Ultraterra – Alis / Filliol




Titled “Ultraterra”, Alis/Fillol’s second solo show at pinksummer could be interpreted as a slight variation operated by the artists on themselves, or, according to what they declared during a conversation, it is like if their position was shifted two degrees on the protractor of sculpture, in order to let its body evaporate by generating an environmental sculptural installation.
There is a narrative moving from a head modeled in plaster by A/F some years ago, that, according to their own peculiar attitude of conceiving sculpture as a series of experiences if not totally unpredicted, at least not completely predicted, was later filled up with polyurethane until it burst. They decided then to replicate the exploded head in a single material, therefore they made up a negative, composed by two valves, and from the mold the head deformed by polyurethane was cast in plaster. From that day until now, the head’s mold have been lying still and quite somewhere in the studio, as silent as sculpture more than any other art form can be, especially if figurative. Only sometimes A/F threw questioning glances on it, as if they were asking themselves whether the trajectory of that work ended there or it could have taken them elsewhere. Eventually their second solo show at pinksummer came and the two molds of plaster exploded head was resurrected to end up in a work on deformation, transformation and maybe also transfiguration, from a certain point of view. Indeed “Ultraterra” enacts a double inversion : on one hand there is the transition from form to two-dimensional shapes, on the other hand it seems that the artists meant to dislocate the sculpture all around the body of the visitor. What A/F present is a bodiless sculpture, in which a powerful sculptural obsession for volume endures. Such an obsession for form, far from being a latent remainder of linguistic nature, seems rather the factor, or more properly the emotional modulator, that transforms the nonhuman space of sculpture into the temporal expansion of a landscape that has no mass.
In “Passages” Rosalind Krauss writes how Constructivist and Futurist sculpture allowed theatre transforming them: “the sculpture I have just been talking about is predicated on the feeling that what sculpture was is insufficient because founded on an idealist myth. And in trying to find out what sculpture is, or what it can be, it has used theater and its relation to the context of the viewer as a tool to destroy, to investigate, and to reconstruct.” We could imagine that A/F always, but especially in “Ultraterra”, let film and cinematography invade/fertilize their playground, while dealing with the body of the sculpture and the viewer himself : the more a film is captivating, the more one forgets about his/her body and goes beyond bodily immanence by entering an out-of-body dimension. “Ultraterra”’s vivid and immersive landscape emphasizes the passion for plastic aspects of sculpture by staring straight into the void. We think at Rust Cohle saying in “True Detective”: “In this universe we manage time in a linear fashion, looking ahead. But outside our space-time, from a perspective that would be four-dimensional, time would not exist. And from that position, if we could be there, we would see our space-time flattened down, like a single sculpture made from the superimposition of every place that it has occupied. Our life cyclically returns like we were driving karts in a circuit. Everything outside our dimension is eternity, eternity observes us from above. Well, for us is a sphere, for them it is a circle”.
Escaping any medium specific working habit is not just a formal reason to A/F, as that means also sharing a particular climate, a Zeitgeist, found in films, in tv series, in music, some sort of sensibility that rises from the truth of things and draws paths that seem to lead to the invisibile. In such simulacra haunted by the invisibile, one can freely find the positive mystic or the negative of ethic and ideological void. Positive and negative are two inseparable polarities in sculpture, when there is a positive a mysterious negative always exists, as in the world of cyclical and linear time we know light exists because sooner or later darknesses takes over.
About A/F, the idea of landscape was already implicit in their “lost-snow” sculptures, positives sculpture which outcome was undoubtedly a landscape. We can dare saying that, on their trajectory, “lost-snow” works are to positive and light, as “Mofo”s to negative and darkness. As a matter of fact “Mofo”s grow from inside the negative of the holes dug by the artists to make them up, assuming a negative history of 20th century sculpture to which they refer. “Mofo”s represent the alterity of that sculpture, which language they embed or sussume analytically by mocking it. Parody is one of Alis/Filliol ways to stay foreigners inside their own language in order to experiment with sculpture. “Mofo”s force the viewer to look at them with an archaic gaze, they stand on another plan in respect of the viewer, they do not look for sharing his/her gaze, they are idols showing their huge presence. “Mofo”s consumes matter, space, and the vibrations of the ego of whoever looks at them, they seem to set themselves as an obstacle to the hermeneutic ego.
Arthur Bloch defined sculpture”that thing you bump into when you step back in a museum to look at a painting.”. Last year, by showing the sculpture “Jir” inside the Italian pavilion at the Venice Biennale, conceived by the curator as grid of enclosed compartments, the artists have forced the idea of sculpture meant as an obstacle by setting up the “Mofo” as an enormous landslide making their narrow booth even more embarrassing, like they were ambuscading to any acceptance and preconception, included the myth of formalist classicism.
We still do not know about their intervention at pinksummer, but even if the sphere has been turn into a circle, the negative and positive have become chiaroscuro, we do not believe at all that A/F will abjure Baroque, meant as philosophy of crisis, which means there will be no ascension towards the abstraction performed by the artists. Through the bucolic and estranged image chosen by the artists for the invitation card of “Ultraterra”, that looks like a pamphlet of some evangelical church contamined by Gregory Crewdson, Alis/Filliol let us guess that not even by this exhibition they will adhere to the ideology of low consumption or A+++ energy class art.