along this double track that Ozzola’s meeting with IDS proceeded. An entire sector of the company’s research is dedicated to the development of data acquisition technologies. Such technologies are now used for the production of radar systems, but the company began by studying the shapes of objects purposely designed to make ships and aeroplanes visible or invisible to electromagnetic waves. From these shapes, from the study of surface contours, came a series of sculptures in which the materials and dimensions of objects departed from their original conformations to project shapes designed for ‘invisibility’, in an historical artistic tradition dating back to modernism. Also on exhibit is a map in which Ozzola has reproduced the air traffic recorded over a period of time by a radar antenna located in Pisa showing the skies in a radius of about 200 km. Much of the artist’s work revolves around the theme of travel, a subject that is always charged with twofold significance: the desire for knowledge of an external and internal world, which is however sometimes dark, unclear, thick with personal uncertainties. The challenge is to arrive at a collective dimension, one of sharing, an intimate and personal dimension made up of desires and expectations. Here the map is not produced through documents, but rather by sophisticated detection systems that reveal routes, journeys that have however been dictated by diverse needs which are difficult for us to fathom. The entire exhibition by Giovanni Ozzola at the SMS Centro Espositivo, which also includes his most recent creations, tells of discovery, travel, the desire to map out facts and make them fathomable, events whose core of amazement and discovery remain wholly intact. Traces of personal journeys that become collective heritage and, in this transition, acquire scientificity, while conserving a poetic aura blurred by uncertainty.
- Loris Cecchini, Waterbones, 2014. Courtesy of the artist and Galleria Continua. Photo by Ugo Dalla Porta
- Giovanni Ozzola, Lorenzo, Mario, Maurizio - mapa Continua, 2016. Courtesy of the artist and Galleria Continua. Photo by Paola Martinez Fiterre