Mediterraneo of Omar Calabrese


Piccola Balena azzurra (2005)

Piccola Balena azzurra (2005)

Marillina Fortuna treats us to another exhibition, a follow up to the one held in Genova in 2008, titled “Mediterraneo”. The name couldn’t have been more suitable, has to be added. For the most part the works are assemblages of scrap material from our sea. The fragments are, randomly yet thoroughly collected, to be assembled, at this point no longer by chance, and put into a new, pleasant and amusing context, “natural”(fishes, flowers, characters, landscape and on it goes). What man has considered as useless and therefore rejected, suddenly and magically, takes on an aesthetic form.
It’s, obviously, not a matter of a “new” movement, seen from an ideological as well as an aesthetic point of view. It’s worth remembering that back in the 60’s- in the field of rising ecological discipline (Barry Commoner, Tomàs Maldonado, Ettore Sottsass amongst others)- the issue of the, so called, “dumps” occurred as a result of the consumption in the Western world. It was cleverly pointed out that obsolete objects are traces of waste as a result of the capitalistic society, and that they would, sooner or later, have to pay for their neglect. This brought on new tendencies in the field of design, like for instance the one captained by Sottsass, who suggested using recycled material, waste of our society, in order to help out poor countries, or take “poor design”, the “anti-design”, amongst many other movements which intervened just in order to recycle material, turning it into something else, giving it another purpose as well as an aesthetic dimension.
It’s not the first time something similar takes place in the history of modern art: The Dadaists worked with objects trovès giving them back their dignity by, provokingly, succeeding in exhibiting them in art exhibitions and museums. To start with Marcel Duchamp’s famous “Fountain” which was nothing more than a urinal which had been found in a dump somewhere. Or take Enrico Baj who used wallpaper, trimmings and wooden pieces, thrown away by some carpenter, to realize his sculptures and scenes, and on it goes. Even Picasso made an attempt in realizing works of this nature, especially in the 10’s-20’s. In our days, l’art des deches has almost turned into a trend, at least it appears so judging by the works of art which have been gathered from around the world to take part in exhibitions like the one organized by Achille Bonito Oliva in Korea or by Lea Vergine in Italy.
Marillina Fortuna’s works, though, is one of it’s kind. There’s neither a simple ideological message to it, a “political” protest, if you will- nor a provoking statement destined for èpater le bourgeois. Our artist has voluntarily chosen to produce sensible, even pleasant works, gathered with the patience of a chiseller or a goldsmith. Their aesthetic aspect is therefore more of a renewal of material, giving them a new context, to highlight the creator’s manual ability, her potential for invention. So it’s not by chance we bring up the discussion of a “new figurative form”, obtained from what you least expect, and what, in some peculiar way, we don’t even, at first sight, recognize as its banal and worn-out origin. Which is why Marillina’s works so often are amusing, as they, in the end, recall the magic of a child’s imagination , the one of re-creation.

Omar Calabrese

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