CRITICS

Title: Notes for Marco Bolognesi
Author: Walter Guadagnini
Year: 2012

Courage
First and foremost, courage. Marco Bolognesi obtained international renown with his female portraits immersed in cyber or fashion atmospheres, often beautiful girls whose nature was forced by the artist into a dreamlike-surreal transformation. A great variation on a theme of the fashion portrait and together a reflection on the representation of the body between photography and performance, which allowed Bolognesi to carve a precise niche in the artistic scene, recognised equally by experts and intellectuals including Alberto Abruzzese and Carlo Lucarelli. Now, with this Humanescape, fourteen tragicomic works on the contemporary world, Bolognesi opens a new, surprising chapter in his research, accepting the risk of abandoning, at least temporarily, his own recognised image and presenting a complex, ambitious work of high impact both emotionally and visually, most pleasant at first glance yet rich in anxiety, glowing and stinging.

Pop
It is clear that Bolognesi’s art stems from a pop matrix, but we need to agree on the meaning we give to this term. It is not so much a question of precise historical-artistic references, but rather the climate, elements of language and the relationship with the context. Bolognesi uses elements of everyday language, he relies on them for communicating directly with the spectator, almost without filters. Objects, shapes, colours, compositions, everything responds to the same demand for clarity, immediate evidence, the image is here and now, and it is for all. Within this logic, even stylistic and iconographic forcing plays its part in a common language: it is the transformation of the scene into spectacle, on the same trail of the masters of the Sixties, but also of very diverse authors such as Lachapelle or Morimura, AES + F or Skoglund, older brothers not by choice of style or technique but rather by the desire to dialogue with their audience, in an attitude of sharing the same cultural horizon. Let the show begin.

Premotition
Years ago Abruzzese accompanied Bolognesi’s “donne in blu” with the following words: it is not possible to find a better way of describing the ludic aspect of Humanescape, and it thus seems correct to mention it and recognise its ability to read beyond the appearances of the image. “We may say that in this series Bolognesi plays with the figures of his own childhood. Or with what remains of those figures. Childhood, the early childhood of Bolognesi’s generation no longer had the squares or meadows or streets to grow up in or to believe they were growing up in, but television screens, the kaleidoscopes of the thousands and thousands of metaphors per second.” And then comics, cinema…

Excesses
It is a long story, divided into several chapters. It is the story of a society that is on the brink of a precipice, a nervous breakdown, but which seems to keep on playing, under the illusion that dreams are reality. Bolognesi exploits the ambiguity of our perception of the real to build his parallel world, in which even female bodies in flesh and blood become salt statues. Playgrounds, beaches, pleasant hills, tidy farmed fields; cemeteries, open-air landfills, striking workers: the problem is that they enter each other, there is no division between the positive and negative space (with one exception, the marriage picture, about which it is nice to note how the spatial division refers not by chance to that of the ancestor Rejlander, and his allegorical composition The Two Ways of Life). The observer finds himself in a constant condition of uncertainty, because as soon as his gaze abandons the grazing cow it falls on the drum of radioactive material. Also in this sense, Bolognesi’s attitude mirrors one of the typical conditions of contemporaneity, that of the overlapping of messages, the excess of information, in which it becomes difficult, if not impossible, to distinguish true from false (and useful from useless).

Outside, Night
Apart from a few shots of C.O.D.E.X. BLUE, Bolognesi has always preferred to work indoors, setting his models against anonymous monochrome backdrops. Now – while it is obvious that technically we are still dealing with interiors – before our very eyes appears the landscape, mountains, seas, plains, hills, cities, the urban and the natural, with no more urbanity, with no more nature. The background against which these plastic landscapes are set is still monochrome, it is still black, we do not know if it is because it is night-time or if it is the spectacle projected onto a screen, and all around is dark. Once again, the artist plays with his audience. He has already been able to state that he wants to “make visible a universe that is a metaphysical place: a sort of parable between the real and the imaginary”, but until now this idea was expressed via a metaphor, or even better via symbols, the female figure that represented this universe, the inhabitants that certified its existence (if there is an inhabitant there must be a planet). With Humanescape, the planet appears but, surprisingly, we discover that it is a world parallel to our own, practically the same, authentically false, like our own, in an infinite vicious circle (in the same interview Bolognesi mentioned the ouroboros as a figure he was fond of, certainly not by chance).

Pop, Again
“Then, our reality, is merely …the fiction … of some writer?”
“No. It is as real as his. It’s just that his has influenced ours during the past seven days, the duration of the last book. A few more minutes and this influence will cease.”
“Why did it have to be so?” he asked with a stilted voice after a short reflection.
“So how?”
“Why did he write a thriller? Why couldn’t he have chosen to write a story of high literature?”
“That’s what he did. For him, thrillers are not low literature.”
(Z. Živković, The Last Book, TEA, Milan 2010)

Women
And yet, the centre focus remains, yet again in any case the female figure, casta diva that returns as a constant to populate real and imaginary places. Bound, gagged, standing, lying down, she dominates the landscapes even in the most awkward conditions, she is the measure of all things even when, compared to the scene, she is immense, a kind of giantess that, like the adventures of Gulliver, finds herself living in a world that repeats in miniature that which it has just abandoned (science fiction has a thousand faces, not only those of possible future universes). But what, in this context, is the function of the female figure? It is the impossible body-city, it is the attempt – probably destined to failure – to resist by a part of nature that will not be resigned to the horror and the ridiculous caused by man, but which cannot fully transform itself in turn into a universe. The fact that she is often in conditions of immobility and constriction seems a fairly clear sign, although contradicted by the overwhelming physical presence: Bolognesi never lets go of his own ambiguity, granting a twofold level of reading for his images, in particular his female images. Which, it is worth underlining, come from an imagination that is both private and collective, private as it belongs to the artist’s invented world, collective because it represents the last link in a chain of female figures whose origins are lost in the night of time.

Motto
Quid amabo, nisi quod aenigma est? (What shall I love if not the enigma?)

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