Objects of a dysfunctional time: PETER SHIRE’s TEAPOTS

At MOCA Pacific Design Center, Los Angeles

 

MUSICAL, WHISPERING VOICES

 by Rosanna Albertini

Photos: Hannah Kirby

One can look at them naked, or encrusted with the shells of futurism, art deco, Milanese design, post modernism, California surrealism, like the door of a lobster cage. I would prefer to put all the verbal definitions into a fishnet and throw them deep into the ocean. The abandonment of the teapots to themselves “is an act of generosity,” as Mario Merz would say, “deciphering is the will to die.”

They are sirens these teapots singing the music of colors and forms: an endless, nostalgic song longing for water. Their nose too big, too long for their body, and the body shrunk like a musical instrument, or borrowing heaviness from a building, or eternalizing a fruit that tries to preserve the beauty of a flower and misses the branch moved by the wind. The teapots know there is no use for them. They are sculptures, born from an artist who likes to lie on the void, trying to forget rules and all the rational roads to understanding. Search for beauty is a source of anxiety.

“to orient
not to compel
to orient
in architecture
as in sculpture
like in a drawing of oriental vocal sensibilities
that is to say musical”
— Mario Merz

“All value depends upon somebody else’s opinion. For it is the essence of this philosophy that things have no independent existence, but live only in the eye of other people. It is a looking-glass world, this, to which we climb slowly; and its prizes are all reflexions. That may amount for our baffled feelings as we shuffle, and shuffle vainly, among those urban pages for something hard to lay our hands upon. Hardness is the last thing we shall find.”
— Virginia Woolf

That’s why there is no futurISM in these teapots, no celebration of civil and warlike mechanical machineries expected to pierce the present with energy, violent breaks, and, at least verbally, to introduce hardness. Instead, the teapots are a whispering voice, like the French and Italian words avenir, l’avvenire. From the late Latin ad-venire.

I find their softness and I don’t know what it is that touches me, unless what I like is just the uncertainty about what they are. They are displaced and useless, but searching for their face to face with us. The human side which is in them, the artist’s making, meets other humans in a present which is constantly coming to be, fleeting and incapable of standing as an accomplished future. Displacement is everywhere: between words and things, dreams and reality, thinking and making. What a dysfunctional time!

And yet, I miss stroking them, giving them a caress. I can only send them a philosophical caress, the most beautiful I found.

“The caress doesn’t know what she looks for. Such ‘not knowing’ such fundamental incongruence, is essential.” “The caress is waiting for a pure time to come, time without a content. She is made with growing hunger, and more and more enticing promises, which brings new perspectives on the things we cannot grasp.”
— Emmanuel Lévinas

Mario Merz, Lo spazio e curvo e diritto, Firenze, Hopeful Monster Editore, 1990

Virginia Woolf, The Common Reader, London, The Hogarth Press, 1935

Emmanuel Lévinas, Le temps et l’autre, @Fata Morgana, 1979. First edition February 1983, PUF, Paris.

 

FOTO DI TERRA : MARIO GIACOMELLI

typographer and self-taught photographer (1925-2000) from Senigallia (Italy)

MARIO GIACOMELLI’s  MOTHER EARTH

and my planet of leaves languages and trees meeting Anouar Brahem playing music on his oud (a Middle eastern string instrument)

MARIO GIACOMELLI, metamorfosi della terra, 385 x 278 mm

MARIO GIACOMELLI,  metamorfosi della terra, 385 x 278 mm

Mario Giacomelli passed away three days ago of some years ago November 25th and Mario Merz who was born the same year 1925 followed him on November 3d a few years after why should it be easy to remember dates that are not not at all interesting numbers they don’t shape the history of the person nor do they participate in the natural history not to mention the natural art made with numbers which is sister to music and spirals in the shells

