8. April 1999 – 30. April 1999

Salvatore Puglia (IT), Dmitry Vilensky (RU)

The temporal context of the pictures and the representation of our historical inheritance are Salvatore Puglia’s field of work.

In the exhibition he adds shadow to the rediscovered images, which often makes them more recognisable than the originals themselves which are often dim and dirty, like memories of the distant past. But one must understand his works more as the capturing of history than as the “art of memory” – like our history they lie between that which was lost – and that which is still in existence, between pieces of evidence and isolated fragments, between that which is shown and that which stays hidden or is even concealed. Consciousness lies on the boundary so that both – image and historical past – can never be observed separately but instead are subject to an aesthetic process.
Puglia’s creative approach involves the combination of a particular theme with a particular materiality. Both elements are free within the constraints of a formal framework, and taking into account a certain element of chance in the combination.
In his most recent work the frames disappear and the actual objects themselves fragment. The remains of an interrupted and incoherent past are reproduced on pieces of natural latex and become the elastic shrouds of a witness without inheritance. * Born 1953 in Rome, he lives and works in Rome and Paris. In 1987 he received his Master’s in history from the university of Rome / 1979-1980 He studied social sciences (Ecole des Hautes en Sciences Sociales) Paris / 1980-1981 College for drawing and printed graphics, Calcografia Nazionale, Rome / 1980-1985 numerous research pieces on history and art history. DMITRY VILENSKY
The Art of Forgetting

A deep frost reveals to the body its future temperature J. Brodski, 4. Ekloge (Winterekloge)

Russian culture is marked by particular attention to death. In view of the complete absurdity of everyday life, death – as a mysterious, exciting journey, which leads to another higher reality – becomes something utterly positive, of the utmost importance – a foretaste of ecstasy.
The most important art is the art of dying. It is not at all the theatrical ritual of leaving this life. It is more about learning to integrate death into life, to seek out and hold onto the traces of mortality – particularly one’s own mortality – in everyday life even in those places where you would hardly expect such traces to exist. That is in fact the theme of these works – a theme which has been explored and recognised in Russian art (from Malewitsch to Brodski, Tarkowski and Kabakow).
As photography is able to cross the boundary between life and death it is a fully unique medium. By reinforcing the existing with the past, it speaks constantly of “forgetting” and reminds us unceasingly of our past. It enables us to experience an incorporeal state – and this is where the real ecstasy in contemplating photography lies.
The basis of my project is formed by photographs, which document everyday life in the streets of St Petersburg. The choice of this city was not arbitrary as St Petersburg is the most lifeless of Russian cities. Her unusual beauty was always connected with a fading, wilting quality, with “forgetting” and emptiness and catastrophe. I was not interested in an abstract portrayal of the city and its historical fate, which has already been more than adequately reflected in art, but in the life of the people in the city, which takes place against a fairly ugly backdrop. In St Petersburg it was much easier than in other places to understand how the unavoidable presence of death is able to alter radically our perception of everyday life. Every scene, however banal, becomes enormously valuable through the oppressive feeling that the fragile warmth of life is ultimately doomed. To reflect this feeling I decided to print these photographs on enamel ovals traditionally used in Russia on the anniversaries of deaths to ease the mourning process. This seemed to me to be the most honest way of portraying a reality, which has “once and for all escaped life”.
In this project the arrangement of the works in the gallery played a special role. It is of the utmost importance that the first impression of an observer is that of an empty room. Only when they have entered the room should the visitors discover the numerous small enamel ovals and the huge semi-transparent works positioned close to the ceiling. A feeling of simultaneous overabundance and emptiness should be the project’s dominant message.

Dmitry Vilensky.