Franco Mazzucchelli


Research into the nontraditional materials of sculpture has accompanied my artistic career in the search for the relation between the work and the exhibition site understood as social sphere, architectural context or an urban space.
A work of art created in marble, bronze or terra cotta following the classical procedures defined by Michelangelo in the Renaissance - by way of "putting" (where the idea is superimposed on the matter, hence modelling it) and by way of "removing" (where the idea is freed by eliminating the matter in excess) - expresses its "sense" precisely by means of the nature of the materials employed. In its turn this "sense" can only be the image of the culture of a certain period in which the form sees the light of day. It is evident that the material and the work procedure adopted bind the work a priori to the first link of the artistic production chain which, in passing by way of peculiar and recognizable forms, concludes with the use/enjoyment of the work itself in the "separated" places intended for art.
Within the multiform area of the conceptual belonging to the 1960s, in which I gained my formation as an artist, some links of this chain were eroded by new art practices with the intention of spreading and extending the poetic and cognitive processes of art into the social or community sphere, in this way creating new forms of communication with the general public. Materials, sizes and places for the fruition of art became the subject of research and of experimentation, in this way extending the formal revolution of the first avant-gardes to more all-encompassing aesthetic and social spheres of interest.
The synthetic materials that have characterized my work from the beginning - polyester resin / foamed polyurethane / thermoretractable material / inflatable PVC - were primarily employed by industry and knowledge of them was had through objects of day-to-day use. They are consequently tied to our contemporaneity and boast a relatively recent tradition. The research work regarding the expressive possibilities of synthetic materials leads to the use of alternative structures, technologies and spaces both in the work phase and as regards their final destination (in so far as I am talking about my own projects).
With my A. TO A. works (an acronym possessing a two-fold value: Art to Abandon or, if read literally, a toi/for you), in the 1960s I began to use synthetic, inflatable materials on a large scale and in public spaces in the open to then leave them to their own fate: examples of "waste", exposed to destruction, removal or appropriation on the part of who wanted these works (a toi/for you). I have never considered reducing these objects to more "manageable" or "handier" sizes. I elaborated those structures in compliance with their 'vocational' use as industrial materials: for example, by addressing them to design, architecture or urban furnishings with the sole exception of stage- or set-design.
It is from this inability to reduce to a good and the inextricable relationship of these objects with "the here and now", with the spaces for which they were conceived, that one has their playful and "dilettantesque" nature (in the 1970s these spaces were town/city squares, parking lots and factories whereas more recently they have been historical and monumental sites). Evidently enough, I am neither referring to a pastime in the hobby sense nor to the unawareness of doing something. In fact, the strategy of the dilettante supplants the demand for the production specialization of the work market. It makes reference, rather, to the classical concept - from Horace to Poussin - of "delectare" (delighting/charming/pleasing): a delight which in art also has the presumption of taking on some ethical aspects. In this way the 'playful' experimentation with the materials of industrial production wishes to infiltrate the clefts of the production system also of artistic goods, questioning their consumption principles and reevaluating their aesthetic and speculative nature.
The exhibition choice of public urban sites involves another "social" aspect which then becomes an integrating part of the project's realization: that of the relationship with the public bodies and institutions in asking for permission and authorization for occupying public property. This process becomes even more arduous when these interventions have to do with historical and monumental sites (such as the building of the Brera Art Academy in Milan). This is a sign that the interference between the old and the new, between monumental sites and contemporary experimentation, even today - and perhaps even more so following the conformism of the 1980s - comes up against resistance and diffidence. That the "tradition of the new", in order to avoid risking the asphyxiation of the academy, can still 'delight itself' in looking for infringements, exceptions and syntonies within the heterogeneous fabric of the town/city and of its consecrated monuments.

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