Dans ce progrès invincible, et comme impeccable, de la forme, … qui semble créer son temps propre, on admire la combinaison du rythme, marqué par les taches ou les aspérités régulières, et du movement indivisible. C’est là voir de la musique. Paul Valéry, L’homme et la coquille 1937
an invincible almost impeccable progress of form… seems to create its own rhythm holding spots or regular asperities and an indivisible movement that is like seeing music

each of us surfing on a limited truth flows through life where time doesn’t exist as a peculiar volume buzzing with particles it can’t be stopped until mother earth disappears in meanders of memories that remake, retell the story so many times there is not a first image anymore over unfinished thoughts

tonight I don’t feel like breathing with commas and periods

I wish words could be sensitive like Mario Merz (1925-2003) forced them to be foglie tenere di acqua leaves tender with water or Giacomelli calling his pictures foto di terra photos made with dirt  rather than photos of earth because Italians at least some of us think of ideas like odd ghosts slipping away from the physical matter of a decomposed and ruined space where the animal person looks for abstraction – freedom

it didn’t happen to me for a while this need of disobeying it makes me see words sinking into Giacomelli’s blacks and whites while written lines are traced like furrows with trees and bushes in a wood of punctuation left behind for writers obsessed with grammatical intersections their soul not knowing where to go

effortlessly ancient habits join our art as if calligraphy and drawing were only one thing sharing the same space as five or six centuries ago in hybrid Chinese paintings meant to be poems of words and nuanced landscapes

Extraordinary events came to shake suddenly the quotidian life of millions individuals. We are projected toward the unknown, with immense fears, joys and hopes. What’s happening goes beyond imagination. It took me a long time to be able to write this music. Anouar Brahem Souvenance

Giacomelli says that language becomes the environment within which the image breathes as it flies toward a new life called art

more can be seen in a landscape that is language more than anything else sometimes plowed by the peasants under the artist’s request

more can be felt through the energy that connects our hands brain and feet to the larger scene of reality with it’s musical score inviting us to listen and share our part in it

ahead of the current localism Anouar Brahem’s music is an harmonious journey of intermingled songs that seem to pick from music of every kind petals of hope and strings of voices determined to expand together in a long rope of sounds free from style traditional forms and rigid obligations for beauty herself sings from the window waiting for the prince

the wind that goes around the column
goes round inside the column
it happens when one paints an image
giving reality to an image, the house runs with the world.

Mario Merz, Lo spazio è curvo o diritto 1990

MARIO GIACOMELLI IN HIS IMAGES AND WORDS

Attraverso le foto di terra io tento di uccidere la natura, cerco di toglierle quella vita che le è stata data non so da chi ed è stata distrutta dal passaggio dell’uomo per ridarle una vita nuova…

Through photos of earth (foto di terra) I try to kill nature, and take away from her a life received from I don’t know whom and destroyed by humans to give her a new life…

MARIO GIACOMELLI, presa di coscienza sulla natura, 300 x 405 mm

MARIO GIACOMELLI,  presa di coscienza sulla natura, 300 x 405 mm

Signs like light tension. It is like having emptied, carved the white out and filled it with dark.

Language becomes the environment within which the image breathes.

MARIO GIACOMELLI, Pesa di coscienza sulla natura, 388 x 283 mm

MARIO GIACOMELLI,  presa di coscienza sulla natura, 388 x 283 mm

The mark remains, the scar, the symbolic image of my intervention, as an act of expression to escape from a reality that does not leave space for creativity.

MARIO GIACOMELLI, storie di terra, 235 x 300 mm

MARIO GIACOMELLI,  storie di terra, 235 x 300 mm

I wish I could slide under the skin of things, to show the energy passing through my soul and the things around me

To express the potential that overturns the real into poetry

MARIO GIACOMELLI, presa di coscienza sulla natura, 392 x 298 mm

MARIO GIACOMELLI,  presa di coscienza sulla natura, 392 x 298 mm

I am not interested in repeating the visible things, but making visible what filters through my unconscious.

MARIO GIACOMELLI, Le fogli, 258 x 390 mm

MARIO GIACOMELLI,  le foglie, 258 x 390 mm

My latest ideas that are growing inside me from typography. In my latest photographs, naturally also in Landscapes, there are many apparitions. The object is always modified, but remains as a memory with the signs of the antique and present time, with a new memory, which is also that of the gesture, the movement, the document.

MARIO GIACOMELLI, presa di coscienza sulla natura, 305 x 404 mm

MARIO GIACOMELLI,  presa di coscienza sulla natura, 305 x 404 mm

Archivio Mario Giacomelli – Sassoferrato
http://www.archiviomariogiacomelli.it

These and others  photographs by Giacomelli are currently on display at Galleria Studio Guastalla, Modern and Contemporary Art, Milano (Italy).  I went to see the exhibition because Silvia Guastalla, curator and director of the gallery, decades ago was one of my students in the Department of Philosophy of the University of Pisa. A great joy to see her again and having her this time guiding me through Giacomelli’s art.